2
Nov

Relevant Metrics for a Game Producer

We talk a lot about actionable Agile metrics at all levels of the organization, which is of course super important and a powerful ability of Hansoft 8’s new dashboard and business intelligence functionality. However, possibly even more important and meaningful are persona based metrics.

By persona, I’m referring to metrics that are relevant and actionable by an individual based on their specific role in the organization.  People with different responsibilities and goals will, of course, want to visually measure very different things.

In this post, I’d like to focus on the persona of a Senior Producer on an AAA Game Development project.  Since titles vary dramatically in Game Development, I’ll clarify by saying that this would be the Process Owner for the entire project, the person ultimately responsible for delivering the Product Owner’s vision on time and to the best of the team’s ability.  Future posts will be geared towards other game development personas.

Will we hit our Milestone?

After all the pre-production brainstorming, designing and planning, every Senior Producer asks themselves, “Will we hit our first milestone?”  Whether it’s a First Playable or a first full Production milestone, it’s important to know as soon as possible if the team has bitten off more than they can chew.

The most clear and concise answer to the question is provided by the Milestone Burndown chart.  The first step in getting an accurate milestone burndown is to make sure you tag all work (Product Backlog and Schedule) to the relevant milestone. Whenever you create a milestone in Hansoft you then have the ability to tag both Product Backlog items and entire sprints or scheduled tasks to that milestone.  Simply right click the items and select “Tag to milestone / release”.

Once this is done, creating the Milestone Burndown chart in a Hansoft Dashboard is done by selecting the entire Project as the filter, Historical data as the dimension and Milestone / Release burndowns as the measure.  To display the specific Milestone, right click the measure and choose “Select milestone / release burndown”.  Finally, to display a dotted-line prediction of when the committed milestone work will be completed, based on currently team velocity, click on the Historical data dimension and choose “Forecasting settings”.

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How are the Feature teams / areas tracking towards completion?

If you have your Product Backlog structured by feature team, which is always a good best practice, you’ll have the ability to see burndowns specific to each feature area.  This makes it easy to see how different feature areas are tracking towards completion relative to each other.

Once again, choose the entire project as a starting filter and Historical data as your dimension.  Your measures will depend on whether you’re using Points or Estimated Ideal Days to size your Product Backlog.  If you’re using Points then drag and drop Points not done into the measure multiple times – equal to the number of feature teams you have on you project.  If you’re using Estimated Ideal Days, then do the same instead using Estimated days not done.

You’ll need to apply a filter to each of the measures, in order to represent the specific feature area.  The easiest way to create these filters is to open the project’s Product Backlog, right click the top level parent of each feature area and select “Create dashboard chart…”.  Creating any dashboard will automatically create a report that carves out just that section of the backlog.  In the example below, the automatically generated report will have a title identical to the selected feature area: “Player Mechanics Team”.

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Once you’ve created a report filter for each feature area, navigate back to your dashboard.  Click on each of the measures and select Filter to apply the appropriate report.  Finally, to display a dotted-line prediction of when each feature team’s work will be completed, based on each team’s current velocity, click on the Historical data dimension and choose “Forecasting settings”.  This will create multiple burndowns on the same chart, indicating the teams’ current burndowns and completion date predictions, as seen in the below example.

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What does our milestone / release plan look like?

Hansoft’s Dashboard functionality can provide you with an excellent visual representation of your milestone / release plan.  The below example shows the distribution of work tagged to each milestone / release and an outer ring representing Backlog priority.  This will help you to determine if you have an even distribution of work from milestone to milestone and ensure that the majority of high priority items are being completed sooner rather than later.

To create this chart, select the project’s backlog view as the filter.  Select Milestone / release tag as your first measure and be sure to filter down to the release you’d like to view.  Drag and drop Production backlog priority as your second measure, which will create the outer ring on the pie chart.  Finally, choose either Estimated days or Points as your measure, depending on which one you use to size your Product backlog.

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How’s the overall game quality?

Bugs over time by severity is one way to get a view into overall game quality.  Working towards a sustainable zero bug count, as you continue to triage, fix and KS (Known Shippable) bugs, this graph of historical bug data can be invaluable, ensuring that you’re trending in the right direction.  By using forecasting, you’ll also be able to predict at what point you’ll reach the all-important zero bug count.

This graph is created by selecting the project’s QA view as a starting filter.  The dimensions will be Historical data and Severity.  The measure is simply Number of items.  As with all graphs using Historical data as a measure, a specific date range or rolling period of time can be specified by clicking the Historical data measure and selecting Set date range.

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These are four straightforward examples of dashboard charts and graphs that can help any Senior Producer track, measure and take action upon valuable project metrics.  As you can imagine, there are many, many more important metrics that can be visualized in Hansoft 8, both for the Senior Producer role and other video game development roles.  While future posts will concentrate on those other personas and additional dashboard charts & graphs, be wary of creating an overwhelming “cockpit” of visual noise.  It is typically best to display no more than four, possibly six at the most, charts and graphs on a single dashboard page.  This will allow you to focus on the most critical elements of the project, based on the current stage of production.