Sprinting Forever

June 05, 2020 ( last updated : June 05, 2020 )
gamedev multiplayer shootyourfriends agile testing


Sprinting Forever

Hello friends! Last week we reported that we’d finished our first build, and that we’d be taking the week off for administrative stuff, but that doesn’t make for very compelling reading. That doesn’t mean we’ve been resting on our laurels though!

A Blank Slate

If you’re familiar with the Agile development workflow, then you might nerd out with me for a minute. When we put together our first build we had cleared out our board.

A screenshot of our sprint board

We’ve been using Trello to manage our sprint board. If you’re not familiar with the process, essentially we schedule our development into manageable periods called “Sprints” and put any tasks we expect to work on into a “Backlog.” Our last sprint cleaned out our backlog, which meant that every feature we had expected to include in an initial release of Shoot your Friends was finished!

This is a really exciting milestone for me for a couple reasons. Firstly, as an enterprise programmer I’ve never had an empty backlog. Secondly, that meant we could start working on bug fixes to improve gameplay, and start juicing up the game to make it more appealing. That of course means we no longer have an empty backlog, but it was an exciting couple of minutes.

There are a lot of experts on the Agile workflow, and I don’t profess to be one. So if anybody’s keeping score at home, I concede that our team is quite small for Agile and our sprint cycle of one week is on the shorter end. But then again, if you’re an expert I’m sure you probably agree that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution and most development shops are doing some bastardization of Agile and/or Scrum anyway.

Constructive Criticism

Since we’ve been chillaxing this week, we decided it would be a good opportunity to get some feedback on our first build. We’ve distributed the game to a few small groups of players in our friends and families and told them to give us some tough love. And tough love it was.

This came as a surprise to nobody, but our playtesters unanimously told us our game was not ready for sale. That’s no surprise, we’re still early in the development cycle and Shoot your Friends needs a lot of polish still. Here’s a couple more insights we found:

The game is mad buggy

This wasn’t news to us, but there were a few bugs outlined that we weren’t aware of. Glad we caught them early!

The player moves and shoots in a way that feels right

I guess that means we nailed the fundamentals!

The user interface is a bit clunky

I agree with this, and we’re learning as we go. User experience is such an important part of what makes a game pleasing, so I want to make sure we get this right.

The controls aren’t immediately clear

This one was a surprise to us, but it’s such an excellent note. When we’re working on our game, we’re really close to it. It can be hard to place ourselves in the shoes of someone who hasn’t spent hours working on tiny details, so it’s somewhat natural we’d forget that our players don’t immediately know what’s going on with the game. We need to find a way to convey the controls to our players in a meaningful way. After all, you can’t shoot your friends if you don’t know how to shoot!

An Eye on the Horizon

Aside from the polish and bug fixes that we expect to be busy with for some time to come, we’re kicking around some plans for the future. It’s too early for details, but since we’re teasing anyway here’s a tidbit: there’s a project in the works after the completion of Shoot your Friends. There you go, I’ve said too much.

Originally published June 05, 2020
Latest update June 05, 2020

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