How a Top Mobile Game Studio Simplifies Live Ops Development With Hansoft

In the fast-paced, always-on business of mobile game development, one leading mobile game studio is using Hansoft Agile planning tool to plan work, align a global team of talent, and hit deadlines, so they’re continuously releasing content to their growing fanbase.

Why Hansoft?

Hit Deadlines

Helps track progress and ship features, updates, & bug fixes consistently.

icon-solution-developer-collaboration

Collaborate at Scale

Distributed teams ship together using Agile, Waterfall, or hybrids.

Manage the Backlog

Hansoft provides a simple, fast, scalable backlog for the entire studio.

"We needed a fast tool that could be a one-stop shop

for bugs, triaging and tracking, tasking, and then managing different teams within the organization. Some use pure Waterfall methods, some run pure Agile, some a hybrid in between. With Hansoft, we can manage all that in one package."


Staying Competitive in a GaaS World

In the competitive field of mobile games, it only takes a swipe of the screen for players to desert one game for another. Successful game studios must release enhancements to their games continuously. In practice, it’s a complicated effort. One that includes consistently developing and releasing content at several different levels, sourced from several different teams.

One leading mobile game developer (more than one billion people have played their franchise titles) is staying nimble in this highly competitive industry by pivoting toward the new demands of the Game-as-a-Service (GaaS) paradigm. In fact, they’ve ditched the typical game studio model, and developed their own highly effective modus operandi, which they combine with Hansoft to deliver engaging games at a competitive cadence.

Staying Competitive in a GaaS World
Successful Live Ops can retain players, but delivering continous, engaging content? Not easy.

Hitting Constant Deadlines

Teams at this leading mobile game studio deliver a variety of releases in a variety of ways — all of it is managed with Hansoft.

They ship content releases (such as more levels), Live Ops releases (which ship every weekend, sometimes aligning with holidays), and client releases (deep patches with lots of code, significant experience enhancements, and bug fixes).

More than just an internal metric for success, teams know their ability to ship has a tangible business impact.

“If we missed a client or content release, we’d lose users, which impacts both user experience and our financial goals. This provides an immediately measurable KPI — and makes staying on schedule critical.”

The challenge, though, is finding a way to stay sane while maintaining a competitive cadence. That’s because, with Live Ops, there are features in design, pre-production, production, and testing at any given time. There’s simultaneous development across every single phase of the game during any day of the week.

 

[WATCH: GaaS Pipelines: Best Practices for Shipping Modern Games]

 

Tracking Progress With Dashboards

Teams at the leading mobile game studio are using Hansoft to track progress and hit all their release deadlines.

“The most consistent questions I have are: Where are you relative to your baseline schedule? And what is the impact of this change or changes?” said an executive producer. Those two questions they answer in a variety of different ways with Hansoft, depending on whether it’s part of initial development (“getting the game out the door”) or their Live Ops team.

“It's really easy to pull up Hansoft and say, ‘Okay, how are we trending towards completion on this feature, and what's going on with that one?’ We can take a 10,000-foot view and say, ‘We got several items that are blocked. Why? What's going on here?’ Hansoft allows us to quickly drill in and understand where we are.”

During development, their first go-to is to build a dashboard in Hansoft that illustrates the status — usually burndowns — for a project, a feature, or set of features. Once they go into Live Ops, they set up a dashboard for each release (based on the real information needs of the feature they’re building) and make it visible to the team.

“We know everything that's going to be a part of that release, so we put up a dashboard with the tasking and then the bugs. We can see how many bugs exist, bug burn rates, and who's assigned to the bugs. And we put these up on monitors throughout the office,” said one executive producer. “At any time, we can see how we're trending towards that release, and, if we're ever in the red or the yellow, we can react quickly.”

 

Fast, Frictionless Backlog Management

For teams at this studio, the primary criterion for selecting a project management tool was based on whether it contributed to competitiveness. They needed something that didn’t slow teams down.   

“When picking a project management tool, we wanted speed. We wanted to optimize speed over anything else, just because of the space that we're playing in.”

Hansoft delivered that speed, which quickly became apparent as the team created and managed the studio’s backlog.

“There's nothing else that I’d found that had the ease of backlog creation and management. And in terms of speed, the ability to copy and paste, move things around rapidly, and then, essentially, organize the project notes in both hierarchical and prioritized views, and then switch back and forth between those two, that to me was one of the biggest strengths,” said the executive producer.
 

Delegating Backlog Items

To make things even simpler, the executive producer and associate producers are able to collaborate in Hansoft and delegate critical sections of the backlog as needed.

The executive producer delegates backlog items to producers. Producers, in turn, break up those backlog items logically (gameplay, social features, etcetera) for their teams, who further break down the item before it’s committed to a sprint. Engineers and artists are able to enter in their own tasks, managing it all themselves.

“I'm a big fan of making things on the production side as simple and easy as possible without any overhead. Production should function more like a snowplow — just clearing the road for the team,” adds an executive producer.

How a Mobile Game Studio Simplifies LiveOps Development With Hansoft
For this studio, the main criterion for selecting a tool was whether it offered the speed they needed to achieve their goals.

Collaborating Worldwide, at Scale, in Real Time

Part of the studio’s success may be tied to their preference for raw talent over close geographical proximity. They want the right teams to build the right games. It’s one way they’re staying competitive. The result is that they have team members located in eight different locations across the globe.

An executive producer explains: “I have an art director in San Francisco, a technical director in Eugene, I've got a UX team in Toronto, I've got my entire art staff, nearly, in Austin. I've got people all over the place, and I've got these specialized people: an audio director in Chicago, a visual effects director in Las Vegas.”

More than ever, the game studio needs strong communication. Not just frequency, but quality.  

“We’re very intentional about how clear we are with each other on setting expectations and goals, how clear we are with designs. Just the terminology that we're using is very important,” adds an executive producer.

“Hansoft is a critical element of our communication, which is: Where are we? What's left to do? Are there any issues?”

Hansoft helps provide a common language for completing work together. With it, team members know exactly what they need to do, when it’s due (and why) — regardless of whether they’re running Agile, Waterfall, or a hybrid.

 

Bringing It All Together

More people play mobile games in one day than played console games in their history. The opportunity is big, but the execution? Complex. Mobile game development studios will need to keep finding competitive ways to manage its many complexities. With Hansoft, teams at this leading mobile game studio have an ally to help them collaborate, manage work, and hit release deadlines. So they can deliver on both their business needs and their promise to customers.

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