Agile Game Development with Scrum [NOOK Book]


Deliver Better Games Faster, On Budget—And Make Game Development Fun Again!


Game development is in crisis—facing bloated budgets, impossible schedules, unmanageable complexity, and death march overtime. It’s no wonder so many development studios are struggling to survive. Fortunately, there is a solution. Scrum and Agile methods are already revolutionizing development outside the game industry. Now, long-time game developer Clinton Keith shows exactly how to successfully ...

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Agile Game Development with Scrum

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Deliver Better Games Faster, On Budget—And Make Game Development Fun Again!


Game development is in crisis—facing bloated budgets, impossible schedules, unmanageable complexity, and death march overtime. It’s no wonder so many development studios are struggling to survive. Fortunately, there is a solution. Scrum and Agile methods are already revolutionizing development outside the game industry. Now, long-time game developer Clinton Keith shows exactly how to successfully apply these methods to the unique challenges of game development.


Keith has spent more than fifteen years developing games, seven of them with Scrum and agile methods. Drawing on this unparalleled expertise, he shows how teams can use Scrum to deliver games more efficiently, rapidly, and cost-effectively; craft games that offer more entertainment value; and make life more fulfilling for development teams at the same time.


You’ll learn to form successful agile teams that incorporate programmers, producers, artists, testers, and designers—and promote effective collaboration within and beyond those teams, throughout the entire process. From long-range planning to progress tracking and continuous integration, Keith offers dozens of tips, tricks, and solutions—all based firmly in reality and hard-won experience.


Coverage includes

  • Understanding Scrum’s goals, roles, and practices in the context of game development
  • Communicating and planning your game’s vision, features, and progress
  • Using iterative techniques to put your game into a playable state every two to four weeks— even daily
  • Helping all team participants succeed in their roles
  • Restoring stability and predictability to the development process
  • Managing ambiguous requirements in a fluid marketplace
  • Scaling Scrum to large, geographically distributed development teams
  • Getting started: overcoming inertia and integrating Scrum into your studio’s current processes

Increasingly, game developers and managers are recognizing that things can’t go on the way they have in the past. Game development organizations need a far better way to work. Agile Game Development with Scrum gives them that—and brings the profitability, creativity, and fun back to game development.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“ If you’ve ever felt that gaps exist between ‘traditional’ software development using Scrum and video game development using Scrum, this book is for you. Clinton effectively bridges those gaps by covering the adjustments necessary for disciplines, individual roles, and processes and project phases unique to game development, thoroughly supporting it with explicit examples and practical advice. Simply put, a must-read for game developers that are currently using or plan to implement Scrum or other agile processes within their company.”

—Jeff Lindsey, Producer, Longtail Studios

“ I wish Clinton Keith could go back and write this book 15 years ago—it would have helped me see things a lot differently. Agile Game Development with SCRUM is a one stop shop for game teams interested in using scrum techniques.”

—CJ Connoy, Game Producer, Treyarch

“ By the time you wake up and realize that you really need this book, your project will probably be too far gone. Dive into agile before it’s too late and let Clinton be your guide. Tested under the fires of true game production, everyone involved in game development will gain from reading Clinton’s wisdom.”

—Jason Della Rocca, Founder, Perimeter Partners, and former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association

“ Clinton Keith has written an excellent book for both practitioners and students. He combines an in-depth analysis of the challenges of large scale game development with hands-on advice on the use of Scrum. His often funny anecdotes illustrate that this guy has really experienced the heat of large computer games projects.”

—Bendik Bygstad, Professor of Information Systems, The Norwegian School of IT

“ Clinton Keith combines his experience as both video game developer and agile practitioner to apply Scrum philosophy to the unique challenges of video game development. Clint clearly explains the philosophy behind Scrum, going beyond theory and sharing his experiences and stories about its successful application at living, breathing development studios.”

—Erik Theisz, Senior Producer, 38 Studios

“ Clinton has combined his extensive game and software development experiences with agile methodologies. The result is a thoughtful, clear, and, most importantly, realistic application of agile to game development.”

—Senta Jakobsen, Senior Development Director, DICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321670281
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 6/6/2010
  • Series: Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Clinton Keith is an independent agile coach and Certified Scrum Trainer who helps game developers and nongame developers alike adopt Scrum, Extreme Programming, kanban, and other agile practices to greatly improve their productivity, workplace, and product quality.

