The problem with indie adventures
A practical project management approach
For years, I have seen many promising projects perdure for years and then sadly sink into oblivion. The reasons are almost always the same. Lack of spare time, exhaustion of working on a complex project, quarrel between team members and lack of organization and leadership.
Everyone wants his project to get done and attain expected results, but all of that comes at a price. You'll only notice the harsh hurdles of game crafting when you've worked for some time on the game. By then, there will be a developed attrition with colleagues and a general lack of interest in pursuing the final result, in an unorganized team. But what can we do to avoid the work of so many talent people being wasted?
Many of the guys responsible for the technical work (and the artists and creative minds, to some extent) in this line of business are on this because of their passion for old-school games. They tend to be proficient at software development/creation but they usually lack the skills of enterprise software engineering and project management, which are essential for any relatively medium/large project like adventure games.
It needs to be conveyed some set of rules which will allow the developers to align themselves under a common leadership and pursue the exactly the same goals dictated by the project manager, thus bringing a formal general entrepreneur behavior and feeling Â to the team, even if they work in their spare times. More specifically I'm talking about bringing some basic concepts of the PMI for the sake of "getting things done".
Enough of this intro, I'll cut to the chase by my experience as a project manager:
*Many of these projects are conducted by a team of 2 to 4 friends who have old-school adventure games as a common passion. There we have 4 men working theoretically at the same time in the same project. If we could merge 2-3 "group of friends" into working together in the same project we could double or triple the speed of production.
*Each "group of friends" --which I'll call a 'subteam'-- can indicate a single 'subleader'. Of the 3 subleaders, one should be voted as the project manager, which is responsible for the general direction and good flowing of the project as a whole. Important aspects and directions of the project should be voted among the leader and subleaders.
*After the above steps are set, every team member must sign a "virtual contract" stating that every member must compromise himself to the project to his best efforts and accept and carry on the decisions of the leaders even if he doesn't agree.
*The whole team must assemble and hold a 'virtual meeting' to craft and decide the main elements of the game: history, concepts, graphical style, development patten and platform, task partition etc. These must be documented and well detailed (the details are sharpened as the project progresses) into a standardized document only available to the team.
*The work must be distributed by the leaders of their respective teams so no one gets overloaded nor no one idles. Each individual task must be set with a reasonable deadline and after this, a few days for eventual rework, corrections and/or alterations.
*Periodical virtual meetings should be held to decide and revise key points of the project and as to assure everything is running as planned. Everything must be recorded and clearly informed to all members.
When you work with such basic organization not only you feel you want to get it done asap, but you also feel what is like to work with a greater team and you don't want to disappoint the other team members nor your "boss", who are counting on you.
It's sad when I see a WIP game being scuttled because lack of organization. These guidelines are merely a means of helping people to get things done faster and better, and most importantly, a means of helping a game to get to the gamer. I encourage developers and artists to talk amongst themselves and make new contacts, new opportunities.
====Hi AGDI, I started this discussion at IA, and I was just curious about what are your thoughts on the subject. I invite you to take a look at the earlier discussion and share your ideas, comments or suggestions.
http://www.infamous-adventures.com/foru ... topic=4975