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Motivating your team?


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#1 Shadow_hunter   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:12 AM

Hey,

I am currently following a course as game artist. Myself and other students had the idea of creating a project outside our school hours. When we talked about it everyone was very excited, but i find myself doing most of the work. How do you motivate people that only have intrest in partying but little ambition towards the future.
Long ago i once had a project (www.goldenoakdesign.net), yes it was too ambitious, i didnt have the experience, but hell, most of our team were very young people who learned most of their skills in their free time, they put down a unbelievable amount of work, and they were very motivated.
I want this project to work, its a simple concept, we have a decent amount of pages in our design document, we figured out it is very do-able in a decent amount of time. But people just dont seem to realise that you need to work for it.

Im thinking the best way to motivate them right now is not with words, but just do alot of work myself and hope they pick up and follow once they see that the project is making progress.
and the simple agrument that they dont have time outside our studies isnt really valid when i can find time for it while taking evening courses besides my day-school and other activities like sport and volunteer work..but i guess i have no life.

I am sure some of you had the same problems, so let me know how you solved this problem!



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#2 TMurchu   Members   -  Reputation: 182

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

This is not the proper way to handle the problem. If your team has lost interest in the project this early into the game, you have serious problems. Or more accurately- they do. 

 

Some things that I would suggest in order to boost productivity-

  • Create a mandatory "check-in". Something they have to write once a week that says what they have accomplished over the last seven days. The fear of having nothing to write will keep everyone moving.
  • Talk to them every day. Ask what they are working on. Find out if they need help.
  • Create a list of short-term goals. For an artist: "Character design finished by the 20th of February". But make them set their OWN GOALS. Use shorter times if you want to get a feel for how serious they are. If they fail to meet THEIR OWN goals multiple times, it's time to let them go. There's a lot of talent in this world, there's no reason to hold on to people who don't want to work.
  • Accomplishments motivate. Anything that is done by any member of the time needs to be immediately hoisted up the flagpole and paraded through the offices. LOOK AT WHAT HAS BEEN DONE. WE ARE THIS MUCH CLOSER TO MAKING A GAME.

If you just keep working and waiting for them to come around, you are going to be disappointed. They mean well, but if their hearts aren't in it, their hearts aren't in it. 

 

I feel like this post came off sounding accidentally too harsh. I don't mean it to be. Everyone is different. There is a possibility that your guys just are in a lull. Who knows? What has worked for me might not work for you. Anyway, the point is, I hope it gets sorted and I wish you seriously the very best of luck!

 


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#3 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9153

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:55 PM

You need to understand what motivates each member of the team, and use that knowledge to boost their interest in doing the work. 

Maybe they were all enthusiastic about your idea at first, but later came to see that they'd be doing a lot of work for no personal gain.


-- 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.

#4 doeme   Members   -  Reputation: 692

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 02:33 AM

First off: Motivating people is very dependent on a lot of factors, your personality one of the big ones, and it's hard to learn this from books or over the internet. There is a lot of experience needed to be a successful motivator or leader for a team. However, one of the good books about this topic is Team Geek, which might be worth a look or two.

 

 

Im thinking the best way to motivate them right now is not with words, but just do alot of work myself and hope they pick up and follow once they see that the project is making progress.

 

I think you doing all the work in the hope that the rest of the team gets motivated doesn't sound like a very good idea to me. In my experience, you most likely only succeed in keeping people in the project and tagging along, but not in getting actual work out of them.

 

 

how do you motivate people that only have intrest in partying but little ambition towards the future.

...
and the simple agrument that they dont have time outside our studies isnt really valid when i can find time for it while taking evening courses besides my day-school and other activities like sport and volunteer work..

 

This sounds like there is a bit of frustration from your side. Beware of painting this as a black and white picture, just because the other guys like to party doesn't mean that they have no ambition towards the future, but by telling them otherwise you imply that they are leading a "wrong" life, which will make most people mad. The same goes for telling people how much of their free time they should spend on a voluntary project.



