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Failed Projects - A Discussion


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#1 MicahJon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 05:04 AM

Have you ever gotten together with a few friends to write that game you''ve always wanted to, but the team broke up soon after? It''s probably happened to a lot of us, I know it''s happened to me. I would be curious to hear from you what your experience was with a "failed project", and why your team broke up. To lead things off, here''s my tail. My group of "fiends" were coworkers at a startup. We decided that we had all wanted to write games, so we might as well start now. One member had a great game idea - a type of space combat simulator, and discussion soon started. As we talked about the game we decided that we needed a Design Doc, and that the idea''s originator would be the perfect person to write it. He never did though, and I eventually took over writing it - in addition to my studying up on 3D graphics so I could write the game engine. I was the only one actively working on the project at this point, despite asking for some research help from other members. Getting the group to discuss the game wasn''t too difficult as long as everyone was in the mood (once a week maybe). However, one member had convinced himself that we were rewriting an old Star Trek game, and would get mad if we didn''t make our game exactly like it. That was the last straw for me, and I withdrew from the project. The remaining members haven''t talked about the game project since. What has your experience been with this? Micah

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#2 AticAtac   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 05:52 AM

I''ve seen many projects fail, some i was even member of.
There are many reasons why projects fail. One main reason is lack of motivation the further te projects go. Lack of time of the members. Many teams try to go for the big super-b as their first project so they also fail too, cuz they underestimate the work behind a good game. If you dont have done any games before its important that your team go first for a very simple project first. This way every teammember can get familar to the others and the way they work. You can also then see who can afford how much time and what are the strongs of every teammember.
Starting and finishing a simple project also give you an idea of a complete process of makeing a game. Many teams skip this step and fail. The work behind an average game is huge and the motivation always tend to drop so the porjectcoordinator (and other members) have to find ways to fight this problem, e.g. by designing decent milestones, etc.
My advice is try something simple first and after this go to a more complex game. Dont reinvent the wheels , which means e.g. if you want to make a 3d fps, but you dont have enough programming-resources , so you should try to use a 3rd-party 3d engine instead of writing everything yourself. Also be preparede that the last 10% of your project will take 90% your projecttime to be done (not always) which means things get huger and more complex the further you go with the project.
over 90% of online-projects i knew failed.

my 2 cents


#3 a2k   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 06:13 AM

i have a question about that last 10% being 90%:

does this have to do with compatibility with other computers and devices, and touching up subtle bugs and implementing installation, optimization, and the like? cuz that''s what i''m worried about. so far, my game runs differently on 4 different machines. that''s not good.

a2k

#4 AticAtac   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 06:42 AM

There are many reasons why the last 10% "eat" so much time.
One reason ist that all undone work, even they are small, will show up at the end. I mean you will notice all the works you "forgot". Another problem is while changing things at the beginning are kind of easy, they will be much harder to be changed at the end of a project cuz of the big impact on other parts. Of course installation, testings, stabilization (write word?) of the project take lot of time to do.

Good luck with your project !

#5 runemaster   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 06:50 AM

I agree, one of the reasons so many projects fail is that everyone tries to make Ultima 9 without having tried to make pac-man.I know, it''s happened to me too.Another reason is that a lot of ppl just sit around thinking about the game without programming anything.So they spend years talking about it but never actually do it.

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#6 MicahJon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 07:04 AM

AticAtac

Well our project never got past the design phase. We didn''t have an offical leader, though I was taking on certain leadership responsibilities. Motivational ideas never occured to me, because the game idea itself was motivation enough for me.

The idea originator had worked on ideas for this game in the past, but wasn''t much help now. I think he was having ownership issues. It was his idea, and now the rest of the team was making changes to it, and he didn''t like it. We all do this, we just need to handle it properly.

I think the original game idea may have been set a little high (despite the number of features cut from the design), but further design work would have brought this down significantly. It wasn''t really cutting edge technology-wise, but it had a lot of unique gameplay elements which made it a good idea.

Anyone else want to offer up their own story?

Micah

#7 Isaac Vanier   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 07:12 AM

Being the Lead Developer for Satellite Moon, we''ve just finished Wave 49, and I can now finally give real advice about this. I can say that I''ve been the glue that''s made a final product finally come together (although I''m certainly not the only one to work hard and with detication!)

Before the current team was put together I had talked and worked with a lot of other people who eventually lost interest and quit. I could have quit just as easily but I didn''t. Why? motivation. I want to make a career in this industry, and the others probably did''t really care one way or the other.

I think if you''re the one who is going to get the project done, you need to be the one in charge, and the one to have control over everything that is created. Otherwise say you let your artists keep their work. It sounds like a nice plan, until your artist eventually loses interest and takes all of the work he''s done with him. Now you have to start over. You probably won''t, because it''s easier at that point to just quit.

You can of course make special deals with everyone. Like for example, you can keep your artwork, or own part of the company, but if you quit, you lose everything.

I can say that once you do finish a product, it will do wonders for your credability. Almost none of these sorts of projects get finished. If you can finish one, you can finish another. Of course that doesn''t mean that you will.

