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Resolving Creative Differences

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that simply is not what I want

 

The problem is that this is a 50/50 split project, which it should never be.

[....]

 

All the posts above have very good points you can take from. 

But IMHO if you want to take just one, @Orymus3   entire post is the ONE.  Even above my own suggestion below (which is only a philosophical view) 

 

This is just speaking in a generic sense as i don't know the specific character of you or your friend

You mentioned respect a few times. You may think giving in to your friends suggestions may make him feel you respect his opinion and cause him to respect you more but it might have an entirely opposite effect. What if he comes up with another alteration and another and another. And you give in every time to earn mutual respect. It might end up making you look like an unprincipled whimp! Who is rather weak. 

 

You might earn more mutual respect by explaining why you prefer the original idea and then stick to IT. 

 

Altering your original concept should only be done after a good long thought and only when you are genuinely convinced the alteration adds better value to your project than the original concept. Otherwise stick to your original concept

 

But like @Orymus3  mentioned it shouldn't have 50/50 in the first instance. IMHO i would suggest you follow his advice and others above

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All the posts above have very good points you can take from. 

But IMHO if you want to take just one, @Orymus3   entire post is the ONE.  Even above my own suggestion below (which is only a philosophical view) 

 

This is just speaking in a generic sense as i don't know the specific character of you or your friend

You mentioned respect a few times. You may think giving in to your friends suggestions may make him feel you respect his opinion and cause him to respect you more but it might have an entirely opposite effect. What if he comes up with another alteration and another and another. And you give in every time to earn mutual respect. It might end up making you look like an unprincipled whimp! Who is rather weak. 

 

You might earn more mutual respect by explaining why you prefer the original idea and then stick to IT. 

 

Altering your original concept should only be done after a good long thought and only when you are genuinely convinced the alteration adds better value to your project than the original concept. Otherwise stick to your original concept

 

 

Well, yes, but....

 

I see that trying to integrate all the ideas of all people all the time leads to not coherent result. That is bad.

 

On the other hand, we are not talking about professionals getting payed for what they do here. Creative influence on the result might be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest motivation for the artist to stick with the project. So I would really tread carefully here, for the simple reason that loosing an artist could doom the project to failure.... and that is before even thinking about loosing a friend.

 

There is no point in sticking to it when

a) there hasn't been a clear separation of roles (lets face it, this affects most probably all hobby or semi-professional teams, and I haven't seen any indication in the OP that the opening poster and his artist made it clear who had the last word in what part of the thing)

b) there is a big chance of loosing the artist with the decision with no way of quickly replacing him (just looking for help on deviantart might not be leading to quick results, and people might not be able to replicate the current art style... worse yet, the artist friend might withdraw the rights to use his art altogether)

c) The only reason to stick with it is "It doesn't fit MY idea of the project".

 

 

Don't get me wrong,

a) there might be very valid reason for the opening posters rigid stance (altough I don't think he has stated his reasons well enough, widening the scope to demons in addition to undead doesn't sound like that much of a wider scope)

b) It is better to have clear responsibilities who gets the last say IF DEFINED SO IN ADVANCE

c) There is certainly value in discussing it again with the artist.

 

 

Never, ever, EVER go into a discussion with the notion "I need to convice the other person(s) to accept my idea as the full truth and abandoning theirs", unless

a) You are the boss and pay the bills, and don't care about bossing people around

b) You don't care if the other person is able to see through your disguise and gets upset

 

A clever person will quickly see that you are just pretending to discuss the matter with them, and actually want to make them agree with your stance without making concessions. That is bad. The person will not feel respected, and you yourself are so focused on influencing the other person that you might miss valid points the other person is making.

 

IMO, it is better to get into a discussion openminded. Don't try to convince the other person, but hear them out. Make sure you understand their ideas, and their motivations. Carefully try to weight them, try to integrate their ideas with the whole project. YOU should try to find a way to integrate their idea with yours, or see if their ideas could replace yours. Best case, both ideas not only work with each other, they complement each other and the combination is better than the sum of both ideas.

Maybe you might recognize that their ideas ARE superior to yours (and lets face it, there is always someone with a better idea than yourself), and you should go with their idea.

Worst case there is no way to fit the idea in... but, by going through this exercise, you can now explain to the other person the mental steps you did to try and fit the idea in and where, and why you failed to mentally make the idea fit. That will certainly be easier to swallow for the other person than a "That doesn't fit because I said so", especially BECAUSE it leaves room for additional thought and discussion.

 

You can always stop at some point when the discussion is leading nowhere...

Edited by Gian-Reto

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The problem is that this is a 50/50 split project, which it should never be.
This. Even more so as it sounds like you're doing 90% of the work, too.

