• Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  

Offsite Development..

This topic is 3478 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I was wondering if any of the more seasoned folks could answer a question for me. I'm currently in pre-production on a tech demo that would require a relatively small team of people - a total of seven individuals, three part time. I've had a lot of experience in the past working with mod teams, and find no real obstacles aside from diminishing incentive and motivation to keep working without pay. However as long as everyone checks in via Ventrilo or other voice communication software, things tend to go well until you realize how slowly you're moving because no one is acting like creating the mod is their actual job because there is no compensation. I am now in a position to provide compensation, and need to know if this changes anything. Have any of you had any experiences you could share working with a team that is totally offsite, WITH compensation? How did it work out for you and did things go smoothly? Any pit falls to be avoided that I may have not encountered but should definitely know about before moving forward?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
R, you wrote:

>I am now in a position to provide compensation, and need to know if this changes anything.

Good, then you're going to find out!

>Have any of you had any experiences you could share working with a team that is totally offsite, WITH compensation?

The vast majority of the 80+ games I've produced were with external developers.

>How did it work out for you and did things go smoothly?

Every case was different. I didn't mention how many games I produced got canceled before completion.

>Any pit falls to be avoided that I may have not encountered but should definitely know about before moving forward?

Yes. Lots. Why don't you buy a good book. For instance, Introduction to Game Development has a whole chapter on production (I wrote it). Or The Game Production Handbook (I wrote the forward - the author is a former AP of mine).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Tom for responding. Good to know it's the norm - that was really what I was getting at I suppose. Part of me wants to get an office and hire some local people (I live in New York so there's an abundance,) but another part of me says "What are you, out of your mind? Too much money, man!" I find myself agreeing with the latter.

I'm used to basic production methods using MS Project, etc.. I was the lead producer on a mod called Talon 1-5 for the Crysis engine (bohicastudios.com) but the scope of the project was simply too large for an unpaid team to complete. While modding is great I've learned that the conflict between your team members who view modding as just a hobby and the team members who are looking to start a career can easily destroy the basic foundations of game development. Things like milestone planning, asset management, etc. get knocked around too frequently to maintain any sort of real control on the production itself.

I need to read more about different production methodologies, especially SCRUM. I'm in the process of reading a book called Game Development Business and Legal Guide. It's been very helpful with that side of things - I feel like that can be a pretty arcane area to most new developers trying to get a grasp of everything it takes to start their own development studio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by RTDAeter
I feel like that can be a pretty arcane area to most new developers trying to get a grasp of everything it takes to start their own development studio.

It is extremely rare for new developers to start their own successful studio.

Just like any trade, junior people do not typically have the experience necessary to launch a successful business in the trade.

Successful businesses are typically formed by a group of people with varied experiences in the trade, usually being founded by one or two people who were middle management at another successful business. Less commonly they are started by somebody with money who simply hires the experienced team up front.


As is normal with business, if you don't have the necessary experience or exptertise in an area, be prepared to hire it out. Since it sounds like you have money to pay a few people, be prepared to spend the most of that money on people who have already had a few successes in the field.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been working in distributed teams for a few years, and my suggestion to you is to try to break the project into smaller projects, roughly the size you are used to manage. The project manager's work and the chance of failure grow almost exponentially with project size.

I think I don't have to tell you this, since you're a veteran, but continuous integration is a must, and the lack of it the most common error in distributed teams. Often, a PM will break a project into several dozen little boxes, and expect them to miraculously work together when the time comes; guess what, it never happens. If you have a "toolsmith", she is the ideal person to setup Cruise Control or another CI package.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:

Just like any trade, junior people do not typically have the experience necessary to launch a successful business in the trade.


This is true, though I seem to remember another entrepreneurial 23 year old named Alex Garden, who co-founded Relic Entertainment and went on to develop Homeworld and its sequel. Just because its less likely doesn't mean it's wrong or impossible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ruby, thanks for the tip. I've mostly used an SVN for integration purposes in the past but to be honest it's a bit of a pain in the butt for people not versed with how an SVN works. I'd prefer to use a more user-friendly solution. Any suggestions?

edit: I will take a look at CruiseControl, but I'd love to know of any alternatives so I can be at least semi-informed when I talk to our lead code monkey, :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you're paying people, you can and should expect them to behave just as professionally as if they were in an office with you. Remote workers should expect to give detailed breakdown of the time they've spent and commit to frequent discussion via email/phone - I think making it a point to speak over the phone is a good thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by RTDAeter
Ruby, thanks for the tip. I've mostly used an SVN for integration purposes in the past but to be honest it's a bit of a pain in the butt for people not versed with how an SVN works. I'd prefer to use a more user-friendly solution. Any suggestions?


My main beef with SVN is there aren't good stand-alone clients for Windows, but Eclipse's SVN plugin is pretty solid. One thing that may help the less technically inclined team members is having a couple of scripts for common tasks.

I can't give you technology-specific details because my work is in Java. I've used Anthill with good results in the past, but your choice will depend on a lot of factors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by ruby-lang
Quote:
Original post by RTDAeter
Ruby, thanks for the tip. I've mostly used an SVN for integration purposes in the past but to be honest it's a bit of a pain in the butt for people not versed with how an SVN works. I'd prefer to use a more user-friendly solution. Any suggestions?


My main beef with SVN is there aren't good stand-alone clients for Windows, but Eclipse's SVN plugin is pretty solid. One thing that may help the less technically inclined team members is having a couple of scripts for common tasks.

I can't give you technology-specific details because my work is in Java. I've used Anthill with good results in the past, but your choice will depend on a lot of factors.
What's wrong with TortoiseSVN?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When I used TortoiseSVN, two years ago, I found it finicky. It was impossible to merge after moving things around or deleting, and trying to force an update frequently failed, so I had to check out the whole project again to apply the changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by ruby-lang
When I used TortoiseSVN, two years ago, I found it finicky. It was impossible to merge after moving things around or deleting, and trying to force an update frequently failed, so I had to check out the whole project again to apply the changes.

Were you doing these moves and deletes through your explorer or through SVN? If you were using TortoiseSVN to execute these commands then you shouldn't have had an issue. SVN is a necessity for any project with multiple people and can really be useful for a single developer as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RTDAeter, you should consider having a co-located team for your project. I've been through a distributed scenario and can tell you that even though it has its advantages, it's got a LOT of problems, too.

These days it's quite easy to get an experienced dedicated and co-located team for your project. Drop me a line or two at sergey@bitfold.net, I might be able to help you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement