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XisZ

Must you be a programmer?

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OK, here is a question I simply must ask to you all. Must I be a programmer to start a team? It seems no matter how hard I try, I just can not gather a single member. I am not asking for an origanal 3D Game Engine, which can compete with Unreal. I am not asking for even a 3D Game. I want to make a simple arcade style game like Diner Dash called Santa Skurry (Ya...I know the name has to change) But it seems that no one person is interested. I think this little game is a good idea for the holidays, being as if it is published by a gaming portal site like MSNGames, Games@AOL, etc. there willbe alot of revenue. And what makes less sence to me is how complete begginers can manage to scrape up a professional team in weeks, this is just beyond my knowledge. I admit I aint a professional, but everyone needs to start out somewhere right? This is a cry for help here, and no one can hear me. Now, I am not posting this here for a "HELP WANTED" I am posting this for a "Please help me figure out why this happens" Sorry for the random rant, Joe

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I don't think you need to be a programmer, but you definitely need to provide something critical that is in high demand.

Game design and imagination is out - everybody is a designer, and ideas are a dime a dozen.
Programming is critical and in demand, as is quality artwork. Alternatively, providing funds for either of those will do just as well.
Project management is also very important, but unfortunately everyone thinks they can do it so it's hard to start a team as a manager - plus you need respect for the role, which requires experience.

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Must I be a programmer to start a team?

Nope, but you must be a leader, and a damn good one at that. Keeping a team working over the internet is hell. It's also important that you are skilled in some area; preferable several.

Quote:
And what makes less sence to me is how complete begginers can manage to scrape up a professional team in weeks, this is just beyond my knowledge.

They don't, unless they have money.

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You don't have to be a programmer to start a team. However, you do have to offer something beyond just an idea, particularly if you are wanting to make this commercial There's heaps of projects being offered in the "Help Wanted" forum, and you have to give other people a reason for wanting to join your team.

For example, if I was a beginner looking to join a team , I'd be thinking the following things (probably in this order):
- will I enjoy working on this project?
- will I learn the things I want to learn?
- is the project leader going to be a good manager and put in his or her share of work?
- is there a good chance this project will finish?

Now if you were looking for a skilled team member, the last two points become even more important, along with possibly "will I get paid enough?" if they are looking for money.

So if you are a programmer, you can provide the skeleton of the game, with programmer art, and say "I need artists and more programmers", and people will think you are committed. If you are an artist, you can provide concept art or finished animations that will get people exited. If you are a writer, you can give an enticing backstory for your game. But in my opinion an idea on its own is not good enough to get people committed, unless you are a natural born leader.

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You should never expect people to help you if they have nothing to gain from it. In general, programmers are motivated by two things: firstly, creating their own game, or a game on which their creativity has an acceptable impact, is what motivates "amateur" programmers most. The second thing that can motivate them is up-front money. A certain type of programmer will work on any game, coding away with no creativity of his own, as long as there is money involved each week/month.

Your proposition fails the first requirement simply because you are asking people to work on your idea. The way you wrote your post makes me believe that there is no room for change or creativity in the game you are creating, that you wrote everything down and are waiting for it to be implemented.

It also fails the second requirement, in that you do not intend to pay your programmers, but rather give them royalties on the final product. Also, since you do not mention doing anything other than providing the initial idea, you may appear to some people as a leech who wants to get his idea implemented and get money from it - and since everyone has ideas, and everyone also considers their ideas to be far superior to the ideas of others, nobody will think that your idea is valuable enough that you get money from someone else implementing it.

For these reasons, your offer is strictly inferior to the other solution programmers have: create a game on their own and try to sell it, which generates the same revenue (they have no information about your idea, or will probably not assess its value in the same way), but involves them, their ideas, and as a consequence is a fun thing to do.

- If you want to make your own game (following your own ideas), you will have to either pay programmers up front, or wait for an unlikely programmer that thinks exactly like you.

- If you want to make any game, find a programmer that is already working on his own game, and help him out by doing whatever you can do, or start a project with a basic description and invite people to join in as both game designers AND programmers.

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Well let us see...
I am very good at managing.

Mostly for these reasons.

1.) I am entrusted with the title "Head Feild Manager" at my workplace (ok nothing involving game development there, but I am a HEAD manager at my workplace)

2.) I did work on a few mods back in the day, and they turned out to come out well, one or two of course failed do to dis-agreements between staff.

