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I work in a video game studio, and I´m running Scrum. The question here is: using Story points, how do the team estimate the Story, if I have a 2d artist, a Game designer and programmers? As you can see, I have differents roles involved. What is the Story Point that I shound apply to the story, if they only can see the difficult from their point of view´s roles?

thanks

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    Related: pm.stackexchange.com/questions/30647/… – Bogdan Jun 12 at 7:17
  • Hi Luis, welcome to PM.SE! As Bogdan mentioned above, unless there's any sound reason for differentiate your question from the linked question, we should leave this question closed as duplicate. The question can be reopened at any time if you / the community believe the questions are not addressing the same problem. – Tiago Cardoso Jun 12 at 21:45
  • Thanks. How could I reopened? – luis coria Jun 13 at 13:44
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You estimate as a team and each team member estimates based on the whole piece of work, not just their involvement in it.

A planning poker conversation could go something like this:

Scrum Master: "Everyone estimate please. OK, we have a three 3's and an 8. Julie, as the game designer you gave it an 8, why was that?"

Julie: "This story is particularly tricky to do the design for. Here is why..."

Scrum Master: "OK, thanks Julie. Given what we now know, should we go for an estimate of 5 as a compromise to take in to account the extra design difficulty?"

These kinds of conversations are very common. After a while of estimating together the team will get better at understanding the implications of a story for all the specialities in the team, not just their own. The estimating and levelling out conversations will start to speed up.

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There is an answer to this and a safety mechanism. The first part of this answer will address most cases, then the second part will address the edge cases.

For most things, you want to deliver a valuable feature with a backlog item. For example, you may have one that reads:

As a player, I want to be able to do a heavy attack and a light attack so I can master more complex combat strategies than I could with a single attack.

That involves all three roles. I assume our designer is going to help design the gameplay to be balanced and fun. The artist needs to create the animations and the programmer needs to implement it. Let's say this is a 5 for all of them to do all of the work to create this feature in the game.

Now let's take this one:

As a player, I want my equipment to visually change so I can see what I've got equipped at any given time.

Now, as it is, this is open-ended because you have an almost infinite number of equipment pieces, so let's say to start for this backlog item, we're just going to do it with 3 weapons and 3 outfits. Now, for sizing, we can ask the team if this is a the same size (5), a little bigger (8), a lot bigger (13), etc. or even a little smaller (3).

This is how most sizing should go.

The Safety Valve

OK, so what if it just doesn't affect the other team members. Let's say we did that last one and the programmers made it that as long as you add the assets into the right folder, the game just pulls them in automatically, so this next story only has art work to be done:

As a player, I want a Halloween set of gear to celebrate the holiday in a fun way.

Most planning poker decks have ? cards. If someone doesn't feel like they have anything to contribute, they hold up a ? card. This does two things. First, it doesn't muddy the estimation with wild guesses. Second, maybe the designer holds up a ? and the team says "Wait, you have work to do. These items need to be balanced." That's why I would go this way over simply asking the artist to estimate alone when you think it only involves them.

The Trap

One more trap to consider - don't assume people can't help because it isn't what they normally do. You can cross train. I expect that designer knows how to code games and if it's needed, they should step in and help. Not everyone can do art, but maybe they can help with color swaps or other simple tasks. Heck, old games did some of that stuff programatically. Especially when you have really diverse skills like you do in games development, it makes sense to respect the differing skillsets, but don't get trapped by them. Remember, there are a lot of one-man game developers out there. Most of the people on the team can learn most of the other skills if it helps the team to do so.

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  • Thanks a lot Daniel. So...my team should estimate the Story as one unique team?. What if my 2D artist doesn´t have programming skills and for example, for programmers is a 5 story points, and for the 2D artist (who doesn´t have programming skills) is a 20 story point?? Should the programmer explain to the 2D artist how the feature is going to be programmed, in order to help to 2D artist to understand that techincal topic, and give him the chance to give another story point? What if 2D artist undertood some of the explanation and gives 12? The final story will be 12 story points or 5 sp? – luis coria Jun 12 at 2:44
  • This is where you are hitting a lot of grey area. Story points are meant to be vague because that vagueness promotes conversation. Let's say 3 programmers all hold up a 5 and the artist holds up a 20. This would prompt a conversation about it where he might say "I am capable of doing it, and I'm really light on art, but it will be a 20 for me." Now the whole team can decide what they want to do with that information. So you have schrodinger's estimate - it is 5 and 20 until you decide who does the work. That's probably a rare exception and is fine. – Daniel Jun 13 at 18:55
  • It doesn´t help me to clarify the whole idea about what is the story point I should apply when a cross functional team is involved (specially in Video Game project). – luis coria Jun 14 at 2:01

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