A first proof-of-concept prototype for a music-centric massively multiplayer online roleplaying game in development by String Theory Entertainment.

Role: Project manager and narrative designer

January 2014 – April 2014


What I Changed?

Anthymn is a MMORPG set in a world of music and magic.

Anthymn was a project of many changes, all made in collaboration on a seven-person core team at the Centre for Digital Media, and with the staff involved with String Theory Entertainment, a start-up with a game concept and a Kickstarter campaign in need of core gameplay. Initially, the main task was scope: taking a concept with incredibly strong art, world and story and turning that into something fun to play.

That process took about four weeks, and then the team and the clients decided on a core mechanic to iterate upon and implement. When that happened, a pipeline had to be made to manage increasingly frequent contributions from freelance staff. As a start-up, the client was growing and changing quickly, with considerable effect on the CDM team. Creating boundaries was essential so everyone involved would have a clear and functional way of working. As the team largely at the centre of development on Anthymn during this period, all trails had to run through the CDM. Setting up communication patterns was essential, especially with several freelancers operating remotely. Creating the pipeline took several tweaks and iterations, but ended up being something the clients can use as a core management approach, should they choose, for future development on Anthymn.

The final change came in the last few weeks. Once assets and design finally started to harmonize, scope reared its ugly head again and the CDM team had to spend some time focusing in on what was essential to deliver to move the project forward. Early in any development there are many competing priorities, and with only 12 weeks, I helped to slow the team down and figure out how we could frame the project in a way that would allow String Theory Entertainment to take the most out of it, both production-wise and process-wise.


What I Learned

This was perhaps the most engrossing, complete, and challenging project I’ve ever been a part of. The challenges, the changes, and the scope meant I felt almost every possible elation and frustration during Anthymn’s development. I tried to learn from all of them, which sometimes meant changing and examining my own mindset. As project manager, I had access and responsibility for tools specifically designed to help manage scope and process, and it was in those that I eventually found the key to remaining calm and confident through all the inevitable changes of a highly Agile process. I had produced projects before and been in leadership positions, but by learning to use some of the logistical, micro-level planning techniques–and perhaps more importantly, how to adapt and adjust them daily when the whole project changed–I was able to get a much more wholesome sense of what a good Agile project actually looked like, and after some initial wobbles, Anthymn was a project everyone on the team and at the Centre for Digital Media considered a success.

Learning how to establish and then manage boundaries was difficult but valuable. With any client, there are varying levels of involvement, and rather than ascribe frustration or blame for particular needs or perceptions, I learned it was much more helpful to look for solutions, while still recognizing the absolute importance of keeping team unity and morale intact. As project manager, it was often my job to find professional ways to communicate team limits. In fact, the clients really helped me with that learning process by shifting responsibility for finding those solutions onto me and the team, and in the end we were able to use scope tools and various communication methods to help manage the collaborative relationship and project, even over long distance.



The team kept a project blog throughout Anthymn’s development. My specific posts, on methods of prototyping core mechanics and designing pipelines, can be found there along posts by the rest of the team with some really good insight into the processes involved in all aspects of designing an MMO.

Anthymn is a project in development and a non-disclosure agreement limits me from explaining much beyond what I have learned. String Theory Entertainment maintain a Facebook page where anyone interested can contact them and find information on the ongoing development of a very cool game concept. Myself and my teammates at the Centre for Digital Media wish them the best of luck moving forward, and thank String Theory for the opportunity and mentorship involved in this project.


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