This week, the focus is on Time and Project Management. Not only this, but this week marks the end of the ‘Orientation’ sprint and the commencing of the next sprint of this unit, which is called ‘Rapid Ideation 1’ (Flex.falmouth.ac.uk. 2020).
It would perhaps be to reflect on what I have learnt in the previous three weeks that comprised the first sprint.
What have I been doing?
In the first week of this sprint, I studied and scrutinised Agile project management and more specifically a variation of Agile known as Scrum. While I did have a lot of trouble relating this to my studies and practice and first, I soon developed an understanding of it and why it would be a more efficient form of project management for future projects, as it would allow me to learn quicker and to be more flexible and reflective in my practice.
In the second week of this sprint, I was introduced to various methods of ideation and also processes not just for identifying ideas but also developing them further, I explored and considered various different methods of idea generation but I used a combination of brainstorming and mind mapping to come up with an idea for a game that combined Atari’s Pong and Breakout. This game was also an example of a subform of ideation which is known as remediation, which refers to the use of existing creative artefacts as a basis for creating new ones.
In the third and last week of the sprint, I took what I had learnt about ideation and used this to explore the concept of rapid ideation – the generation and practical execution of ideas within a short time frame. While I did not speak about Agile very much during this week, I can see how rapid ideation would play in important and complimentary role in Agile project management. I identified many events that I could participate in that would facilitate rapid ideation and to help me to exercise and hone my skills. I explored several different forms of prototyping, which play an important part in rapid ideation and the quick application of ideas into practice. To study prototyping, we were assigned a project where we had to reverse engineer a creative artefact, using various prototyping methods to understand how it worked and how it was put together. I chose a level from the game, The Talos Principle and I used sketching as a method of prototyping to work out how the level was designed.
What did I learn?
I learnt about a range of methods for coming up with, developing and testing ideas in a very short time frame. I also learnt new approaches to project management that are focused less on deadlines and the end goal itself, but more importantly on what is learnt and what we do to get to that end goal.
While I have an analytical mind and I do often consider what I like about games and I have an appreciation for their mechanics, the reverse engineering challenge from week 3 was the first time I had used practical application to deconstruct and analyse the mechanics of a game.
In week 2, I gained an appreciation for mind mapping and the importance of visualising a project. While my Pong/Breakout game initially seemed like a simple premise, through visualisation, I was able to see the scope of my project and the amount of work and assets that would be required to get this done.
I have also started to develop my understanding of the language C# which is used in Unity. While I am not proficient enough to write up code from scratch, I at least have an understanding of how it works and I can identify several of the components that make up C#. This is something that I would like to continue developing. I have also developed an appreciation for coding as a means of applying and executing creativity.
What obstacles did I face?
Many of the obstacles I encountered did not relate to the actual assignments each week, but largely due to adapting to being a student again.
I have struggled with time management as I spent a large amount of this sprint unsure as to how much time I should put into each piece of work. While my time management skills had been very good prior to starting this degree, I now have this new commitment in my life and I need to take steps to reconcile it with my other commitments so that I can use my time productively without burning myself out.
As I mentioned in my post on 9th February, I had to take some time out due to ill health resulting from excessive computer use. This delayed my progress so I need to ensure this does not happen again.
I also struggled with budgeting my time in the second week. I was fairly keen to make a simple game for this assignment as I wanted to get a head start on learning to build games. When I came up with the Pong/Breakout game, I had very little idea of how much time I would need or how to plan it, so even though my game was simple, it was perhaps too big a project for this assignment. While I have already produced some of the work for this, I have opted to keep this as an ongoing research project and something I develop on the side in order to improve my skills.
What do I need to improve?
Mostly practical skills. As I mentioned, I am looking to develop my knowledge of C#. This is an ongoing process and I am hoping I can get to the stage that I can use it to build projects. While I am unsure whether I will continue producing work in 2D or if I will branch out into 3D graphics, I am keen to give 3D a go and I would like to explore Blender further. I used to do quite a lot of Maya during my undergraduate degree and in hindsight, I realise I only really scraped the surface then. Blender has since taken off and become very popular and accessible, so I would like to dive deeper into 3D graphics, using Blender. I am hoping there is more opportunity to develop these in coming weeks.
While I analysed Agile / Scrum in a lot of detail at the beginning of this sprint, I must admit that I have not really applied this approach throughout the rest of the sprint. This is largely because I was trying to take each week as it comes and I found the information each week was a lot to take in. I came to the conclusion that Scrum favours small group projects, but it could be the case that it is not favourable for solo projects. Depending on whether I choose to work solo or in a group during the next sprint, I will analyse this in the coming sprint to see if this is the case.
As mentioned above, I need to improve my time management skills and ensure that I do not try to overcompensate by overworking as that will make me ill and stressed. I have decided to set myself a maximum window of 2 hours a day studying and committing to this. I will revise this as I go on to determine whether i need to extend this or reduce it.
The next sprint…
The next sprint is going to consist of a two week long rapid ideation session in which I will be required to produce a creative artefact (presumably a game) according to a certain theme. This rapid ideation session will start at the end of this Wednesday’s seminar (17th) and will conclude at the start of the seminar on 3rd March.
The theme of this session will be revealed at this Wednesday’s seminar.
My plan in the days running up to Wednesday are to read through all the materials provided on Canvas to check if there is anything I need to read or do in preparation for this rapid ideation session and I will document anything relevant to this in my blog.
Flex.falmouth.ac.uk. 2020. Time and Agile Development. [online] Available at: <https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/911/pages/week-1-time-management-and-agile-development?module_item_id=49134> [Accessed 14 February 2021].
Flex.falmouth.ac.uk. 2020. Week 4: Introduction. [online] Available at: <https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/911/pages/week-4-introduction?module_item_id=49159> [Accessed 14 February 2021].