Most people also aren''t willing to work for royalties. They say it''s because so many projects fail. That''s a good reason. Would you invest your hard earned time in a project that you expected would finish? I wouldn''t.

So if you are going to commit to something, you have to be prepared to follow through, and be able to prove what you are doing, and minimize the risk for anyone involved.

And speaking from experience, I think it''s wise to make a smaller project (like Wave 49) before going after a large project. This has allowed me the oportunity to prove to everyone that I can lead a project, finish a project, etc. Even though Wave 49 hasn''t taken TOO many resources, I will be able to get more people with better skills to work on larger future projects.

Now, through the adventures of creating our first game, I''ve finally been brought together with some very good, talented, and deticated people. Now our next games will be able to far surpass what we''ve done to date.

Although everyone has a different situation, and it can work in more than one way, I personally think for most people it''s best to begin small and work your way up.

#8 MicahJon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 07:27 AM

Isaac Vanier

I agree with you one hundred percent. This may sound odd, given I was the first to quit. However, I wasn''t working well with my team, actually one member in particular. I couldn''t kick anyone off the team, as I have to work with these guys at my day job. I couldn''t run off with the game idea, as the game idea wasn''t mine in the first place. In the end, (and I thought about this long and hard) quiting and starting over, or continuing to work with this team were my only options. Right now I''m in the starting over phase. I''m taking a weeks vacation and am going to work on a few starter projects (Pong, BreakOut) to help me get familiar with OpenGL, then onward and upward!

Anyone else have a story to share?

Micah

#9 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 10:19 AM

Management is REALLY hard.

It''s my belief (and my job) that in any small team, especially an unpaid one, one person''s entire job should be management. It sounds like a somewhat minor role on which to be wasting a whole person, but this person will make sure the work is balanced equally, that everyone is still enthusiastic, that everone has what they need, and most importantly that things GET DONE.



#10 Isaac Vanier   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 10:54 AM

I agree. I used to think it was lame to have a "manager" type person for small teams. Now I understand exactly why one is needed for a "serious" project. I honestly could have done the team management full time, but I had to do a lot more.

I think the general term "producer" would be a better thing to use. A producer can act as manager to make sure things are done, take care of everyone''s questions, keep everything on track, deal with publishers (practically another full time job), PR, etc.

If you don''t believe us, you''ll see

Doesn''t mean that you have to have one. You can do fine without one. In our situation where I basically did all of the above plus lead programming, design, etc it worked out well, it just took more time.

I guess the point is, don''t think there''s nothing to it.

#11 Forneiq   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 02:54 PM

I''m trying to write an RPG. It''s my first big project, but I think I can do it. Besides, it''s the only genre (besides fighting) that I really enjoy playing, so why should I try to write anything I don''t want to play. I''m doing all the programming myself (at least for the time being) and I''m going to try to get a friend to do the art. The trouble is, I''m having problems getting started. I''m not very good with graphics, and although I''m not doing anything fancy, I need some sort of graphics engine to get started. I started with a short graphics demo but I''m having trouble getting any further.

More on this story when it exists

#12 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4583

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 03:57 PM

I think a common difficulty is that team members who don''t see each other in real life don''t have opportunities to nag each other and give each other pep talks, two of the major things that motivate people to work at a task.

#13 rcode   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 04:12 PM

I think that one of the major reasons why projects fail is because of disunity -- I don''t know if that''s the correct spelling or an actual word, but you get the point.

A team usually forms only on the premises that they want to make a game. They don''t really know what type of game exactly (maybe only a genre description, if that), and fail to agree on what their focus will be. A focus has to be decided upon as early as possible even if it means somebody won''t like it. It''s better to have everyone on the team agree and just lose a couple of members in the beginning rather than drag on jumping from one direction to another. Any type of focus/direction planning that takes longer than a week will probably inevitably spell out the doom for the team, since a lack of indecision will lower the moral of the team and eventually people will just stop being interested and not do anything anymore.

Just my 2.314159 cents.

RCode


#14 Ironblayde   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 04:22 PM

I''m not in as much of a position to say anything about this since I have next to no experience working with teams (my current project has one other person, a composer -- all my other games were basic, solo efforts), but I think sunandshadow is right about people working over the Internet. It goes a little further than that too, because Internet teams are usually made up of people who didn''t know each other at all before the project started. And how well can you really get to know someone without meeting in person? You can, but it takes much longer. You can only read into a person''s written words so much, you know? I have met a lot of people online, but there are only a couple that I would be willing to undertake a large project with -- and all of those people I have ''known'' for years.

When you find someone for your team over the Internet, it''s hard to judge what kind of person he/she is. And especially around here where most of us have yet to complete a big project, you can''t really go by a person''s track record. So where does that leave you? I''m not sure. After my current project is finished, I have a great idea that I''d like to try to implement, but it will take considerably more effort than my current project, and I know I can''t handle it alone. I''m not sure where I will try to find a team. Ideally I''d like to find some people I can actually meet in person to work with, but I don''t know a single person IRL who shares my passion for game development. What to do?...

