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How do you make and manage an indie development team?


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#1 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 04:26 PM

Hi, I am currently a junior in high school and I wanted to make a game design club for senior year. I have about 3 or 4 years of experience making small games such as a small platformer on GameMaker, a top down shooter in java, and I am currently working on a snake like game in Unity. The club is meant to create a team of either programmers and artist to make games throughout the year. The only problem is that I do not know how to manage a team. As stated before, my game experiences have mostly been myself doing the programming and art with an occasional friend to help out.

 

What I need to know:

  1. How can I distribute the work?
  2. How do I know who to choose join?
  3. How can I make sure people are on task?
  4. How can I make sure people are communicating? 
  5. How do you manage resources between different people?

Also any ideas on what to use? I was thinking of using Unity, but because I don't feel like the most experienced with it I'm not sure how comfortable I would feel running a team under it.

 

Situation:

  1. Will be working on Macs and PCs
  2. Needs to be some what beginner friendly 

Any help or tips on this would be great! Thanks!

 

Here's an update on what I plan to do with the club:

 

After reading all of the posts the major problem that I'm going to face is motivating the people to work under me. So what I've decided to do is outline my plan and what the first meeting is going to be like to hopefully give a better idea of what I am trying to achieve.

 

My main goal is to create a team of kids from my high school to make games. If things go smoothly, this team would eventually be transferred outside of school or at least make new friends along the way that share my passion of making games.

 

What I plan to do is make at least one game before the school year ends. This game can be as big or small as it wants as it is ultimately going to be designed as a group. Now depending on the size of the club it can just be one group making one game or multiple groups making multiple games. In between meetings I would like to have periods of time where we could play games and try to analyze certain aspects of the game and also invite other people to test out our game. I would also really enjoy having at least two meeting days were we would have a game jam to kinda take a break from the main game.

 

In the first meeting I will introduce myself and my co-president and give my background in game designs. Next I would discuss the main goal of our club and try to get an idea of the experience level in the room with either coding, game development, or art. I will also tell them what I outlined above as the whole year. For the people that decide to stay I'll try to get name, contact info, and dates available.

 

From that point on what I plan to do next is decided on who stays and what experience they have. For example, if people are not familiar with coding then the club will center around teaching them. If people are experienced then on the next meeting we will discuss and brainstorm ideas for our game.

 

For motivation I was hoping that because we are basically creating a game that we all want as a group, they will want to work on it.

 

So that's basically my whole plan for this club. Does this seem like it will work or am I setting myself up for the impossible/highly unlikely?



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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10705

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 04:34 PM

Moving this to Production/Management
-- 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.

#3 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 04:38 PM

Oh oops. Yeah that's probably a better place. Sorry!



#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10705

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 04:44 PM

What I need to know:
1. How can I distribute the work?
2. How do I know who to choose join?
3. How can I make sure people are on task?
4. How can I make sure people are communicating? 
5. How do you manage resources between different people?


1. This begs the question, will others accept you telling them what to work on. In general, work is distributed to the team members who are able (most able - in other words, capable of getting the work done) and willing to do the work.
2. Choose people who are capable and eager.
3. By following up with them, and asking them, and getting their work into the repository and checking it. If you use Scrum, you can discuss regularly and find out who's on track and who's blocked, and what's blocking them.
4. By having open communications - don't have people call one another or email one another. Have communications go through one system that's visible to the whole team.
5. By having a central code and asset repository. Check out "version control systems" - and see what some other threads on this forum (Production/Management) have discussed along these lines.
-- 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 ProtectedMode   Members   -  Reputation: 1322

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 04:46 PM

1. Learn to use some VCS like Git, and use some hosting software like Bitbucket. You can also use it to assign issues to people and document some things on an internal wiki.

2. Just ask people you already know, or find some friendly people online. The classifieds section could also be used.

3. This depends on what you mean with "on-task". If you just state as rule to resolve one issue per week, or whatever, you will at least get progress.

