When I took over production in August, the team had been working tirelessly for months to deliver the beautiful product you were promised. We all agreed that the vision shouldn’t change, but we also agreed that it isn’t possible to deliver it on time in September. It would be easy to say that the team failed to deliver and that we’d improve in the future, but it isn’t enough for us, so I’ll explain exactly what happened.
Creative work, especially in software development, is a magical but unpredictable thing. Everything depends on estimates, which basically means team members make educated guesses about their work. I’ll give you a more interesting example in the style we all love.
Let’s say I’m your GM and you and two other players are in the middle of a campaign. You’re a dashing, witty bard accompanied by a muscular barbarian and a morally ambiguous druid who loves eating strange mushrooms, all level 12. Then I tell you all that you have to kill an Ancient White Dragon hiding in a mountain range on a remote continent in the next four sessions or the entire campaign ends, and I also ask you to explain exactly how you’re going to do it, or I will not allow you to continue playing. You’d be fully in the right to think I’d gone nuts and want you to die horrific deaths for my own sadistic pleasure.
If you’re familiar with RPGs, you’d realize that request is not only weird but also impossible to fulfill. You don’t have enough information or time, the goal seems ridiculously difficult, and it all goes against your creative minds. Can the dragon be persuaded by your suave bard? Is there a special, magical weapon the raging barbarian could use against the monster? And will those mushrooms finally be of some use to the druid? Good luck figuring that out from a tavern table. You could try to talk with the other players and put together a strategy based on your characters, equipment, and experience, but it would probably be the least fun story arc ever, and you’d have no idea if any of it would work out. Producing a game is very similar, except there’s no DM to bend the rules to help our plans succeed.
When the team was faced with this challenge during the summer, they reacted accordingly and I was brought on board to help. We saw that our Ancient White Dragon couldn’t be defeated in time, so we asked our community and investors for more time. The biggest mistake the team made was trusting that this system of educated guessing would hold up and that the estimates were accurate. We underestimated just how many variables were at play. Add in the pandemic, team changes, a new production tool migration, and it all leads to you not being able to test the app sooner.