Quiz: What’s your game development style?

Summary: Most of us have spent the last several weeks inundated with Facebook quizzes, telling us everything from what type of food we are to what state we should really live in. This week, Anne's got a quiz of her own. With a few quick questions, she'll help pin down the game development process that's right for you.
February 24, 2014

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you’ve spent the last several weeks inundated with quizzes. I’ve taken buckets, including “Which Muppet Are You?” (Swedish chef, bork, bork, bork!), “Which Girls Character Are You?” (Adam, weirdly pleased with that), “Which College Should You Actually Go To?” (my alma mater!), “What Arbitrary Thing Are You?” (A Really Fat Squirrel), “Can You Identify These European Countries By Their Outlines?” (Um, let’s move on, shall we?)

All these quizzes have me thinking of how nice it would be if any of them actually told me something of value. I mean, it’s cool to be the Swedish Chef and all, but what do I do with that? So, in tribute to my inability not to click on the stupid quiz of the day (and in memoriam for all of the “What’s Your Dating Personality?” quizzes I took in Glamour magazine back in the 90s…), I decided to make a quiz of my own, one that might actually come in handy for anyone embarking on the road to game development.

Those new to game production may be understandably confused by all the terminology (product backlog, anyone?) and the current vogue of the “MVP” – minimum viable product – in a world where words like “Alpha” and “Beta” once reigned supreme. But as with any industry that’s been around for a while, different production practices have evolved over time and some styles fit certain teams better than others. And whether you’re developing something yourself or working with an outside shop, it’s critical to get some grounding in the production processes you and your team are comfortable with.

So, without further ado, here’s my handy dandy, totally unscientific, grossly overgeneralizing “What’s Your Game Development Style?” Quiz.

What was your favorite subject in school?
A.  Shop – “Measure twice, cut once!”
B.  Debate – The cohesion of the team, the pride of independent effort
C.  Statistics – Love me some data analysis!
D.  P.E. – Dodge Ball is my jam

What’s your favorite pastime?
A.  Dinners with good friends planned well in advance with careful check-splitting at the end
B.  Jam sessions where my buddies and I talk about what went well yesterday, what we’re going to do today, and what obstacles stand in the way of achieving our goals
C.  Getting out and talking to strangers to get some perspective on things
D.  Planking

Your point of view about letting people see your work in progress is…
A.  I’ll show you when I’m good and finished, thanks
B.  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours
C.  I’ll show you mine and you tell me what you think. Then I’ll make rapid adjustments and show it to you again
D.  Uh, what work again?

How do you make sure everyone is on the same page on a project?
A.  Write it down, natch!
B.  Quick group meetings every day (standing up so they don’t drag on)
C.  Continuous deployment, putting new code into action all the time so we’re all seeing the same product
D.  I talk, and everyone else listens

How savvy are your stakeholders about production?
A.  They don’t know a ton about how things get made
B.  They’re totally with the program
C.  I am my “stakeholders”
D.  Who cares?

How closely do you like to work with your colleagues?
A.  I need my space to do my best work
B.  Check in regularly, then go off and do my own thing for the day
C.  The closer the better
D.  I don’t really like to work with others

How much do you already know about what you want to make?
A.  100% – I have it all figured out down to the smallest detail
B.  I’ve got a sense, but I’m open to seeing where things go
C.  I’m ready to question my assumptions about where I’m headed and make radical changes if need be
D.  I know I want to make tons of cash, that’s for sure!

Pick A T-Shirt
A.  Big Design Up Front
B.  Scrum, Baby, Scrum
C.  [Front of t-shirt] A Test [Back of t-shirt] B Test
D.  Haters Gonna Hate

If you got mostly A’s…. You’re Waterfall!


Some might call you old fashioned, but you prefer to think of yourself as “time-tested.” You make a plan, schedule things out, figure all the details out up front, and stick it through to the end. You keep your promises, and are reliable and hardworking. Some people think you are a bit of a stick in the mud, unable to adjust quickly to new information, but you always have your eyes on your end goal and you do what you need to achieve it. Just be careful not to march blindly towards your goals if something’s telling you to take a second look.


If you got mostly B’s…. You’re Agile!


You love working with others and you’re open and straightforward about where you are and what you’re doing. You’re great at creating near-term schedules and sticking to them, and you inspire open communication with those around you. You require absolute forthrightness and transparency from everyone, and struggles sometimes with those who are more comfortable showing “polished” work to colleagues and clients than opening up their process to others. Make sure to keep an eye on your long-term goals as well as your short term ones, and keep yourself accountable to your plans to ensure long term success.


If you got mostly C’s…. You’re Lean!


You’re strategic and know the most important thing – that you don’t know everything. You are always willing to question your assumptions and make critical changes. You don’t get too far ahead of yourself and stop before building too much based on your assumptions. At the same time, you consistently keep an eye on your end goal, focusing on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. It’s important for you to keep in mind your end goals, so you don’t work endlessly in search of an elusive perfection.


If you got mostly D’s… You should probably not be developing anything!


Alright, you were just messing with this quiz and we all know it. Take it again to see what you really are.

So, that’s your crash course in production methodologies. The categories above are very general and contain a fair amount of overlap, as often projects are both Lean and Agile, or transition from being Waterfall in certain phases to Agile in others. Not to mention that all of these methodologies have dozens of different practices and frameworks within them, which makes this far from an all or nothing proposition.

Of course, there’s a ton of nuanced, researched scholarship on each of these methodologies – and many others not mentioned here – that a silly quiz will never capture. There are tons of great books and blogs on production process, like the Mountain Goats Software blog, which focuses on Agile development, Joel on Software, a great, wide-ranging software development blog, and of course The Lean Startup, the now-legendary book that Carla talked about on this blog a while back (folks who have others to recommend, please post them in the comments!). I encourage you to dig into these or any of the other great software development resources out there for real insight into the pros and cons of different approaches.

The important thing is to ask yourself big questions up front about what you’re comfortable with, what degree of risk you’re willing to take on, what time and effort you can commit to, and mostly, what’s the process that’s going to work best for you and your team. You may find an Agile methodology ideal in practice, but if you’ve hired a team that’s more comfortable in a Waterfall environment, forcing them to learn an entirely new process on the go may not be worth your time. However, if you’re heading up a startup, spending that time upfront may be indispensable as the methodology you choose feeds into larger business decisions and strategic planning.

Well, it may not be, “What Kind of Girl Scout Cookie Are You?” (Do-Si-Dos, meh), but I hope this quiz has provided some interesting questions, and at least a little amusement, whether you’re writing up big, detailed design docs for your Waterfall-minded colleagues, or tracking down potential customers for some Lean product testing. Just be yourself, no matter what any stupid quiz tells you to be!

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