Book Review: Waltzing with Bears

Exactly a year ago today, I put up the first article on Games from Within. It was a review of Tom DeMarco’s book Slack. I thought it would make for a nice, symmetrical bookend to wrap the year up with a review for another book by DeMarco: Waltzing with Bears.

As the subtitle indicates, Waltzing with Bears deals with managing risk in software development projects. Managing risk, not reducing risk, or removing risk. Do you think that low risk or even no risk is a good thing? Think again. One of the central points of the book is that a project with no risk is not worth doing. Yes, you read that correctly. Intrigued? Go and read the book right now.

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All Work No Play, Makes Jack a Dull Game Developer (Part 2)

“Wanted: Young, skinny, wirey fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week.” Pony Express advertisement, 1860.

That would be a funny anachronism if it weren’t still so true. OK, so game companies are not asking potential candidates to risk death every day, but they surely are asking them to give up their lives to the company.

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All Work No Play, Makes Jack a Dull Game Developer (Part 1)

This article has been a long time coming. It should be abundantly clear from past articles I’ve written (and from my rants if you know me in person) that I feel very strongly about quality of life issues in the games industry. It pains me to see rampant overtime be commonplace, and the truly ironic part is, I’m convinced it doesn’t help the final game any. As a matter of fact, it probably makes people be less productive and makes the game suffer for it. Ah, but they crunched some impressive hours. They have something they can feel proud of.

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Agile Game Development: Dealing with Chaos in the Real World

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. In game development, detailed milestones, complex schedules, and careful planning often go out the window as soon as the project starts. Agile development provides a set of techniques to steer the project in the right direction and embrace change. Is your game not shaping up to be as fun as you thought? Has a game come out with features that you must match to remain competitive? Has your code degenerated into an unmanageable mess?

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