The recent Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California, is a surreal experience. You'll see cyberpunks rubbing elbows with marketing execs, artistes drinking lattes with engineers, Battlestar Galactica T-shirts stretched over round bellies beside leather pants slung over slim hips. It's colorful, it's noisy, …
"time-to-markets is absolutely critical - I mean, you miss Christmas and you're done"
Everyone knows If a games company is going to miss christmas, they just ship it anyway and patch it later.
Ahhh, but look at the disaster Kane & Lynch has been. Multi-platform (XBox, PC) deployment, XBox was great, PC was -- and remains -- shite. Gaming magazine editors got sacked over their carefully-worded overly-rated "reviews," and the user community now hates Eidos.
Agile development revolves around customers - game development doesn't
I just can't see the point of Agile development in the games industry - my understanding of agile (and someone please help me out here if I'm wrong) is being able to give preview copies to customers early, and quickly make modifications based on their feedback. Writing a games seems to me to be the complete antithesis of this - you've got:
1. A strong vision, often based on a story line that's been story-boarded in advance.
2. Everything can be planned carefully: The designation of work into separate, parallel streams (dialog writing, graphic modelling, programming) is well understood.
3. Lack of open communication with the customers is vital to build marketability. Communication is controlled and one way when it does occur. There's no customer induced feature-creep.
4. You plan well ahead how to cut out bits of functionality if you're falling behind.
There was an article a few months ago about how Bungie would bring in people to test Halo 3 before it was released, timing how long they took to do certain things. I'm not making this up - they talked about adding an arrow to a cliff face when they saw that people took too long to figure out they had to walk around it rather than attempt to climb it. If you want a game perfectly designed for Joe six-pack, I guess that's exactly the strategy you follow. Even then though, this was controlled testing very late in development.
Lastly, here's a potential 'agile' conversation for a game:
Developer: "What did you think of the new test version?"
Customer: "It needs more boobs. And guns."
Developer: "I am not paid enough to do this."