3.) I do have multiple talents in game developments.
Music Composing, 3d Modeling (however this isnt a 3d game), and unrelated task like WebDesign/programming


So, I don't see the problem here.
I guess I am just not at the right place, in the right time I guess., Heh?
But of course, it may have to be the fact that I do not have anything to show from the getgo to.

Maybe if I write up design documents, and get SOME concept art in I might be able to pull this off huh?



Edit: ToohrVyk I didnt see your post.
Thank you for pointing out my errors.
I will do my best on repairing these, however I don't think I can do much for the money part though.

As I said earlier in this post though, I do music, and 3d modeling.
And you are definatly right I made it look like there is no room for innovation, and creativity.

Thank you for your help

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There was a thread not long ago that you might be interested in; check it out here.

In short, you don't have to be a programmer, but it would certainly help, and you should at least be contributing something (other than just the idea and management) if you can. You've said you've got some skills in multiple areas, so you should be able to do that alright. If you take a look at the notes on presenting your idea in that other thread you might have better luck.

Anyways, hope that helps. [smile]

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Indie projects are different to commercial (triple A) games in several ways.
i. Due to their smaller size they require less management (certainly not enough to keep one person busy full time).
ii. The team members aren't employees. They are doing this for fun and or out of respect for the idea/leader.

As a result the team will expect the ideas persons to be willing to roll up their sleaves and get their hands dirtys in either the pixel mines or the code factory.

Your skills are:
Management (in a non-related industry)
3D graphics
Music.

Your project requires:
Code
2D graphics
A small amount of music
A small amount of management

Put simply you don't have the skills necessary for the project (and here is the kicker) so you need to learn one or both. Put simply if this project isn't worth you learning to do 2D graphics for then it isn't worth anyone else's effort either. Its your baby and you should be doing whatever is necessary to get it made.

Quote:
Original post by XisZ
And what makes less sence to me is how complete begginers can manage to scrape up a professional team in weeks, this is just beyond my knowledge.
I admit I aint a professional, but everyone needs to start out somewhere right?

The point is that beginers don't pull together teams (at least not teams that aren't total beginers like them). There are loads of newbies posting HW requests and getting no help. The projects that get the responses are the ones where the team/leader has relevant skills and posts links to the work they have already done.

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I think the biggest magnet to get help would be to design the game. Finish the entire design document. Draw pictures of what each part of the game will look like, describe details about every small inner working system, then put all of this information into one document.

Still, even this won't help you much unless the game seems worthy. You need to convince your potential project team that the game is worth creating, and that the job doing so will not be a nightmare.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to convince them that you're going to stick with the project all the way to hell and back. This can't be done with words; everyone promises these things. You need to prove that you are dedicated.

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No offense to anyone, but in a hobbyist team, you pretty much do have to have programming experience. I have been running my team for 4 years, involved in basic mod projects, etc... And I can tell you that you need of two things for your project to work well:

1) A very good understanding of the programming, and the capacity of taking important design decisions. This requires a great deal of programming experience (hence, you must be a programmer).

2) A very skilled lead programmer who works well with you, who you can *trust* to be reliable, who understands the goal of your game project, and who has the competence to take those important decisions and direct the programming work for you.

Unfortunately, most hobbyist game projects can't really afford to hire a professional lead programmer, and don't really have anyone they can rely on. Trust me, it's *hard* to find people that will share your vision and stick with you for long enough. And well, you might think that programmers can just be swapped whenever they leave or become unproductive, but this is just not the case. Everytime a new programmer join, he has to catch up with the current progress, and make a great effort to understand the already existing code and get familiar with it. Even with the best documentation in the world, this still takes time. Furthermore, the skill level among hobbyists is very diverse. I have known people that could compare to Carmack, and some that can't manage to implement quicksort. Yet, their skill level is not that easy to evaluate unless you are a programmer yourself, and can discuss programming with them and look at their previous work.

