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What do game developers look for when joining a team that's just starting out?


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#1 Blinn   Members   -  Reputation: 626

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 11:36 AM

I'm in that place most gamers are where I have an idea for a game, but no team to help produce it. I know that convincing an entire group of people to join someone's team is easier said than done, but I am looking for advice on the matter on how to convince people to help form a team so we can lay out a plan to get stuff done.

I have a few questions about what game developers are interested to know before they decide to commit their time and skills to a game project:

1: What do they consider a "good" idea for a game? I already have a game idea, but how should I present it? I currently have no game design document; just some gameplay concepts in my head. I am prepared to write one, but not before I learn what it takes to make a great game design document which will grab and keep the reader's attention.

2: How do people from a strong team with plenty of manpower when they first start out, having every essential role covered? Forming a team is the most important step to me. I actually work with another game development team, but they're occupied with their game currently, and we're in pre-alpha so it's going to be a very long time before we finish it. I have an idea of my own, and I want to at least start working on something soon, rather than wait a few years before I get another chance.

3: What kind of problems can I expect to occur during the entire game development process, and what kind of solutions are available to overcome them? I would much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than my own. There are two things I'm particularly concerned about for the simple reason that I'm inexperienced with them - legal matters and creating a secure website, suited for e-commerce. Any advice on gaining the necessary funding for all expenses involved in making a game would be much appreciated as well.

4: What advice can I make use of when trying to secure the loyalty and reliablilty of people who join a team? What are some good tips to get people genuinely interested in making a game, especially for a project that has no budget? A lot of the best people out there only join projects because there is a guarantee of payment, far beyond what most aspiring game developers can afford. Now, I am fortunate enough to have an existing team (suited for 2D art and audio) who are genuinely interested in a different idea I have and want to contribute, but for something like game design, that takes a lot more people with different talents and a lot more time, and I want to make sure that whoever joins the team actually wants to see this game idea through to the end.

That's about all I have to ask for now, any advice for any of these questions would be very much appreciated.

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#2 Tiblanc   Members   -  Reputation: 560

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 12:04 PM

1: What do they consider a "good" idea for a game? I already have a game idea, but how should I present it? I currently have no game design document; just some gameplay concepts in my head. I am prepared to write one, but not before I learn what it takes to make a great game design document which will grab and keep the reader's attention.


Good ideas are the ones they come up with. We all have way more game ideas than what we'll have time to implement. Selling a game idea is about as futile as talking to plants.

2: How do people from a strong team with plenty of manpower when they first start out, having every essential role covered? Forming a team is the most important step to me. I actually work with another game development team, but they're occupied with their game currently, and we're in pre-alpha so it's going to be a very long time before we finish it. I have an idea of my own, and I want to at least start working on something soon, rather than wait a few years before I get another chance.


Teams form because people do not have the full skillset required to create a game. Developers can't draw and artists can't code. That's where the biggest effort lies so if you cannot pull your own weight in either of these, chances are nobody will work for you.

3: What kind of problems can I expect to occur during the entire game development process, and what kind of solutions are available to overcome them? I would much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than my own. There are two things I'm particularly concerned about for the simple reason that I'm inexperienced with them - legal matters and creating a secure website, suited for e-commerce. Any advice on gaining the necessary funding for all expenses involved in making a game would be much appreciated
as well.

4: What advice can I make use of when trying to secure the loyalty and reliablilty of people who join a team? What are some good tips to get people genuinely interested in making a game, especially for a project that has no budget? A lot of the best people out there only join projects because there is a guarantee of payment, far beyond what most aspiring game developers can afford. Now, I am fortunate enough to have an existing team (suited for 2D art and audio) who are genuinely interested in a different idea I have and want to contribute, but for something like game design, that takes a lot more people with different talents and a lot more time, and I want to make sure that whoever joins the team actually wants to see this game idea through to the end.


