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Hearthome Postmortem

Our group swelled to over 12 contributors this month. Half of us sat down over coffee one Sunday afternoon to discuss the highlights. This postmortem covers Hearthome for the month of April. Here are our notes:

Need to Keep

  • GitHub, though cumbersome to learn at first, is a must.

  • Keep the extensive design document, agile methodology and continuous integration.

  • Issues and feature development on GitHub, to include the way features were tagged (by artist, programmer, etc.) helped keep people on track.

  • Sitting down in person at the first meeting to orient the team to the project helped to quickly start the project.

  • Continuous integration and iterative builds allowed us to receive constant feedback from Mai on what was not quite right; that helped redirect the final product before running out of time to refine further.

  • Multiple sources to pull information (, slack, google docs) when there were questions

  • Diverse group! Keep encouraging people to branch out with their interests (analytics, art, music, etc.). It adds to the game.

  • The music in the castle scene, and the unique way melodies stack on each other with items, is a perfect example of the creative product that comes from multiple ideas coming together.

  • Keep getting to know people personally and keep getting people involved remotely. For similar reasons as the previous, it adds to the pool of creative ideas.

  • Keep using Slack

Need to Improve

  • Reduce the noise in the Hearthome channel on Slack from bots.

  • To fix: Luis to create a bot or admin channel for auto-alerts

  • It can be challenging to figure out what to work on next. Some members need a gentle push or nudge just to know what to do. It’s okay to provide this. New people want to get involved, they just need to be shown the door in order to walk through it.

  • To fix: “good first feature” tags, to give new members a good place to start

  • To fix: weekend trouble shooting meetings

  • To fix: periodic personal check-ins via slack to ask if there’s questions

  • To fix: Round-table talks with who’s doing what. Update issues by week for those things we want to accomplish, in that week.

  • To fix: People committing in person to what they’re going to do will help identify what features we can call “core.” The rest will be nice-to-haves and left for others – that way, if they’re not finished, no big deal.

  • To fix: A mapped timeline by each week

  • Like above, some were not aware that they were working on something that others needed before getting started

  • Fixes from above should help solve some of this. We can re-visit this topic next month

  • Possible fix: Dependencies properly set up can help with this. Deliberately define features, where possible, that do not have dependencies

  • Possible fix: Add priority to issues. Can make week 1, week 2 issues, etc. Or first half, second half of month.

  • Git and GitHub problem solving. Working together on games is hard; it’s made easier by git, but you have to learn it first! This can be a tall, but necessary, order and we still need to figure out how to do this best.

  • To fix: SourceTree needs to be a requirement. Not a suggestion. New members may have expertise in git and a preferred git client, but it’s easiest for admins to diagnose problems remotely with the visual representation that SourceTree provides.

  • Who do I ask if I need help? It can be challenging to get help when stuck on something.

  • To fix: Feel comfortable using the general channel to ask a question

  • To fix: A skills matrix. A List of who everyone is and what they do. This way new people know who to ask for what OR if you can’t finish something, who else might be able to pick it up

  • Some feel like they’re alone on an island when it comes to learning.

  • To fix: Make a tutorial or weekend trouble shooting session where members can come to get further oriented or learn (especially for git).

  • To fix: Fork one of our previous games and use it as a learning tool.

  • Possible solution: a parallel learning group for git, Unity and other tools

  • Unity version mismatch and crashing

  • To fix: enforce everyone being on the same version of Unity

  • To fix: Unity Hub to manage projects and unity installs

  • ZenHub as Agile tool not working out. Added little value given our workflow.

  • To fix: Switch to another tool and keep testing

Challenges and Goals

  • Deploy to some sort of distribution system (Itchio, mobile stores, steam)

  • This adds to the motivation of making a game – that someone will see it from a site they recognize!

  • Opens avenue for those who want to work on marketing and analytics

  • Monetization. Making money from one of our monthly games is not very likely, but walking through the process of marketing and deployment would be a useful exercise.

  • Want to get into user analytics and Public Test Realms (PTR) for our games

  • A skills matrix of who does what on our team so that we can post it publicly. This allows us to implicitly state what gaps we have on our team and what resources we already have for others to receive help.

  • Start building a repository of assets for reuse. Start intentionally writing things in a way that can be reused later.

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