So, in reality, its rather problematic. Please note that I'm not saying it's impossible to make a game without the project leader being a programmer. Most game companies don't have a programmer in control of the project itself, but rather a lead programmer, which directs the programming effort. You might be lucky enough to have a childhood friend which happens to be a skilled programmer and will help you make this project a success, or you might be lucky enough to stumble on someone that will perfectly share your vision and be dedicated enough to make this possible, but its very unlikely. Most likely, you will need to gain programming experience, and look at the code, and understand it... But it will take some time before you gain a true understanding of the matter (which implies more than being able to spell out a list of buzzwords, contrarily to what some people may believe).

But in any case, it certainly won't hurt you to learn. And until you become more proficient, perhaps you should consider joining an existing project and contributing as best as you can with the skills you already have.

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Recruiting people over the net to work on your idea is bound to be hard. You have to strike up a repore with potential team mates.

Your best bet would be to make friends with programmers in real-life. Or just get to know some online without an agenda. As this is a hobby thing, people actually have to like you and your project to consider working with you.

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You don't have to be a programmer at all but some people might think you're just using them because you can't code. Most team members know the basics so they can at least get by if they have to. Unless you can find something that really loves programming, you might want to learn some basics. At least then you can keep up with them when they are talking.

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you dont need to be a programmer but for a small game you need a art and programming, as for idea guy, leader, writer, level design, music and such they are less critical and someone one the team can probably scrape up the skills from somewhere so if you want be the leader without up front money you will probably need one of the first two skills.

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Quote:
Original post by Kaze
as for idea guy, leader, writer, level design, music and such they are less critical and someone one the team can probably scrape up the skills from somewhere so if you want be the leader without up front money you will probably need one of the first two skills.

[lol]

That pretty much describes my vision of modern professional game development teams. Not that it's a good thing. Programming and graphics are methods to present a game. You need a game to present.

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Ok, don't mind me. Just playing the devil's advocate here... :)

Quote:
Original post by XisZ
Well let us see...
I am very good at managing.

Says you... Do your teammates agree? ;)

Quote:

1.) I am entrusted with the title "Head Feild Manager" at my workplace (ok nothing involving game development there, but I am a HEAD manager at my workplace)

I've met some lousy head managers...

Quote:

2.) I did work on a few mods back in the day, and they turned out to come out well, one or two of course failed do to dis-agreements between staff.

Cool, but... disagreements between staff sounds like bad leadership to me. Isn't that what a leader is supposed to avoid?

Quote:

3.) I do have multiple talents in game developments.
Music Composing, 3d Modeling (however this isnt a 3d game), and unrelated task like WebDesign/programming

So, I don't see the problem here.

But how much of it have you offered up for the game? Have you made any kick-ass models to show prospective team members what you want the game to look like? Have you made a website showing it off?
Saying you have skill isn't enough. If you want people to join up, you have to *show* you have skill.
Next problem, how do your specific talents apply to leading a game dev team? (Ok, the website thing might not be bad actually, but people might have misgivings about joining a team led by an musician. [wink]

Quote:

But of course, it may have to be the fact that I do not have anything to show from the getgo to.

Most likely. Put it like this. At any time, there are at least 50 people wanting to start projects. Why would people join yours in particular? Should they just take your word for it that it's going to be a hit?

Quote:

Maybe if I write up design documents, and get SOME concept art in I might be able to pull this off huh?

Yep. That'd be a great idea. You need to show that you know what you want, and you know how to achieve it. Show that the project is going to get off the ground.

Or to answer the original question. No, you don't need to be a programmer, but it can make things easier. It allows you to make something concrete to show off. Design docs and concept art is nice, but an actual demo or ingame screenshots kick ass. ;)

The more you can do to show that the project is going to happen, the better. Programming can help you in that, but it's not a neccesity.

There's always a shortage of programmers, for several reasons. Partly because there just aren't many good programmers around, and partly because those that do exist tend to have dozens of ideas on their own, so they might not immediately be interested in joining a team (unless the team clearly shows more potential than their one-man show)
And as someone mentioned, a lot of people just want to "use" programmers to make their game for them.
As I said, most programmers are creative people with plenty of ideas on their own, so they're not going to join a team just to be told what to do.

[wink]

Anyway, good luck with it. In your case, I'd say draw up a detailed design doc, preferably consult with a programmer (to ensure you're setting realistic goals), make some concept art, and put it all on a good-looking website. If you did all that, I'd consider signing up as a programmer (or at least, I'd consider it if I had the time [lol])

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