Communication and motivation are your biggest enemies. If you work with people online, it becomes a task better suited for greek gods. You need to talk and show progress on a steady basis or people will drop out. People are motivated by 2 things : money and accomplishment. If you can't provide money, you need to make sure your teammates do not feel like slaves but feel like they're doing something interesting. Keep in mind you're asking people to use their leisure time to produce something that is generally done during work hours.
Developer for Novus Dawn : a Flash Unity Isometric Tactical RPG - Forums - Facebook - DevLog

#3 Blinn   Members   -  Reputation: 626

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 02:09 PM

Good ideas are the ones they come up with. We all have way more game ideas than what we'll have time to implement. Selling a game idea is about as futile as talking to plants.


The leader of the game development team I work for currently leaves a large area of the game open to interpretation by the rest of the team, even though he ultimately has the final say. He assigns people to different roles according to both their interest in a particular field and their capabilities. What you say has truth to it because had it not been for the fact that a large portion of the game is open to interpretation by other people, I probably would not have signed up in the first place, so I think it would be a good idea to let other potential team members influence the stuff that makes up a game, but also make sure that it is beneficial to the whole vision of the game.

Teams form because people do not have the full skillset required to create a game. Developers can't draw and artists can't code. That's where the biggest effort lies so if you cannot pull your own weight in either of these, chances are nobody will work for you.


I have my own skills that I can contribute towards the game. In our other game team, we're put in as many positions as we are interested in and can handle with skill.

Communication and motivation are your biggest enemies. If you work with people online, it becomes a task better suited for greek gods. You need to talk and show progress on a steady basis or people will drop out. People are motivated by 2 things : money and accomplishment. If you can't provide money, you need to make sure your teammates do not feel like slaves but feel like they're doing something interesting. Keep in mind you're asking people to use their leisure time to produce something that is generally done during work hours.


Again, this is where it helps to let all the other team members have a say in how the game develops, especially when paying someone is not a feasible option. This is what's currently holding the other game development team together so strongly.

#4 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19324

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:42 AM

Take a look at the recent topic "so you're a programmer" -- I think you'll find plenty of useful and relevant information, as it's a similar question with some detailed responses. Posted Image

1: What do they consider a "good" idea for a game? I already have a game idea, but how should I present it?

Your idea should seem to be one that is within your capabilities, and it should be one that potential team-members think sounds like a fun game.

You should work on an "elevator pitch" where you quickly explain the most important parts of your idea without irrelevant details. Search for the term and you should find plenty of advice. Also don't be afraid to share your idea -- it won't help you to attract team members if you're not willing to share details, and people won't spend the time to find out if you make them work for it rather than giving the information up-front.

2: How do people from a strong team with plenty of manpower when they first start out, having every essential role covered?

In my experience, the majority of successful projects start out with very small teams or even working alone, and only recruit the minimum number of extra people to fill any gaps in their skill-set. You should aim to start the project by yourself and do as much work as possible until you need someone else to help -- you can then recruit help and there will be specific jobs for them to do.

I'm sure other people work differently and that it's possible to be successful with other methods, but unless you're able to pay I'd personally recommend a minimal team.


...and now I have to run, but I'll try to remember to come back with responses to your other questions -- there's more information in that other topic I linked as well though.

Hope that's helpful!Posted Image

#5 Blinn   Members   -  Reputation: 626

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:38 AM

Take a look at the recent topic "so you're a programmer" -- I think you'll find plenty of useful and relevant information, as it's a similar question with some detailed responses. Posted Image


1: What do they consider a "good" idea for a game? I already have a game idea, but how should I present it?

Your idea should seem to be one that is within your capabilities, and it should be one that potential team-members think sounds like a fun game.

You should work on an "elevator pitch" where you quickly explain the most important parts of your idea without irrelevant details. Search for the term and you should find plenty of advice. Also don't be afraid to share your idea -- it won't help you to attract team members if you're not willing to share details, and people won't spend the time to find out if you make them work for it rather than giving the information up-front.

2: How do people from a strong team with plenty of manpower when they first start out, having every essential role covered?

In my experience, the majority of successful projects start out with very small teams or even working alone, and only recruit the minimum number of extra people to fill any gaps in their skill-set. You should aim to start the project by yourself and do as much work as possible until you need someone else to help -- you can then recruit help and there will be specific jobs for them to do.

I'm sure other people work differently and that it's possible to be successful with other methods, but unless you're able to pay I'd personally recommend a minimal team.