4. Document all the code, document how you do things, and simply communicate. Use Skype, Mumble or whatever.

5. I don't really understand the question, but as far as I can see you could use VCS for that too.



#6 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 05:27 PM

 

 

1. This begs the question, will others accept you telling them what to work on. In general, work is distributed to the team members who are able (most able - in other words, capable of getting the work done) and willing to do the work.
2. Choose people who are capable and eager.
3. By following up with them, and asking them, and getting their work into the repository and checking it. If you use Scrum, you can discuss regularly and find out who's on track and who's blocked, and what's blocking them.
4. By having open communications - don't have people call one another or email one another. Have communications go through one system that's visible to the whole team.
5. By having a central code and asset repository. Check out "version control systems" - and see what some other threads on this forum (Production/Management) have discussed along these lines.

 

 

Well since it is a club that I created I assumed that people would understand that I am going to tell them what to do. Of course I will listen to their opinions and try my best to create a compromise when needed. But is there anything I should do so I there isn't any conflict between my credibility as a leader vs. another's?

 

I planed that the club would meet in a computer lab at least once a week so we can take out any communication barrier, but because it is school there is going to be conflicting schedules. If work is needed to be done at home, how should I try to keep communication between that person, me, and anyone else that is involved?

 

I like the idea of VCS and I'm currently looking more into it.

1. Learn to use some VCS like Git, and use some hosting software like Bitbucket. You can also use it to assign issues to people and document some things on an internal wiki.

2. Just ask people you already know, or find some friendly people online. The classifieds section could also be used.

3. This depends on what you mean with "on-task". If you just state as rule to resolve one issue per week, or whatever, you will at least get progress.

4. Document all the code, document how you do things, and simply communicate. Use Skype, Mumble or whatever.

5. I don't really understand the question, but as far as I can see you could use VCS for that too.

 

 

Hiring people is out of the question since this is mostly going to be based in school and would really like it if I had other students work on it with me. Otherwise I would just work by myself.

 

What I mean by "on-task" is that making sure that people keep up with deadlines. For example I feel like creating tasks for art is a little easier to follow because you can visually see it is done. Programming is going to be a little more difficult because it's going to be hard to gauge how close it's to completion.



#7 tp9   Members   -  Reputation: 533

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 05:54 PM

Is this a class or a club? Sounds like you are describing a class where you are teaching others. A club is usually more of an organizational structure where there is no one person in power but rather the organization as a whole comes up with things to do and the direction that they want to take.

 

You don't want to hand-pick people for a club because it makes it more like a fraternity. A public school won't allow that sort of thing because it excludes other children. If you want to run it out of your house or a library then that's up to you but I wouldn't attach it to the school by having the school name in your club name or anything like that.

 

If you want to motivate people by keeping them 'on-task' then you need to provide an incentive. Either free food or pay or some other tangible thing. You can try to go with the 'follow me and I'll show you my secrets' path but I have only met a very small number of people who could pull that off. They are typically highly charismatic.



#8 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 06:06 PM

This is going to be a club and I feel like that the power structure can be debatable as there are such things as a club presidents. Also this isn't going to be hand picked as anyone can join, I'll just let people know who are interested what to expect when they come to the first meeting. For example telling them who I am, what I have done, and what is to be expected of them if they choose to join. 

 

While I do not want to believe that they would need incentive to work (I mean who doesn't like to work a ton of hours on game with a bunch of strangers?), but you brought up a good point. While I can't offer anything in return except the satisfaction of creating something, I might need to actually plan out what I might need to get that push to actually finish that game. But I have to admit that maybe I was a little naive in thinking that people would be fine working for free basically on this.