#5 Shadow_hunter   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

Thanks for all the replies!
I will try a different approach. Although it wont be easy. Today for example we had a meeting planned, one of the older students who works besides his studies even took a day off just so he could come to the meeting (announced the date a week ahead). In the end, out of 9 people, only me and him show up. As friends my classmates are awesome, but as working partners...its hard. They all said they would commit to this project, and then after today, its disrespectful towards the guy who took a day off for this (although i have to admit we did more work as when we would have with
9 people around a table). If i can make them realize that this is our project as a team (not just my project) and that we are doing this because of a dream to someday have a fully functional game (or whatever motivates them!)..and approach them as friend and not as project leader..ah well, lets try it, nothing to lose. And of course reminding them of the progress we make from week to week is a awesome idea!
Out of the 9 people i know at least 3 are really committed to this project, but perhaps that is enough to make a prototype of the game (in worse case scenario).

Edited by Shadow_hunter, 25 January 2013 - 03:50 PM.


#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9153

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:19 PM

If i can make them realize that this is our project as a team (not just my project) and that we are doing this because of a dream to someday have a fully functional game (or whatever motivates them!)

 

Right. Do you know why your one dedicated person wants to do this?

Do you know why each one of the other people might (or might not) be interested in doing this?

 

If someone's motive is "to have a portfolio piece" (to have a game he can point to and say "I worked on that")...

If someone's motive is "to make money when the game is selling"...

If someone's motive is "to make Shadowhunter not be disappointed with me"...

If someone's motive is "to experience working on a game team and hone my skills"...

 

Each of those different motives needs a different response from you.  And some of those motives might not fit with your project.


-- 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.

#7 Shadow_hunter   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:42 PM

Alright, thanks again. I simply made a poll on our facebook page presenting them with the question of what motivates them and giving them some options (might not be the most subtle way to present this, but im just going to play open card with them). Will probably take it up with each of them individually afterwards. Good advice!



#8 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9153

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:42 PM

Alright, thanks again. I simply made a poll on our facebook page presenting them with the question of what motivates them and giving them some options (might not be the most subtle way to present this, but im just going to play open card with them). Will probably take it up with each of them individually afterwards.

 

The Facebook poll sounds about as subtle as a sledgehammer. And about as impersonal as an M1A2 Abrams tank.  Dude, you need to have personal conversations with each one to find out their motives, and you don't phrase it "what motivates you," either.  You probably have to start recruiting all over again.


-- 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.

#9 altras   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 04:26 AM

From my experience - find a new team. It's just waste of time to try to motivate people to start working. It's absolutely mandatory if you want to build something to waste time only for that what matters. Let's say if you have 100 points of energy and you waste 50 of them for motivating others, you'll launch in 5 years.

 

I've worked with teams that I had to motivate, i.e I was the locomotive they were the wagon. It's feasible but we moved so slow with our work it was insane....

Now I'm working with teams that I don't waste time to motivate and everything is perfect :)



#10 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7038

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:02 AM

It goes to say thats its best to have the "right people" than "skilled people".

Recently, I've worked on a project with driven individuals with sub-par technological knowledge and I can assure you that motivation goes a long way.

Without being as extreme as altras (I do like the challenge of motivating / empowering teams that are not necessarily up to a task and bring them to a level where they are in the zone) I'll agree that have the "right people" (those motivated to work on a project) can really go a long way while having a team of "skilled people" can be quite stagnant and inefficient at times.

That said, I'm not sure what's the easiest for an indie: try to motivate team members already found, or seek for new partners out there...



#11 Fromfame   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:08 PM

I'm currently facing a similar problem as you man, reading this thread helped me out as well, thank god for the great responses!

Good luck to all of us!

#12 MrSkullz   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:24 AM

Im thinking the best way to motivate them right now is not with words, but just do alot of work myself and hope they pick up and follow once they see that the project is making progress.
and the simple agrument that they dont have time outside our studies isnt really valid when i can find time for it while taking evening courses besides my day-school and other activities like sport and volunteer work..but i guess i have no life.

I am sure some of you had the same problems, so let me know how you solved this problem!

