Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

FREE SOFTWARE GIVEAWAY

We have 4 x Pro Licences (valued at $59 each) for 2d modular animation software Spriter to give away in this Thursday's GDNet Direct email newsletter.


Read more in this forum topic or make sure you're signed up (from the right-hand sidebar on the homepage) and read Thursday's newsletter to get in the running!


Like
36Likes
Dislike

Never Team Up with the Idea Guy

By Albert Tedja | Published Jul 15 2013 09:40 PM in Production and Management
Peer Reviewed by (jbadams, CRFaithMusic, Gaiiden)

startup project management working with a team

In any startup project, it's crucial to pick your team members; so crucial that it determines about at least 50% of the success of your project. Teaming up with the wrong people will set you back far, so far that your project won't get anywhere.

How do you choose the right people for your next projects? In real life situations, you don't get a talent pool that's ready to serve you in your next world-conquering project. Your money is limited, and your time is even more so. Let's talk about who are the most likely candidates of your next startup project:
  • Friends.  Friends are good.  You hang out with them, you have fun with them.  Friends also come in many different flavors and skills, some of whom are not particularly useful to your project.  There will be a certain percentage of them who could be useful.  You are in the tech industry, and naturally, a handful of your friends could also be in the tech industry.  Your conversations with them clicks more than the gal/guy you tried to pick up at a bar last weekend.  Does that mean that you and your friends can immediately start something big? Unless all of you operate in the same wavelength for at least 6 months, it's difficult to encourage your friends to start a project.  Your friends might have different ideas.  Your friends might have different opinions.  They have different priorities in life.
  • Coworkers.  You are working with great talented people.  It's naturally easy for you to stir something up at the workplace during those lunch and coffee breaks.  You talked about how to improve the company's existing broken procedures.  The conversations would later evolve into "wouldn't it be great if.." chatters.  However, the same situations with friends could apply here with coworkers.  Your coworkers must also have the same vision as you.  Although it's a bit easier to team up with coworkers because you work in the same industry, sometimes the stress and the amount of work at work can kill your side projects fast. I once had this great conversation with my coworker of creating one game. We both agreed what it should be like (that's rare!), but we never had the time to actually sit down and do it. Our schedules were so far apart. Additionally, depending on the company you work for, the country, and the state/provincial laws, the non-compete clause in your employment agreement can prevent you from achieving your goals. The company wouldn't like if you are making another game that could directly/indirectly compete with their games. And yes, they could actually pursue legal action against you, if you ever break that agreement.
  • Family.  Family members tend to work in similar fields. Your visions and perspective of life are alike.  Family-owned businesses can be successful. The Wachowskis and Coen brothers are among of the several examples where siblings can coordinate and be successful together. But, this also means that they could have the most arguments among each other. They can also plunge into the tar pit far faster than any other teams, thanks to the argument last night about who gets to keep Fluffy the dog.
  • Strangers.  Don't even try unless you are ready to pay them money.
This does not mean that it's impossible to form a good team from the groups above.  It's still possible if you find the right people.

How to Identify the Idea Guy


Now, let's just say that you have found some team members. How do you know if one of your team members is the Idea Guy? You talked about your game with them. Your ideas converge. You all started working. It has great momentum, but not for long. You notice that one guy in your team is "The Idea Guy", because he has not done anything! He had talked about his great ideas, and how it's going to make your project great. He had spent 70% of the time explaining his ideas, and the other 30% merging other team members' ideas to his own, which means that he spent 0% on the actual project itself. Even though he actually might have some skills, if he never put his time working on the project, then he's not a member of your team.

Remember the 1% inspiration 99% perspiration quote by Edison? It applies here like a cookie cutter. Creating new products requires 99% perspiration, and if one of your team member cannot contribute even 10% of that perspiration, you should not count him/her in. It is not just the ideas that matter, but the execution. If there is no execution, ideas can't become reality.

Your startup project is just as important as any professional project, and must be executed with professionalism.

Real Example of Idea Guys


If you haven't watched "The Social Network", then you should watch it!

