Interstellar Racing League

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Interstellar Racing League is a splitscreen, multiplayer, third-person racing game. Race in a field of 8 racers including up to 4 human players or up to 7 AI players. Drive futuristic Super-Jet cars on tracks spanning 4 planets across the galaxy - from the tightly packed slums of an alien planet to a sunny oasis on a desert moon. Featuring traditional racing game modes: Versus, Grand Prix, and Time Trial modes, Interstellar Racing League takes the arcade racing tradition into the future and beyond!

 
 

Details:

Engine: Unreal 19.2.1

Team Size: 56 Developers

Duration of Project: 16 Weeks - 3 hrs/day

Platform: PC

 
 

My Roles

Track team producer

My initial role on the team was Producer for the Tracks Team. As a team we were responsible for creating the primary play space in the game's four tracks. We used a custom spline tool to create the twists and curves of the tracks. We worked closely with the environment team to manage the realtionship between gameplay elements and artistic/environment elements.

My Responsibilities:

  • Facilitating Scrum and attending Scrum of Scrums

  • Broadcasting Agile and Clearing Blockers

  • Coaching Team Members in Agile

  • Facilitating Negotiations between the track and environment teams

  • Communicating with other producers and teams to prioritize tasks

"Car feel" team producer

As we entered our Beta period, the tracks were locked, and the focus shifted hard to balancing and fine-tuning the gameplay and user experience. I was tasked with producing a new team consisting of physics programmers, our cart systems designer, and our lead user experience designer. Our core responsibility was to refine the player experience and be an advocate for the player during the final polishing stages of production. We did this by having constant playtests and implementing feedback at a rapid pace.

My Responsibilities:

  • Facilitating Scrum and attending Scrum of Scrums

  • Broadcasting Agile and Clearing Blockers

  • Prioritizing Tasks

  • Organizing Playtesting Sessions

  • Compiling and Prioritizing Feedback from Playtesting

  • Advocating for the player to other teams

My Personal Journey

 

This project was hard for me.  Coming from an industrial project management background, transitioning to the role of video game producer was challenging. My understanding of management was rooted in training I received at business school, and in working on physical, industrial, engineering projects. I was used to functioning in an entirely different environment and interacting with teams in an entirely different manner.

I found that there is a fundamental ideological difference between the way I had managed people in the past and the way I needed to function in my role as producer. I learned that there were several important distinctions between bad managers and good producers:

Bad Managers:

·         Have subordinates who work to meet their personal goals

·         Serve the goals of the organization selfishly

·         Are ego-driven in their pursuits

Good Producers:

·         Serve their team members

·         Work for the product and for the team

·         Suspend selfish ambition and ego

As I struggled with the difference, I came to the realization that I couldn’t go from being a bad manager to being a good producer overnight. I needed help. I talked with my Stakeholders, with my mentors, with my friends, and with my colleagues. I asked these people whom I trusted to hold me accountable and to help me grow into the producer and coworker I needed to be.

Over the following weeks and months, I grew – not only from a manager into a producer – but as a person as well. I learned to relate more positively to my teammates, to listen rather than to speak, and to evaluate the emotional impact of my interactions with my team members. While the change was not overnight, I constantly sought new avenues for growth. This self-improvement was validated as I slowly regained trust with those around me and became a member and leader of the team once more.

 
 

Personal Contributions

 

Facilitating Scrum

 

One of my primary day to day responsibilities was facilitating team scrum. While the role of "scrum master" was passed around the team daily, I was responsible for taking scrum notes and attending scrum of scrums to represent my team. Part of working with an inexperienced team was helping team members to identify their own blockers. Often teammates would mention problems, without realizing that this was a blocker they would need help to clear.


 

Prioritizing Tasks

One of my primary functions as a producer on this 56 person project was to plan and coordinate between teams to properly prioritize user stories and tasks. Working with other departments during sprint planning was pivotal to the success of the project.  Early on in the project, we struggled to communicate and coordinate across departments. As milestones dragged on, we realized we needed to do something more to coordinate our priorities across teams. We started having regular product backlog update meetings that helped keep teams abreast of the current priorities of the project, and when their tasks needed to be completed. This helped us to plan and schedule across departments so that when milestone day arrived we had all of our ducks in a row.


Coaching and Mentoring

Another of my day to day functions on the Interstellar Racing League was that of a coach and mentor. While we were all new to the business of game development, as a producer, I received additional training on agile methodologies. This training helped me to coach team mates on the agile process, including topics like writing good stories and tasks, scrum hygiene, and working within a team.

Sprint Retrospectives

Track Team Retro - POCG Sprint

This sprint was very early in our development process. Teams were still forming and norming, and we were developing and revising pipelines as we learned to work in a larger team. This Retro comes after the Track team did a partial reorganization into specialized sub-teams. 

 

Track Team Retro - Alpha Sprint

This Sprint was long and hectic, We finished developing all of our tracks, and made cuts to many features. Our communication with other teams improved, but at the same time our internal communication was breaking down. Our reorganizations was causing friction  between team members.

 

Car Feel Team Retro - BEta Sprint

This is our Retro from the newly formed "Car Feel Team". We were formed for our Beta Sprint to finalize the car feel and racing experience. We found the formation of our strike team to be very effective, and  wished we had been put together earlier. Ultimately, we pulled together and finished the project strong as a team.