 

There is this thing that is called "the idea guy", which is something you should avoid. I may of course be wrong there (or biased, having been in a similar situation some 15 years ago), but taking apart what you said and purposely exaggerating a bit, this is what it looks like to me:

 

I came up with the idea and concept, I am handling the business side of things, programming and designing. My friend is a trained artist and is doing the concept art, some in game art, directing freelance artists and making promotional items.

 

In other words, you...

  • had the idea
  • developed the concept
  • do the design stuff
  • do the business side
  • do the programming
  • will pay freelance artists to do some (most?) of the in-game art

Whereas your friend:

  • says there needs to be more of XYZ (in this case: demons)
  • will also do "some stuff"
  • wants 50% of the revenue for that

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to down-value the work of an artist. Good artwork is valuable and very hard to produce. But... a bit of concept art (after the design phase?) and yelling out "need more fireballs and explosions" (to paraphrase) alone doesn't really justify 50%.

 

He is the artist in your team, so why is he making some of the ingame art? Why some? He is the artist, after all? Why do you still need to hire freelancers if you already have a full-time trained artist who takes 50% of the shares? (...is this a 100 million dollar title?). Where was the artist during the concept/design phase?

 

Is your friend at least paying 50% of the bills?

 

And then, there's these promotional items. Sure, that's nice to have, but without the game being finshed, released, and successful in the first place, they're entirely worthless, not even worth thinking about. In other words, promotional items are more likely not to happen than to actually happen (which means you are selling your shares for something you will never get in return).

 

Again, I may be wrong (and biased) there, but I think you're selling out very cheap. Also consider that you're doing the business side. Now let's say you are hugely successful and need to "outsource" the business side due to the sheer volume. So, in comes the business guy, and of course since you're now three guys, he wants 1/3.

Of course, since you've been doing the business part before, his 1/3 can only be paid from your 1/2... that's what the artist will say  :)

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a) there hasn't been a clear separation of roles (lets face it, this affects most probably all hobby or semi-professional teams, and I haven't seen any indication in the OP that the opening poster and his artist made it clear who had the last word in what part of the thing)

 

But it's never too late to have that discussion, not just for one thing, but for the whole project, every facet that is.

And to be honest, I've never applied a 50/50 rule on my hobby projects, at least not those I cherished sufficiently to want to see succeed, and quite often, I've taken the back seat to focus on contributing too (which is a hard thing to do, but it's good to humble oneself once in a while, I swear!).

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Just to mention, my friend has had a huge influence over the project in many ways and I have taken his direction many times on important issues, and so it is not like this is the first time something like this has come up or that I am always overruling him- I am just trying to get better at how I handle these scenarios and not try to "drive him off".

The alternative is that he and I part ways on the project, and I simply pay him for any contribution he makes. That is an option, but not one I would prefer.

 

For some clarification, we are sharing the revenue 50/50 and I am comfortable with that, but I have the final say on all the direction, and so the decision making is not 50/50. I am the overall head of the project, and in these matters he is simply trying to advise me, guide me and give me the benefit of his experience- however that is almost more emotionally impactful to him when I tell him that it is not what I want on a particular issue. Does that makes sense?

 

(I understand that it does not sound like he contributes much at this time, but as we approach a Kickstarter campaign he will be making videos, trailers, banners and a slew of other promotional material and running and maintaining the project website, all of which I value immensely).

 

For anyone interested, below is my rationale for wanting to exclude demons.

 

The concept for my game is a monster collection RPG closely resembling the original Pokémon games. The theme of the game is necromancy, and so all of the 'trainers' are necromancers and all of the 'monsters' are undead beings. It is important to me in a narrative sense that the protagonists and antagonists are humans, and that the monsters do not have consciousness or sentiency. Demons in my mind have sentiency (and even USE mages or trade power with mages) and so add another narrative element I do not wish to have in my game, and expand the theme wider than I would wish to.

 

There is some ground I can give for demons to be very rare antagonists, tempting the mages, having undead of their own, giving quests, being NPCs, but for this reason I would not wish to have demons be able to BE captured minions like the undead.  

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Who is in charge of what?

 

If you have done any game development professionally, you will learn that the game that comes out won't be the exact match of what you are thinking.  You have to let go the control sometimes.  This is not just your game.

 

When this kind of problem arises, usually people would do AB testing.  Create both, and see what works better.  Peer feedback is the most useful thing in video game development.  I am sorry to say that most likely your idea sucks, and so is his (and mine, and everyone else).  We rarely get the first implementation correct.  Peer feedback is important as it gives you honest reviews if game is fun or not.  You'd most likely end up with something completely different than any of you two could imagine.

Edited by alnite

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There is some ground I can give for demons to be very rare antagonists, tempting the mages, having undead of their own, giving quests, being NPCs, but for this reason I would not wish to have demons be able to BE captured minions like the undead.  


If you are willing to compromise in that direction, that seems like a way you could go.

