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Got_Rhythm

Resolving Creative Differences

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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.

 

Given that its not you alone working on the project, this project is no longer "yours" alone... and while you might have a good vision, and other might choose to work towards that vision with you, you also have to accept that they might not agree with your vision 100%.

 

I personally think you might find it challenging because there actually is no real higher ground you can talk from. Sure, it was your idea. But once your friend started contributing, his influence on your idea grew, and at some point he has just as much investment in the project as you do. There is no "rule", nothing really giving your opinion a higher value than his at that point, even though you might have started the project.

I think at that point you either have a valid reason to strengthen your stance (like the feature creep), or you need to compromise. The third option, part ways and look for someone else to work with, most probably is not desirable anyway.

 

It would be something different if there was money paid, contracts signed or job titles to protect your authority.... without all of that, its all gentlemens agreements, compromises and common sense.

 

 

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.

 

This I can understand very well... and, given that your artist friend has worked on a game project for some time now (which he has by default because you have this discussion now), he will also.

I guess the best thing to do is to mention to him that you value his input, but you fear that feature creep will endanger your milestones (which, while not a question of life and death to meet in a hobby project, can endanger the whole project because somebody could no longer have time or loose interest) and your project.

 

There is always the possibility of future expansions if the project actually works out and becomes a success.

 

 

Given that he would love to work on some demons now, ask him to create some concepts on what he has in mind, as long as it doesn't takes up more than X% of his time devoted to the project (still leaving him the option to work more on it in the rest of his free time). This will allow him an artistic outlet for his ideas, and might generate some interesting concepts that could be developed further in the future.

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You have two opposing hypothesis:

 

"I believe our audience will enjoy the theme of capturing undead creatures"

 

"I believe our audience will enjoy the theme of capturing demonic creatures"

 

...and that's fine! Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and that's what it is. Perhaps I like the idea of capturing different breeds of Unicorn w/ various powers depending on breed. I'm making the assumption that, ultimately, you want people to play this game. Who are these people? Perhaps you have an idea on who your audience is. The best way to validate or disprove a hypothesis is to ask your intended audience. Interview with them, introduce them to the concepts: get their feedback. They may give you insights you hadn't even considered. Maybe they'd want you to combine the two, love one of those hypothesis or give you pause to consider your direction and pivot the creative focus of the project onto a slightly different theme both you, your colleague and your audience will love.

 

When in doubt: ask your intended audience. Nothing beats settling a difference in opinion than getting the collective feedback of those who will have a stake in your product. smile.png

Edited by Mark Lock

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Going back to the original post:

My initial concept for the game was for all the characters to be necromancers, and so all of the monsters that can be captured and battled are undead, skeletons, ghosts, spirits and so on.
 
My friend tells me that this would be too boring, and that there needs to be demons too.


I disagree with your friend that your concept is boring. But I agree with him that demons fit into your theme. Werewolves and vampires wouldn't fit, but mummies would. Accepting the idea of a world with necromancers and walking corpses, skeletons, and ghosts, it's no stretch for demons in that world.

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I suppose that'd depend on the type of vampires. Generally, I like to think of vampires in the "living, and sustaining their immortality via drinking blood" (which explains how they can turn living humans into vampires without killing them), but classically, vampires were often part of the undead.
 
"Undead beings, vampires often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited when they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early 19th century." - Wikipedia

 

For me, demons would never fit with the undead. They could co-exist in the same world, but they wouldn't be undead. Unless by 'demons' you do something like, someone who has died and went to hell and returns to the surface (perhaps by necromancy).

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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.

You could have demon necromancers. They could be another race, on par with (or superior to) the human necromancers. I think this would fit with your sentience idea, since they would just be the opposing necromancer, not the creature that's under your control. It might be a decent compromise for the artist, if his main interest is getting to draw some awesome demons.

 

And thematically, I think it adds some extra flavor to the world, having demons doing battle with the bodies of dead humans, like it's just a game for them. Maybe it was demons that taught human necromancers how to join in their game.

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Thank you all for the great input. 

 

Unfortunately the outcome is that my friend and I have decided to part ways on the project, I am taking full ownership of it and any involvement he has will be paid for like a free-lancer. Fortunately I think this happened soon enough that our friendship wasn't ruined over it, and that it will be best in the long run. 

 

You guys were right, having a 50/50 split in decision making was always going to cause problems, and I think deep down I was never really comfortable giving up that much creative control to allow him to contribute properly. 

 

I think we could work together again, this just wasn't the right project to do it on. 

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Thank you all for the great input. 

