’What Agile Teams can Learn from World of Warcraft’ by Alexandra Schladebeck


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World of Warcraft and agile teams have many parallels in terms of role distribution, team-building, task management and communication. This talk starts by looking at concepts from WoW with direct parallels for agile teams: Duality of Roles, Team Building, Sustainability, "Questing" and Tools. Following this, the differences are noted: Lack of Dungeon Guides, Reliance on Specific Members, No Flying Dragons

As a conclusion, we look at why achieving goals in the fantasy world works so well, why it doesn't always work so well in real life, and what we could do to change that. We consider whether roles on an agile team can be compared to roles in WoW (testers: healers or damage dealers?), and what conclusions can be drawn from such comparisons.

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  • Who works on agile teamWho wanting toWho play WoWOther MMORPG?
  • Race:Dwarf, Human, Troll -> each race has specific innate abilitiesClassPriest, Warrior, Hunter, Mage  access to specific equipment, talents, and skillsEquipmentStandard, (cloth – heavy plate), from quests, for achievements, plus enchantmentsTalentsSet available defined by class. Different possibilities and combinations Every person has different background and different abilitiesProfessionHobbies in game that can bring boni or moneyArchaeology, fishing, enchanting, alchemy, blacksmithing, Extra-curricular activities may bring benefitsSkills- Defined by class and talents
  • Assigned role in group based on various factors  Assigned role in project based on experience, ability, character…ClassSkillsEquipmentExperience(Choice)
  • Just because you have that role doesn’t mean it is set in stoneMost classes could play at least 2 roles  most people can help with other thingsE.g. Priest : Healer / DDDruid: Tank / Healer / DDE.g. Developer can help with testing, testers can help with development, documentation etc.Without any specific equipment or training at lower levels  for simple tasks, easyGenerally only possible with dual specialization at higher levels  for harder tasks, may need specific experienceDifferent specs have different abilitiesNevertheless, if you go into a dungeon as a DD priest, and the group will die if you don’t help with healing…If you’re going to need to help like that more often, then having equipment and armour / items for the purpose is useful.
  • Usual mix is one tank, one healer and three DDs  can’t have all product owners…Can make own groups as wellOther things a character can do may help the group  other experience, other study courseInnate skills from classSkills from professionGroups contain five people, raids contain 25 – each team self-organising Scrum of scrums
  • Picture of raid group8 groups of 5Coordinated by raid leaderEach healer looks primarily to their own team
  • Communication has to be quick and unambiguousThere is a chat, but teamspeak for speed is better  email ok, speaking betterUse symbols that everyone understands to mark priorities  clear priorities
  • In most cases, can only succeed as team effortOne hit if attempt aloneCan involve pairingHeal and tank  tester and developerNeed to know teamWho can do whatWhat experience and risks there are (noobs)Teams are self organizingList of tasksWhat orderWho is doing whatWhat skills to useLeeroy videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVZ50qAQrpchttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkCNJRfSZBU
  • Over time, teams get better  constant improvement as aimPlaying more oftenExperience in similar situationsSkills improveLearn new skillsNew abilities through new membersCan learn from past mistakes  retrospectivesDon’t step in the gooBattle log
  • Quests consist of information text, what to deliver and how to go about itE.g. have no food, find me tiger steaks from the red tigers  story description, acceptance criteria, definition of doneQuest sequences  epicsEach quest individual and value-bringingDo not need to complete whole sequence
  • Estimation may be flawed
  • Fighting exhausts health and manaCan only fight so many exhausing fights before no more mana – no more abilitiesEquipment gets damaged and leads to performance penaltiesNeed time and resources to repair  technical debtNot having to recover is aim  sustainable paceWhat is sustainable for one – not for another Tank ploughs on, healer drinking
  • Automation can help with repetitive tasksCan’t automate everything (disallowed) Intelligence, skill, thinking are requiredAutomate wrong thing and dieTools available to helpOften necessary (healbot)Must be used correctlyCan’t lose focus on fight
  • Automatic new skills would be brilliantNo dragonsNo magic ways of helping peopleNo reliance on just one personCan just give up of don’t want to carry onNo step-by-step guides to what is coming and what will go wrong / what challenges will come
  • All on team should be all of these
  • ’What Agile Teams can Learn from World of Warcraft’ by Alexandra Schladebeck

