Project Management/Production Methodology

I have led five projects in a project management role in teams of various sizes. Most teams I’ve contributed to have been small or mid-sized, some completely new to terms like Sprint or Standup, and are often looking to ship but aren’t sure how to get there. Here is generally how I get there – though there, to me, is any production goal really.

Though I’m familiar and always learning about new formalized methods and tools, in general they’re too rigid to be what leads production all of the time. More a backbone or even a pinky bone, in some cases. Instead my tools are mainly guidelines on how to help and mediate different obstacles between people and highly collaborative work. Here are some of the main things I do:

  1. There is no one size fits all production system.
  2. People need to be healthy to make a good game. Prioritize team health.
  3. Articulate and document project phases and goals.
  4. Respect the team expertise, and only manage at the granular level when needed.
  5. Articulate and document all tasks into manageable smaller tasks.
  6. Categorize and scope work. Compare it to the budget (time and dollars)
  7. Cut what you know you don’t have time to make.
  8. Have ample emergency recovery time planned from the beginning.
  9. Prioritize features/align primary work with the goals of the project.
  10. Formalize useful structures, open discussion, and use adaptive tools.
  11. Celebrate achievements!
  12. Someone needs to play the game!
  13. One-on-ones and a culture of structured constructive feedback.
Below is a break down of my production contributions to projects:
Naraven – BackFireWall – Time on project: Five months
  • Established production pipeline for nine person indie studio creating BackFireWall, a narrative driven 3D platformer, in partnership with an (unannounced ) publisher
  • Lead defining project milestones, budget milestones, path to alpha/beta/gold, feature priorities, roles and expectations, refinement in iteration, testing, and tools workflow
  • Established and taught production tools with project leads: Gantt, Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, Trello, Discord and discord bots, GSuite, 1on1s, feature locks, deadlines, and collective resolution process
  • Calculated project, department, and feature scope estimates and mediated rescopes and cut decisions
  • Resolved funding roadblock for engine licenses via publisher collaborations
  • Advocated and taught scope conscious and anti-crunch methodology to mitigate team burnout
  • Mediated publisher communications and quality benchmarks
  • Audited resources and strategized ROI outcomes
  • Resolved meeting creep by establishing new studio schedule and collaboration pipeline, leading to significant increase task completion and agility for departments
Flash Forward Games – Battlegrounds: Ascension – Time on project: One year and ten months
  • Establishing regular one-on-ones and lead meetings for remote team of ten
  • Formalizing development and roadblock resolution workflow
  • Centralizing and updating necessary project, mostly design, documentation
  • Formalized and documented project goals and vision with project lead
  • Cutting out abandoned and cluttered tools (Confluence and Trello) disrupting workflow
  • Planning and budgeting an Early Access release date – bringing an end to six years of dev limbo
  • Mediating feature prioritization, wishlists, and cuts for release
  • Tracking development progress
  • Tools: Discord, Confluence, GSuite, Unreal Engine, Trello, TortoiseSVN
Completely Fair Games – DwarfCorp – Time on project: Ten months
  • Executing on final release date for remote team of four – ending seven years of dev limbo
    Formalizing and documenting project vision, scope, priorities, cuts, and wishlist
  • Centralizing and updating necessary project documentation
  • Leading weekly and monthly sprints via Git Milestones, and tracking task progress
  • Providing scope creep mediation in a creep hungry dev space – Dwarf Fortress-likes
  • Establishing dev workflow for QA via scripts, Git Issues, and Steam documentation
  • Securing a marketing partnership with MassDIGI for release
  • Establishing a workflow to resolve longstanding build performance issues
  • Strategizing release marketing and potential publishing schemes
  • Tools:  Git/Git Issues, Steam, VisualStudio, GSuite, Slack, Steam, Discord
Fractured Reality Studios – Project Fracture – Time on project: One month
  • Set up studio production system and tools for a remote team of eight
  • Mentored project lead in Scrum and Agile methodology
  • Planned rapid prototype sprints for development of horror VR MVP
  • Updated and centralized needed design documentation
  • Formalized and documented project goals with project lead
  • Several re-scoped project plans due to budget management
  • Creative conflict mediation
  • Task and sprint tracking via standups and burndown software
  • Recruiting 3D art talent
  • Tools: Trello, GSuite, Unreal Engine, Vive
Ouroboro Studios – Project Kingdom – Time on project: One year
  • Production for a remote team of six working on a branching RPG
  • Mid-project scope evaluation and budget analysis
  • Resulting formalized scope restrictions, feature cuts and prioritization
  • Task tracking via asset lists and standups
  • Crowdfunding campaign planning and tracking
  • Tools: Trello, GSuite, Skype, Unity