...and now I have to run, but I'll try to remember to come back with responses to your other questions -- there's more information in that other topic I linked as well though.

Hope that's helpful!Posted Image


Thank you very much for the link and the advice, they were very helpful. I have another question that's somewhere far down the road, but it's still something I'm not sure about,

Say for instance, I have a team of volunteers and we actually get to the point where we can sell our game in some form, even in a beta. Once the money comes in, how should I compensate the team fairly? I've considered profit sharing, but logic says as the team gets bigger, the shares get smaller, and I would like to have enough to continue funding the game. For small teams, this is good, but I want to consider the possibility of having a larger team, where profit sharing may be unsatisfactory. There are different ways to pay people, but I want something that is reasonable. I'm no financial expert.

#6 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10571

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 11:26 AM

1: What do they consider a "good" idea for a game? I already have a game idea, but how should I present it? I currently have no game design document; just some gameplay concepts in my head. I am prepared to write one, but not before I learn what it takes to make a great game design document which will grab and keep the reader's attention.

If you were hiring people, a GDD would be what you'd shoot for. People would be essentially 'for hire' and shouldn't overly care about the GDD, while you should.
On the other hand, a big advantage of indie startups (for fun or for business) is the ability to bring individuals that care. To do so, your idea must not be so rigid, and though you must be the 'grand visionary' behind it, you should focus more on sensations and general ambience than actual mechanics. Once you convince the right people, they'll help you flesh things out (and trust me, there's a lot of natural gameplay programmers out there that will ask nothing more than to help out and make things 'better'). This means you need to let them know, from the get-go, that you're more interested in the team-work aspect than the actual product you've thought about (and it needs to be true).

2: How do people from a strong team with plenty of manpower when they first start out, having every essential role covered? Forming a team is the most important step to me. I actually work with another game development team, but they're occupied with their game currently, and we're in pre-alpha so it's going to be a very long time before we finish it. I have an idea of my own, and I want to at least start working on something soon, rather than wait a few years before I get another chance.

Forming the team IS the most important step indeed (ask Valve!).
The best way to build a strong team is to earn a reputation. You need people to instantly rally around you based on previous achievements. You're not too far off the beaten path here, as you're saying, you're on another team. Motivate that other team, help out wherever you can. Focus on that project instead of your new idea. Indie projects' ability to deliver is extremely low; if you get to be on a team that ships, or at least you've given it your all, a lot of people on that team will notice, and it will spread.
A few project contributions down the road, you'll not be posting on forums for team members, but recruit from previous acquaintances. And that's the fun part too: on contributions, you can come up to strangers, see how they work for a while, and decide whether this is someone you'd like on your future team. You'll build relationships, find people that complete you, are able to spot your mistakes, etc.
So my suggestion here: wait the few years. That other game might fail, or ship. Eitherway, you're a winner: if it fails, it won't take a few more years perhaps, so you'll soon be back to your idea, and with experience down the can. If it ships, your reputation will get a boost, you'll have "previous projects" to show for, etc.

3: What kind of problems can I expect to occur during the entire game development process, and what kind of solutions are available to overcome them? I would much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than my own. There are two things I'm particularly concerned about for the simple reason that I'm inexperienced with them - legal matters and creating a secure website, suited for e-commerce. Any advice on gaining the necessary funding for all expenses involved in making a game would be much appreciated as well.

Textbook says: you need to fail on your own. You need to fail a lot, you need to fail early, and you need to fail on your own. A good lesson learned is something that happens to you and you say "never again".
I wouldn't give too much love to the idea you have in mind right now because:
a - you'll have better ideas later
b - it will probably fail

This does NOT mean you don't have to put all of your heart and effort behind it though. It needs to be a heartbreaker when it fails.

On a sidenote:
- Website: hire a third party, its rather cheap, and THEY know what they're doing. Pick a small indie business, any.
- Finance: it will probably have to be your own money until you get some kind of vertical slice or prototype. Then, you're welcome to use kickstarter or indiegogo, but more than likely, it will still be your own money.
Interestingly enough, you learn a lot more when its your own money, and it forces you to make economic design decisions, which, you should anyway.

