A Case for Story Points

Burndown

Image above captured from Hansoft (www.hansoft.se)

Of all of the concepts in Scrum, one of the most maligned (anecdotally it would seem, at least) is the Story Point. I have heard Scrum’s proponents and detractors alike discount the idea, saying Story Points are meaningless or too abstract, and that estimates and forecasts are better served by Ideal Days. For me, it’s a matter of probability, and the argument between Ideal Days and Points is one between precision and accuracy.

An example: imagine a man who weighs exactly 215.68 pounds. If you put that man on a calibrated digital scale, you will see that he, indeed, weighs 215.68 pounds, a number that is both accurate and precise. But, what if you didn’t have that scale and you instead had to look at the man and simply estimate his weight?

If you said he weighs between 150 and 160 pounds, you would be neither accurate nor precise. If you said he weighs 208.667 pounds you would be precise, but not accurate. But, if you instead said that he weighs between 210 and 220 pounds, you wouldn’t be precise, but you would be accurate. And if I have to choose between accuracy and precision, I’ll take accuracy every time. There’s a reason you hunt quail with a shotgun and not a 9mm. Continue reading

What Can The Art of War Teach Us About Game Development? Part 2

The Art of War in it's original presentation: bound bamboo planks.

The Art of War in it’s original presentation: bound bamboo planks.

Note: This entry was based on Samuel B. Griffith’s translation of The Art of War, specifically The New Illustrated Edition (Copyright© Duncan Baird Publishers, 2005). All quotations are Griffith’s translations.

You can read Part 1 of the series here.

Chapter IV: Dispositions

Thus a victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in hope of winning. (Chapter 4, Verse 14)

Contrary to what one might assume, Sun Tzu was not a bloodthirsty warmonger. He stressed that the aim of war was expedient victory, not destruction, and that the most skilled generals achieved it with a minimum of bloodshed on for any side, or no bloodshed at all. To win through pure violence was the hallmark of the amateur and the inept. Truly adroit generals win before the battle even begins. In modern terms, they set themselves up for success. How do you, the modern game developer, do likewise? Simple: do your due diligence. Continue reading