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Management Core Staff to Launch Game Studio

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Hi all,

I'm reaching out to sanity check my decision processes and see if there are any gaps. I've got a game developer creating a VR game for me. While I'll continue my relationship with them, I want to start building the capabilities in-house to create and launch VR games. Team that the supplier has: CTO, creative director, 1x game artist, 2x Unity developers and 1x audio engineer. There is obviously the CEO and their overall PM. I usually deal with CTO and creative director.

The question is about the approach I should take to build out a team. I have technology expertise but not game development. Therefore, I think two key hires are creative director and CTO. Both should have launched games and then they build out the team based on the deliverables for the year. Any advice on what the seed team should be? Or perhaps even if I should be asking a different question?

Appreciate any help you can offer.

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Yeah I'd say you're on the right track. The two halves of game dev are technology and art, so you need a high level employee to take responsibility over each.
The tech person needs to have a background in game programming and a familiarity with engine programming and specialist disciplines like AI, Animation, Physics, Rendering, etc...
The art person should have a background in game art and a familiarity with 3d, 2d and animation workflows, and familiarity of working with audio staff and level designers.
Ideally both of these people would have experience in being team-leaders (lead game programmer, lead 3D artist, etc) and have a lot of experience - 5 years would be good, 10 would be better :D
They'll then be responsible for keeping the other staff on-track and making the right big-picture choices, and also advise you on exactly how many staff they need based on your plans. They should also be capable of acting as a front-line programmer and artist themselves, in between high level duties. At every games company that I've worked for, the CTO/technology director has always still been on the front-line among the other staff, writing some of the most important code in the organization :wink:

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a few other things you may need:

1. your coders, artist, and "sound guys" are all just a means to an end - to move a product from design to gone gold.  first you need a product design. and someone has to make that design.  So somebody has to take on the role of game designer.  That's where it all starts. Perhaps that is to be your role.  Whoever does it, they have to be good at coming up with cool games.  If you don't have a good product design (and preferably a superior one), you're dead in the water before you even start - whether you're making oven mitts, taco sauce, or video games.

2. you will occasionally want the services of an accountant, and a lawyer.

3. you make no mention of marketing or sales fulfillment, i assume you'll be farming all that stuff out - the old "we build them and let somebody else worry about selling them" strategy.

odds are you've already considered these other roles in the company and have found solutions that you simply did not mention in your original post.

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a few other things you may need:

1. your coders, artist, and "sound guys" are all just a means to an end - to move a product from design to gone gold.  first you need a product design. and someone has to make that design.  So somebody has to take on the role of game designer.  That's where it all starts. Perhaps that is to be your role.  Whoever does it, they have to be good at coming up with cool games.  If you don't have a good product design (and preferably a superior one), you're dead in the water before you even start - whether you're making oven mitts, taco sauce, or video games.

2. you will occasionally want the services of an accountant, and a lawyer.

3. you make no mention of marketing or sales fulfillment, i assume you'll be farming all that stuff out - the old "we build them and let somebody else worry about selling them" strategy.

odds are you've already considered these other roles in the company and have found solutions that you simply did not mention in your original post.

 

Excellent points - thanks! Re 1, it is definitely on the radar and we already have game designers. It does raise an interesting point about how to structure the organisation. Do you know how game studios usually do this? Where do game design resource(s) report into usually? I was thinking under the creative director, or directly to me; either way it is critical to give these guys the resources and clout they need to get things going.

Re 2,3: we are a location-based entertainment company so are in a fortunate position to have these functions already in place and can roll out the experiences at our own physical venues. Key strategic decision is if this should continue to be outsourced or bring it in-house, and I'm leaning towards latter.

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