-Ironblayde
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#15 Quantum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 06:24 PM

Ironblayde: im in the same position as you
im working on a solo project, but i want to start something bigger after i''ve done this, and i''d like to be involved in a team project
its hard when you cant find anyone IRL to work with.
i think if you want to work on large projects, you do need a team.
there are already heaps of teams out there, but you never know what you''ll get if you just join a team. it might be a group of dedicated game developers, or it could be a couple of people who dont know anything and are just trying to make games
the other option is to start your own team, but finding people is so hard these days.
anyway, either way, theres nothing really to lose, just experience to gain

#16 MSW   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 09:07 PM

I am in a strange situation...but possibly familure to some of you...

I have been working solo on a 2D Final Fantasy style RPG...this is my first attempt at something this large, I have made about a dozen smaller games [pong, tetris, and even a space shooter like R-Type]...and even experimented with 3D...so I do have some "experience"...maybe just the bare minimum to accomplish my current project...but I feel up to the challange...

Anyhow I was disscussing this with another person at work some time ago, when I found out that he was part of a team developing a game...On his invitation I met up with the team during a meeting [physical, real world teams, seem rare anymore]...I showed them the stuff I had done, etc...and they asked me to join the team...so far so good [at that point I still just wanted to work on my game...but thought that the team experience would help, as I had never been a part of of such]...but these guys want to make a massivly multi-player RPG...gulp!...I tell them that I''m really just an old DOS C coder, who is still comeing to grips with Windows and DirectX, so networked games are more than a bit beyond my reach...

They then dropped the bomb...They laid out their "vision" for the game...full 3D world, charactor graphics change with equiped items, real time voice communication, day/night and seasonal changes done in real time [1 real hour = 1 game hour], combat basied off of the AD&D rules...and haveing me, being a C coder, handle the client side...while the team leader [whom I later found out was the only other coder in the group] handles the server side in Perl...Obviously the team is out of thier league [and they only seem to understand "user interface" not gameplay]...but these guys, together, run a web site development company...so they may have some worth while skills...anyhow I have been trying to get them to realize that, right now, thier game will be impossible to make, and they [we] should start out much smaller...but so far, they don''t seem to care as they feel they are hearing that from a guy who only made a couple of pong and tetris games

so should I stay? continue trying to get them to be more realistic? Or drop them? [I do work with a couple of them day to day...]

#17 Isaac Vanier   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 04:33 AM

The Wave 49 team was completely internet based. Our next game is also. I have an article coming out very soon that explains how we met so maybe some of you will be interested in reading it. There will probably be a news item posted here about it if you''re interested.

At first, I tried to meet people localy. I made up a flyer and posted it at local businesses (hobby shops, book stores, super markets), (this is about 4 years ago) and at the local college. I got 3 people to call me. I met them both. The first one was within a few weeks of my posting (I think - it''s been a while). We met and began game design. We worked together for about 2 months, meeting once per week. He lost interest.

Then a year later I got another call. Worked on more game design and programming with him. He lost interest.


A year later I got yet another call. Met him once, he lost interest. Surprisingly he actually called me a couple of weeks ago to see what was going on.

The point is, I don''t think local people are going to help my situation one ounce. It took a LOT of time, but I''ve eventually brought together a very small team of deticated people who put together Wave 49, and our next game which is currently under development.

You might get lucky and run in to someone who is as deticated as you though, but the fact is, the number of people you have to choose from localy is very small when compared to the number of people on the internet. So you have a much higher chance of finding someone online. And even of those people, very few are really deticated enough.

It really is nice to know someone in person, but it may not be entirely necessary for a smaller scale game project. You don''t have to be best friends with the people.

MSW -

I guess it depends on if you feel like learning anything even though the project may not be finished. It still could be a valuable situation. I have a fealing that your opinions on making a smaller project won''t change anything though







#18 AticAtac   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 04:56 AM

Failed projects are not always a waste. Its always good to learn from own or others mistakes. Of course every project has its own structure and needs. But i thought it would be nice to make a list of "should-be-avoided-mistakes" for starting projects.
I think in this thread we have got lot of input about possible mistakes. More ppl could post here and someone could collect all the input and make a list, which culd be very usefull :-)

What do you think about this ? Could such a list be useful ?
Let me know!

#19 MicahJon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 05:43 AM

AticAtac,

I like the idea of a list, that''s kind of the idea I was going for when I started this thread.

Here''s what I picked up so far:

Things to do:

Have a good team leader who is in charge of the project.

Start with a small project (maybe even below your abilities), so your team can get used to each other, and build up confidence.

Have diversity in your team. A diverse team allows for each member to fill in for the knowledge that another member might not have.

Make sure you have focus. Lack of focus is doom. I think a team project definately needs written docs (design doc or other) that describes the game so that everyone is working on the same thing.

Make sure you have check points in the project (even if it''s small). These give members a goal to work towards, and a sense of acomplishment when reached.


What else should be added or changed?

Micah





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