Make one of the side-villains, with his army of undead, look like he's manipulating the undead, and then reveal as a twist that just as necromancers manipulate the undead, there's a demon manipulating this necromancer, which gives the player pause to think deeper about the implications of controlling undead, and their preconceptions of free-will.

And just limit it to that one demon.

"I want to stick with undead only for capturable monsters, but your idea inspired me about a villain. What do you think about [...]?"
 

Your firm answer.

Subtly complimenting the person.

Redirection, and also re-including the person to continue participating, and more complimenting by implying that, in-general, that you value his ideas.

 

This is if your goal is trying to preserve his feelings while also maintaining design control. With my own project, I maintain 100% control, and when friends and family contribute ideas, artwork, music, and so on, they ask me what I want, rather than tell me what they want. Leadership/ownership is clear.

On my next project, though, I'm partnering with my artist friend (who's contributing art to my current project and asking me what I want), and so I'm deliberately not thinking about ideas for that future project, because I want to make plenty of room for my friend to make decisions and contribute, even decisions I don't want, because my primary goal in that project is the experience of working together. I view it as a good future challenge to practice not micro-managing everything. Something I definitely could use practice on. laugh.png

 

But even in that future project, I intend to create a list of different subcategories of design and we'll split leadership over those categories - i.e. they might be the lead gameplay designer, I might be the lead UI designer, they might be the lead over visual style (as opposed to my current project where they ask me what style to make the art in, and I give feedback and request changes), I might be the lead over story, or etc..., but with both of us contributing opinions and ideas, and one or the other of us having the final say in each category (though ultimately limited by what they can draw and I can code). I intend to discuss this in advance of beginning the project, and giving the other party first pick on what areas they want to "own" the final say over. Naturally, we'll probably pick areas we already have skill in (i.e. I'll probably end up with final say over world-design and levelmaking, and they'll probably end up with final say over art style and character and plot), but since this is more for fun and practice, we may also use it as opportunity to stretch ourselves in new areas.

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Just to mention, my friend has had a huge influence over the project in many ways and I have taken his direction many times on important issues, and so it is not like this is the first time something like this has come up or that I am always overruling him- I am just trying to get better at how I handle these scenarios and not try to "drive him off".

The alternative is that he and I part ways on the project, and I simply pay him for any contribution he makes. That is an option, but not one I would prefer.

 

For some clarification, we are sharing the revenue 50/50 and I am comfortable with that, but I have the final say on all the direction, and so the decision making is not 50/50. I am the overall head of the project, and in these matters he is simply trying to advise me, guide me and give me the benefit of his experience- however that is almost more emotionally impactful to him when I tell him that it is not what I want on a particular issue. Does that makes sense?

 

(I understand that it does not sound like he contributes much at this time, but as we approach a Kickstarter campaign he will be making videos, trailers, banners and a slew of other promotional material and running and maintaining the project website, all of which I value immensely).

 

For anyone interested, below is my rationale for wanting to exclude demons.

 

The concept for my game is a monster collection RPG closely resembling the original Pokémon games. The theme of the game is necromancy, and so all of the 'trainers' are necromancers and all of the 'monsters' are undead beings. It is important to me in a narrative sense that the protagonists and antagonists are humans, and that the monsters do not have consciousness or sentiency. Demons in my mind have sentiency (and even USE mages or trade power with mages) and so add another narrative element I do not wish to have in my game, and expand the theme wider than I would wish to.

 

There is some ground I can give for demons to be very rare antagonists, tempting the mages, having undead of their own, giving quests, being NPCs, but for this reason I would not wish to have demons be able to BE captured minions like the undead.  

 

Well, on your rationale:

 

I don't think the term "Demon" was ever as well developed as the term "Vampire", mostly thanks to some high selling books from the 19th century. Demons started life as an amalgagion of similar beings from different religions and myths.

There is a TON of wiggle room left, if you are open to take ideas and directions that move away from the usual "High fantasy canon" that sadly seems so imprinted in everyones mind nowadays.

 

Who says that demons have to be sentient? They could just be as mindless as Zombies, being just the manifestation of humans basic instincts for example. While Undead are not as mindless in all the undead stories as in "The canon"... Warm Bodies comes to mind, that might be a parody, but there are also more serious movies and books where undead are not just mindless.

Then Necromancers and Demon Summoners are quite similar in many ways. Both summon "Souls" or "Otherworldly beings" from another dimension/world/plane, and bind them to their will. You could even make them share roots, by making human souls and demons one and the same thing... maybe demons are just lost souls? Maybe the souls of humans are demons possesing the body of a newborn, no longer aware of their true nature until they die?

 

There is a ton of ways to take your backstory that might integrate both concepts into one.... and, to be sure, if you take the time to work on the story to do so, the end product will be way better than what you have now (which, no offense, sounds a little bit generic... I don't know if I want to call it boring, something generic can be pretty interesting if well done. But I prefer "fresh, with a twist" to "plain generic").

