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d000hg

Can you lead an amateur/hobby/independent game as JUST the designer & PM?

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We get a ton of people in the Help Wanted forum posting their "great new MMO" idea , asking for people to do the development for them, and being surprised when people don't seem interested. But is it feasible someone can provide game design and act as a project manager on a game without doing any development work? The argument that many game developers have their own ideas is valid, but then I imagine many developers would rather be led than have to be in charge. And designing a game is not a trivial amount of work, if you do it properly. Managing a team is also not a non-job, especially an online team. I'm slowly getting used to the idea that I'm unlikely to have the time to actively develop any of my game ideas for at least a few years, when I could be paid for my time. Is it even worth taking the time to work on some preliminary designs for my ideas and try to interest a team? [Edited by - d000hg on February 13, 2008 11:06:05 AM]

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Original post by d000hg
But is it feasible someone can provide game design and act as a project manager on a game without doing any development work?

This is the old "Can I?" or "Is it possible?" questions. Yes, it is possible.
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Is it even worth taking the time to work on some preliminary designs for my ideas and try to interest a team?

It is hard to say. If you put a lot of effort into creating a good concept that is well organized, yes, you can generally find other people who might be interested. One of the big issues that arises is that a lot of people consider project management something that needs to be done, but don't put enough effort into it. Putting the effort into managing an online team isn't going to require less time that doing a lot of programming leg work yourself. If you're looking for help and people to be part of your team, then the possibility is generally higher. If you're looking to just have somebody else make your fantastic ideas into a game for you, that is an entirely different matter.

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If you're willing to actually invest your own money (and a signifcant amount of it) into the team and the project, then maybe.

Otherwise, we're talking about a 0.01% chance of that happening, and given that you were born under a lucky star. Or to put it in a more practical way: don't count on it.

Especially if we're talking "online" teams made out of people you pick up randomly. I've had some of my own experience on that, starting in the exact role you wish to be in. It's a week before people just stop bothering because they're not having it their way, and perhaps a few weeks before they start dropping out (usually when they get to the point where they have to do actual work).

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In that case I should make it clear I'd intend to be an active part of the team, I understand managing the team would require me to be at least as committed to the project as any of the developers.

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Original post by Talin
If you're willing to actually invest your own money (and a signifcant amount of it) into the team and the project, then maybe.

Otherwise, we're talking about a 0.01% chance of that happening, and given that you were born under a lucky star. Or to put it in a more practical way: don't count on it.

Especially if we're talking "online" teams made out of people you pick up randomly. I've had some of my own experience on that, starting in the exact role you wish to be in. It's a week before people just stop bothering because they're not having it their way, and perhaps a few weeks before they start dropping out (usually when they get to the point where they have to do actual work).
What you describe seems to be any online team though, whether or not the lead is a developer or not?
And I am talking about purely voluntary work. Happy to share any eventual profits but I'm not planning this as a way to make money.

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I think the best way to make sure you have a successful team is to make sure people are committed. I would form a company, sell out a large percentage of the stock in that company to the people contributing to the project. Save another big chunk of the stock for stock options for all partners and make it based on employment time. This way you get financial motivation and can vote people out based on real world practices. By selling the initial stock to the members you also establish liquidity for buying technology you might need. Recruit seriously, only people with experience, who are 28 or older and who do not have a family and is close enough to meet face to face. Of course finding people that are this dedicated is pretty hard and you have to bend to a democratic process instead of a despotic one. Spend a year on developing the technology with rough art then present it to someone who actually has the money to finance the venture. IMO it doesn't matter what title you want, if you want to do anything serious and don't want to invest a large sum, you need partners not employees or people to lead. The team should be small, dedicated and skilled enough to not need distinct leadership.

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I have to disagree with some of that (no offence).
* Many projects don't require any budget. I admit they are the minority and dedicated members is crucial, but I don't think bringing money into it will help.
* Experienced people are a must, and some kind of (flexible) age limit is sensible. But 28 is a bit old, and the number of experienced people without families is small. Being able to meet face-to-face is very valuable but rarely practical... I think requiring meetings over the phone is a good compromise, and Skype makes this cheap.
* Everyone needs to be good at working together and taking responsibility, but I think every team needs a clear leader. Not a despot, but someone who is able to allocate work and be responsible without enjoying the power.

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Original post by d000hg
is it feasible someone can provide game design and act as a project manager on a game without doing any development work?

Sure. But it may require some members to be educated on the benefits of doing this, and they also have to have trust in the designer/producer and his ability to do the thing.

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Original post by d000hg
Is it even worth taking the time to work on some preliminary designs for my ideas and try to interest a team?

Worth is subjective. FAQ 66: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/route66.htm
If what you want to do is design and produce, and you believe that you need to build some amateur experience in order to eventually get a job doing it professionally, then do YOU not think that effort is "worth it"?

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Original post by d000hg
I understand managing the team would require me to be at least as committed to the project as any of the developers.

A big part of the job is pushing sloths, herding cats. You probably have to be more committed than some.
You said you wanted to do 2 things: (1) design and (2) produce. #1 is the harder of the two, because the "team" (as such) probably has its own ideas in that area. So your job as #2 is to force them to come to agreement, and to get those agreed ideas on paper.

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