Dev Diary #12 – Project 3 Post Mortem

Project 3 Post-Mortem (Add Verb)

Ahhhh Project 3, to be completely honest, I spent all trimester looking forward to this project. A project I could actually help code and design and come out with something I could actually be proud of is a goal I’ve been looking forward to doing for quite some time.

What Went Well?

Team communication was acceptable, granted there were some times where we may not have talked much but I mean, everyone has lives, and everyone in the team seemed to be working on the game and communicating with each other when they really needed to so this aspect really didn’t seem to be a problem during the development.
Another process that requires some positive attention is the great use of source control between members. Granted 1 member didn’t know how to use it very well at all, I spent some time teaching him how to use it and he seemed to be able to pick up the basics quite quickly and began making meaningful commits toward the end which was great to see the progress he made there.
A third and final positive mention would be our collaborator experiences, they jumped into the project toward the very end to provide us with some last minute art, which was badly needed for a game like ours. Their communication was awesome between us and the workflow ran quite smoothly between our team and the collaborators. More details on their performance can be read in my previous blog focused on our collaborator experience HERE.

What Could Have Gone Better

An issue our team ran into was the fact we didn’t have the initial knowledge on how to code certain features of the game such as the song waveform detection, the Dial control script and particle effects. Much of the development time was used trying to “hackily” get these features working.

Solutions: 
  • This issue can simply be put down to lack of experience in the area.
  • More research needed to be done in order to understand the feature fully and how to implement them before we actually decide to put this into the game. Essentially, assign WAY more time for research in our schedules then what we did.
  • Outsource problematic areas to collaborators you know do know how to do these problematic features.
Keeping documentation updated with agreed  pivots also seemed to be very problematic. Nobody knew who was meant to do them and they kind of got forgotten about because everyone was already on the same page as to where the game was at.

Solutions:
  • Make a scheduled task after every play-test to update documentation to account for agreed pivot points and make sure this task is assigned to a team member.
  • Update documentation as we are having the group discussion on player feedback from the play-test.
  • On top of the above, have a dedicated documentation quality control task set up to a team member once per week to check over the documents and make sure all information in all documents is currently up to date.

Conclusion

Time spent on Research and Documentation was gravely underestimated. If these were done properly, the task could have actually been completed more quickly and more features could have made it into the game before the deadline was up. Unfortunately one of the features planned such as the note streak bonuses were one of such features. As much as I fear this could have been a bit of an over-scope, adding this mechanic to the game could have really added to the player experience and would have been great to play-test.
In larger-scale companies and teams, This project lets me see how important scheduling, documentation and organisation is important and, in all that, how a dedicated manager would very well be a useful investment to benefit the overall outcome of the finished project.

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