We are very pleased to be welcoming Black Rock Studio to Animex for the first time this year. Many people who have experienced managing teams of artists and programmers throughout the game development process tend to refer to the experience as like herding cats! Production Director Alice Guy's background in large scale project management and production has had quite an impact on the way things are now done at Black Rock, and she’s keen to share her experiences with an Animex audience.
Alice said: ‘In a former life as part of the Climax Group, we were independent developers serving multiple publishers trying to protect ever slimmer margins. We'd often be at the whim of external producers and steered by publishers who were ever-conscious of competitive products. Feature lists would get quickly bloated as we all frantically rushed to keep up with not just the Joneses but also the Yamauchi's and the Hausers! Quality would inevitably suffer as a result.
‘When we were bought by Disney, we changed our name to Black Rock Studio. We took the opportunity to change a lot of other things too. We now run our own take on Agile and Lean production techniques and are far from traditional. We've reorganised our team structures and removed our dependence on long working hours. By far the most important change though is that we've learned how to say 'no' and that focus is king. Focus is absolutely key to making the right decisions about features, team structures and even team-members if you're going to make quality games on time. Focus goes absolutely hand-in-hand with Agile development. We'll explain why and how we've implemented Agile in the studio and show that Agile and Lean development techniques have produced excellent results.’