Yes, I'm talking about the story of how Facebook came about. Mark Zuckerberg were approached by three Idea Guys! What did they say to Mark? Something along the lines of "Hey, we've got some cool ideas of the next social networking site, and you seem to be a pretty bright guy. Wanna be our programmer?" Mark noticed immediately that these people could not contribute anything to the project. None of them can code. They were just a bunch of ambitious youngsters with no contributable skills other than their words. Teaming up with them would mean that Mark would have had to put up 99% of the work. So, why bother? Might as well move on your own!

By the way, this is happening all the time if you live in the Silicon Valley, USA. The people there are thriving for building the next multi-million dollar startups. Idea guys are running about, trying to recruit bright developers, and some of them have money to offer...

Money!


There is an exception to this rule.  If the Idea Guy turns out to be the investor, the person with the money to pay the rest of your team, then it's actually okay to work with him. However, you would have no other options but to oblige to his cool ideas.  As a matter of fact, this team structure already exists and is happening everywhere in the working world.  The CEO, or investors, or somebody higher up, does not have to be part of the active development team, but they might certainly steer the project into any direction they want, and they can.



License


GDOL (Gamedev.net Open License)




Comments

Strangers are not as bad as you describe them. I found some pretty great strangers here on game-dev. The most important trait for me in a team-member is independence. Since I don't have time to collaborate, they have to keep working on their own. I find this is even more important than talent.

Nice article.  In my experience, the people who talk the loudest and sound the most confident are the least capable, and the people who can produce useful work are the most self-conscious and tend to be quiet.  Their knowledge gives them the capacity for self-criticism, while the ignorant have no concept how little they know.

So hard to upvote comments when it doesn't let you! Anyways, I'm just agreeing with the guys above me.
That is all.

Nice article, and yes, I've had idea guys myself on my projects. Now though there are only 3 people left on the project, but I'm/we're not dead yet so it goes on. :)
Minimize time spent each day, and maximize number of days!
@Josh: Unfortunately because of that, the people who are the least capable and add the least valuable get heard the most which is frustrating as hell. I think sometimes more experienced people need to speak up more.

"...the people who are the least capable and add the least valuable get heard the most..."

 

Ahhhh... true in all walks of life.

The three guys in the social network had a great innovative idea, which is much more special and worth much more then knowing how to code. Mark basicly just stole their idea/project to fill his own pockets. You can be the best programmer in the world, but if you have no inspiration and cannot come up with a good programming idea, you will never become succesfull.

The three guys in the social network had a great innovative idea, which is much more special and worth much more then knowing how to code. Mark basicly just stole their idea/project to fill his own pockets. You can be the best programmer in the world, but if you have no inspiration and cannot come up with a good programming idea, you will never become succesfull.

And yet, that guy with "no inspiration" is the rich and famous one...

 

I really hate it when people argue against themselves in their own comment.

And yet, that guy with "no inspiration" is the rich and famous one...

 

Is that the goal in life? I must have missed that ;)

"Remember the 1% inspiration 99% perspiration quote by Edison?"

Then again, Edison was quite a dull fella, and not the big genius as who he's often portrayed.
But I digress :-D

I certainly know the loud fellas who are super confident and "know everything", and tend to ruin projects. They tend to be bosses.

  Yeah that's why games suck so horribly nowadays, people have no idea what to do, and have to rely on "non idea guy" but with technical skills to come up with ideas...

 

    If you apply that logic to say film industry, it means that if a director don't know how to actually operate camera or sound, etc, he's useless as a director, and instead a cameraman has to do directing, since he actually knows how to shoot a movie, and what director knows? Nothing, he just sits there shouting at everyone about how they should do their work, really film industry should take example from indie gaming and fire all directors and make teams only of people with technical knowledge, who needs directors anyway?

I sense idea guys with hurt feelings.

I agree on the fact that we cannot up vote comments. Either remove the up vote buttons or.... fix it whenever possible. Great article by the way. Plus one for the author.

 

Edit: that problem has now been fixed. Thanks to Gamedev.net

Champloo13, I don't think the article says it's a bad idea to rely on non-technical people when developing games, but to rely on people who "spend 0% on the actual project itself".

