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How to reinvigorate a team?


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#1 viptampa   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:44 AM

Hey everyone,

I've been managing a udk game project for a few months and it seems that my team has lost momentum. (Its a single map UDK demo)

I did a survey and in short the trend from the team members seemed to be 'I don't see anyone else doing anything, so I don't feel like doing anything'.

The GDD has taken a while to flush out which I can understand can take some wind out of the sails during the prepro. (I try to live by its a living document and update it daily based upon questions that need to be answered.)

I've recruited some replacements for those that seem to be uncommunicative for the past month, however I don't want to repeat the issue.

Any suggestions?
Any questions I need to be asking myself or the team?

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#2 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6066

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:03 AM

If people lose motivation because noone seems to be doing anything then the project leader needs to do some highly visible things to get things going.
I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#3 viptampa   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:09 AM

Ok, can you make a suggestion for me to test? I'm open to anything.

I've emailed the team, keep updating our project management system with back end, recruitment updates, and tasks that have been completed/assigned. I've written out more backstory, updated the website with game dev bios, and even allowed time for a dedicated team meeting time for our international devs who seem to miss out on the domestic team meetings.

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:50 AM

I assume that you have not gotten everyone in the team to sign a collaboration agreement. I hope I'm wrong there.
Have you talked with each member of the team to determine what his or her motivations are? Why he or she joined the team in the first place? You need to know what each member of the team hopes to get out of the project, so you can apply motivational techniques.
You could also google information on ways to boost morale. Being a spread-out team imposes unique challenges, but there ought to be ways.
Do you have a website, a central repository of team information? Do you do regular team communications?
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 DvDmanDT   Members   -  Reputation: 870

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:57 AM

Getting the momentum up is the hardest part. One thing I had some success with was deciding on a time amount each team member was supposed to work each week (in our case 30h/week, for a hobby project it would likely be closer to maybe 5-10). We then setup a time reporting system in which members would login, enter a start and end time as well as what they worked on during that time. That way we could easily see who worked and on what, even when there were stuff that didn't give any visual indication of progress (stuff like testing or designing).

Another thing is communication. We used an internal wiki (MediaWiki) and an IRC channel with a history-keeping bot. The IRC channel/bot can help alot, if one person posts "I'm currently working on X, what do you think of this? <link>" then it often triggers responses causing other people to work as well. A Wiki on the other hand is great for storing documents and decisions. It's easy to collaborate and you get stuff like history for free which also means you can follow activity.

#6 viptampa   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 11:55 AM

I assume that you have not gotten everyone in the team to sign a collaboration agreement. I hope I'm wrong there.

You are not wrong on your assumption. I inherited this project as the originator landed a job at Bethesda. It was either step up from dept lead to project lead, or let te project die. I didnt want to let a lot of man hours go for naught, so I stepped up and organized the project better and have been trying push things forward to get our demo done.

Have you talked with each member of the team to determine what his or her motivations are? Why he or she joined the team in the first place? You need to know what each member of the team hopes to get out of the project, so you can apply motivational techniques.

Yes and no. Yes I've asked each new member I've recruited, but no to the old members. The reason of each person varies, but in general it's to add to a portfolio or help others.

Do you have a website, a central repository of team information? Do you do regular team communications?

Yes and Yes.
We have weekly team meetings via TeamSpeak on Sundays and another team
Meeting on tuesdays for the international devs.
We do have a website, however each person int listed yet as they have not provided a bio. www.frakturedgames.com
It's something I'll need to followup on.

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 12:07 PM

You must have a collaboration agreement. You should not be involved in a project that does not have a collaboration agreement in place (you should drop out, if one can't be written and signed). http://underdevelopmentlaw.com/collaboration-agreements-and-online-development-teams/
And you need to find out every team member's motivation. That information will aid you in getting the project back on track.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#8 viptampa   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 01:01 PM

Could be difficult at this stage, especially since I guess this would be considered a 'hobby' project since no one is getting paid for the demo. Even more so difficult since we have collaborators from around the globe... (USA, Canada, England, Sweden, Bulgaria, Australia), some of which are 17, which would make the agreement unenforceable for those younger individuals in the USA..

I can setup an online form which I have everyone fill out and agree to and have them write out their initials as a signature. (or other simple identifier).

The question I have now, are you recommending it as a 'motivational' tool or a legally binding agreement to protect myself?

#9 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 01:13 PM

I am saying that problems will happen if the project goes much further without any kind of written agreement between all members. It's inevitable, if a game starts coming together, that some members will push for getting the game published, to try to make some money from it.
Other problems can occur, too, and the agreement is a useful tool. Read that article I linked you to.
And again I say, I would not want to be involved in a project without any written agreement. My recommendation, if you cannot get one drafted and signed, is that you yourself run, not walk, to the nearest exit.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#10 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20500

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 02:47 PM

The question I have now, are you recommending it as a 'motivational' tool or a legally binding agreement to protect myself?

I recommend it for both reasons.


Imagine a common scenario: One person on the project leaves.

