Game Development Enters the Scrum
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Clinton Keith, High Moon
So many developers seem locked into traditional game making processes, but as game creation becomes more and more complex (and costly), alternative methodologies may be needed. We speak with Clinton Keith, Chief Technical Officer at High Moon Studios, about Scrum, which High Moon and others are fast discovering works quite well for game development.
GameDAILY BIZ: Many of our readers may not be familiar with Agile Methodology and the Scrum method. Where did this originate and can you please explain the fundamentals of this approach to product development and why you believe it works so well for game development in particular?
Chief Technical Officer
High Moon Studios
History: Clint joined High Moon in 2002 when the company was a subsidiary of Japanese game maker Sammy Corp. He has over a decade of game dev leadership, beginning at Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego) as development director for Midtown Madness.
Highlights: As Dir. of Product Development, he helped Angel become the only studio to develop two PS2 launch titles: Midnight Club and Smuggler's Run. Clint established the San Diego IGDA chapter, and is responsible for High Moon's adoption of Agile Methodology.
Currently: Clint is the CTO for High Moon, overseeing the studio's R&D of video game titles for next-generation consoles.
Clinton Keith: Agile Methodology is an approach to making products that is different from the typical development approach, which involves writing large documents, implementing features and putting it all together at the end of the development cycle. The problem with this is that you can't know your game until the end of the project. The Agile approach is to iterate on the development of the game and react to the results, such as emerging elements of the actual game play, by constantly planning what is to come next. This way, the value of the game's features emerge and can be evaluated early on, and the project team can then adjust what has to come next in its development. Scrum is just one of the four major Agile methods that are out there.
BIZ: I understand that High Moon first adopted this methodology for development on Darkwatch. Was that the plan from the beginning, or was it that somewhere during the course of development you decided a new approach was necessary?
CK: We adopted Scrum halfway through the development of Darkwatch, immediately after I took on the role of CTO at High Moon. I worked with the programmers to redefine the structure of the programming department using Scrum, and another Agile method called XP. Most of those on my team had heard of both methods before, and with a bit of additional research we decided that Scrum was something we could adopt quickly. Since then we've developed the framework for bringing our artists and designers into the process. Scrum helped us to maintain the schedule for Darkwatch, but we didn't see the full benefits of Agile until we started building new ideas from the ground up using Agile practices.