 

Take a game designer for example. Noone will say "It's useless to have a game designer aboard, because he just has ideas and doesn't code the game". But I think it's indeed useless to have an Idea Guy game designer who has lots of ideas, but doesn't (or doesn't have the skill to) merge all the ideas, all the little pieces and all the input from other team members into a detailed, working game concept. If he does that, he is contributing to the project a lot.

@Champloo13

I don't think that analogy holds up. Many parts of the team on the film industry essentially take orders from the director: the director has the vision, and instructs everyone else on where to be, what to express, at what angle to capture the scene... The director has to manage a lot of things. Most importantly, if the director says nothing, the project doesn't move forward, and if it does, nobody is coordinated with each other, and the whole project flops. The director does a very hard job.

 

An Idea Guy, by definition, provides an idea. He doesn't coordinate people working together, he doesn't give timing cues and provide careful instruction (a director often knows a lot about cameras, even if he can't operate that particular model), and he doesn't solve the hard problems when they come.

 

I think a more adequate analogy would be an Idea Guy and a screenwriter, but even then, that doesn't hold up. A screenwriter has the immense job of writing a story line from start to finish, taking into consideration things like the budget that the film will have (why write a scene that we can't possibly afford to film?) and the actors that may or may not be a part of the production (some write, and find people to fill the roles. Some have people for roles, and write around them). Most importantly, a screenwriter may also have to modify the screenplay repeatedly, over and over, for any circumstances that arise during filming that change the original plan. If someone is paid to write the screenplay and no more than that, then it is someone else who takes the role of screenwriter to edit the screenplay. An Idea Guy will throw ideas at the problem until it solves itself, rather than taking input from everyone on the team, and progressively shaping the outcome of the project.

TL;DR: The difference between a director and an Idea Guy is work. If you work, you're on the team. Even modern graphic designers (who are already a part of the team) know a little programming basics, to write shaders or scripts. If an Idea Guy knows nothing about how it works, there's no way he can say what it should do.

Im glad to be both the hard worker & idea guy haha

Original ideas are not easy to come up with and need to be guarded carefully. Plodders (those who do all the perspiring), are often unable to recognise a useful idea and it often takes some 'loud talking' to get the idea into their heads.

As Fromfram says, specialisation has it's drawbacks and being an Allrounder  has great merit, especially in the Indie world.

Original ideas are not easy to come up with and need to be guarded carefully. Plodders (those who do all the perspiring), are often unable to recognise a useful idea and it often takes some 'loud talking' to get the idea into their heads.

As Fromfram says, specialisation has it's drawbacks and being an Allrounder  has great merit, especially in the Indie world.

Original ideas are not that hard, but original ideas that works it's another story.

Also know if an idea works or if it can works with some minor changes are very hard to know.

 

  Yeah that's why games suck so horribly nowadays, people have no idea what to do, and have to rely on "non idea guy" but with technical skills to come up with ideas...

 

    If you apply that logic to say film industry, it means that if a director don't know how to actually operate camera or sound, etc, he's useless as a director, and instead a cameraman has to do directing, since he actually knows how to shoot a movie, and what director knows? Nothing, he just sits there shouting at everyone about how they should do their work, really film industry should take example from indie gaming and fire all directors and make teams only of people with technical knowledge, who needs directors anyway?

Do you really thinks that no one that works developing a videogame have ideas?, and it's not fair saying "games suck so horribly nowadays", they have a lot of work and many people enjoy them, if you don't like them doesn't mean that they "suck".

I think that you wanted to say that modern games lacks in originality, and I agree that some of them lacks in originality(again, there are a lot of very original games, but you need to find them, if you only see your neightbours playing COD, Battlefield or Medal of Honor doesn't mean that all the games are like that).

But studios develop games that only uses formulas not because they "don't have ideas" but because they don't want to risk. If an original idea doesn't work, studios can lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and even be closed, that's why many ideas comes from indie studios, because indie studios doesn't invest as much as big studios and can take more risky choices.

Reminds me someone :) 

 

Thanks for the article! 


Note: Please offer only positive, constructive comments - we are looking to promote a positive atmosphere where collaboration is valued above all else.




PARTNERS