Game Development After Jira Server: Where Should Game Studios Turn?
As Atlassian has decided to deprecate their server products, including Jira Server and Confluence Server, game studios using these products must look for alternatives, or swallow the cost to migrate to Atlassian’s other products (Cloud or Data Center).
Let’s explore how life may look like after Jira, as this is something we have discussed with several game studios since Atlassian made their announcement.
If we take a step back and ask ourselves why Jira has become so popular for bug tracking, particularly within the game development industry, the answer probably lies with Confluence being an excellent issue tracker.
Many years ago, Jira started out as an issue tracker and truly revolutionized the market on its way to becoming the commodity of choice — and not only among game devs, but in other industries as well.
Across IT and QA teams, you are likely to find people who have endorsed and embraced Jira since day one. On top of the loyalty, adding a powerful wiki system in Confluence and a small price tag, it can be challenging to convince the rest of the organization to find another tool for tracking work. That is, until you get into some of the pain points that accompany Jira users.
Jira is a Slow Tool
Game developers needs their tools to be fast. It does not matter if it is the engine, the version control, or the planning and tracking tool. Speed is the name of the game. Most users agree that Jira is not renowned for its performance.
Planning as an Afterthought
Though Jira’s roots are clearly in tracking work, via the acquisition of Greenhopper (now Jira Agile) and other tools/plugins, everything is still treated as an issue at the end of the day—instead of planning. This creates a lot of complexity where many still resort to the trusted spreadsheet to pull together a plan with Jira, which of course can be very time consuming.
Lack of Game Dev Specific Features
Jira is built to be commonplace and user by everyone. That ease-of-use and generality comes at the cost of specification. There is very little within Jira that has been engineered to be used by game developers. Of course, you can tell us that there are plugins to supplement game developers within Jira, but that only leads us to our next issue.
Plugin Hell Makes It Harder to Use
Jira is a tool that is based around the wonderful idea that you can build your own system together with a vast range of plugins and components. This creates expensive, technically complex, and also clunky “solutions”.
If planning, testing, and structuring your backlog are plugins and not core features – are you then optimizing your toolset in the right way?
There is no easier way to create issues for your studio than buying Jira. It is so issue-driven that it leads to discussions being driven by the details, instead of by the tasks. How do all of the tasks fit together? We often here people complaining of the lack of overview when using Jira.
Where Can Studios Turn?
I know, you are probably “solving” these problems with Excel spreadsheets today. But then you lose the whole idea of a single source of truth, with permissions, etc. Last and not least, on top of the challenges above one can ask what type of studio culture Jira creates? Micro-managing, issue-driven tracking of individuals? Is that how creative products such as games are ought to be managed?
Hopefully the picture as to why many game studios have already looked beyond Jira starts to be clear. Smaller studios will probably be much better off with something much more lightweight and offer just enough planning and tracking capabilities to get by. Most often these teams have other challenges than what tool to use to plan and track their work.
The choice of tool grows more important as the team and project sizes grow. There are very few tools out there that scale appropriately. There are art-specific tracking tools such as Shotgun and ftrack but they do not help unite the studio as they only help one discipline. Remember the idea of cross-functional teams? Other issues trackers such as Redmine, Youtrack etc. will have the same challenges as Jira has.
Hansoft is the fastest option when it comes to performance, as planning is its core capability. It has functionality such as pipelines built with game development in mind, everything is included from the beginning.
Also, it has excellent structure, dashboards, backlogs, and reports to give overview. Overview not only to publishers and other stakeholders, but also to the team members to understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture.
One of the largest benefits with Hansoft is that you do not have to have issues, you can stop breaking down work on any level you like. So try to focus on the bigger picture, focus on breaking down work to the level you actually need (like on asset and feature level) and experience the difference.
Planning and tracking tools are about answering a number of key questions. What are we trying to make? What value will it add and what is the vision? How many people will I need to complete that scope? Do I have the time and budget for it? What quality level does each piece of work has to reach for us to be proud of our work? How to keep a sustainable pace so we can avoid things like crunch?
Save yourself a few bucks and a ton of time by taking a close look at Hansoft.
Questions? Ideas? Wants to discuss how it would work for your studio? Give us a shout and we are keen to jump on a call with you!