4: What advice can I make use of when trying to secure the loyalty and reliablilty of people who join a team? What are some good tips to get people genuinely interested in making a game, especially for a project that has no budget? A lot of the best people out there only join projects because there is a guarantee of payment, far beyond what most aspiring game developers can afford. Now, I am fortunate enough to have an existing team (suited for 2D art and audio) who are genuinely interested in a different idea I have and want to contribute, but for something like game design, that takes a lot more people with different talents and a lot more time, and I want to make sure that whoever joins the team actually wants to see this game idea through to the end.


As I said previously, people you work with on contributions (you know, the people that post their game idea and are recruiting people, just like yourself?) are generally a good target. The big caveat here is that it is hard to convince them to work on YOUR idea. The best way to go is to work on THEIR idea, give it your all, earn credibility, and once it fails, determine whether they are a reliable person you'd be willing to partner with again (and whoever got on that team).
Then, during that pause, propose your own idea, and try to convince them. Depending on the respect they have for your work and their own mentality, that might just work.
The key here is that trust is something that needs to be built up. I'd rather do the exploration phase with other teams than on my own budget ;) much less risky that way.


Say for instance, I have a team of volunteers and we actually get to the point where we can sell our game in some form, even in a beta. Once the money comes in, how should I compensate the team fairly? I've considered profit sharing, but logic says as the team gets bigger, the shares get smaller, and I would like to have enough to continue funding the game. For small teams, this is good, but I want to consider the possibility of having a larger team, where profit sharing may be unsatisfactory. There are different ways to pay people, but I want something that is reasonable. I'm no financial expert.


Fair compensation would be to bill hours and have everyone share profit based on the relative amount of hours they've put towards making it happen.
I personally take additionnal % because I'm the 'money-man' and I make all of the investments, etc.

Edited by Orymus3, 28 October 2012 - 11:33 AM.


#7 Blinn   Members   -  Reputation: 626

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 12:11 PM

If you were hiring people, a GDD would be what you'd shoot for. People would be essentially 'for hire' and shouldn't overly care about the GDD, while you should.
On the other hand, a big advantage of indie startups (for fun or for business) is the ability to bring individuals that care. To do so, your idea must not be so rigid, and though you must be the 'grand visionary' behind it, you should focus more on sensations and general ambience than actual mechanics. Once you convince the right people, they'll help you flesh things out (and trust me, there's a lot of natural gameplay programmers out there that will ask nothing more than to help out and make things 'better'). This means you need to let them know, from the get-go, that you're more interested in the team-work aspect than the actual product you've thought about (and it needs to be true).


Google Spreadsheets are a big help on my other team, as multiple people can make edits at the same time. This would be a big help for brainstorming sessions and the extra tabs would give every participant their own page to write ideas down on. Then we can compare ideas, iron out the flaws, compromise if we disagree with each others' ideas, and make an extra tab to write down every idea we agree on.

Forming the team IS the most important step indeed (ask Valve!).
The best way to build a strong team is to earn a reputation. You need people to instantly rally around you based on previous achievements. You're not too far off the beaten path here, as you're saying, you're on another team. Motivate that other team, help out wherever you can. Focus on that project instead of your new idea. Indie projects' ability to deliver is extremely low; if you get to be on a team that ships, or at least you've given it your all, a lot of people on that team will notice, and it will spread.
A few project contributions down the road, you'll not be posting on forums for team members, but recruit from previous acquaintances. And that's the fun part too: on contributions, you can come up to strangers, see how they work for a while, and decide whether this is someone you'd like on your future team. You'll build relationships, find people that complete you, are able to spot your mistakes, etc.
So my suggestion here: wait the few years. That other game might fail, or ship. Eitherway, you're a winner: if it fails, it won't take a few more years perhaps, so you'll soon be back to your idea, and with experience down the can. If it ships, your reputation will get a boost, you'll have "previous projects" to show for, etc.


The only major problem with my other team is that our first game is fan-made, which means we can't legally ship it. We're all volunteers working on an unofficial sequel to a game that is owned by somebody else. We can do whatever we want with the game I have in mind however, since it is our own creation.