 

Unfortunately the outcome is that my friend and I have decided to part ways on the project, I am taking full ownership of it and any involvement he has will be paid for like a free-lancer. Fortunately I think this happened soon enough that our friendship wasn't ruined over it, and that it will be best in the long run. 

 

You guys were right, having a 50/50 split in decision making was always going to cause problems, and I think deep down I was never really comfortable giving up that much creative control to allow him to contribute properly. 

 

I think we could work together again, this just wasn't the right project to do it on. 

 

Sad to hear about the outcome, but good that you were able to settle it quickly... seems like there was no ill will involved on either side, and I think you have found the best way to part ways on the project.

 

 

Sharing creative ownership is always tricky, and while I think there are ways to make it work, a true 50/50 most probably will never work out. With all the tech companies going all cuddly with their employes with flat hierarchies and all (which is a good thing, if only to cut the unecessary management bloat that happens in more traditionally led companys), as they did put it in military, "there can only be one leader".

 

 

Good luck with your project.

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Thank you all for the great input. 

 

Unfortunately the outcome is that my friend and I have decided to part ways on the project, I am taking full ownership of it and any involvement he has will be paid for like a free-lancer. Fortunately I think this happened soon enough that our friendship wasn't ruined over it, and that it will be best in the long run. 

 

You guys were right, having a 50/50 split in decision making was always going to cause problems, and I think deep down I was never really comfortable giving up that much creative control to allow him to contribute properly. 

 

I think we could work together again, this just wasn't the right project to do it on. 

 

It is extremely difficult to work with friends because, frankly, friendship "gets in the way".

I personally have never worked (and most likely never will work) with close friends for this reason: I value their friendship too much to jeopardize it in a business or creative venture.

 

I also believe that the 50/50 split is idealistic but rarely leads to actual results: it fosters a great environment, for a while, but as soon as expectations come on the line, things start to fall apart. The 33/33/33 split is actually worse in that it ends up with whoever has the strongest attitude dominating whoever is the most agreeable in forcing the middleman to forcefully agree to this "democracy".

 

From my experience so far, personal project and indie-level projects work best when someone is in charge of the whole or specific parts of the projects and has final say in these matters.

It would be naive however to believe that larger organizations are impervious to these issues, often there are too many people that are or feel empowered with decision-making in said or said field and that end up over-ruled and this tend to bruise egos and fosters poor working environment. In the end, the project suffers, the people involved suffer, and that's just poor practice.

I think, to a degree, the role of Producer, and sometimes, Game Director, is extremely healthy for this reason. That's not to say that the Producer should make all the decisions, or not wear another hat (for example, also be an artist or programmer on the team), but it means they should be the one to look at when there's a stalemate or confusion on the vision of the game.

 

Locally, Berzerk Studio mentioned how instrumental the role of "Director" was to their success. It feels like it was a pivotal moment between just 3 guys making games in a basement and being a studio that makes a living off selling their games.

 

Glad we could be of some help to you. Hopefully others too!

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It is extremely difficult to work with friends because, frankly, friendship "gets in the way".
I personally have never worked (and most likely never will work) with close friends for this reason: I value their friendship too much to jeopardize it in a business or creative venture.
[...]
From my experience so far, personal project and indie-level projects work best when someone is in charge of the whole or specific parts of the projects and has final say in these matters.


I agree with all this, though I find it easy to work with friends (and family) as long as it's not on equal footing.

Or to phrase it differently, you can FOR friends, and friends can work FOR you, but you can't work equally WITH friends. There's many seats in the car, but things don't go well when more than one person tries to grab the wheel. laugh.png

 

And if you're doing long term employment, rather than a single project, I'd just avoid the sticky wicket altogether.

 

That said, I still intend to share equal partnership with a close friend on my next project, because that's the goal of the project (working on something together) rather than the goal being creating something. If the project fails commercially (or even not seen through to release), it still succeeds at its goal.

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That said, I still intend to share equal partnership with a close friend on my next project, because that's the goal of the project (working on something together) rather than the goal being creating something. If the project fails commercially (or even not seen through to release), it still succeeds at its goal.

 

I felt like a bit hypocritical given I'm also currently starting a joint venture business with a friend on a 50/50 split, but as you are doing yourself, the endgame IS the 50/50 partnership over the project itself. Though we each have our respective fields, I intended to try to make it work as a full-fledged 50/50 diehard deal, and, as you're pointing, if it fails, so be it. This stemmed from us two being very like-minded and also being a bit tired of being the driving force behind every single project (aside from those I've joined as a "grunt"). It's good to be King and Grunt, but sometimes I'd like to be able to be a King with the capability to "rest".

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