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Team Cosmic Pineapple - Honey Hustle
Lead Producer and Systems Designer - Custom Engine
This team has had an interesting path. From a space-themed game over the first semester, Honey Hustle grew into an endearing game about a bee that must defend against wasps for resources for its hive to survive. I was the lead producer on this team, watching the team swell from a modest 8 members of two departments (design and tech), to a team of 14, including art, audio, design and tech departments.
My focus as producer was to spearhead the direction of the team and make sure that everything was cohesive. We had some rough patches, but were able to sail through those rough waters with tenacity as we've developed our game. Our game is built in a custom engine, which included a number of growing pains from a tech team that had never developed a custom engine before, to gaining art and audio departments halfway through the project and shifting roles within design. Through all of this, the one word we all focused on was communication. Active communication between and within departments was paramount for us to succeed.
I focused on making sure that departments kept on track with initially a giant board that everyone updated with their tasks. This was a team-effort, and helped a lot with communications between departments due to the readily available information. Another key to our success has been regular meetings with other leads. We originally would convene in spare classrooms, but since have migrated to a private channel on Microsoft Teams to join a call together to discuss what each department needs and what each other are blocked on.
Agile Sprints are another practice that we have partially adopted within my team, as I introduced it as a trial period within the design department, and it has taken off with popularity and other departments use them as well. The accountability of individuals and flexibility of usage of a well-designed Sprint-tracking spreadsheet is a useful tool for anyone overseeing a team of any size, and has help kept us on task and estimate times for completion. The combination of the physical Kanban Board with the digital Sprint-tracker was a very potent tool for managing our team over the course of this year-long project.
Another big part of the success of this team has come from an open line of communication with those that we can get help from. As soon as time slots became available for pre-grading or for the school-funded "Team-On-Ones," I would book these as often as possible. The pre-grading session bookings helped alleviate panic in teammates when nearing the time of project milestones or completions. "Team-On-Ones" were a special day of focused relaxation for the team where we spent 4 hours in a session where we would set problems to address and would share food and work through problems in this special, constructed space away from the worries of everyday life. These were managed by one of our professors, and were taught to us to use to help de-stress any team and bring productivity back up. The combination of these things helped everyone on the team feel cared for and comfortable with bringing up issues, which was a key part in diffusing potentially high-pressure problems before they had too long to grow into big problems.
Producing for this team has definitely had its share of problems, but I really feel like I've fostered a positive environment where teammates really care about each other and try to rise to meet my expectations out of respect for me and their peers.
Note: We haven't quite finished this project up, and once I do I will update this page with the finished product.