Independent Study Update #5
Admittedly, not much progress has been made in the project. Multiple attempts to get into contact with producers in the area have either not borne fruit or the earliest time they are available is next week. As a result, this week has been somewhat Limbo-esque.
I have, however, taken a look at another Gamasutra postmortem, this time looking at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. This game is legendary in the industry in how it completely collapsed upon itself and negatively affected not only the companies working on it, but also former Red Sox pitcher, Curt Shilling, and the state of Rhode Island. An executive producer for the project, Mike Fridley, went ahead and made a postmortem for this cautionary tale. In it, he lists the aspects of the project that went well, but more importantly, what went wrong.
First, they playtested often throughout production. This allowed them to get as much feedback about their product as fast as possible so they could work on it immediately. They also used a scrum production process, which allowed everyone to know how long everybody was going to be in making their parts ready for the next stage in production. This took the burden of guessing what progress was going to be off of the producer and into the hands of the artists and programmers. Lastly, they received a lot of help from large game developers such as EA.
The "What Went Wrong" section is really eye-opening. One of the complaints was that the preproduction phase utterly too short, and therefore many aspects of production, such as feautre pipelines and resource allocation, were not figured out early enough.
Then they made too many demos. This put extreme pressure on the team to produce end-product results in the middle of the production process, and make them in an incredibly short period of time. As a result, sub-par demos were paraded out into the public and gave them bad press. Lastly, there several upper management shifts that set the production process back significantly. Five of the senior management staff left the company, which in many cases would have closed most companies, so it clearly hurt them.