Textbook says: you need to fail on your own. You need to fail a lot, you need to fail early, and you need to fail on your own. A good lesson learned is something that happens to you and you say "never again".
I wouldn't give too much love to the idea you have in mind right now because:
a - you'll have better ideas later
b - it will probably fail

This does NOT mean you don't have to put all of your heart and effort behind it though. It needs to be a heartbreaker when it fails.

On a sidenote:
- Website: hire a third party, its rather cheap, and THEY know what they're doing. Pick a small indie business, any.
- Finance: it will probably have to be your own money until you get some kind of vertical slice or prototype. Then, you're welcome to use kickstarter or indiegogo, but more than likely, it will still be your own money.
Interestingly enough, you learn a lot more when its your own money, and it forces you to make economic design decisions, which, you should anyway.


This is exactly why I started the thread in the first place, so I can avoid making as many failures and mistakes as possible. I will accept any failures that are beyond my control, but if I can do something about it, I will. Not everything has to fail the first time in order for the next thing to be a success. That belief defeats the purpose of trying the first thing in the first place.

As I said previously, people you work with on contributions (you know, the people that post their game idea and are recruiting people, just like yourself?) are generally a good target. The big caveat here is that it is hard to convince them to work on YOUR idea. The best way to go is to work on THEIR idea, give it your all, earn credibility, and once it fails, determine whether they are a reliable person you'd be willing to partner with again (and whoever got on that team).
Then, during that pause, propose your own idea, and try to convince them. Depending on the respect they have for your work and their own mentality, that might just work.
The key here is that trust is something that needs to be built up. I'd rather do the exploration phase with other teams than on my own budget ;) much less risky that way.


I have first-hand experience of working with someone who only wanted their own idea and not anybody else's. He was the previous leader of the team I work with. He's one of those guys that seems professional until things don't go his way. His maturity level dropped by about 35 years once people started questioning his maturity and ability to lead the team. The current leader is much more open-minded and is willing to listen to other peoples' ideas and I aim to be much the same so that everyone can offer suggestions for the game. The current leader and I share one thing in common: we care more about the best ideas than just our own ideas, for our own ideas may not exactly be the best ideas.

Fair compensation would be to bill hours and have everyone share profit based on the relative amount of hours they've put towards making it happen.
I personally take additionnal % because I'm the 'money-man' and I make all of the investments, etc.


That could work, since I don't reasonably expect other team members to pay for the expenses of my game. If I take a larger amount, then I'll get my fair share, but also be able to do all the investing to keep things running smoothly. It's a very complex thing to work out. Luckily, I have an animator on my cartoon production team (the one I lead) who has college education on Business, so I can always go to her for advice on money matters.

Thanks for the detailed answers, they were very helpful. :)

#8 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10571

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:35 PM

The only major problem with my other team is that our first game is fan-made, which means we can't legally ship it. We're all volunteers working on an unofficial sequel to a game that is owned by somebody else. We can do whatever we want with the game I have in mind however, since it is our own creation.


By ship, I mean release it, not make money and sell.
Releasing fan made for free is still an achievement as it requires probably just the same amount of work.

This is exactly why I started the thread in the first place, so I can avoid making as many failures and mistakes as possible. I will accept any failures that are beyond my control, but if I can do something about it, I will. Not everything has to fail the first time in order for the next thing to be a success. That belief defeats the purpose of trying the first thing in the first place.

I'm proud to have failed. I don't think you can learn as much from other people's lessons. Well, prove me wrong then ;)

#9 KingofNoobs   Members   -  Reputation: 301

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:23 AM

I'll join your team. :D

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#10 Exodus111   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 05:43 PM

Id love to hear ur pitch, I might be inclined to join.

Speaking of elevator pitches, here is a known template. "The Pope and a penguin solves Crime". Granted that one is for Television, but the idea is to compress the core of ur idea into one sentence, and still retain the feel of it being something new and original.

-Exo

#11 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10148

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 05:57 PM

Since this thread is degenerating into an "I'll join your team" thing, I'm closing it. All you guys who are looking for teams or recruits, please use the Classifieds.
-- 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.




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