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adventuredesign

What is your recommendation

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I was reading that it was wise to employ a software planner for a game project prior to talking to any programmers. What kind of documentation would I, as the game designer and game writer need to give this person, and is this employment a correct assumption? Is it like with a publisher where you would just plunk down your design doc, have visio charts ready and a full blown detailed pitch ready? You advice is appreciated. Adventuredesign

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shaft    126
Software project management and project planning are not a simple task.

No you can''t show him your design document and get any kind of meaningful analysis. Estimation at the design level will give you a range of 4X to .25X (according to the SEI). What that means is an estimator could give you a value between 3 months and 5 years (and that''s if you had some pretty detailed data - # of resources, their skill, etc).

Project planning / management should also be an iterative process. If you follow the waterfall technique and try to do all your planning at the beginning, you are looking at atleast 6 months of planning. Waterfall also doesn''t work well in application development.

The best you could hope for (and I''m assuming you would be talking to a very talented software architect) is a rough architecture for your game. The arch is very critical, and you definately want someone skilled to design it (Changes to the arch during development are very difficult, and you don''t want to do it). But an architecture is not a roadmap. It won''t show you all the classes you need to create, etc.

This sounds like a pretty newbie post, and I''m definately not flaming (we were all newbies at some point). But software project management is very hard, (48% of all professionally managed software project fail -- failing to manage the complexities, estimates, risks, etc is the primary reason).

I''d say get some friends together who believe in your game design and just give it a try. I''d say there''s a 99% chance you will fail if the game is complex, but at the very least you will learn a great deal.

But expecting a 3rd party to solve the complexities of software development in a sitdown meeting is not going to happen. If it were so, I''d be more than happy to take your money give you an initial plan .



Good luck

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i]Original post by shaft
Software project management and project planning are not a simple task.

No you can''t show him your design document and get any kind of meaningful analysis. Estimation at the design level will give you a range of 4X to .25X (according to the SEI). What that means is an estimator could give you a value between 3 months and 5 years (and that''s if you had some pretty detailed data - # of resources, their skill, etc).

>> Gotcha.

Project planning / management should also be an iterative process. If you follow the waterfall technique and try to do all your planning at the beginning, you are looking at atleast 6 months of planning. Waterfall also doesn''t work well in application development.

The best you could hope for (and I''m assuming you would be talking to a very talented software architect) is a rough architecture for your game. The arch is very critical, and you definately want someone skilled to design it (Changes to the arch during development are very difficult, and you don''t want to do it). But an architecture is not a roadmap. It won''t show you all the classes you need to create, etc.

>>Ok, where would I find a software architect for games? ellenbeeman.com, the game agent? Assume money isn''t an object, the funding is in place and oftentimes it is more a question of availability of talent and suitability of that talent to this particular project.

This sounds like a pretty newbie post, and I''m definately not flaming (we were all newbies at some point). But software project management is very hard, (48% of all professionally managed software project fail -- failing to manage the complexities, estimates, risks, etc is the primary reason).

>>I appreciate the context, but I can''t plan for failure. Am I to gather that no matter how much planning to succeed I do with respect to my game, given that I have a good architecture, software engineers and programmers in place, I can still expect this rate of failure? Is that just the reality of the industry and this aspect of develpment process? Assume as a given I have massive, complicated risk/reward/estimation project managment track record of success in other areas of industry, specifically in architecture and entertainment.


I''d say get some friends together who believe in your game design and just give it a try. I''d say there''s a 99% chance you will fail if the game is complex, but at the very least you will learn a great deal.

>>I''ve gone the friends route before, and it is a dismal approach compared to hiring professionals with a tight specification on conditions of performance. It''s not just the relationship shift, it''s the objectivity of professionalism.

But expecting a 3rd party to solve the complexities of software development in a sitdown meeting is not going to happen.

>>I agree it is not a sitdown solution, but didn''t you indicate an iterative process may be more the solver/driver here?

If it were so, I''d be more than happy to take your money give you an initial plan .

>>Well, I can''t give up, so do you think my expectation is unrealistic, and is there no other way to solve this problem? Is there not some information design format I can use that indicates what I expect to happen in the game from the major POV''s: mechanics, physics, AI, etc. that someone couldn''t use to establish some application design? Production managers do this every day from scripts. Or is this an apples and oranges comparison given the two are different mediums?

I have to be frank and say I am also applying the same reasoning I used to become successful as a screenwriter; Even though you don''t know how, you must, without equivocation believe you can make it. I couldn''t let go of this if I wanted to. Don''t you love the creative life? LOL

Good luck

>>Thanks for the thoughts, Shaft.


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shaft    126
Didn''t mean to sound too pessimistic. Software is created everyday for a profit, so it can be done. But the statistics are tough... According to the SEI it''s something like 48% of all software projects fail, and 78% are released late or with reduced functionality (thats not a game statistics, it is general software development - and these numbers are from memory of an article I read recently so give or take 10%).

Now then if you have money to fund this project, I''d say your top priority is finding someone with some project development talent. If your not a technical person, then you need a tech lead. But don''t necessarily get the greatest programmer. Programmers often can''t see the forest through the trees. They focus on what they are building they don''t always thing about how it will integrate with the other components.

Where to find this person, I have no idea? But in the course of your interviews, imagine you are building a car manufacturing plant. Who would you want in charge. A mechanic who knows engines? A body man? Or a person who understands all the parts of a car, and is experienced in manufacturing cars as a whole.

Just because the odds seem to be stacked against you doesn''t mean you can''t do it. It just means you need to do everything you can to garuntee success. And in my humble opinion that means starting with the right people.

Also, don''t just hire someone who just uses big words, or intimidates you. If you genuinely have the money to hire someone, pick someone you can work with. Egos will not help you start a business.

-Good luck

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redragon    122
quote:
Original post by adventuredesign
>>I appreciate the context, but I can''t plan for failure. Am I to gather that no matter how much planning to succeed I do with respect to my game, given that I have a good architecture, software engineers and programmers in place, I can still expect this rate of failure? Is that just the reality of the industry and this aspect of develpment process? Assume as a given I have massive, complicated risk/reward/estimation project managment track record of success in other areas of industry, specifically in architecture and entertainment.


I can''t fault shaft for telling you like it is. However, I must admit that once we managed to convince our sales people to talk with software engineers and develop real software design specifications, our hit rate went up a lot. The reason so many projects fail is because they are poorly designed, poorly documented, and often times people asking for the solution don''t really know what they want! Sounds like a recipe for failure eh? That''s why so many projects fail.

When you start out with a clear (or at least reasonably defined) direction, and specify very precicely what you want, what your tolerances are, and where you would like to go in the future, you can increase your hit rate a great deal.

What you need are good software engineers, who can talk to people, both management and clients. Good project managers who are involved and not over-worked on projects. Good excited developers who are willing to work with specifications and try to nail deadlines.

I''ve had the privilage of working with some awesome developers, and when we''ve got our spec, we always make our numbers, if not beat them. It''s hard work, but fun as hell.

So, I would say you need to make sure you know what you want first, then talk to some software engineers about if it''s possible, then get some estimates (knowing that things change when you find out more), and go from there...

Don''t know if I''ve helped.

Cheers.


- sighuh?

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