From Slashdot Games Story | Game Development In a Post-Agile World
When to use “agile” methods. (Score:3, Interesting)
“Agile” methodologies are most appropriate when the project consists of a large number of loosely coupled user-oriented features with no major architectural or technical innovations. Like PHP-based web sites. Or, in fact, much programming which involves using an existing “framework”. Someone else has already figured out what the different parts of the system need to say to each other and roughly how they will say it. Development is mostly filling in the blanks.
Trying to use “agile” on a hard, tightly-coupled problem with no predefined structural framework, like an optimizing compiler or a database engine, is likely to result in a disaster.
A game can fall into either category. If the game requires new technology, especially something hard, (advanced AI, a new physics engine, a very large seamless world, etc.) a very front-end design-driven approach may be necessary. On the other hand, if most of the game consists of developing content for different areas of the game world, an
“agile” methodology could work fine. Second Life is probably the most extreme example of this.
It’s interesting to note that movie-making has become very much a waterfall model business. A few decades ago, moviemaking was much more “agile”, and most directors came from a theatrical background. For a theatrical director, there’s a debugging phase involving actors on a bare stage, and the content may change considerably during development. Big-budget moviemaking today involves going from script to storyboard to previsualization (making a low-end animated version as a planning tool) to production. That’s very much a waterfall process.