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When to recruit a Team?

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When is a good time to build a team for your project? Should you do the design and some of the coding or should you start a bit earlier? I am considering bringing on a couple of guys now to help with the engine and some concept art; however, I don't want to get to a point where I'm working on design and they don't have much to do. Any ideas? comments? suggestions?

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It depends.

It depends on the scope of your game. Is it a large project? You're going to need more manpower, especially for creating art, so you'll want to get your artists and other content creators working as soon as possible. You'll want to iron out the content pipeline early in production - maybe even in preproduction - and make it an emphasis of the project to always be easy to take artist files and suck them into the game.

It depends on your level of team and leadership experience. The less you have, the more drawn out your recruiting should be, and the fewer people you should recruit at once. Generally, I advocate adding the core team members one at a time, probably at a rate of about one a month, until you have core roles defined and core infrastructure (like the content pipeline) ready.

It depends on your compensation structure. If you're going to pay people who join the team/company, then you want to hold off on hiring them until they can immediately be productive. Hiring a bunch of guys to sit around and do nothing while a small subset iron out the plumbing... you could have just gotten by with the plumber dudes at that point.


The game design document is nothing to work from, in truth. It's more like the ideation diagram an architect or designer draws up to pitch the client and close the contract, but builders can't start laying foundation, running electrical or installing HVAC off of that. The game design document needs to be broken down into components, each of which is then refined and specified into a technical design document of its own in order for that (sub-)team to start implementing. And these documents don't have to be elaborate: their complexity is commensurate to the scope of the game.

There is no one absolutely correct answer, ultimately. Every project and team will have its own dynamics, but I am a believer in incremental recruitment until the core team members are in place.

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I knew it wasn't a clear cut answer type of question. I'm just looking for feedback and opinions/ideas. =)

So I should probably have a technical document for the game based off of the design document and get the content ironed out prior to recruitinig..correct?

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Quote:
Original post by murdock
So I should probably have a technical document for the game based off of the design document and get the content ironed out prior to recruitinig..correct?

That's not quite what I said.

First off, what skills are you bringing to the project? Based on what skills you possess, you need to determine what skill(s) the project needs most urgently that you don't possess, and that's the first position you need to fill. (No, "lead" is not a required skill, really. You don't need to hire/recruit a lead programmer first; you need to recruit a skilled infrastructure programmer/designer to help you get your sandbox up, your initial content pipeline running, your revision control system setup... assuming you don't possess these abilities yourself.)

For every game, there is a minimal abstract playable state. For instance, an FPS' minimal playable state is an overhead 2D map with the player represented by, say, a triangle and walls represented by lines. An RPG might represent each of the characters using distinct geometric shapes, but you can start building the core gameplay in this abstract version. If you have enough people, you can work on the graphics engine separately, and concentrate on smoothly integrating content. You'll need to have integration points where you begin merging the graphics engine and the gameplay logic, perhaps intermittently, so the gameplay team suffers minimal interruptions due to graphics/content issues, and vice versa.

Basically, the specifics of how you plan to approach development, overall, will determine which team members to recruit and when.

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In my opinion I'd suggest you make a team when you feel relaxed enough with your programming skills and the other guys' skills as well.

When that is settled, Start by making small projects until you guys can work with one another.

After that try to go for a more larger project with some of the same traits as your smaller projects.

Soon enough you guys can get into a completely new big project.

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With my current game I'm doing everything but the art, so I'm going to program the entire game with programmer art and wait until I'm done to contract an artist for a percentage of the royalties (at this stage I might get in contact with some online portals, to get the go-ahead to finish it off, as to not waste someone else's time). I figure this way since it'll be a nearly complete game, I'll get more interest from artists because the only thing it'll need is the art.

Just something to consider, good luck.

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Hi Murdock,

IT DEPENDS. Are you going to pay the members you recruit? If so, you shouldn't start recruiting until you have investors willing to fork over the bucks.

Or are you going for a volunteer/indie thingy? If so, it doesn't matter. Just go ahead and start recruiting right now. What are you waiting for?

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An afterthought, Murdock -

Have you gotten all your legal ducks in a row yet? If not, don't start recruiting until you've done that. Make sure all your T's are dotted until your eyes are crossed. (^_^)

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This post assumes no money is changing hands, if this is the case then look up to Tom's post.


I'll agree with both steven31dd, and Kenny77, and add a bit of my own opinion. We're not sure how much you can bring to a team which weighs a lot on when you should start to recruit. Sometimes coordination is all it takes to get a team going, but more experienced team members will probably be looking for something more. I don't think you will be able to get many people with just design documents and non-professional status, you can try for sure though. For example if Tom Sloper (first professional that comes to mind) was looking for indies to help him program a game that he thought up yesterday, I would throw down what I was doing to apply. If I saw a thread over at Garage Games trying to get a team together (one a day it seemed) for a game that they had spent months planning for I wouldn't put much thought to it.

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I understand. The more experience you have under your belt the easier it is to recruit. One might even go as far to say that the experience of the recruiter is proportional to the quality of talent he will be able to recruit.

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