What Went Wrong
As part of the project, we were required to use SCRUM, and we were issued an online tool, Pivotal Tracker, to handle planning and resource management.
This worked well in some aspects, and failed miserably in others. Daily SCRUM meetings proved to be essential in keeping everyone on track, but using Pivotal Tracker turned out to produce far more drawbacks than potential benefits for us, especially as we started out project with very few clearly defined stories or tasks.
Towards the end of the project we opted for the more traditional approach of using post-it notes, which in comparison to the online tool worked brilliantly. (It should be noted that the tool had very much the same functionality as our post-it wall!)
Once we were comfortable with splitting up stories and tasks using post-it notes we were able to plan ahead for the weekly sprint review.
So while SCRUM eventually worked well for planning out what to work with when, we realized that we really needed someone in the group to be the clearly defined project lead, making sure everyone was working towards the same vision. Eventually this role was filled by our Art lead, but the role should have been defined and delegated early on, not out of necessity.
2. Communication & Discipline
Intergroup communications sounds like it would be the easiest of tasks, but this in fact turned out to be one of our greatest hurdles. Creating clear, well-defined guidelines is a great idea, but they are useless unless everyone of the the team stick to them.
Similarly, working to a brief, and having regular, scheduled reviews are vital if you are going to stay in line with your vision and time plan. If you do not turn up on time, or listen to your team members, you won't just not contribute to the project -- you will actually start to work against your own team!
For us, discipline in the workplace turned out to be a real problem. Had our project been "real" and the team not just a student project, we would have had completely different disciplinary
3. Overconfidence vs. Planning
The importance of keeping to internal deadlines, deliveries, meeting times and schedules cannot be underestimated, especially if you add in some youthful inexperience and confidence. In a six week project, we managed to estimate about 200% wrong -not because of technical limitations, or lack of knowledge, but from a basic inability to estimate even the simplest of tasks properly. This resulted in us having to cut the project down by roughly half. Had this been a six month project, the effect had most likely been amplified, with disastrous results.
Summary and Conclusion
We set out to create a simple, easy-to-understand concept, illustrated by a fun, polished gameplay demo. In hindsight, we think it was a success, both as a pitch presentation, and as a game. The shortcomings -and there are many -are such that they either fall outside of our control, or they do not detract too much from the original goal, which was to successfully illustrate our concept.
We learned that while planning is vital, the plan is worth nothing unless you actively try and stick to it, and when/if the plan fails you have to focus on your idea and your concept, and make sure that all aspects of what you do are in line with that idea.
As an added bonus, we were awarded the first prize from the industry jury for our work, and an honourable mention in the indieDB Unity contest.
To download the game and try it for yourself, please visit the Bloom game page at indieDB. For more information about the school, please visit Futuregames Academy.
The Bloom team:
Karl Andersson - Art Director
Fredrik Englund - Level Design
Daniel Nordlander - Code / Game Design
Niklas Strid - Code / Game Design
Daniel Olsson - Animation
Liv Sydler - 3D-artist
Lowen Hoq - 3D-artist
Martin Olsson - 3D-artist