Florida Man Games
Florida Man Games was a 9-man team I was producer for through the Fall of 2018. Together we made a single-player FPS in 15 weeks for PC titled Cruel Fuel. The game is centered around you progressing through 3 levels inside an abandoned military base, killing enemies , and collecting parts to power a mech that you then pilot and use to fight a large boss.
Throughout the production I assigned and tracked team tasks, set project scope, facilitated team discussions and meetings, presented deliverables, and was our team's Scrum Master. Cruel Fuel had a lot of interesting challenges and learning opportunities that came with its development as it was the largest single project I worked on up until that point.
I grew a lot; especially, through hardships that we had on the team. We had to fire a programmer early on for plagiarism which forced us to react and appropriately reduce scope for the project. Along with this, another member was having trouble feeling connected and motivated; however, through an in-person meeting where we analyzed their problems, I was able to fix the issue and bring the member's productivity up to where it was needed.
This team had a great set of members and something that helped our team's production and success was making sure that I used and trusted their expertise. Consistent and effective communication let me accurately assess our team's progress, and ensured my decisions were well informed.
Lastly an important problem we overcame was that our members - specifically those not directly working in engine - were having trouble seeing how their work fit into the game. They felt a bit disjointed from the game. We were able to quickly alleviate this by giving our team access to multiple builds throughout our sprints. This let them see how the game was continuously evolving and allowed them to be more active in discussions about the game. It had a noticeable boost to team morale, participation, and communication. Maintaining team morale is a core skill of a leader, and it can be achieved through small, but meaningful changes like this in the development process.
Spring Roll Studio
Studio Page Link: https://spring-roll-studios.itch.io/
Spring Roll Studios was a 14-person team I was the General Manager for. This team, over a 16-week period, developed 3 games: Bash & Debris, Phase Jumper, and Power Defender.
Bash & Debris is a game that was started by a previous team and we continued development of it; adding 2 new levels to the game. Phase Jumper is a casual game where the player bounces up an endless level, collecting power-ups, fighting bosses, and getting their score as high as possible. Lastly, Power Defender is a comical and fast-paced FPS where the player defends themselves from waves of futuristic goblins attacking their space station.
Managing Spring Roll Studios was an important step in my career, as it provided me with many great learning opportunities. Throughout development I handled task assignment, management of teams, lead our weekly team meetings, oversaw QA testing, presented our games to stakeholders, and set project scope.
Producing 3 games at once was a tough, but ultimately very rewarding endeavor. It pushed me and my management skills by forcing me to track multiple projects and 3 groups working on them. This required balancing the members who worked on each game, switching them around as needed, and a lot of pre-planning to ensure that deliverables were met on time.
While we succeeded at meeting our goals it wasn't the smoothest of rides. There were 2 instances of team members severely underperforming. I can easily say now that I didn't handle them as I should've. Ultimately, I was able to increase the productivity of both of the members, but with their quality and quantity of work both members should have been fired early on in development, as they were not contributing to the team as needed. While I failed at following through with firing these team members, I've learned from that mistake and understand the importance of firing problem members when needed, so that stress on other members can be relieved, scope can properly be adjusted, and the team as a whole can feel like everyone is contributing equally.
All 3 of the games are available to play from the provided link, as well as Phase Jumper and Power Defender being available on the arcade machines on the University of Central Florida's campus.
Kitty Krew Games
Kitty Krew Games was a team I was producer for in the fall of 2017. Over the span of 8 weeks we developed a whimsical, cat-themed score attack game called Whisker's Warzone. Here the player is a cat defending its house and surrounding yards from invading mice, ants, and cats driving tanks while accumulating the highest score possible.
I was the Producer and Scrum Master for Kitty Krew Games; and therefore, in charge of the team's task assignment, Scrum Meetings and boards, project scope, and team presentations.
Throughout development I got first-hand experience with agile development and specifically how Scrum can be used to manage a team. Communicating clearly and often with each other gave me the ability to accurately evaluate our progress, and assign tasks as needed. Our process also allowed us the ability to react to problems as they appeared in the development process, and the organization of tasks through a Scrum board was a valuable asset.
While we used Scrum, these lessons on agile develop are things that I can always apply to development to ensure effective and on time delivery of products.
Lastly, Whisker's Warzone helped to teach me the importance of task dependencies; particularly in our art pipeline. We had 2 main 3D modelers and a 2D artist who handled the textures for said models. Given the short time period this game was made, it was imperative that, for each sprint, our modeling team would get their work done early so they could be properly textured and implemented into the game. A few time the modeling got behind on work, and this backed up the entire art pipeline. Managing the pipelines within my team's and identifying important dependencies was a valuable lesson that has since had an immense impact on my effectiveness at being a producer.
Whisker’s Warzone is available to be played from the link provided.