 

 

As to you two working together... I would avoid parting ways over something, again no offense, insignificant like that.

 

Try to get some distance from this problem and your project as a whole, try to see things from a broader view. Try to be less attached to your project. See if the whole thing still seems so important, or if in the light of loosing somebody important to the project and yourself, the whole dispute seems to be rather silly.

 

 

If you want to challenge him, ask him to come up with such alterations to the project sooner. The sooner the better. Things like that should be discussed in the design phase. There should always be room for alterations later, and good ideas need to be considered when they come up...

Now, there is the possibility that your friends answer to that is that he only found out that "just undeads are boring" while creating the art... that might indicate that you didn't take enough time for "preproduction" and concepting the whole thing. Something to take away for future projects.

 

 

as to the whole 50/50 thing... maybe you shouldn't have mentioned it as it is quite insignificant for the discussion. I got that you had the idea (worth not much, no offense... your idea might be ingenious, but ideas are a dime in a dozen) and you do the coding (worth a lot... good coders are sought after in the professional world). He does the art (also worth a lot, especially for hobbyists... while professional artists seem to be less well paid tahn coders, it seems easier to find coders than artists for hobby/Indie projects).

 

I never got quite who does the game design, but I guess it is either you or both.

 

What I never heard from you is who gets the final decision on what. Going with the logic decision of putting the artist in charge of art direction, I guess he has at least half the "final decision" rights on including demons or not. He shouldn't change the story like that if you are in charge of the story... but if he insists that horns and demonic stuff would make the art better, he should have at least some influence on the visual aspect, IF he indeed is in charge of art direction.

 

 

Given that

a) this is a first project for the both of you

b) you are still learning the ropes on many things

c) you are far from guaranteed that the game actually pays out,

d) even worse that the game ever gets finished

I'd say you are getting fixated on a small detail issue on a project which should have a different goal than you seem to have (getting a finished project under your belt vs. creating the game you envision and making money with it)...

 

Now, this is just me making asumptions here, so ignore this comment if this isn't your first game, you don't think you are still learning game development, and you have a clear plan to success including guaranteed investment (which Kickstarter isn't).

Given that my asumptions are right and both of you are just starting out, the significance of your dispute over "undead vs undead&demons" seems rather unimportant to me. Just find a compromise, and finish your game.

This game most probably will not be a break out success, you will most probably not find investment, not on Kickstarter or somewhere else, and chances are good you will never actually finish it. The importance of the project is high though, you will learn what is needed to (hopefully) finish a game, AND WHAT IS NEEDED TO WORK AS A TEAM!

 

If you want to work as a Team in the future, not matter if with your current artist or someone else, take this as a lesson on how to cooperate as a team, how to compromise and how to take personal pride out of the equation for the better of the Team and the project.

 

 

Long story short: Don't get fixated on YOUR opinion. It's not the only one that counts in a team. You can rule a team like a dictator of course, as long as the others accept it or you pay them enough. But you loose one of the most important things that a team can provide you with. Which is the opinion of the other team members.

 

If you shot their opinions down repeatedly, they will stop to offer them at some point.

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It's my own opinion that before starting a game, you should all have it clear in your heads what you want to create.

 

There should be some simple (no more than a couple of pages!) game design documents, which clearly say if there are to be demons, undead, zombies, skeletons, or whatever.

 

Until the game design document is implemented in full changes should be avoided, only once youve done what you agreed upon initially should you then revisit it and decide (based on play testing and feedback) if it needs adjustment and different character types etc.

 

This would prevent arguments, and more importantly prevent the dreaded creature feepage (feature creep) :)

 

If you'd done this initially you'd be able to say to your friend, without putting him down, "sorry this isnt what we planned and it would take longer now to change everything than if we'd planned it initially. perhaps after we've done this part, in the next revision depending on what play testing reveals?"...

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Thank you guys, you gave given me a lot to consider.

I understand that this small design issue (demons or no demons) is insignificant, what I am finding challenging is standing up for my vision or opinion, without smothering or disparaging the vision or opinion of another. Essentially, the communication element.

I should qualify that this is a hobby project, so no ones financial security depends on this, so it is marginally more important that I create a game I want to create, as opposed to making it as profitable as possible, which is why I am a little more attached to my opinion than I might otherwise be if this were a professional endeavor.

Furthermore I have made large alterations to the game and features based on my friend's input, advice and opinions which have made it better, so I hope I am not mischaracterizing our relationship.

It would be fair to say that 80% of the time I go with his opinion, opposing it only because of feature creep (him wanting to add too many features too early in development) or if I feel it would significantly alter the theme, narrative or experience of the game in a way that I might feel is a bridge too far.

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