- The Solutions in This Chapter
- Challenges to Scaling
- Should You Scale Up?
- Scaling the Wrong Process
- The MAGE Framework
- The Product Backlog
- Team Organization
- Product Ownership
- Additional Roles
- Managing Dependencies
- Distributed and Dispersed Development
- What Good Looks Like
- Additional Reading
The MAGE Framework
Over the past decade, many scaled Agile frameworks have emerged. Each has its approach to how Agile can be scaled up for IT projects. Game development presents unique challenges for scaling. Fifteen years of experience dealing with these challenges has driven me to produce my own framework that I’ve christened MAGE, or Massively Agile Game Environment.1
MAGE, like Scrum itself, is a framework based on lessons learned with many large-scale games. Its practices are meant to be inspected regularly and adapted to your unique challenges.
MAGE encompasses team formations, roles, planning, execution, practices, and tools that have proven useful for large game development teams. It applies Agile and lean principles and it duplicates many of the principles at the large scale seen at the team level.
Whole Game Focus
Large game projects must still maintain a focus for the entire game. Every Sprint demonstrates one build, not a build from every team. We focus teams and practices towards this.
Communication, Purpose, and Autonomy
Often, developers working on massive games complain that they have little idea of what they are working on or what their part in the game is. This creates an impact on development by leading to disengagement and a lack of ownership (http://www.melconway.com/Home/Conways_Law.html).
By preserving the principles of Scrum while scaling, we can keep lines of communication short and ensure that developers maintain a sense of purpose and autonomy in their work.
We continuously apply systems thinking, Lean thinking, and Scrum patterns to continually improve the flow of work, reduce overhead, and address every aspect of studio organization to enhance the flow of communication and the output of value to the game.
Scaling the Right Way
At its core, MAGE is still Scrum:
Teams of five to nine developers that commit to Sprint Goals.
Potentially shippable game increment is demoed every Sprint.
Each team has a Scrum Master and a Product Owner.
MAGE scales Scrum by organizing around “teams of teams” that reflect a hierarchical Product Backlog with a similar hierarchy of Product Ownership to ensure a vision is being shared, in both directions, between all stakeholders and developers.