This post is a continuation post of Meet PixelTail Games. If you want to know who works on Tower Unite, please read that thread first.
This thread will cover the basics on how we work and how to track our progress. Our goal is to inform people and provide complete transparency about our work flow.
We use Trello to track Tower Unite's development progress. Trello shows progress on every feature we've publicly announced, and is a good way to stay informed about upcoming features to Tower Unite.
Every time our Trello page changes, our forum bot will update the forums in the Trello Updates section. There, you can comment, like, or opt into automatic updates via E-mail.
We have a card on the Trello for each feature or bug fix, collectively, "tasks". Some tasks are bigger than others and can take months. We often have checklists in these cards to help break down the smaller milestones for each task.
Trello cards are categorized by the month we estimate it will be ready. We try to meet these estimates when we can, but sometimes a card will push off development of other features (for example Casino pushed a lot of things and made us miss our previously defined estimates).
You've missed a monthly estimate or a feature I wanted got moved a month out, why!?
Missing an estimate isn't a failure and shouldn't be perceived as one. Missing estimates is natural. Normally, the cause for missing an estimate is time.
We work every day as hard as we can to finish features, and sometimes development takes longer than expected. It could be an unexpected bug, unexpected design flaw, or unexpected real world event (such as being sick, or a death in the family).
We're a small team and the absence of any one developer has a massive effect on our deadlines.
Notably, we have been short on man hours, and this in part has contributed to missed estimates in the past.
Why don't you do away with monthly estimates if you can't always hit them?
Having no deadlines would cause development to be disorganized. We need structure, even if it's not as rigorous as most game development companies. Deadlines are also a good way of informing the public on what we're planning.
Don't you have a lot of people working on the game? How could you miss a deadline?
We have a lot of artists at the moment. We're a little unbalanced in that area. Our artists out-staff our programmers.
In order to keep our workload balanced, we keep a backlog of work that needs to be done across all disciplines. If someone isn't working, they are instructed to take a task from the backlog.
For example, about 3 months ago the art of the Casino was already 80% done, but no game logic or programming existed. Because the art finished early, artists started to work on other tasks from the backlog. The remainder of the work was assigned to the programmers.
Trello: How To Track What Developers Are Doing
Each card has developers assigned to it. You can see who's doing what by looking for the avatars of our developers.
The avatars show that for the Casino, @Johanna, @macdguy, @Matt, @Foohy, @Zak, and @donglekumquat are currently working on this feature. Anyone not assigned to the card, isn't working on it.
According to this feature card, only @SamM is working on it. The rest of the team are either busy, or not able to help much. Sam is the expert on the feature and (at this time) only requires one programmer to complete the task.
A more balanced example:
The developers working on this are @Caboose700, @macdguy, @Matt, and @donglekumquat. That means two programmers, one artist, and one musician made this feature possible.
Note: You'll likely notice that @donglekumquat is on a lot of cards. We've got lots of music and sounds to make.
Keep in mind that although not every developer may be assigned to a feature, every developer most likely had a say in the feature and we all discussed and brainstormed the feature together. We all play test each feature together and give feedback, criticism, and sometimes help with bits and pieces of it.
What about not Trello
We also have an internal task tracking software with pre-planned milestones and internal deadlines. We keep this internal and reflect changes on our public Trello when we can.
We also have internal documents that track our weekly progress on the game. We call them "sprints". Weekly sprints help us have mini-goals and keep us going forward on these massive tasks. We don't release our sprints publically, but we do reflect them on our Trello publically.
Sometimes our sprints have super top secret information about an unannounced feature that we don't feel comfortable releasing information about yet.
I have a question that wasn't covered in this topic
Please ask all questions by making a topic in the questions subforum: http://forums.pixeltailgames.com/c/general/questions