• Andersen Pinckney

Tripling the Team Size - Adjusting as a Product Owner and Lead Designer

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Have you experienced exponential growth on a project before? When something significant with your game happens and you need to rapidly expand your team size? Our studio just grew from 5 to 17 members and counting. In the fall semester of 2019 we had to make a vertical slice of a game and present it to our collective game studio at Champlain College. Our game was one of eight to move forward in the selection process. We accumulated a massive team to make our game and publish it by May of 2020. This is the end of our first week of development with a new team and it’s a huge change of pace. The question I will be answering in this post is how did I adjust my role as a product owner and lead designer to compensate for 12 additional team members and contracted work?

I haven’t worked on a team larger than 8 people before. On the team of 8 I worked on, I was lead design and product owner, but it was much different as we had experience working with each other. Now that our team is double the size of what I previously experienced and not all of us have worked together, it’s a much different feeling. On the smaller teams I’ve been head on, I think everyone had a very similar vision for the game. With Vacuum Vault’s current state, we are working on better contextualizing the player’s motivations and theme of the world. I think the team may not all be on the same level of understanding of what to do. As a product owner, I don’t even know exactly what the game will look like in 15 weeks. I know what goals I want the team to accomplish, but I have to rapidly iterate and find a vision that works for the team. Understanding my own vision and communicating is my top priority.

Communicating the vision I create will be difficult. Last semester I started working on a vision board that tries to envision the end product. The board can be viewed HERE. The vision board is definitely out of date to our current game, but I am in the process of updating it. I believe that ensuring the team all has the same vision of the game is going to be vital for the success of the product and the efficiency of our work. Our developers need to know what they are making and working toward, otherwise pipelines will become clogged.

In previous games there was so much iteration and shorter time frames that our master backlog was never truly updated. I believe that since we are moving into production, I should look at our backlog weekly to make sure everything is up to date and prioritized. Planning sprints will become easier and people will begin to understand what the scope and timeline of the project looks like. We have two lead meetings a week to ensure our disciplines are making progress and are not being blocked by other members. During our next meeting I will discuss maintaining the master backlog and vision board for the game.

The road ahead looks difficult, but I believe with the right focus and direction the team will make a great product. It will take time to complete onboarding and orient our team on a stable track to success. I will let you know how things went in two weeks.