On the legal side, without a collaboration agreement in place the entire project becomes legally tainted. The person who left is still a copyright holder with full rights to everything they did; their work and everything derived from their work is still owned by them. Except now they are gone. That is a legal poison-pill for the project. One person leaves and the entire project becomes a legal black hole. You must get the rights from that person if you intend to do anything with the project.


To prevent the project from becoming legally tainted you need to go back to every person who has ever contributed to the project and get them to sign a collaboration agreement, or if they won't, at least a rights assignment. Without that in place the project is legally dead; without that I agree with Tom that you should run for the nearest exit.

That needs to be done quickly, the sooner the better.

Failing that the project becomes a legal nightmare that you can never sell, license, or even give away. The only legal option for such projects is to abandon them to the wreckage heap of failed projects.

I hate to sound negative about it, but a project without an agreement is fatally flawed from a legal standpoint.




On the management side any cohesive structure will help the team any time there is a morale hit. One person leaving can be a major morale blow and often will results in a negative ripple effect. Having an agreement will help rebound the damage faster. You can re-assure everyone that even though the person is gone the project is able to continue.

As for motivation, people change. That is a basic simple part of human nature.

When a person is no longer motivated to work on the project your best option is to make a clean and swift break. Taking to long hurts everybody, both the person who lost motivation and those who remain. Chances are good that if ties were severed with a few key people earlier-on, the project's morale would be better overall. Now you still have to sever ties with those people but additional damage has been done. Left for too long a few unmotivated people can cripple any project.

Even at big studios where people are generally happy there is still employee turnover. People lose interest and decide they would rather become teachers or botanists or screenwriters rather than make games. Presenting the fact that the person is following their passion in a positive manner is very helpful.

There should always be a private side of the break and a public side of the break. The private side is often very difficult and personal. It is unique to every individual.

The public side that the team sees, if you can do the break on positive terms it helps mitigate the ripple effect.

Examples:

"We love what Bob has done for the team, but now his life is taking a different direction. Bob, if you ever decide to come back we'd love to have you. We're sad to see you go but glad to see you following your dreams. We all want to thank you for being a part of the project."

"We're sad to see Bob go, but we're glad he gets to follow his new passion of stunt car racing! Let's give him a cheer; pass around the drinks!"


Without the collaboration agreement in place, when anybody leaves the project the entire project is instantly and automatically doomed. No amount of positive spin can change the plain and obvious fact that the project is doomed.

So get that collaboration agreement in place post-haste.

Edited by frob, 08 June 2012 - 02:51 PM.
Clarity, but more words.

Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#11 Recoilthreat   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:36 PM

on another note if you are able to get the agreement seeing how you teams local is around the globe and not in a office it’s going to be hard to get team moral up unless you
1. Can get all people in on the project together (Skype, vent, team speak) and have a group sit down and recollaborate the project to get everyone excited and a vested interest again.
2. Find the most influential person on the team (the social butterfly of your team) and sit and talk about the project in every positive way you can get excited about it from there he should go and spread the word and it should get moral up again although that is the slow way.
3. show and tell- have all the members of your team show what they have been doing and have them explain what and why praise for high level progress or effort this will appeal to peoples competitive side but on a caution note if not handled right it could also blow up really really badly so handle it with care the mini version of this would be having them post their work for the team to follow ( website, YouTube, wiki) it’s a more passive way to do it but it’s really effective to have that way everyone can follow and start seeing the whole picture instead of just there part

#12 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2003

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:37 PM

Just to ask an obvious question, is there maybe a bottleneck somewhere? Are there people that think they should be waiting for something to be done before they continue with their tasks?

#13 viptampa   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:47 PM

Just to ask an obvious question, is there maybe a bottleneck somewhere? Are there people that think they should be waiting for something to be done before they continue with their tasks?

I'm not sure where the bottleneck is currently. I know the GDD was a bottleneck for a while, but after we resolved we still had a lack of progress.

#14 Smilex   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:16 PM

viptampa, I want to suggest an exercise for you. You might have already tried this, I wouldn't know, but either way, if you haven't, then this might help a bit.
Now try to continue reading in a different language from English and your native language, if you can, if not, then just translate this, in your head, from English to your native language. You can also try to immitate some famous voice in your head.

Do I believe in your project?

Now dependant on your own answer, you'll find the answer to if you are capable as a leader in your current state of thought.
The reason I suggest this exercise, is because I was told (and everyone knows that a guy on the internet who was told something, is always right) that if your brain is already spending energy, trying to translate in this example, it doesn't necessarily use it's sub concious (which in this case, might make you think about the question above, untruthfully). For everyone who doesn't believe it, try doing it when shopping next time, and you might find that your favorite stuff, isn't actually your favorite stuff ( at least it works for me, even if I know I'm just testing it ). This was just something I felt like adding, because I want to feel like I know more than someone else.
This does not mean that you don't have to sort out the legal stuff. You have to sort out the legal stuff.

Edited by Smilex, 11 June 2012 - 08:17 PM.

Currently trying to contribute to the Desurium project.

Macro, then refine.

