Auxilium

Platform: PC · Engine: Unreal · Team Size: 49 · Timetable: Four Months

Auxilium is a class-based capture the flag game for the PC by Pantheon Studios. The game features four levels, each developed by a different sub-team: Hangar, Magic Academy, Railways, and Atrium. Additionally, Auxilium features four characters to allow players to pick their play-style. This project was the first time most of the developers had worked on a project with more than five people, as well as the first time that all of us had used Unreal Engine on a team.

Initially I was tasked with producing two of the four level teams. We decided the best way to pass information up with our team structure was to have a scrum of scrums with all of the team leads after regular scrum meetings. I worked with my sub-teams to develop good scrum hygiene, integrate Jira into our stand-ups, and to remove blockers and increase efficiency across the board. Near alpha, our team lost a producer, and I was promoted into a larger role as Co-Producer of the project. My Co-Producer and I divided swim lanes and responsibilities to play to each others's strengths. I became responsible for managing the entire project in Jira and working closely with the team on the floor to identify and remove blockers


Contributions and Tools

Role: Co-Producer

My Contributions:

  • Managed Jira workflows and tasks
  • Communicated longitudinally between lead team and sub-teams
  • Removed blockers to keep up productivity
  • Organized pipelines
  • Produced Scrum meetings as the Scrum Master
  • Communicated laterally between sub-teams
  • Organized targeted strike teams to address bugs
  • Coordinated strike teams and sub-teams when they were split

Tools I Used Daily:


Documentation and Downloads


Live Images


Risk Assessment/Management

ASSESSMENT: Multi-team communication problems

MANAGEMENT: develop/implement communication pipeline

Method: Implement and facilitate scrum-of-scrums

Our organizational structure for this project was very complex. A team of seven leads managed four sub-teams of around fifteen each.  As a producer on Auxilium, I spent each day alternating as the scrum master of two different teams. I was then responsible for selecting a representative from each of my sub-teams to attend the team's scrum of scrums. I also attended the scrum of scrum and aided in downwards communication from that meeting.

 

ASSESSMENT: Loss of Producer mid-project

MANAGEMENT: fill the loss of the producer

Method: Absorb responsibility, pivot to larger role

Towards the Alpha milestone of our project one of the other producers left the project. What resulted was a large vacancy in our leadership structure. At the time I was responsible for two of our four level teams while the other producer was responsible for the others. When he left, I was asked to take over managing the other two teams and work alongside the lead producer. Clarifying swim lanes with the lead producer helped smooth this process. 

ASSESSMENT: Large team task management

MANAGEMENT: pick and monitor task management system

Method: Jira implementation and monitoring

Almost all of our developers were learning agile fundamentals and had never used a task management tool like Jira before. Prior to the project I worked with the other producers to set up a Jira system that would work for our team and reflect the best practices we were striving for. I also utilized Jira in our scrum meetings and as part of the development workflow to raise familiarity. In addition, I monitored the system for improper usage.

 

ASSESSMENT: Need for programming pipeline for large team

MANAGEMENT: Select individual to create pipeline

Method: Step into pipeline creation role, Work with team to generate efficient process pipeline

This was the largest team most of us had worked on and we needed clean efficient pipelines to make sure wires were not crossed. I stepped in to lead the discussion for generation of the pipeline for the programming department. Using experience as a programmer and as a team lead I was able to guide the team's discussion towards a pipeline we used for the majority of the project.


Postmortem

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Auxilium: Postmortem


Quotes

Justin provided the support and coaching I needed, given that I was learning to be a lead producer during Auxilium. His experience was invaluable, especially when working with the other producer. Personally he always kept me on my toes and encouraged me to become more involved with connecting with the team members in each of the teams. That was always what he excelled in. When I looked for Justin, he was usually working directly with someone on the floor, encouraging them or finding what their needs were to remove their blockers. He was also a great support when things became challenging, as 50 person teams are wont to do. Towards the end, he became more of a partner and he worked well side by side with me to help the team succeed and reach their goals, which was phenomenal since we have completely different leadership styles. He’s flexible and adaptable and shows the strengths of being both a leader and a follower when needed.
— Conor Dalton, Co-Producer
Auxilium was a crazy project for us because it was 50 students trying to work as a team. Justin helped manage the chaos and keep everything running smoothly. He helped clear blockers, communicate between level teams, and make sure that people were working on the highest priority tasks. Without him the project probably would have failed.
— Stephen Merendino, Lead Programmer