Jeff PPJ09 – Personal Term Postmortem

The last 9 or so weeks working on The Two Powerful Ones have definitely been an experience. As team lead, it was the first time I have really been responsible for the direction of a project to this extent, especially considering that the project itself was largely my vision. While this was a fantastic feeling, it was also stressful, knowing that six other people were on board with me, rising and falling with me and the game that I pitched to them. Over the course of the term, and all the hours I put into the project, I feel like I did a number of things right, but at the same time, I definitely was not perfect. Here, I am going to go into some of the things that stood out to me in both of these categories.

Successes:

  • Paring back features when they needed to be – I have definitely been known to over scope in my game pitches before, and The Two Powerful Ones was not an exception to this. With little doubt, I am confident that this was one of the more demanding games pitched at the beginning of the term. In light of this, once we settled into the game, I think I did a good job of not becoming too attached to individual features of the game and was able to easily put a number of them on the back burner or discard them entirely if it became apparent that they were not feasible. A significant example of this was the entire upgrade system, as well as the river feature of the map and the extended variety of blessings that I initially imagined in the game. Doing this allowed the team to better focus resources on the remaining features, and bring them to an acceptable level of polish by the end of the term.
  • Not being intimidated by scope – As I mentioned before, the Two Powerful Ones had a relatively large scope given the time that we had to work on it. In spite of this, I think I did a good job of not becoming intimidated by all that had to be done, and properly allocating time to work on the most critical elements of the game. I think that I could easily have been unnerved by the amount of work that was going to have to be done, and almost was early in the term until Mark stepped up to help me manage design. After this point, which I will go into more detail about later, I think that things began going incredibly more smoothly, and I don’t think I or the other members of the team really ever got put off by the work we had taken on.
  • Fostering a good environment for the team – I think easily the best thing about the project was how well we got on as a team. Nobody was afraid to ask anyone else for help or to give others advice on how to improve. We routinely met to do work together, which helped bring us together and make us feel more comfortable with each other. It also helped us get work done more efficiently, as people were always present to give feedback and discuss issues with. I also made an effort to be available for questions, advice, or help as much as I could, to be present for my team members so they didn’t feel like I was just sitting back and giving orders, and to take on plenty of work responsibilities myself. This is probably what I am most happy with about this term, because group work has a known tendency to be a bad, or at least difficult, experience, and I believe that I was able to help make that not be the case for us.

 

Failures:

  • Taking on too much personal responsibility – At the beginning of the term, I really did not have any idea whatsoever about what I was doing as team lead and tried to do far too much by myself. This led to week 2 of development being, honestly, a train wreck that we had little to show from. At this point, Mark and Meagan stepped in to basically tell me to not take all that on myself, and we figured out a better way to distribute responsibility among us, namely with Mark taking on design and Meagan being chiefly responsible for team presentations. Admittedly, trying to do everything myself at the start was a problem, and if they hadn’t said something the project may have come crashing down around us early in the term. That said, I definitely learned from this, and in the weeks since then I became much better about distributing things more efficiently and not trying to do things that I was not capable of doing.
  • Not being as efficient at problem-solving as I would have liked to be – There were times that I tried to tackle certain tasks and just could not make headway on them. One big example of this being the NavMesh movement system early in the term. I could not at all figure out how to make it work, and put much more time into it than I should have, especially given how little I had to show for it. In the future, I plan to improve my ability to learn and complete tasks that are unfamiliar to me so that this doesn’t happen like it did during this project.
  • Not being good enough at giving people tasks they could succeed at and enjoy – In the earlier stages of the project, I feel that I did not do a good enough job of figuring out who on my team was good at what, what skills they had, and what they enjoyed doing. This led to a number of things taking more time than they should have, such as map design, as well as people not being as productive as they could have been. In the future, I want to avoid this issue by becoming more familiar with my team members earlier, so I can better enable them to do their best and be happier with what they are doing.

I think that I learned a lot over the course of the term’s work on The Two Powerful Ones, much of it coming from mistakes I made early on. I also think that I gained a lot of confidence in myself at the same time. I am immensely proud of my team and what we’ve done, and I look forward to seeing how I have improved as a result of this project and what I will be able to do in the other projects I work on, here at Drexel as well as wherever I end up after school.

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