    1. 1. What Agile Teams Can Learn FromWorld of WarcraftAlexandra Schladebeck, Bredex GmbH, GermanyAlexandra earned a degree and an MA in linguistics from York University beforestarting work at BREDEX GmbH, where she is a trainer and consultant forautomated testing and test processes. As a product owner, she is also responsiblefor developing user stories with customers as well as documentation and testing.Alex frequently represents BREDEX at conferences, where she talks about agilityand testing from project experience. She is also involved in event organisation andcustomer communication.Alex started playing World of Warcraft almost seven years ago and has beenhooked ever since…www.eurostarconferences.com
    2. 2. Join the conversation on Twitter#esconfs@esconfs@alex_schlwww.eurostarconferences.comContinue the conversation with the speaker on Twitter after the show!
    3. 3. Agenda• Introductions and mandatory geek check• World of Warcraft – a beginner’s guide• Parallels with agile• Differences to agile• What can we learn?
    4. 4. Introductions• BREDEX GmbH– Software development and consulting– Focus on quality– Focus on communication– Increasing use of agile practicesand you?
    5. 5. Brief introduction to WoW• Create a character– Race– Class– Equipment– Talents– Profession– SkillsCharacterRaceSkills (innateabilities)ClassEquipmentEnchantmentsImprovementsTalentsSkills (talentbased)Skills (class-based)ProfessionSkillsPictures: battle.net
    6. 6. Alex’s Character:Blood Elf PriestBlood ElfDisrupt magic,resist magicPriestMagic cloak+5 intellectShadow formMind flayLevitate,Shadow Word:PainHerbalismLifeblood (heal)Example characterPicture: battle.net
    7. 7. Go on quests• Quests– Find things– Kill things– Save things– Collect things• Dungeons– Killing and questing in a group, separate from others– Big “bosses” to kill• Raids– Killing and questing in a very large group (25)
    8. 8. Agile vs. WoWSimilarities• Roles– Assignment & Flexibility• Team– Creation– Communication– Collaboration– Improvement• Task management– Granularity– Estimation– Pace– ToolsDifferences• Team– Reliance on members– Dragons and portals• Task management– Dungeon guides?
    9. 9. Roles: AssignmentRoles in WoW- Healer- Tank- Damage DealerAssigned based on various factors- Skills- Experience- EquipmentPicture: battle.net
    10. 10. Roles: FlexibilityMay need to help others withtheir role- Healer disconnect?- Unexpected health hit?- Stunned tank?Dual specializations arepossible- Require practicePicture: battle.net
    11. 11. Teams: CreationRole-based- Need specific roles- Not all one roleDiversity brings benefits- Herbalist Hunter can healhimselfGroups  raids- Smaller teams combine tolarge group- Each team structured samePicture: techjunkie.co.za
    12. 12. Picture: pcweenie.com
    13. 13. Teams :CommunicationQuickUnambiguousTeamspeak for speedSymbols everyone understandsPicture: joystiq.com
    14. 14. Teams : CollaborationCan only succeed as a teamKnow team:- Skills- Members- ExperiencePairing heal and tankSelf-organizing- List of tasks- What order- Who- How
    15. 15. Teams : ImprovementWhat is hard now may be easy later- Experience- Skills- Armour- New group membersPlay more, win moreRetrospectives- Battle log- Don’t step in the green gooPicture: joystiq.comPicture: pcweenie.com
    16. 16. Tasks: GranularityQuests- Information- Requirements to completeQuest sequences- Each quest separate andindividual- Reward after each questPicture: joystiq.com
    17. 17. Tasks : EstimationDrop rateEaseRiskAmount of players neededPhases in fight are timeboxedHow much mana is enoughPicture: wowpedia.org
    18. 18. Tasks : Sustainabilityand PaceRefresh after fight- Too many fights withoutrefresh can lead to death /wipe- Repair equipment- Ideal situation is nothaving to recover fromfightPicture: pcweenie.com
    19. 19. Tasks : ToolsMacros- Automation for sequences- Can’t automate everything- Intelligence and skill stillrequiredTools- Are often necessary(healbot)- Must be used correctly- Can’t lose focus on fightPicture: joystiq.com
    20. 20. Differences…No automatic level upNo dragons, portals or dungeon finders- Make life (and helping) easierNo reliance on specific role- Damage dealers are less importantthan tanks and healers- Without the tank or healer  dieCan’t give up completely on tasksNo dungeon guidesPicture: wow-nimbert.dePicture: joystiq.com
    21. 21. Who are the WoW testers?• Healers?– “Heal over time”  constant presence– “Your fault” if we have a wipe?• Damage dealers?– Is testing a destructive activity?– Do we cause problems from afar?• Tanks?– Standing at the forefront, taking the hits?• Rogues?– Because we’re sneaky?• Mages?– Because we do magic?
    22. 22. Why does the game work so well?• Tangible, attainable goals• Easy to help and be helped• Instant gratification – it’s fun• Because it’s not the real world– Experience points– Magic armour– Automatic levelling– It’s just a game
    23. 23. Conclusions:What can we learn for our teams?Aim WoW AgileMake helping easier Dungeon findersEasy port in and outOpen door policySame officeRewards for helping andinitiative$ for random dungeon Thank people(also publicly)Social / team incentives?Nurture a common goal Prestige, XP, Items Pride in softwareFoster mutual trust Playing regularly as a team RetrospectivesCreate shared mentalmodelsWorld rules Transparent decisionsReduce frustration Automatic improvementOption to abandon questAttainable goals
    24. 24. Conclusions:What can my “character” learn?• Keep learning– Practise “dual specialization”– Aim for improvement• Gain pleasure from social incentives andrewards• Rely on your team– You can’t kill the boss on your own ;)Picture: battle.net
    25. 25. Thank you!Alexandra.Schladebeck@Bredex.dealex_schlwww.bredexsw.comblog.bredex.dePicture: battle.net
    26. 26. EuroSTAR Webinar ArchiveAccess almost 50 on-demand software testing webinars by the worlds leadingtesting experts. Topics include….www.eurostarconferences.comAgile, Automation, Test Management, Process Improvements, Risk-based Testing, PerformanceTesting, Test Documentation, Cloud Testing, Session-based Testing, Weekend TestersVisit the archive!http://www.eurostarconferences.com/community/member/webinar-archive@esconfs#esconfs
    27. 27. The EuroSTAR Community.Are you a member?Did you know we have an online resource area with almost …www.eurostarconferences.com600 software testing presentations, 60 topicalwebinars, over 40 videos and podcasts and 20 experteBooksDo you know that membership is completely free and you can access thesepremium testing resources anytime?Join today!http://www.eurostarconferences.com/community/member@esconfs#esconfs