In this article I will be going into detail about how I am going to manage my project and plan my time, as well as how I will allocate time to each stage of this project.
I have used both of these frameworks for different projects over the first year. I analysed their advantages and disadvantages. Although I found the Kanban framework particularly useful for solo work, as I could visualise my project and manage it so that I was not taking on too much at once, it perhaps is not structured enough for longer form projects such as this. Scrum appears to be more useful for breaking down longer form projects into manageable sections through its use of sprints, but it was too intense for shorter projects, especially solo projects such as this.
On this basis, I intend to take the parts of both of these frameworks that will be conducive to my situation, but discard the parts that are less so. The framework I will use will fundamentally be Kanban framework, but it will incorporate core elements of Scrum – namely a product backlog, the the organisation of the project into sprints, as well as having a sprint review and sprint retrospective. However, I will scrap all the roles such as Scrum master, product owner, etc. as I am a one man band anyway and I will not do stand-up posts (something I adopted to imitate the stand-up meeting format, but for solo project during the first rapid ideation session of the first unit), as I found this made the project too rigid and intense. I will, however, experiment with means of reflecting on my progress within a sprint.
I am aiming for a hybrid Agile framework, that has the relative fluidity of Kanban and allows me to manage as much of the project as I can on a solo basis, but with the structure of Scrum, which will ensure I do not take on too much and that I still continue to analyse my progress.
The project will consist of six sprints that will consist of two weeks each, as follows:
- Sprint 1 3 Feb – 17 Feb
- Sprint 2 17 Feb – 3 Mar
- Sprint 3 3 Mar – 17 Mar
- Sprint 4 17 Mar – 31 Mar
- Sprint 5 31 March – 14 Apr
- Sprint 6 14 Apr – 28 Apr
At the beginning of each sprint, I post up a plan of what I intend to do during the course of that sprint. I will state explicitly the tasks that will be taken from the product backlog and brought into the sprint. I will never bring more than three tasks into any given sprint, to ensure that I do not take on too much at once. If the three task limit proves to be too stringent, I will revise this and consider increasing the maximum limit before the beginning of the next sprint.
I will document my progress on each task through a combination of note-taking and also posting to this blog.
And tasks that are not completed during a sprint will either be put on hold or carried to the next sprint.
Each sprint will end with a sprint retrospective in which I reflect on what went wrong, what went well and what can be improved; and also a sprint review in which I will weigh my progress up against my two SMART goals.
I will visualise the progress and maintain the Agile framework of my project using a kanban board, which can be viewed by clicking the link ‘Púca’ in the Project Management toolbar to the right hand side.
This board consists of four lists – Product backlog, Sprint, On hold and Completed.
As the requirements of this project become more clear, more tasks will be added to the product backlog. At the beginning of each sprint, when I have chosen the three tasks to focus on for that sprint, I will move those cards from the product backlog list over to the sprint list.
As tasks are completed, they will be moved to the complete list. If a task goes on hold for any reason, it will move to the On hold list.
I will colour co-ordinate the Kanban board and each task will be marked with a different colour according to the stage of the game development process they belong to.
I am writing this post on 11th February. According to the sprint dates listed above, this places me halfway through the first sprint. I recognise that I am establishing my project management system relatively late into this unit. This has happened because of unforseen circumstances in my personal life which I am in the process of resolving and I have written this post as an attempt to retcon this.
I could have begun the sprint cycle from this point onwards, but as the deadline is on 28th April, this would mean that one of my sprints would have to be shorter than the others, so I have decided to carry on as though this first sprint actually began one week ago to even it out.
I also need to acknowledge that I have already done some of the work from my project, no matter how small it is. I have been developing the narrative for my game, as well as the game mechanics. I have also been using two different tutorials (BigCatMatty, 2021 and Virtus, 2018) to both develop my understanding of Unreal Engine and to build the framework for and RPG game, and I am continuing to do this.
For sprint 1, I have therefore brought the following three tasks into this sprint:
- Building RPG mechanics
- Designing game mechanics
These tasks are not being done one after the other but rather in unison. I have established a back story for the game, but I am working out how this can be best incorporated into the mechanics of an RPG. Equally, I am working on building the standard mechanics for an RPG game through teaching myself and using tutorials so that I can use these as a building block for my game prototype.
Although it is unusual to begin with programming before the pre-production stage, I have decided to start the programming early on as I am less confident in this area. I want to ensure i can block out something that I know works early on and that I can then work into later by modifying the mechanics and adding in my own artwork.
I will document my progress on all three of these throughout this sprint.
During the past few units, I have tagged my posts with tags to indicate which week they were written in (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc.). I have not found this particularly useful for indexing my work or tracking my progress and has been a very arbitrary system for tagging posts. It has also resulted in a massive amount of blog tags, which are harder to manage or navigate.
To simplify this process and better index my progress, I will be tagging my posts in two ways.
Rather than tagging posts week by week, I will be tagging my posts according to the sprint that they were written under. These tags will be as follows:
- Game Development Sprint 1
- Game Development Sprint 2
- Game Development Sprint 3
- Game Development Sprint 4
- Game Development Sprint 5
- Game Development Sprint 6
This will help me to track my progress during each sprint, as well as to index my work chronologically using fewer tags.
As this post is part of sprint 1, it will be tagged as sprint 1. I will retrospectively tag all posts I made between 3rd February and today with this tag as they are also part of sprint 1.
This unit stipulates that I address seven different specialisms within game development. To make it clear that I am addressing each of these specialisms, and to make it easier for the reader to view posts according to each specialisms, I will tag posts with the following tags:
- Game Development: Game Design
- Game Development: Narrative Design
- Game Development: Level Design
- Game Development: Sound Design
- Game Development: Art Direction
- Game Development: Programming
- Game Development: Animation
- Game Development: Project Management
In addition to the seven specialisms, I have included an extra tag – project management. This eighth tag will be used for posts that reflect on how I am managing my project. This post will be tagged with this as it solely covers the project management behind my project.
All my posts will receive one or more of these tags, including posts written made before this one.
BigCatMatty, 2021. Visual Scripting in Unreal Engine. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDpmPXt5D_qzJFJPxBGyo2J3CvkQeb52a> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
Virtus, 2018. Creating a Role Playing Game – Unreal Engine 4. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL0cLF8gjBpqA8DcrhL_O9kD4jsUqhDR6> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
2021. Unreal Engine. Epic Games.