#9 tp9   Members   -  Reputation: 533

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 06:17 PM

In a formal club the president doesn't have ultimate power to do anything. There is a board of directors that vote as well as the membership as a whole votes on certain things as well. The president doesn't just get to say, 'Hey, we are doing this my way and that's final.' See Robert's Rules of Order for an example of how some clubs run their meetings. I brought it up because in your post you asked the question, 'How do I know who to choose join?'



#10 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 07:09 PM

Okay fair enough I did say that so I guess it is what I asked for. Now the way I was planning on structuring it was that we would all decide on a group of what we were to do. I would then either assign myself some work or manage what is being done. This would be making sure things are done on time, organizing the assets, and make sure things run smoothly. I am not really looking to make everyone work on my idea, but just make a game with a group of people so all steps will be open to suggestions. 



#11 GoCatGo   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1637

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 08:57 AM


Well since it is a club that I created I assumed that people would understand that I am going to tell them what to do.

 

That assumption is likely to hurt your project.  There is a big difference between leading a team or meeting as opposed to telling people what to do.  I've failed at leading group projects enough to know that leading is more listening, removing obstacles to the team, and supporting the members.  It isn't dictating duties.

 

 

 


but just make a game with a group of people so all steps will be open to suggestions.

 

And that is a little on the "loose" side.  I suggest your team participate in a jam of some sort -- anything with structured guidelines, themes, and deadlines.

 

 

 


I am currently working on a snake like game in Unity.

 

I have no idea what a "snake like" game is, but you've got me intrigued!  I'd love to hear more!

 

As for your questions, you've received excellent advice above, so I'll just add:

 

 

 


5. How do you manage resources between different people?

 

Mr. Sloper, et al., are all over this one, but something tells me you might mean "tools" in this question.  My suggestion is to go free/open-source.  Blender, GIMP, Unity Free, Notepad++, and Audacity are all things your entire team can download and use free of charge, allowing easy sharing of created assets.

 

May I also suggest that this "club" try to actually physically meet as frequently as possible?  I know INTERNET and SKYPE and WIKI and things all seem useful (and they are), but nothing beats a face-to-face scrum meeting and hashing things out in person. 

 

Also, look up "scrum" and bankan boards for some useful starting points to getting tasks in order.

 

http://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum

 

Best of luck!  I wish something like what you are describing existed when I was in high-school. 


Edited by GoCatGo, 19 July 2014 - 08:59 AM.

Indie games are what indie movies were in the early 90s -- half-baked, poorly executed wastes of time that will quickly fall out of fashion.  Now go make Minecraft with wizards and watch the dozen or so remakes of Reservior Dogs.


#12 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12474

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 10:18 AM

Fairly generic advice: in management, never assume anything. Assumptions make you fail whether you assumed everyone had the same definition of done or assumed you were the boss (while some thought it was a democract).
Just like a game of poker, you need to clear up all of thr rules upfront and leave nothing to your assumptions.

-=- My Articles-=-
Getting Gones Done - Method and tools on how to start a hobby project and get it Done!

Retro Mortis - "RTS" - Article Series (3 Parts) on the history of RTS development


#13 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 08:18 PM

After reading all of the posts the major problem that I'm going to face is motivating the people to work under me. So what I've decided to do is outline my plan and what the first meeting is going to be like to hopefully give a better idea of what I am trying to achieve.

 

My main goal is to create a team of kids from my high school to make games. If things go smoothly, this team would eventually be transferred outside of school or at least make new friends along the way that share my passion of making games.

 

What I plan to do is make at least one game before the school year ends. This game can be as big or small as it wants as it is ultimately going to be designed as a group. Now depending on the size of the club it can just be one group making one game or multiple groups making multiple games. In between meetings I would like to have periods of time where we could play games and try to analyze certain aspects of the game and also invite other people to test out our game. I would also really enjoy having at least two meeting days were we would have a game jam to kinda take a break from the main game.

