Production Postmortem

            We have reached the end of the project known as Dojo Busters and I am so happy with the outcome! The game has turned out awesome and I am so proud of my team that stepped up to the occasion and really kicked things out here at the end. This blog post will be a bit different. I will be going over the postmortem categories such as, “What went right?”, “What went wrong” and “What would I do differently next time” instead of showing off the work that is now in the game, playable and ready for you all.

            So, to start off, I will go over what went right with the project. By the end of the project, it was clear that the programming was set up efficiently and had a solid foundation because it built on itself smoothly with minor bug fixes here and there with little to no major overhauls. This made it very easy to continue the development of the game as we progressed through the sprints. Another thing that went right was our team communication. Most of the team was active on Discord and responded to all messages and pings in a timely manner. This helped a lot with the big task of keeping everyone on their time track. They also communicated well with one another, when necessary, which resulted in less traffic of questions going through me. Finally, the team worked at a decent pace as we progressed through the project which made the game vision turn into a reality. I am so happy that I had this team. No member is replaceable.

            Now I will go into a bit about what went wrong. Firstly, there was unclear communication between my game designer and myself about the vision of the game until about the halfway point of the project. This led to avoidable conflict between production and design. An example of this was that having an unclear vision due to lack of preproduction made it almost impossible for me, as a producer, to create a full, accurate backlog at the start of production. Another thing that went wrong was my knowledge of the animation pipeline. I did not know pretty much anything about the animation pipeline as I started this game and it hurt throughout production. The way it hurt was that the animators had to reapply the animations around new meshes several times throughout the semester and it took a lot of time to do that rather than creating more animations.

            Another aspect of the game that made it really hard during production was the fact that the game was not really playable until about the halfway point of the project. This meant that we were stuck with fully internal playtests until it was working properly. While internal playtests are important, they are not nearly as helpful as external playtests. With that being said, the level designers were limited on how they could iterate their levels until we were able to open up to external playtests. This only gave us half a semester to get the level designers back on track using external feedback for iterations and improvements. Finally, our pace was a bit slow for the number of people we had averaging at 7 points per developer per sprint when the minimum should be about 9. This hurt our production early in the semester, but we picked it up by the end.

            Now onto what I would do differently in the future. The most important change that I would make in the future is getting a solid understanding of the game and its vision with my game designer before we start production. Not only would this give me the ability to create a full backlog from the start of the project, but it would also help me creating meaningful user stories with actual feelings to be evoked rather than functionality. At least half of the cards that were made had functionality user stories since I did not know which emotions were meant to be evoked. In the future, I also plan to do more research on every part of development so that I can better plan and prepare the backlog issues for each of the sections of development. If I had known more about the animation pipeline, we may not have run into so many issues like we did.

            The last thing that I would change in the future is going into the game and playing it early and often. When I went into the game midway through the semester when it was in a playable state, I was blown away by the work that we had done. This not only gave me a major boost to motivation, but it also gave me an idea of where the game was at and where it needed to go to reach that final vision.

In the first week’s production I was new to the producer position and did not exactly understand what was being asked of me, so I was extremely nervous. It is hard to follow someone who is very nervous and doesn’t seem like they know what they’re doing. Therefore, with my new experience, I plan to better prepare for the production pipeline so that I can lead my team properly and confidently.

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