This week we’re all gathered together in person in Menlo Park to test the 0.5 release by quickly producing two Wonderland applications. We’ve split our gang of 15 into two groups, each with its own project lead. Our hard deadline is Friday at 4PM Pacific time, when we’ve committed to demo our results to the rest of Sun Labs.
As the manager for the Wonderland team, I usually work as their behind the scenes expediter, making sure they have whatever it takes to go full speed ahead. This week, I’ll also be acting as your embedded reporter, giving you an inside view of our working process. Nicole has already blogged about our goals for this week. Let’s now take a look at the challenges of achieving those goals.
Management’s challenge with any investment is bang for the buck. Once the main objective is assured, how many positive by-products are possible? For instance, can team members take on roles that aren’t usually available to them? Can people who normally don’t work together bond? Can teams be formed that meet all goals and give everyone his or her first choice of project?
But enough about ulterior motives. The biggest challenge for a project with a fixed deadline is bounding the problem. With a high-powered, imaginative group of developers, our worst enemy is going after a result that is awe-inspiring, but runs out of time. So far, less than one day in, both projects are on track. Both spent the first morning focusing their objectives, simplifying assumptions, formulating short-term goals, and assigning tasks.
For Day 1, three programming pairs have been formed (l-r): Physics: Kevin and Jordan; 3D: Doug and Paul; and Infrastructure and UI: Deron and Bernard. They are working towards a customer (Mike) acceptance test at the end of Tuesday: assemble three track pieces (straight, loop, and ramp) and drop a sphere on the assembly.
Here is a first prototype of three sections of track, with control points:
The Timeline project, led by Nigel, is using a more traditional approach, assigning more granular tasks each team member:
- Nicole and Nigel: UI design
- Jon: providers
- Joe: ambient audio
- Nigel: viewers, HUD
- Matt and Drew: visualization and navigation
Their goal for day one was to construct a mockup of the spiral timeline. First question: which is better, an open or closed core:
Most people liked the open core on the right, but they have to put in an invisible core so that people don’t accidentally fall off. Another purpose of the mockup was to make sure that avatars could easily move up and down ramps of this angle. That worked great!
Here’s what an open core structure looks like with some random content: