Monsters Built Using Kanban

I am not a big Facebook fan (although Zuckerberg is very Agile). Nor am I a big online gaming fan (though Warcraft seems like tons of fun).

What I am interested in are all things Agile. It seems like one of the most popular Facebook games out there has been built utilizing Kanban. Now that’s something worth reading about.

According to Wooga Product Lead Stephanie Kaiser, the development team has fully embraced some Agile principles:

Short Release Cycles

They work in weekly release cycles using a mixture (or, as they say: the best) of Kanban and Scrum. Every Tuesday they release a new version of the game on Facebook. The next development cycle begins on Tuesday and continues until that Friday. Over the weekend they refresh our minds and prepare to fix the bugs found in the new version that Monday.

“These short release cycles are tough, and every team member must work in a very disciplined manner to avoid delays caused by inter-team dependencies… But it pays off. We move fast, but we are still flexible enough to change priorities on a daily basis. Once a feature is finished, we usually release it while still maintaining the weekly cycle on top of that. Therefore, if someone in the team has an idea (or a finding of a usability test) today, it can be included in the next version—if its priority is high enough. In my experience, this direct impact on a game really motivates everyone on the team.” – Stephanie Kaiser

The Team

wooga is organized into dedicated game teams, with one product lead. All team members—developers, graphic designers, project managers and additional product managers—are dedicated resources that work on just one game. Each team has an individual office room which establishes a concentrated working environment with very short communication distances.

Continuous Testing Throughout

Usability testing

From the very beginning of the development they invite people outside of our project teams to participate in usability tests at wooga.

“My first test on Monster World was done on a paper prototype, with a pen, which served as a mouse. I showed the prototype to possible users and asked them to use the pen and “click” as if it were a computer screen. The page behind the click would be the next step in the user flow and was also prepared as a paper prototype. By testing early and often, we tried to avoid conceptual mistakes at a very early stage, before we even began development.”

They test our games every two weeks and Product staff is always in attendance. Right after a test the “watchers” immediately discuss their findings and decide upon priorities for the next development cycle. They also regularly invite everyone from the team to join a test. For developers and graphic people in particular, those sessions give a very deep insight into the world of user behavior.

Sounds like a winning combination to me.

  • Short release cycles
  • Dedicated teams
  • Continuous testing

[HT: Inside Social Games]

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8 Responses to “Monsters Built Using Kanban”

  1. Ahmed
    August 16, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Hi Peter,
    If they are really Agile, why there are so many PMs ?!
    “All team members—developers, graphic designers, project managers and additional product managers”

    The less managers you have, the more Agile is your project.

    Thanks,
    Ahmed.

    • peter
      August 16, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      Interesting take. I wouldn’t say that the less managers you have the more Agile it is… titles are titles… maybe they’re not typical

  2. Charles Bradley
    August 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I’m curious, what is your source on this? I tried clicking on some of the sub-links, but couldn’t find out where you are getting these quotes from Stepahanie.

    • peter
      August 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      Check the last link at the bottom of the article. Updated! Thanks :)

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