Over the course of 25 years, Clint has gone from programming avionics for advanced fighter jets and underwater robots to overseeing programming for hit video games such as Midtown Madness and Midnight Club. Clint has been a programmer, project director, CTO, and director of product development at several studios. Through a series of presentations and his popular blog, Clint introduced the video game industry to Scrum in 2005. As CTO, Clint helped High Moon Studios achieve a place on IT Week Magazine’s Top 50 Technology Innovators list in 2005 and 2006 and win several of San Diego Society for HR Management’s Workplace Excellence Awards in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

For more information, visit


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Table of Contents

Foreword         xvii

Preface        xix

Acknowledgments         xxiii

About the Author         xxv


Part I: The Problem and the Solution        1

Chapter 1: The Crisis Facing Game Development         3

A Brief History of Game Development  4

The Crisis  10

A Silver Lining  11

Additional Reading  12


Chapter 2: Agile Development        13

Why Projects Are Hard         14

Why Use Agile for Game Development?  20

What an Agile Project Looks Like  28

The Challenge of Agile  32

Additional Reading  32


Part II: Scrum and Agile Planning        33

Chapter 3: Scrum         35

The History of Scrum  36

Scrum Parts  41

Scrum Roles  44

Customers and Stakeholders  54

Chickens and Pigs  55

Scaling Scrum  56

Summary  56

Additional Reading  57


Chapter 4: Sprints        59

The Big Picture  59

Planning  59

Tracking Progress  68

The Daily Scrum Meeting  74

Sprint Reviews  75

Retrospectives  78

Summary  84

Additional Reading  84


Chapter 5: User Stories  85

A Fateful Meeting  85

What Are User Stories?  87

Levels of Detail  88

Conditions of Satisfaction  90

Using Index Cards for User Stories  92

INVEST in User Stories  92

User Roles  97

Defining Done  99

Collecting Stories  100

Advantages of User Stories  103

Summary  105

Additional Reading  105


Chapter 6: Agile Planning  107

Why Agile Planning?  107

The Product Backlog  108

Estimating Story Size  112

Release Planning  117

Summary  124

Additional Reading  124


Part III: Agile Game Development         125

Chapter 7: Video Game Project Planning         127

Midnight Club Story  127

Minimum Required Feature Sets  128

The Need for Stages  130

The Development Stages  130

Mixing the Stages  132

Managing Stages with Releases  132

Production on an Agile Project  134

Summary  155

Additional Reading  155


Chapter 8: Teams         157

Great Teams  158

A Scrum Approach to Teams  159

Game Teams and Collaboration  168

Scaling and Distributing Scrum  173

Summary  188

Additional Reading  188


Chapter 9: Faster Iterations         189

Where Does Iteration Overhead Come From?  190

Measuring and Displaying Iteration Time  191

Personal and Build Iteration  193

Summary  201

Additional Reading  201


Part IV: Agile Disciplines         203

Chapter 10: Agile Technology         205

The Problems  205

An Agile Approach  210

Summary  220

Additional Reading  221


Chapter 11: Agile Art and Audio         223

The Problems We Are Solving with Agile  223

Concerns About Agile  225

Art Leadership  226

Art on a Cross-Discipline Team  227

Summary  232

Additional Reading  233


Chapter 12: Agile Design         235

The Problems  236

Designing with Scrum  237

Summary  247

Additional Reading  247


Chapter 13: Agile QA and Production        249

Agile QA  249

The Role of QA on an Agile Game Team  252

Agile Production  259

Summary  262

Additional Reading  263


Part V: Getting Started . 265

Chapter 14: The Myths and Challenges of Scrum  267

Silver Bullet Myths . 267

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt  269

Scrum Challenges  273

Summary  281

Additional Reading  282


Chapter 15: Working with a Publisher         283

The Challenges  284

Building Trust, Allaying Fear  288

Agile Contracts  293

Summary  300

Additional Reading  300


Chapter 16: Launching Scrum         301

The Three Stages of Adoption  301

Adoption Strategies  317

Summary  324

Additional Reading  324


Conclusion         325

Bibliography        327

Index        329

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    Practical game development advice

    I'm not a scrum devotee but I still enjoyed this comprehensive and practical treatment of game development (much of it is applicable to general software development). And, point of disclosure, I worked for Clinton on a big game project so I know he's not making this up, he definitely knows what he's talking about.

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