 

When my project first started there was enthusiasm by the ton and there was a little bit of money flowing in.  Everyone wanted a piece of the pie but it was still very much a volunteer effort.  People started to drop off when they started to see that there was very little immediate return on their time.  Then the money dried up and it was 100% volunteer.  One thing I tried was to motivate people to use the project to pad their resumes because often times you will not be able to use the latest and greatest technologies in a production environment to the game project was a perfect way to work on a complex setup with cool stuff.  That worked with one or two individuals for about two months and then they dropped off as well.  Basically they were not totally enamored with pushing out a game.  They loved the idea of finishing a game but not the idea of working late midnight hours to do it and there was no incentive ($$$) to do it.

 

One thing I had to learn the hard way was that it took more of my time to try to coordinate and motivate them than for me to just work on the project.  I eventually had to take a hard look at the project and the team members and just let them go because MY return on investment in motivating them was very low.  If someone dropped out for two weeks and then came back I would have to spend an evening spinning them up to the recent changes and then something would come up again and they would drop off.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

 

I currently am casually 'advertising' for other developers to help but I tell them right away that it is a labor of love and they will only get experience out of it.  They also have to prove that they are motivated by diving in head first with no support from me for the first month.  It's harsh, it's not motivating, and I have had no takers.

 

When you are experiencing lack of motivation on your team take a step back and put yourself into their shoes.  What is their incentive to put the hours in?  In the professional world that would be money.  Maybe they will get experience but in my experience (pardon the pun) that only motivates your visionary A-game types.  Bragging rights and prestige will only be gotten after the game is successful which may never happen and even if it does it is a long time from now.  If they don't have an obsessive love for the project they will eventually quit.  Cultivate that obsession or start waving the money carrot.  And ask yourself what is the cost to the project to spend the time to cultivate an obsessive team.



#13 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7038

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:12 AM

Elements I've used to keep things flowing:

 

- Keep clear, concise and short-term objectives. ex: This week, we need to complete "this feature".

This needs to be a commitment from the whole team, not you tossing this over them. If they believe its possible to attain, they'll attain pride in achieving this, and shame in under-delivering. Try to keep the objectives realistic, but don't make them too easy or hard to achieve. After a while, the team will know almost exactly whether it can attain or not the objective it set for itself.

You will not need to do much motivation aside from recognizing their effort. They will reward themselves based on the work done.

The problem with not having punctual objectives is that the reward of 'completing the project' is so distant that interest will fade over time. This isn't the case with short-term objectives.

 

- Axe the obstacles: Your job as team lead is to remove any impediment. In this case, if you're also responsible for creative input, make sure you prioritize the core gameplay features, and are open to discuss the 'other stuff'. Its highly possible that some features won't be 'fun' to work on, despite them being critical to the end product. One way to axe the obstacle in this case is to push this to the very end. As with the following point, when developers see what they're building turns into an actual game, they'll be much more motivated to 'kill tasks' to get there.

But your role is also to bring the donuts, coffee, deal with their immediate constraints, and insure everything is smooth sailing. If there's a wiki to update, do it yourself. The less time they have to do 'something else than what they're good at', the happier they'll be.

One might argue that this makes it a boring job for you then, but you've chosen to be the team lead, plus you have the creative input, so someone's gotta pay for this ;)

 

- Develop an iterative product: A game with a fairly simple core gameplay will allow people on your team to quickly see 'results'. At that point, they'll want to iterate (beware of feature creep) on it to make it better, and because they have something playable in hand, the big reward of shipping a final product won't appear as far as it would otherwise.

For example, a platformer is good because you can quickly implement a few gameplay mechanics (jumping, running, etc.) and will iterate (add levels, add upgrades/power-ups, etc.)

 

- Listen. Remember the things they've brought up as potential risks. Ask them their opinion. Not just to motivate them (it will motivate them if you give them the credibility they are entitled to), but to not actually fail. If you've started this project knowing you needed other people, don't consider them machines that produce the stuff you need. More often than not, they will have creative or technical input that is critical to the success of your game. If there is not such a thing already in place, figure a way to have a common build review moment. If you are physically apart, you can do this through screensharing in Skype for example. Worst case, let everyone do their own build review, but make sure you have an open discussion about it (if morale is low however, people won't do the actual review on their own, and even if you insist on a group review, once again, if motivation is low, people will not cooperate).

 

Any update from the original post by the way?






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