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How much time does a game company give programmers to solve something

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something that solving a complex problem, something innovative and "has not been done before"  

 

I remember when the engineers working on Assassin Creed III were tackling "slopes"(climbing problem) which combines animation and engineering. 

 

I also remember a documentary about how the team working on God of War I were doing some really technically heavy things on all fronts: I remember it took the team a week to get a monster in the game. 

 

Source: http://www.vg247.com/2012/06/07/assassins-creed-is-about-climbing-not-buildings/

 

I do understand that game is a business and there are deadlines and there is never enough time to work on the game no matter how big the team is.

 

I have seen Ubisoft being more considerate about the polish of their recent game "Watch Dogs". 

 

So does it depend on the publisher since they are the ones financing the project or does it depend on the project(scope and money invested into it) ?

Edited by warnexus

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So does it depend on the publisher since they are the ones financing the project or does it depend on the project(scope and money invested into it) ?


It depends also on the task and the experience level of the programming manager and the programmer, and the schedule of the project, and whether there are dependencies...

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So does it depend on the publisher since they are the ones financing the project or does it depend on the project(scope and money invested into it) ?


It depends also on the task and the experience level of the programming manager and the programmer, and the schedule of the project, and whether there are dependencies...

 

What do you mean by dependencies? As in members of the team working together to bring a feature to its fruition?

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something that solving a complex problem, something innovative and "has not been done before"


The process is generally broken into steps. An engineer (or a small team) may be given some time to research the topic and investigate ways it could be solved. The results of that are then used to estimate the time it would take for an initial prototype. If that time is within the constraints (time, money, manpower) of the project, the prototype work is given the greenlight. If the prototype actually works and does what is needed and can reasonably work in a bigger game, further estimates are made for integration of the feature, creation of tools support, etc. and again if within constraints the work commences. Larger features may be broken down into separate pieces that are independently researched, estimated, prototyped, etc.

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What do you mean by dependencies?


I mean, are there things in the game that can't get done until that thing gets done. (Other things depending on this thing being done.)

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What do you mean by dependencies?


I mean, are there things in the game that can't get done until that thing gets done. (Other things depending on this thing being done.)

 

Ah I see, thanks Tom! Wow so many more factors to consider.

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Larger features may be broken down into separate pieces that are independently researched, estimated, prototyped, etc.

 

Ah yes, that is true. That does make more sense.

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As for the time given to individual staff-members, the lead will generally have a decent idea of each person's capabilities, and will try to delegate tasks to the appropriate people.
Lesser experienced staff generally won't be given or asked to make estimates on the length of large/complex tasks. Everyone is given as long as they need to complete a task, so you give tasks to the people who can finish them the quickest (unless those people are already busy with a higher priority task). The exception is when your time estimate for a task is deemed too long to fit into the schedule/budget -- in that circumstance, there'll be discussion between the implementors (you), designers and management, to come up with an alternative that is actually doable.

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I sometimes get this long:

|----|

And sometimes if I am lucky this long:

|-----------------------------------------------|

But most of the time I get somewhere between.

 

Just driving home the point that there are as many answers as there are replies, and many factors.

I don’t know what a useful answer would be, as it depends on:

What everyone else has said.

Size of the company.

Location/country of the company.

Your position within the company.

The client.

Your own relationship with the client (there will usually be none until you become upper-up).

 

 

While in Thailand I was the senior programmer and on a project for Eidos I had to make a Nintendo DS game in which you could draw on the face of a 3D model in real-time.

This had never been done on Nintendo DS and I was part of the meetings with Eidos, and I gained their trust by continually showing them improving results.  After a while they would make requests for changes and be much more tolerant on the time I requested.

 

Meanwhile, later, in my first job in Japan I was allowed no flexibility.  The schedule is the schedule, period.  Same at NTT Data, the software side of mobile giant NTT DoCoMo.

 

But that doesn’t mean location is the only factor.  I am still in Japan but I am in R&D, so I don’t really have deadlines, and my entire job is about new technology.  Every task is solving a new problem and the time I have is “as long as it takes to finish it properly”.

 

 

So there isn’t a single useful answer.

All I can say is you will find out when you get a job, and if you don’t like what you get quit and find another job.  There are plenty of fish in my stomach the sea.

 

 

L. Spiro

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It depends on the studio.  Sometimes the issue is a design problem that needs to be solved.
But some studios have a whole R&D department whos job is just to research and invent cool new stuff that they can demo to the team and say to the designers or producers "hey we have this cool new gizmo how about you use it in your next game"  maybe it wont get used maybe it'll get used in three games time.

 

A lot of game companies also use Agile project management techniques where they agree a set number of deliverables within a time limit (usually 2 weeks).  Some features that cannot be produced in that time may be dropped.  Or if it is important enough they may hire a team just to work on that specific feature.  I suppose this is a problem in a lot of game studios that I have worked in that they discovered Agile a bit late and have a really shoddy SCRUM methodolgy (120 people at a standup :/) when they should be doing something like KANBAN.

 

Also the thing to remember is there is very little in video games that is really new technology a lot of it has been done before just on a different scale or somewhere in Academia. 

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Even outside of games, the "as long as a piece of string" argument holds.

 

Senior engineers are expected to be able to throw out decent estimates on short notice, junior engineers generally have assistance from a senior engineer or manager in estimating tasks. Then the dev managers broadcast those estimates upwards, senior managers push back and demand for it to be done sooner, and either it's done when it's done, or the poor engineer gets to work nights and weekends...

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