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Sean Bourgeois

New multiplayer online game developer/publisher questions...

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Looking for some insight regarding the proper assembling/outsourcing of teams while creating a developer/publisher of online multiplayer java games in the pay-per-play space. We have the financing available to produce several titles, and we intend to outsource the art, design, and java programming. Questions are: 1. Is it generally better to come up with the general design, art, 3D, and animation before designing and building the core java game engine, or the other way around? 2. Any suggestions as to what should be considered "core" and brought inhouse full time, and what could/should be outsourced in the game development/publishing process? 3. Is there any rec'd resource as far as game design, development and production best practices in terms of team development, org structure, and process anyone could recommend? Many thanks for all opinions.

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1. Is it generally better to come up with the general design, art, 3D, and animation before designing and building the core java game engine, or the other way around?


Always. Otherwise how will you know what your engine is to do if you don't plan for it first.

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2. Any suggestions as to what should be considered "core" and brought inhouse full time, and what could/should be outsourced in the game development/publishing process?


My philosophy is to outsource everything.
Then the people working for you are Indie Contractors and you don't have to pay taxes on them. Every person that works in-house for you will be considered and employee and thus you would be liable to their social security and unemployment. The only "core" resources should be those that you can get with the least effort, as in the things that you and your partners can collectively do, be this programming or management.

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3. Is there any rec'd resource as far as game design, development and production best practices in terms of team development, org structure, and process anyone could recommend?


Tons. I would recommend "software engineering for game developers" by John P Flynt, Premier Press, 2005.

I'm currently reading it and while I have indiependently studied all the components of this book (project management, UML, Use Case, etc), I'm finding it very nice to have it all in one book and all tied into game dev.

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Thanks. On question one, more specifically, I was wondering if a very basic/rough but functional game engine is best to design and develop first, and then go out and get great art, design, 3-d and animation to layer on, or is it better to get the design and art, etc. going first so the game engine developers can create code around the animation... sounds like the design typically comes first across the board in your view?

On question two, if we need to pick something to keep core and in-house, what would it be? (assuming we need to bring the talent inhouse and other than management and finance, we'd need to recruit); meaning, are there typically core things, like java/C++ programmers that most people like to have at arms length, or perhaps its art and design, or perhaps neither and just maximize outsourcing options?

On question three, good tip. Anyone know of any other good e-books, sites with whitepapers, etc.?

Thanks again. Much appreciated.

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[quote}
was wondering if a very basic/rough but functional game engine is best to design and develop first, and then go out and get great art, design, 3-d and animation to layer on, or is it better to get the design and art, etc. going first so the game engine developers can create code around the animation...
[/quote]


Imagine a scenerio where you have a load of art resources made. Now you turn these over to the programmer to implement. Lo and behold, all those art sources are in a bit format that is incompatible with Java. Wasted Art.

See, the problem is that you are missing one critical step and that is REquirements Analysis.

Technical Requirements Analysis - bit format, prog language, screen size, ram specs.

Game Requirements Analysis - single player or multiplayer, rts, keyboard only, mouse only, game description, etc.

Game Design - Design around your requirements.
Game Implementation - Implement around your design.



Programmers make code.
Sound designer make sound.
There should optimally be little to no mixing between programmer and Sound Designer.

In other words, you should not expect your engine people to work around the animation or the animation to work around the engine. If you have a list of requirements, then your engine people are building code that matches the Artists format without every having access to a single resource and your artists know that if they follow the reqs, their art will be compatible with the system.

Quote:

are there typically core things, like java/C++ programmers that most people like to have at arms length


Thus there are no hard and fast rules for who to keep in our out. I'm an Indie Game Dev and thus that is my perspective. I can't speak for the Industry Game Devs. They are probably the exact opposite and would rather keep everyone in house.

For us, it always starts with the individual. I for example excel at programming. Other indies are great artists. What typically happens is that a programmer outsouces art and vice versa.

It also depends on your management style...is it easier for you to convey programming info in person or can you do it just as well remotely? If it's easy remotey, don't bother. But if you absolutely must talk face to face to get code done, then you will need someone in-house.

It also depends on team experience...how much xp do you have manageing other people...managing them remotely....how much do you know about ALL aspects of Game Dev. and can thus "pinch hit" in a open position?

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Hey there
I currently run an outsourcing company out of Calcutta India and we have a substantial portion of our office dedicated to outsourcing work for game companies. Most of our guys are programmers, but we do have some artists in the office and have the ability to hire anywhere between 10-100 more on a reasonably short notice.

I would be really interested to sit down and discuss this with you further if you wanted to. You can send me an email to webmaster_at_netflowdevelopments.com or just drop me your phone number and I will give you a call to discuss this further.

Hope to hear from you soon,
Ryan

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