Assembling you game team

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Basics of setting up you Game team – focus on remote teams …

Basics of setting up you Game team – focus on remote teams
This talk will focus on the due diligence required on three areas before you begin game development.
1. Planning
2. Process
3. Systems

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  • 1. Assembling your game team.
    Rudrasen Sitoleh
    7 Levels Studio
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 2. Agenda
    Introductions
    Observations
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • Premise
    By “Assembling your team” I imply making them productive.
    This is a primer, not a panacea. There is no silver bullet.
    You need to find your own equation in your environment and team.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 10. Who am I ?
    B.E & M.S. Computer Science
    Lived and worked in the Silicon Valley from 2000-2010.
    Intel, Consumer internet startup, MMORPG studio
    2011 back here in Pune.
    Started independent game studio.
    Develop and consult for casual and social games on Flash and IOS.
    Original IP games and interactive products.
    Playing and coding games in 1985, Sinclair ZX and Commodore 64
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 11. Audience
    Directly/indirectly manage people in a game studio
    Small team, for the most part. i.e. one layer of management hierarchy.
    In-charge of delivering a game to a client/customer.
    You want to manage your onsite and / or remote team, in a sustainable manner.
    You are interested in making good games, professionally
    There is some degree of creative risk in your project. i.e. you are not merely cloning games.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 12. Isn’t game dev like any IT dev?
    For engineering, Yes they are similar.
    Software obeys the same good practices and axioms
    As well as impacted by same issues such as, technical debt.
    Chasing fun & delivering an experience instead of mere functionality.
    Viability Vs. playability
    Integrating design, content & software
    Developing via workflows and asset pipelines
    You have to understand and harness the “creative process” through iteration & refinement.
    A delivery date and the pressure thereof.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 13. Great topics for another day
    Business development, PR, Marketing
    Project management
    Management theory
    Post launch issues.
    SCRUM/Agile – next door
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 14. Planning
    Client Assessment and interaction
    Preproduction
    Hiring
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 15. Client – Due diligence
    Yes, they are indirectly part of your team, simply because they influence the outcome.
    Please take the time to assess your client and their demands.
    Case study: Is this in Dollar or Rupees?
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 16. Client – Interaction
    Presuming you have resolved the legal and financial matters.
    Establish how they need to reported to and updated
    How will their input be factored into the production process?
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 17. Planning - Preproduction
    Traditionally done by publisher for green lighting.
    An essential step in game production.
    So what is it ?
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 18. What is preproduction?
    Pre-production is when the Game Development team works on defining the production pipelines, identifying the needs and uses of the tools they’ll need to make the game, and outlining and fleshing out the details behind the game’s design.
    Pre- production is the exploration of what the game is about and where is the fun.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 19. Planning - Preproduction
    Traditionally done by publisher for green lighting.
    An essential step in game production.
    This stage is fully iterative and incremental.
    “What are we going to build and why?”
    Find a way to communicate this to your entire team and client.
    Documents (GDD, TDD, Art bible), Wikis
    Prototypes, Concept Art, Storyboards
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 20. Planning – Preproduction for you
    I think, you can use it to assess and establish
    Overall team competency and capability.
    Understand your risks and capacity to deliver and therefore curtail budgets and scope.
    To set a realistic schedule and milestones, with client.
    Pitfall : you cannot do preproduction in your head or a meeting or in document.
    Your team can only learn through execution.
    This way to you have tested and stressed your workflows.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 21. Planning - Hiring
    Prepare for the realities of hiring as a non-blue chip company in India.
    Phone screens and programming test are effective filter. A great shortcut to eliminate duds.
    The lack of vocabulary in software, tools or game domain can be stifling if the technical person is remote. Since 90% communication is funneled into text or voice.
    Document a hard skills and soft skills selection criteria for each position.
    Then communicate it to respective managers and leads
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 22. Execution
    Process – Have one and follow it
    Manage Communications
    Setup systems
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 23. Execution - Process
    Collaboratively work out your team interactions
    Meeting schedules
    Daily report-ins
    Progress tracking
    Create a protocol for issue escalation, decision making.
    Clearly delineate the roles, responsibilities and ownership of each lead.
    Work proactively to identity & resolve:
    the overlaps in ownership & boundaries
    Possible transgressions, as well resulting conflict.
    Gaps or chasms in ownership in the overall deliverables
    Agree on how, who and when you will update the client.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 24. Execution – Manage Communications
    Establish a common vocabulary for entire team
    Capture it in an accessible format
    Disseminate it
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 25. Manage Communications
    Recognize the value of in-person interaction
    Quality and quantity of knowledge transferred visually and via tacit interaction.
    To compensate for the lack of above, you need to adopt a level of formality and rigor in our communication
    Useful for members with limited language ability.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 26. Execution – Setup systems
    Document repository ( GDD, TDD, Art Bible, etc)
    Task Tracking (Basecamp, Excel, Google docs)
    Source control and / or content repositories
    Bug and issue tracking
    IT roles and tasks outlined
    All major systems have to be decided in advance and setup, in order to get your machine moving.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 27. Execution: Pipeline & Workflows
    You team is a production system; not a hobbyist get-together.
    In order to function effectively and efficiently you need to have clear workflows and pipelines.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 28. Execution: Workflows
    Create workflows for :
    code check-ins, builds, smoke tests
    Art and content integration, QA, triage.
    Collaborate and get buy-in from leads for their respective workflows.
    Top down enforcement may not be effective.
    If, task tracking might be good enough, then no need to go overboard with full blown SCRUM or XP
    Workflows do not have to be elaborate;
    Just commensurate with your needs.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 29. Execution: Pipelines
    The pipeline is a process where an asset or element of the game moves from concept to completion and then into the game build through a series of steps where multiple team members each contribute a portion to the overall asset.
    Identify your pipelines ( Art, Sound, Text)
    What are the steps?
    Who’s responsible?
    Bottlenecks
    Import/export issues & inefficiencies
    Engineering side integration
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 30. Execution: Pipelines
    Cycle through it and test it as early as possible.
    Example: Integration woes due to simultaneous content update. The big bang approach.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 31. Recap
    Planning is key to avoid failure.
    You team is not merely a bunch of developers and artists but, is defined by:
    Processes they follow
    Systems they use
    Culture they embrace
    Stay agnostic and determine what is appropriate for your team.
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 32. Thanks
    Please share your stories and views on my blog at http://www.7levelstudios.com/blog
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com
  • 33. Q & A
    Please be brief
    11/12/2011
    www.7levelstudios.com