 

In the first meeting I will introduce myself and my co-president and give my background in game designs. Next I would discuss the main goal of our club and try to get an idea of the experience level in the room with either coding, game development, or art. I will also tell them what I outlined above as the whole year. For the people that decide to stay I'll try to get name, contact info, and dates available.

 

From that point on what I plan to do next is decided on who stays and what experience they have. For example, if people are not familiar with coding then the club will center around teaching them. If people are experienced then on the next meeting we will discuss and brainstorm ideas for our game.

 

For motivation I was hoping that because we are basically creating a game that we all want as a group, they will want to work on it.

 

So that's basically my whole plan for this club. Does this seem like it will work or am I setting myself up for the impossible/highly unlikely?


Edited by mk.jr.fan, 19 July 2014 - 08:19 PM.


#14 GoCatGo   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1637

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 08:58 PM


Does this seem like it will work or am I setting myself up for the impossible/highly unlikely?

 

I vote impossible because of this mindset:

 


After reading all of the posts the major problem that I'm going to face is motivating the people to work under me.

 

This need to be at the apex of a hierarchy will be your biggest hurdle.  Arbitrating who is "allowed" to work under you seems fairly exclusionary, particularly since no one will have any real experience at all (including you).

 

I really want to encourage you, but I sense sadness and woe.  There are better people here who can maybe provide realistic motivation and support.

 

Good luck!


Indie games are what indie movies were in the early 90s -- half-baked, poorly executed wastes of time that will quickly fall out of fashion.  Now go make Minecraft with wizards and watch the dozen or so remakes of Reservior Dogs.


#15 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 09:17 PM

Okay so maybe my hope is that in the first meeting they will decide themselves if they want to stay or not, but I really want this thing to work so I will be willing to accept anyone that joins. I could split up the group into people who know how to program and those that don't and meet on separate days. It really depends on who shows up.



#16 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10705

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 09:48 PM

the major problem that I'm going to face is motivating the people to work under me. ...
For motivation I was hoping that because we are basically creating a game that we all want as a group, they will want to work on it.


No. Each person has a different motivation. You, as leader / producer, need to find out what motivates each person, and reinforce that motivation as feasible. Some might be motivated by a desire to learn. Some might be motivated by the desire to see the game working. Some might think that when the game is done, it'll be released and they will be famous. Some might think that the game can be sold, and they will get money. Some might see the project as useful in enhancing a grade. Not all of these motives are the right ones (and someone with inappropriate motives should not be on your team).
-- 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.

#17 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12474

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 10:10 PM

Why don't you just try to find like-minded individuals, each work on your own project, and help each other wherever applicable? (whoever has done A* can help the others implement it appropriately, and whoever has some understanding of online/multiplayer can benefit the group).

If you guys work out well as a team, maybe you'll transition into a team-oriented project before the end of the year, or else, at least you'll have progressed with your own respective projects?


-=- My Articles-=-
Getting Gones Done - Method and tools on how to start a hobby project and get it Done!

Retro Mortis - "RTS" - Article Series (3 Parts) on the history of RTS development


#18 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 10:41 PM

That's a  pretty interesting idea, but I'm not really sure how to structure a club around that idea. What I feel like will most likely happen is that I will teach something I'm a little more familiar with which is either java, gamemaker, or maybe even unity (because you know what they say the best way to learn is to teach someone else!).



#19 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10705

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 06:07 AM

1. That's a  pretty interesting idea, but I'm not really sure how to structure a club around that idea.
2. What I feel like will most likely happen is that I will teach something I'm a little more familiar with which is either java, gamemaker, or maybe even unity (because you know what they say the best way to learn is to teach someone else!).


1. Yeah, but you started this thread because you weren't sure how to structure it around your idea, either.
2. You need to foster an environment in which others besides you can teach and lead. Don't dismiss orymus' suggestion - it's a good one.
-- 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 rAm_y_   Members   -  Reputation: 511

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:23 AM

Why don't you give out a questionnaire asking skills, types of games they like, goals etc.






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