100 Experience Points
An Adventure in Indie Game Development

Sprint #3 Review

In light of the fact that that I’m following Scrum, I should be having sprint review meetings. The purpose of these meetings in the “normal” world would be to show the current state of development to the product owner and perhaps anyone else that’s peripherally involved and has a stake in the project (the product owner team) like potential users.

These people can get a chance to see where things are currently at. That’s important. They see, with their own eyes, where things are at. It’s so stinkin’ easy to tell your customer that the bread toasting feature of your software, and egg scrambling feature are both working. In a lot of status pull meetings all over the world, you see this exact same thing happen. But the definition of “working”, and the definition of “toasting” are left up to interpretation, and you end up with toasters that only make black or white toast. No grayscale toast here.

So the sprint review meeting gives the people who have a stake in the game a chance to see and even use the product, without being mislead, and free of confusion. Just the facts.

The second purpose of these meetings is to get direct, immediate feedback about the software, in it’s current form. Also common in status pull meetings:

Darth Vader: I sent you the plans for the new Death Star last week, but I never heard back. Did you see it?

Emperor Palpatine: Oh, sorry. I haven’t had a chance. I’ve just been so busy. The Twi’leks are feuding with the Hutts, and the Wookies are trying to start another revolt. The fourth one this week. Plus I had to bury a star destroyer in Coruscant. This empire-ing thing takes a lot of work. So what are you working on this week?

Darth Vader: We were going to start building the shaft that leads directly to the main reactor. We were hoping to get some feedback from you first on whether that was a good idea or not.

Emperor Palpatine: Well don’t let me hold you up. Keep going. But can you send me those plans again via chip-embedded-in-a-droid? I think I can get a look today. That’s my goal.

Darth Vader: You’re not going to review them, are you?

Emperor Palpatine: Ehh… who am I kidding. I’m heading to Kessel watch some punk smuggler try to beat the Kessel Run record.

Having a regularly scheduled review meeting, where the people representing the end users are present, provides a perfect opportunity for the development team to get a glimpse into the minds of their customers. And that’s invaluable, if your goal is to build something people want.

To summarize, the underlying goal of this meeting is to get everyone on the same page. Everyone knows where the current state of development is, and everyone has a chance to discuss what’s working and what’s not.

But I have a problem. I’m working solo, and so I’m the development team, the scrum master, the product owner, the everything. It’s kind of nice to have so much power and control, but the fact that nobody else is really seeing it with a careful, constructive, critical eye is bad for the game. By myself, I could probably build a game that I’d really like. But what I’d really like is actually a game that lots of people really like.

And if I may be so bold, I’d say this is one of the biggest challenges of a small indie game development studio. Especially if it’s only one or two people. How do you ever build the right game, if you’re only getting feedback from a single brain? (Ha, that sounded like I’m a zombie, with that talk about brains and feed.)

So my sprint review meeting would be me sitting in front of my computer showing me the game I made. Kind of useless. Except…

For Your Viewing Pleasure

It’s time to do something about this. I have mixed feelings about doing this, but I’m officially giving you guys, the readers, a copy of my game, in it’s incredibly early form!

Here it is: http://rbwhitaker.wikidot.com/local–files/sprint-review/100XP.ccgame

A couple of notes. Yes, that’s back over on my tutorial site. WordPress didn’t let me easily upload that kind of file. I don’t doubt there’s a way, but I’m not in the mood to fight it right now.

And yes, it’s a CCGAME file type. That means it’s executable. Your computer will (and probably should) give you a hard time about downloading and running an executable from a random corner of the Internet. I promise it doesn’t have anything malicious, but you’re taking my word for it. I suspect you actually probably trust me, though, if you’re reading this. But also, because it’s a CCGAME, you’re probably going to need to have XNA installed on your computer for it to run.

What I’m Looking For

If you’re up for it, here’s what I’d love to hear feedback about:

  • Did it run? If it doesn’t run on some people’s computers, I want to get to the bottom of it.
  • Did you encounter any bugs? I’m actually not so focused on bugs right now. I want to keep it as clean as possible, but so much is still going to change that I’m not going to stress over it too much. Still, if something big happened, I’d like to know.
  • What did you like the most, and what did you like the least? C’mon. There’s got to be something in both categories.
  • Think big picture. And try to also imagine where this will end up, if you take it through to it’s logical conclusion. Am I headed in the right direction? What features would you look at and say, you’ll need this, or there’s no way someone like me would buy this. What am I probably going to do that will probably ruin the game for you?