Breaking The Wheel

A stack of pancakes

Friday Short Stack, September 30th Edition

Friday Short Stack posts are shorter, more bite-sized pieces – a little nugget of buttery knowledge before you head off for the weekend. Because everybody love pancakes! This week, it’s three of my favorite books for developing your “soft skills” – those esoteric abilities that help you work with (and in some cases around) people and their hang-ups, quirks, and egos. These are the three books that have provided me with the most utility, personally and professionally. If you find yourself struggling managing up, managing down, or just getting along, you could do worse than these weighty tomes.

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Sunk-Costs and Ugly Babies: On The Value of The Scientific Method – Game Planning With Science! Part 8 Featured Image

Sunk-Costs and Ugly Babies: On The Value of The Scientific Method – Game Planning With Science! Part 8

It struck me one day that “Game Planing With Science” has a glaring omission: the value of scrapping a plan. The goal of “Game Planning With Science” is to forecast, not predict. It’s to estimate and understand, but not to codify. You can’t codify the creative process, or the future for that matter. Just as important is the fact that life doesn’t care about your plans. Reality is going to be what it’s going to be. You can’t change reality to fit your plan, so modifying your plan to fit reality is the only path forward. As Dwight Eisenhower, one of the most immensely quotable people ever, once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.”

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A picture of a menagerie of animals

Monday Menagerie: Sept 26th Edition

In “Monday Menagerie” I share the most interesting articles I’ve seen around the interwebnets. This week: the two simple questions you should be asking (but probably aren’t), the four signs that outsourcing can be your best friend, and the one biggest secret to making great hires.

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A image of Marie Curie in an mobile x-ray unit

5 Vital Business Principles in the Form of Pithy Quotes

I. Love. Aphorisms. Sure some are pure hogwash. But the really good ones convey a lot of truth in a small space. In this post, I gathered 5 of my favorite quotes, and explain how they relate to effective management.

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Guest Posting Like A Mofo: Volume I

I’ve been busy guest posting over the last few weeks. And rather than quickly pinch off a lackluster post for this site just for the sake of posting, I’m instead going to talk about what I’ve been up to, and where you can find it.

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A diagram of Porter's Five Forces Analysis

Five-Forces Analysis has Grim Tidings for Free-To-Play on Mobile

This post about five forces analysis originally appeared on my old blog and Gamasutra. I find that it’s as relevant today as it was then. Mobile is still a hot bed of both independent and publisher-backed development. And for good reason. There is a massive addressable market and mobile devices have high user engagement. Mobile also supports smaller test launches and rapid iteration, meaning that developers and publishers can treat mobile games less like products and more like businesses. Add to that the lack of any marginal production or distribution costs, and you have a super-sexy platform. And that’s exactly the problem. Mobile is so attractive and so accessible that the market place is perhaps the purest example of “perfect competition”, the yin to a monopoly’s yang.

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A woman with so much anxiety and stress that she's trying to eat her laptop. Ouch!

Anxiety And Stress Managment For Game Developers: Some Practical Tools

The video games industry is a fertile breeding ground for anxiety and stress. Almost every game is an entrepreneurial endeavor. Expeditionary. And uncertain. Uncertain  schedules, uncertain results, uncertain job security. It’s not for the faint of heart. In this article, I’m going to take a break from the usual managerial tone of Breaking The Wheel in order to focus on something more important than any game: your mental health.

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Scheduling Video Games Scientifically featured image

Scheduling Video Games Scientifically! – Game Planning With Science! Part 7

This post is a bit of a capstone. It utilizes all of the tools to make video games scientifically that I covered in the Parts 1-6 of “Game Planning With Science”. Make sure you’ve reviewed those weighty tomes before digging in here. In this post, I’m going to walk you through how to utilize capacity charts, story points, user stories, variance, and the central limit theorem to forecast development time lines.

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User Stories Make For Better Consensus – Game Planning With Science! Part 6 Featured Image

User Stories Make For Better Consensus – Game Planning With Science! Part 6

There’s a saying in data science: Garbage In, Garbage Out (or GIGO, if you prefer). The most advanced formulas and models won’t provide outputs worth a dead cat if you don’t have high quality inputs. When it comes to something as difficult and uncertain as feature planning and estimation, that’s quadruply so. In this post I’m going to walk you through the system I’ve used successfully, how it works, and why. And it’s all based on the counter part to the story points from Part 5, user stories.

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Story Points for Feature Estimation – Game Planning With Science! Part 5 Featured Image

Story Points for Feature Estimation – Game Planning With Science! Part 5

In Part 4 of “Game Planning With Science!”, I covered the central limit theorem, and how we can use it for forecasting feature development. At the end of the post I acknowledged that it’s no mean feat to track the time per individual feature without some heavy duty project management software and a team that is superlatively disciplined about tracking their time. In Part 5, I’m going to give you my favorite tool for getting around this problem: Story Points.

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