I am not sure how many people talk about the backlog, but I am going to do it now.
The backlog is an excel document that we use to track the project development. It is a tool used to track what has been done, what is being done, and what needs to be done. Items need to be prioritized and deadlines must be set. Once a week, the group and I decide on tasks that need to be done. The backlog is used as a reference in this, we call this our “Sprint Planning”. At the end of the week, my group and I get together, and we inform each other which items got done, how they went and if they were any problems. This is our “Sprint Review.” After I gather all the information, which is safely written down so nothing is forgotten, I make sure what is in the weekly sprint matches up with how the backlog looks. For example, if a member of my team created an image, for the week, I would mark it of as “testing”, until it is fully implemented and no more changes are to occur, at that point it would be “done”. If an item was added to the game, it would be considered implemented. Also, if we have deemed an item unnecessary or too much work, it becomes “deleted.”
I have color coded my backlog, so everything is easier to see; a unique color for each stage of completion, as well as what category the item falls under (i.e. Code, art, sound, etc.). I feel that as well ask making things aesthetically appealing, it helps the project stay organized. Sheer black and white is hard to differentiate at first glance what needs to be done, the colors help the group pick out what they need to do. They also quickly help pick out what completion stage each item is on, so we can quickly see if an item is done or not.
This week I feel the week started early. The team grouped together on Sunday to get things ready for the Play-Testing. The meeting was going to be a collaboration day, where we would implement what we had done together. Unfortunately, some individuals felt that they would have time to finish what they were supposed to do before implementing it. This resulted in a waste of time, and some scolding followed.
My main focus of the week was getting the Beta Presentation up and running. Which was a bit difficult, because half the problems we do have comes from inexperience with Unity, as well as the things that have gone well seem to be things that should happen anyway. As I was making the presentation my focus is on how everybody is working with one another. What I focus on is are things getting done, and are they getting done on time. This has been going well during our 2, 3-hour meetings during the week. Some good progress was done, the group was able to ask questions and get things done properly. Although, the Programmers did not show up on the second day, it was because they were working from home and became super productive. If they had to pack up and head to school, they would have lost their flow. Their absence was missed, but they got their things done and were available for discord or skype calls if we needed them.
There was a slight hiccup with a couple members of the group not processing the meet-up time. It was rather unfortunate that they arrived at the library, two full hours before we were to begin work. I could say that they should listen, but in truth, I should have sent a reminder about the time and location the night before. I will do this from now on, as I do not want this incident to happen again.
This week was an interesting one. I spent quite a lot of time de-bugging my backlog. It was initially created by my Designer, so I had trouble understanding it, therefore it was neglected. It is what I did this Wednesday during our 3 hour group meeting. I was joined by one Graphics, one Programmer, and my Designer, seeing as my other group mates were ill.
This was a pity because I was trying out different music possibilities with the group. They were all rejected. The reasons behind it being they felt too “Happy” or that they did not feel like “Satan taking souls to hell.” To be fair they were like that. The largest problem is that our game is set in Mexico, and we want our music to reflect that, to keep that feel we need Latin music. And as some of you may know, those people love to party. Their music is upbeat and positive. It is pretty much the essence of what makes Latin music Latin. A party would not work with somber music. The few things that seemed like they would work were deemed too repetitive, or they had lyrics. The music having lyrics is only a problem because we cannot understand the lyrics, this means that we cannot say how appropriate it is. I found that Latin-rock has the right feel, unfortunately all of it has a vocalist, which is the biggest problem with it.
I was forced to miss the Thursday meeting due the fact that I myself have fallen ill. I attempted to work from home but it proved to be difficult. I edited the backlog more and prepped for the sprint review. I hope I will be well enough for our planned pre-playtest prep day, as well as the Playtesting day itself. Only time will tell.
Wednesday was my eventful day this week. My designer and I worked on our Alpha Presentation. While sitting down and working on our presentation we noticed a slight flaw; our group was not aware of what we were putting on the presentation. Seeing as we were pointing out things we found, less than savory in our work, the pair of us decided we needed to inform the rest of the group. Therefore, we dragged them all into a meeting over discord. We discussed what was in the presentation, and debated what we implemented. My designer wanted did not agree with me placing a large chunk of the blame on him and myself, but I believe in taking responsibility for my actions, no matter how it turns out. In the end however, I could see the pit that formed in his stomach about the info, so we removed where the blame was placed.
My group pushed back our sprint review to Friday, due to the presentations. Unfortunately, this means that our SCRUM Master will be unable to join us for the review, then again, she would not have been able to join us on our preferred Thursday either due to workshops. Well, that is all for now.
Talk To You Later.
This week I worked with Particles in Unity. I was trying to make a little cloud poof for the enemies to disappear behind once shot. It was difficult to keep the little cloud from spreading out, and to make the cloud stay close. There was also the problem of making the cloud image show up. After several hours of looking it up, screaming, yelling and slamming my mouse against the mousepad, I finally got it to work. Then I replicated the process a couple times, just to make sure I understood what I was doing.
I run the group meetings we have. I maintain the Scrum Document and try to keep my group working in the right direction. I secure locations for my group to work in together. This creates an open environment where we can toss ideas back and forth, as well as keep everybody informed about what the others are doing. It joins us together, and makes us feel like a team, as opposed to just a bunch of students thrown together. The physical space helps us enter the mental state of “This is Game Design Time” so we may also focus together.
Today we had our pre-alpha meeting with Markus, and we received criticism. So we quickly hunkered down and created a new narrative. We threw up several ideas, with someone playing devil’s advocate, which made us scrap several things. I eventually started researching Piñatas and stumbled upon the answer to our problems. From there things fell into place and we worked on filling in all the details. My Graphics are a bit upset that they must start over with practically everything, but it is a step in the right direction.
After all the narrative discussion, I sat my group down to discuss our stand-up meetings, or, lack there of. I laid down the law about times. I understand that some days it is completely impractical to meet up in person, but that we needed our digital meet ups. Mondays and Thursdays were our Sprint Planning and Sprint Reviews respectively. Tuesdays, our scheduals never meet up, so a Facebook update between 1800-1815 was implemented, making sure the info was only posted at that time, no sooner or later. Wednesdays were toss ups, If we had class we would do our meetings during the first break, or at noon if someone was not in class. However, if we did not have class on Wednesday, we would implement the same rule as on Tuesdays. Fridays we will continue to update the sprint sheet at 1700 over discord. This way everything will be taken care of and we do not have extra work on Monday.