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 Meet the Team, Dehron

Meet the Team - Dehron, Software Development Manager

At Outfox, transparency and community engagement are core to our values as a company. With that in mind, we'd like to introduce you to some of the hardworking members of the Outfox team. These are the folks behind the scenes here every day making sure that we are providing the best optimized gaming network available. Get to know them a little better in our series, Meet the Team. 

This time we interview Dehron Hite-Benson, who works behind the scenes to manager the team that makes Outfox!

Introduce yourself and explain what your title/role is for Outfox.

My name is Dehron Hite-Benson, and I am the Software Development Manager that oversees the Software Engineering teams that work on Outfox — primarily that would be the Outfox App, Back-end, Front-end, and Billing/Database teams.

I also serve as these teams' Scrum Master and Project Manager, which basically means that I make sure everything is running smoothly, and work that we plan to get done does actually get done (and on time). Part of this role is also to coordinate with Stakeholders (the people that come to us and tell us what they want us to build) to make sure that the tickets they are sending our way are well written and ready for the teams to work on.

What is your typical work day like?

Before explaining a typical day, I should first explain that my teams work in 2-week Sprints. A Sprint is a planned commitment of work for the given time period. This system is called Scrum, and is a type of Agile development.

In the morning I have several Stand-ups that I run for all of the teams I oversee. A typical Stand-up will start with us looking at the board (which has all the tickets we are working on) and calling out any changes to the focus of the team, so that we can have a successful day. Once we have any high-level strategy changes out of the way, we go around the room and everyone talks about what they got done in the previous day, what they are working on currently, and any blockers they may have.

As a Sprint comes to a close, it's my job to work with Stakeholders to make sure their tickets are ready for the next Sprint. This meeting is called Backlog Prep. Once Backlog Prep is complete, the Developers and Quality Engineers (QA) on the team can get together, review the tickets that Stakeholders want the team to work on, and put their notes on the Story for how to accomplish this work smoothly and efficiently. This meeting is called Technical Direction.

Then, as one Sprint ends and another is ready to begin, we will have a Retro/Sprint Planning meeting. The Retro portion is to talk about what went well and what could be improved in the previous Sprint. The Sprint Planning portion is to make sure that the team and the Stakeholders are in alignment for what work we are committing to over the next 2-week Sprint.

What is something you are most proud of in working on Outfox?

This is an easy one for me. The thing I am most proud of is how hard the teams worked to make sure we met our Beta release date for Outfox (back on May 2nd). We had just started using a new planning tool and a new planning process, and from that we came up with a delivery date. Once we delivered that date to Stakeholders, it was incredibly important to us that we hit it.

Eventually, as we got further into development, we realized that we were possibly going to miss that date unless we made some changes. We quickly decided that we would adjust scope on the project, and we asked the team if they would be willing to enter "crunch mode." Having worked in crunch mode myself for many years, back when I worked in the video game industry, it was very important to me that we called this out as an official switch. We bought people meals, and we gave people time off when the Beta was complete; all of which was the least we could do for how hard everyone worked so that we would meet our date.

It was about a month of crunch mode, and in the end we delivered the Beta on May 2nd, as promised. We learned a lot from that experience; mostly how to better plan for such a big release (and we haven't had to go back into crunch mode since).

What are some of your favorite games, both past and present?

The first game I ever remember playing was on the NES: the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo cartridge with the Light Gun accessory. I got that for Christmas when I was 2 years old. I played a lot of video games growing up, and loved reading any video game magazine I could get my hands on.

In 1997 Final Fantasy VII came out, and that was the game that made me realize I wanted to make video games for the rest of my life. That became my mission, and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about game development. I was especially focused on game design. In 2005 I enrolled at Full Sail University, which was one of the best schools in the country for getting a degree focused on game development. I knew the courses were more focused on software development than game design, so I had been teaching myself C++ for a couple years leading up to Full Sail. I soon realized that I really enjoyed software development, and so that became the thing I focused on with my career.

I graduated from Full Sail in 2007, and immediately moved back to Austin (my hometown) to begin working in the video game industry, where I worked for several years before moving into the more traditional software industry.

I still play games on a regular basis; just not as wide a variety of games. I've poured hundreds of hours into Destiny, and I am now playing a lot of Destiny 2. That said, I think the best game of the last few years is easily Grand Theft Auto 5. The design of that game is perfect.

What are you looking forward to in the future of Outfox?

We have so many cool features that are in the pipeline, it's hard to choose. That said, as a huge Destiny 2 player, I'm looking forward to us supporting that game on PC soon!

The Outfox software engineers build the framework and maintain the code which makes Outfox run as efficiently as possible; they always strive to find new, unique ways of merging user convenience with background versatility. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for the latest updates and newest games!