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Virtual Team Management Structure?

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Over the course of this month I plan on designing a fairly simple, though hopefully exciting game. In the subsequent months to follow I wish to bring together a small team of people to help work on this game (between three to seven people). I figured, many people here at GameDev.Net might participate in virtual teams or might even lead a team of their own. What pieces of advice would prove beneficial for somebody trying to pull together and manage a team online? If you were ever involved with game creation in a virtual team, what was the team structure like? What software/web services were key in keeping the team organized and productive? How was communication and task management handled? How was the organizational structure of the team? What happened when disagreements arose? I have a number of ideas, but I would like to hear from those who have experience with virtual teams. I know your information would be greatly beneficial, with many piece of wisdom I might not have previously been aware of. Thanks.

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I'm probably wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to laid back in the way I handle the small virtual team I have (consists of Me + whatever artists are willing to help me at the time). I usually run DotProject, although I'm the only one that uses it...it helps me keep track of what I'm doing and when other people said they'd complete things by (my memory is sufficiently awful that I forgot I tinkered with my computer's clock to test some things and set it back to the WRONG DAY), and of course the 'required' forum for people other than the dev team itself to toss in their 2 cents.

Otherwise, it's just e-mail and MSN/IRC/AIM/Y!/etc. for inter-team communication.

Not sure if that helps at all, but it's enough for my hobbyist games.

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Leading a virtual team is just about the same as leading one in person, except you have to remind and kick people more. ;)

What we're using to keep organized from the virtual standpoint:
1) A forum that's set private. Message board for the initial interested parties.
2) We're using Basecamp for the 6 developers working on the game: http://www.basecamphq.com/?ref=free
3) Since I already had a MUSH running, and all the developers were on it anyway, we created a chat channel on it for realtime meetings. Any IM, IRC or Videochat will do for that. There's even Teamspeak, if you want to hear voices.
4) Once a year, we meet at a gaming convention everyone was going to anyway, and we have a dinner meeting.
5) Each developer was told to blog what he's doing. Not "I had salmon for lunch" but specific things like "It occurs to me that the object oriented programming structure will have to be X, Y and Z."

Your other questions are basic management ones. There are books upon books in libraries and probably a lot on the internet about successful management of people. All I can give is my own style, which has been likened to Micromanagement. I work and watch very closely, I check in with people daily-to-weekly, depending on their job.

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Forums, Instant Messaging, and Emails would definitely be useful tools for communications, but what about project resources management? Is there a way to have a CVS/SVN without having to own and set up a server of my own? Is there a way to have this sort of functionality on a PHP driven website? A better solution would be if there is a trusted source for using somebody else's CVS/SVN server. I believe SourceForge does have one for people's projects, but I haven't decided if I want it to be open source yet.

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I was asking the same questions you were several months ago.

I attempted to set up my own apache server with the intent of running subversion on it.

sometime later...

we are using a subversion hosted by www.cvsdude.com
this was the best features-space/cost from the couple days of searching i did.
so far its been just fine.

it also has integrated trac/wiki (which is totaly worth the time of setting up) and bugzilla.
We havnt used bugzilla yet though so i cant confirm how well it works.

hope this helps,

Chad Freseman
www.glhfgg.com

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i don't want to hijack the thread either ... hopefully
this is relevant.

have any of you experience using MSN messenger video
or Skype video for project management of a "geographically
distributed" team ?

a friend walked me through the set up a few months
ago. so far i've used it for social stuff (cocktail
hour with friends online). but it seems like a
natural for (creative) tech R&D.

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Forum: Private dev forums, with posts including FTP/SVN login info, MSN info, emails, Ventrillo, etc.

Instant Messenger: I prefer MSN. Also, Skype is great.

Ventrillo/Voice Chat: A MUST. Make sure your teammates by a cheap mic to participate in meetings. I purchased an 8-person teamserver, but you can just host it yourself as well.

FTP: If you cannot have separate accounts for each developer (if your web host only allows one FTP per subdomain), then have separate accounts for different things. I have a websiteUser, developerUser, and visitorUser.

SVN/CVS: This is a given. You need one for any sizeable project.

Wiki: Converting your design docs to a Wiki will tremendously help the team navigate it. Converting your technical documentation to a Wiki will make it easier to update and version. I like MediaWiki though any software will do.

eMail: Even with all of this, email is a great method of communication.

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