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Any tips for a Project Manager

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Hi all, I am doing an MSC in Games Development at Glasgow Caledonian University. In this course we have to do a project that spans two semesters. This project has to be a prototype game that we have to conceive of an idea, pitch to a publisher, design, implement and then test. What happened is that I am in a group of five people and I have been given the Role after a vote to be the Project Manager. I haven't assumed this role before in any of my other projects I have done University. I was just wondering if anybody has any tips on how to be an effective Project Manager ?

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I went to Fullsail and we had to do something similar. I was project lead for both an associates and bachelors final project.

The best advice I can give is to communicate. At the same time as "project manager" I was also lead programmer, and it became very easy as people get on each others nerves to try to pick up the slack myself in the programming department as opposed to confronting people who weren't doing their jobs. Don't do that. Talk to the people about what can be done to increase team cohesiveness and productivity and try to do it. Also try to let people work on the stuff they are interested in. It's an easy way to get them to work harder and do a better job.

Some other project advice.

Use some sort of CVS software. We were fortunate enough to be provided with Alienbrain in school, it saves alot of headaches. I've been using Tortoise SVN on personal projects and the job I'm working at now uses Tortoise CVS.

Integrate often. We found that twice a week was a good number for our projects. There's enough to be worth integrating while at the same time there is not too much that it makes finding problems difficult.

Keep your design docs up to date. No doubt especially in a student project there will likely be some straying from the original design doc. Keep it up to date so that when you finish, the doc still reflects what the actual project is.

Spend some time on technical documentation. We were anxious to get to coding and didn't spend as long as we should have on technical documentation. Things turned out alright but chances are we might not have run into as many issues had we spent a bit longer on tech docs.

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thanks for the reply DrEvil,

The first Semester is all about design, in two weeks time we have to pitch the project to a 'publisher'. At the moment we are just brainstorming game ideas. Then after the pitch we will move on to design.

The only problem is that at the moment we have two group members who are from different countries from the rest of the Group and we are finding a language barrier. They both have adequate English skills for conversations but explaining things in detail are becoming a problem. But I guess my job is to find solutions to these difficulties.

The second Semester is all about Implementation, testing and evaluation.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I agree that once you get into production frequent builds are very important.

I would also susggest that you try to make your project something that you are all highly confident you can complete quickly and easily. With games, it is always easy to find ways to add features and technology to make a game more compelling. But it seems like the bain of unprofessional games is that they rarely get finished.

As a dumb example, you could propose "Pong RPG" knowing that you can quickly get a fun little version of Pong up and running. With time you could add a 3d level, or different attribute you buy with points or whatever. The opposite (which seems pretty common) is that you try something that is very ambitious in its simplist form, such as a real time three-dimensional simulation. At the end of the year you may end up with nothing playable at all. Another "Demo" with no game play, another web page with no game, etc.

My two cents, as we say in the states.

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