Sunday, 1 February 2009

Teaming Up

It is clear that collaboration does not come free. Compared to the work of a solo developer, there is definitely additional effort required to start and maintain a successful collaborative project. Collaboration is driven by the need to be part of something great, something cool, or even something profitable. Even though total satisfaction is not guaranteed, one thing cannot be denied: the team is stronger than the individual.
A few days ago, I posed a question at SA game dev to get some thoughts on the team issue. The feedback was very interesting. Here are some of the key points that were highlighted.

A "main dude" is needed for success.
* This is the guy with the full picture in his mind. He defines the project, sets it up and invites other to join. He is possibly the key contributor, and he directs and controls the work done by other (possibly part-time) contributors.
* If you want to be this dude, your attitude is important. Setup you collaborative site, but assume that you will do all the work yourself. The success of the project hinges not on the contributions of others, but on your ability to see it through.

Your idea must be pragmatic.
* The game idea must be clear. You must know how to implement the idea. Think about breaking down the idea into small milestones so that each can be reached relatively quickly.
* An alternative is to start with a small idea and finish it with some collaboration. Then come up with a more complex idea that will take the willing participants to the next level. Finish that as well. Gradually gaining collaborative momentum.

Consider the team issues before you start.
* Make sure you ideas and plans are communicated clearly. The team will function properly only if they work from the same knowledge base.
* Think about how team members will participate. Perhaps a person can choose which discipline he wants to be involved with. Maybe the idea lends itself to episodes or mini-games - giving your team members more autonomy.
* Choose tools that promotes collaboration amongst developers and also amongst artists.
* Keep in mind that some potential team members are less technical, and they may need custom written tools before they will help you. For instance, an artist might become more interested when he can view his creation in a setting that resembles the game in some way.