The GDC plague struck swift and vengeful the week after GDC. I think everyone was running around, playing hard and networking hard, and when we all got back to the familiarity of Utah, our bodies laid down and let the virus take hold. Due to this, I was out of commission for the first half of the week before spring break, and half of the team was out of commission the second half of the week. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but the entire team (except our lead engineer) was going to be in town for spring break and made verbal commitments to be available for meetings and task completion throughout the week.
Throughout all of this, our team was highly focused on the narrative of our world. Everyone agreed they wanted to create a narrative experience for players. Unfortunately we were letting those grandiose story ideas paralyze our development. For example, we imagined much of how the game operated would only work if the player were trying to sneak somewhere. Therefore, we needed to build a stealth mechanic.
Roger pulled me aside for an iteration intervention the Thursday before spring break to point out that in agile game development, we needed to not plan too far ahead, because we needed to leave room for iteration and exploration into more fun. It was the first time I’d really thought of agile game development instead of traditional agile software development (which encourages a project backlog that while can shift, is generally prioritized and visible for the duration of the project). Agile game development makes the most sense in an indie space, like our project is now.
It was a difficult conversation to have with the team, who was losing momentum and buy-in due to our floundering through theme/narrative/mechanic discussions even before GDC. If nothing else, it became a mini tutorial in presenting information. We can have an idea in the back of our minds, or some ideas of where the game could end up, but so long as we allow our sprint backlog and design ideas to have room to grow into something we never anticipated, then we’re doing it right. When we pitch ideas that have grand end games and designs, it sounds like we’re stuck in a rut which raises red flags. This way, we show we’re flexible, but not directionless.
Let’s continue the adventure and see if anyone showed up to spring break meetings!