Hey, I'm back. I'll have some news about Schizoid soon, and I have the energy to blog again.
A thing about drag. I forgot one of the most important ways to mitigate drag, which is: Don't Start From Scratch. Almost nobody does, anymore - one of the first questions you ask yourself when beginning a game project is "What engine am I going to use?" The main reason to do this is because it saves you a lot of work. But another reason it's helpful is because you schedule more accurately - to keep using the snowball metaphor, the snowball you're rolling uphill is already nice and big: progress starts slow and doesn't get that much slower. In fact, a question I was asked at my IGDA talk went along these lines: "We just do content drops into an existing engine - does this really apply to us?" I fumbled the question at the talk, but now I'd agree and say, yes, although there will always be at least a little increase in drag as a project evolves, it may be so little as to be immaterial.
And I said I was going to talk about measuring velocity. But it's nontrivial, and I don't really have a good way to do it. I've been looking at this old progress graph:
And, if you're at any given point on that graph, what do you use for velocity? The ideal is to find a velocity that will accurately predict when you'll be at at "zero bugs." Here are some options:
- Use when you started the project as a starting point, and your current point as the end point: this always gives you an overly optimistic estimate.
- Use your instantaneous velocity. This gives you a wildly fluctuating estimate. One day, you're going to finish tomorrow. The next day (after a slip), you're never going to finish.
- Use some amount of history. But how much? Something that would have been fairly good for us, though still too optimistic, would be to use the last half of the project.
I tried a bunch of stuff - moving averages, fitting curves, nothing hit. But my math skills in this area are weak. If someone out there can take a graph like the one above and find a good approximating/predicting curve, please let me know how. I did ask my brother-in-law, a financial analyst, if he could use stock market momentum measuring tricks to do it, and he wasn't able to help.
In the end, my best guide was actually my eyeballs. When we were in December, and hoping we'd be finished in January, I was able to say - "Just look at the graph. We're looking at the end of March."
That turned out to be on the money - the first time we hit the zero bug line. Of course, we still weren't finished yet; a little more testing and we were right back in the red again.
One must imagine Sisyphus happy.