#15 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 383

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:28 AM

viptampa, I want to suggest an exercise for you. You might have already tried this, I wouldn't know, but either way, if you haven't, then this might help a bit.
Now try to continue reading in a different language from English and your native language, if you can, if not, then just translate this, in your head, from English to your native language. You can also try to immitate some famous voice in your head.

Do I believe in your project?

Now dependant on your own answer, you'll find the answer to if you are capable as a leader in your current state of thought.
The reason I suggest this exercise, is because I was told (and everyone knows that a guy on the internet who was told something, is always right) that if your brain is already spending energy, trying to translate in this example, it doesn't necessarily use it's sub concious (which in this case, might make you think about the question above, untruthfully). For everyone who doesn't believe it, try doing it when shopping next time, and you might find that your favorite stuff, isn't actually your favorite stuff ( at least it works for me, even if I know I'm just testing it ). This was just something I felt like adding, because I want to feel like I know more than someone else.
This does not mean that you don't have to sort out the legal stuff. You have to sort out the legal stuff.


It also works it if's just a hard to read font. It's even scientifically proven to help people in school get better grades (especially in biology).

#16 Smilex   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:16 PM


viptampa, I want to suggest an exercise for you. You might have already tried this, I wouldn't know, but either way, if you haven't, then this might help a bit.
Now try to continue reading in a different language from English and your native language, if you can, if not, then just translate this, in your head, from English to your native language. You can also try to immitate some famous voice in your head.

Do I believe in your project?

Now dependant on your own answer, you'll find the answer to if you are capable as a leader in your current state of thought.
The reason I suggest this exercise, is because I was told (and everyone knows that a guy on the internet who was told something, is always right) that if your brain is already spending energy, trying to translate in this example, it doesn't necessarily use it's sub concious (which in this case, might make you think about the question above, untruthfully). For everyone who doesn't believe it, try doing it when shopping next time, and you might find that your favorite stuff, isn't actually your favorite stuff ( at least it works for me, even if I know I'm just testing it ). This was just something I felt like adding, because I want to feel like I know more than someone else.
This does not mean that you don't have to sort out the legal stuff. You have to sort out the legal stuff.


It also works it if's just a hard to read font. It's even scientifically proven to help people in school get better grades (especially in biology).


You are a genius! I never thought about it, but I'll surely try this now that I'm preparing for exams and all that stuff.
Currently trying to contribute to the Desurium project.

Macro, then refine.

#17 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:38 PM


It also works it if's just a hard to read font. It's even scientifically proven to help people in school get better grades (especially in biology).

You are a genius! I never thought about it, but I'll surely try this now that I'm preparing for exams and all that stuff.


I must be thick; I don't understand. Can one of you please explain? Would I just imagine that some text is in a hard-to-read font? Or should I take the text, paste it into a word processor, and change it to a hard-to-read font?

And that will help me as 1. the writer, or 2. the reader, to get getter comprehension?
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#18 Smilex   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 02:11 AM



It also works it if's just a hard to read font. It's even scientifically proven to help people in school get better grades (especially in biology).

You are a genius! I never thought about it, but I'll surely try this now that I'm preparing for exams and all that stuff.


I must be thick; I don't understand. Can one of you please explain? Would I just imagine that some text is in a hard-to-read font? Or should I take the text, paste it into a word processor, and change it to a hard-to-read font?

And that will help me as 1. the writer, or 2. the reader, to get getter comprehension?


I haven't tried the font trick, but it is definitely for the reader. The idea is to make the reader's brain have too much to do, so that it can't predict stuff. So with my translation example, your brain has to translate the text as well as reading it and understanding it, making predictions hard for it. If we take the shopping example again, say you were a Pepsi person and you always get a Pepsi, but then you can try to ask yourself "What soda do I want?" in a different language, one you aren't too fluent at, so that your brain doesn't have an as easy time to tell that it's Pepsi, because it has always been Pepsi, but instead evaluate the actual question. I don't know of the actual science behind it, but I have tried it myself and for me it actually worked (Even though I was fully aware that I was just testing the idea).
Currently trying to contribute to the Desurium project.

Macro, then refine.

#19 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:58 AM




It also works it if's just a hard to read font.

You are a genius!

Would I just imagine that some text is in a hard-to-read font? Or should I take the text, paste it into a word processor, and change it to a hard-to-read font?

I haven't tried the font trick...
with my translation example... try to ask yourself... in a different language, one you aren't too fluent at,


I assume it does have to be a language you know something about. You do this exercise in your head, on the spot. So I think I understand this one.
And the other one you mentioned is to imagine something being said by a well-known voice (like James Earl Jones, or Sean Connery, for instance).
The font trick, I assume, has to be actually done with a font (so the words have to be in digital form, and changed to a different font).

What I don't get is the point of these tricks.
Is it reading comprehension?
Is it learning?
Is it decision making?
Is it motivation (the point of this thread)?
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#20 Smilex   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 10:54 AM

Concerning this thread, I had the idea to use it to ask oneself if they want to continue with the project, and that way one might get a different answer than expected. It was just an idea and I think it's fun to utilize at different scenarios, to see how much such a simple idea can be used for.
Currently trying to contribute to the Desurium project.

Macro, then refine.




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