It is almost December, holidays less then a month away, and coming up very quickly on project deadlines. But how am I going to be able to tell if I am behind on my work you ask?
What is a Gantt chart? Glad you asked.
There is about 5-6 weeks left until we need to present our projects as final presentations to the class. Me and my team mates have a lot of work needed to get done, and it can be rather easy to be overwhelmed by the workload, and not realize how behind you are. This is where the Gantt chart comes into play.
The red writing on the left side of the chart represents our major milestones that we will need to complete for our project. Because I am working with a team of three, you may notice that the bottom chart has different names associated with some of the milestones. This is just to separate the different tasks between me and my teammates. You may also notice that because I said “the bottom chart”, that there is a second chart. You would be very correct in realizing this. The chart on the top represents our progress as a whole over the semester. The milestones on the top chart are represented by each of our scenes that we will need to implement into our game. A “scene” is just a major plot point within our game, and where most of the action will occur. Each scene needs a total ten steps to be created, and rather then repeating those same ten steps seven times over on the top Gantt chart, we instead decided to create the second chart on the bottom just for creating individual scenes.
These charts are used to keep track of our progress, however, they will not magically keep track of our progress on their own. We first needed to setup the time that each milestone will be started, and the duration of time that we will need to create said milestone. To do this, all you need to do go to the four different columns beside the milestones. The first two columns, “Start day”, and “Duration”, is where you determine… you guessed it, the start day and the duration of each milestone. In the same row as your milestone, you will type in the red number that is over top of the chart the corresponds to the day you will be starting on. Keep in mind that the charts are based off of five day weeks, and the red numbers are not the same as the day of the month. Once you type in the red number that corresponds to your start date, you can type the number of the days that you will need to complete it under the duration column. This will create those light purple bars on the right side of the chart. The next two columns, “Action steps total”, and, “Action steps complete”, deals with the smaller steps that will be needed to complete the milestones. In our case, the bottom Gantt chart would represent the top charts action steps, and the action steps for the bottom chart are much small, quicker steps, however there are much more of them, and were not included in these documents as they would take up too much space. We write in the number of action steps for a milestone, and as we work, we can write in the number of action steps that we have completed. Once we do this, it will give us a percentage of completion for each milestone based on how many action steps we have completed, and turn the light purple bars dark, based on how much is completed. This is going to tell us where we are with the progress of our project, showing us how much we have complete, and when we need to complete it by. This is going to help a great deal with putting the progress of our game into perspective as we move forward. Especially due to the fact that, based on our Gantt chart, we will have our seventh scene complete with one week left to spare before presentation… if everything goes to plan.
Now, to see where we are currently at with out progress, we can look at the bottom Gantt charts. To date, we have completed our first two scenes, and currently working toward completing the third. Based off of this week, I have completed 60% of my “Story/dialogue workflow” with being on time for the progress on that weekly milestone, however am at 0% completion for my “Soundscape workflow”, being four days behind. My teammate, Tom, is at 0% completion for his “Environment design workflow”, and 20% complete his “Moving character workflow”. Even though he still has time to complete those milestones and is not behind, he needs to make sure that he is able to catch up and have those completed for the end of week deadline. My third teammate, Tarren, is at 71% completion for his “Environment coding workflow”, 78% for his “Character Sprite workflow”, and at 100% for the rest, being on time for all of them. Through these charts, we can see that we have so far been on time with the creation of the first two scenes, however are behind on the current scene and need to pick up the pace in order to stay on time and have the scene done by the end of this week.
The reason that we are behind on a chunk of this weeks work is mainly because of recent changes to the story of our game. One of the main ideas for our game was to be able to send a message regarding mental. However, we realized that with what we had, and where we were going, we wouldn’t be able to send the proper message that we intended. To fix this problem, I needed to incorporate a new character, and a new plot point in order to steer our project towards the right direction. This addition caused me to be behind on this weeks progress, as I was spending the majority of my time changing some future plot points in order to compensate for the addition. This will cause us to not only be behind on this weeks progress, but may cause a chain reaction of slowed progress going into the next weeks.
If we manage to finish this weeks milestones on time, and with a little hard work and late nights, I believe we can, then progress will go according to plan. Finalizing this weeks scene, and moving into next week, I will need to host a meeting with my team on Monday, giving them the results of the “Story/dialogue” workflow, which is in the form of a dialogue/interactions script that they will need for the current week’s scenes, in order to move ahead smoothly. After that, I will need to complete my “Soundscape Workflow” for the end of Wednesday, resulting in sound effects and a soundtrack needed for the next week’s scene. As for the Gantt chart, it will be as if we are going back to day one on the bottom Gantt chart, and repeat the same steps needed to complete the next scene. This will be the same process for every week leading up to the end of the semester.
This week was kind of a wake up call for me and my group, as we are a little behind, and forcing to realize how much one ignored milestone can affect our whole progress down the line. Although, I don’t believe this will be a problem in the future because we took this week as a learning experience, and as long as we stick to our Gantt charts we will be able to complete all of our milestones on time.
Until my next blog, take care. 😉