- I came across an interesting article where developers of a major video game hit look back on their development process. A lot of their lessons learned are very much in line with Agile approaches:
My quick summary:
Bioshock was one of the most critically acclaimed video games of 2007, with as much applause for the plot and style as for the gameplay itself. To date it has sold 2.2 million copies, which I'd guess means more than $75m in revenue, with a lot more to come as it is released for other platforms.
They name five things that went right:
- Demos that drove the product and team forward,
- Major and minor course corrections,
- External input (including reactions from real users),
- Small empowered teams, and
- Talented people and flexible staffing.
And five things that didn't:
- Making major changes late due to getting external feedback late,
- Neglecting narrative content development until late,
- Underestimation and bad scheduling,
- Insufficient investment in tools to make the work easier and
- Poor collection of player data (used in gameplay tuning).
The last bits of their conclusion:
"If there's an over-arching theme of our development, it's that we, like many other developers, believe that ultimate success in this industry comes from iteration. You have to build, evaluate (and have others evaluate) and be prepared to throw things away and rebuild.
The products we make are just too complex and our industry reinvents itself too rapidly to do anything else. But we believe that if you are truly prepared to turn a critical eye on your own product and honestly respond to that criticism you'll get quality at the end. As to whether you get a blockbuster, only time will tell."
Given their critical and commercial success in an area where the user experience is the only product, that seems like a pretty strong endorsement of the Agile spirit.