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NeverSay

Could do with a little perspective on something....

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I think I might be with a team that is deep within development hell and they are all in denial about it. I have been working on a project with a small group and we all have no previous experience or educational background. The guy who had pulled us altogether had an idea for a game but the story is so confusing and convoluted after 3 years of working on this project... I still have no idea whats going on with the story. All I can say is its a platformer with a large explorable map and systems and mechanics dreamed up so grand out of all the 100 things he wants in the game we still only have 2 mechanics down. Every time I have tried to throw my voice in and suggest maybe we should put a pin in this idea and focus on smaller experiences so we can build our skills up and tackle it later when we know more of what we are doing, I get shot down. I'm told, "oh it will only take a year to make this game" of which both I and the artist look at each other very doubtful each time he says that. 

So leaving out the backstabbing power plays a certain member of the team kept using which blocked me from having access to the game so I couldn't test out my work for myself, phage requests on what they wanted animated which lead to me redoing animation more time then I think was needed. I mean I redid the run animation over 60 times and in the end, they chose to use the very first freaking one I made! Whenever I tried to think logically and ask for a group meeting to talk about characters and how they move so I could get a better idea of what to do I was told "No, no, no this back and forth is a faster way of working"....again run animation took 60 attempts before they used the first run cycle I made. 

In the end, we weren't working towards making the whole game, it took us 2 years and 5 months to make a demo of the game. Then our programmer disappeared and also took with him the code for the game. We should have stepped away from that game and accepted, for the moment that it might be time to take a break from it and focused on crafting smaller experiences to build up our skills and our group's portfolio but no that wasn't to be. We where to start again from scratch, new programmer, new textures and level designs and new rigs and animations. 3 years of work has gone down the drain and now I have to start again... the only problem is I can't bring my self to do the work. 

I have become stagnant where I am and I feel like its time I should move on. I want to try and do things my way and start small and work my way up and not plunge headfirst into a project that feels like an ocean in scale for a small team. I want to focus on my own skills and learn new ones and understand more than just one trait in the spectrum of game design. Though since I have been with the team for so long and put so much time and money into this venture...I'm scared to walk away. Though on the other hand how long are we gonna spend on this game, is it gonna be another year like the lead designer said (again and again) or will it be another 3 and all we will have to show for it is a shiny new demo and none of the full game...

Should I suck it up and try and kick my butt back into gear or is this the time to step away and look into new possibilities?

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16 minutes ago, NeverSay said:

Should I suck it up and try and kick my butt back into gear or is this the time to step away and look into new possibilities?

We can offer some advice, but the final decision is yours, and only yours.

That said, some points are not clear. What exactly is this team? Are you an small/indie game studio? Is this a professional project or is it being made in your spare time? Are everyone putting real money in this venture? If not, who's paying the bills? As I understood, you're an 3d modeler and animator in this project, right? Do you have other responsabilities? How was decided which person has each role (design, management, production, programming)? Everybody agreed with one person having so much power over the project?

From what you said, this project is already deep in development hell, and suffering from severe management problems. If the team couldn't do 3 mechanics (out of "100") after so many time, you're in deep trouble. A programmer being able to disappear and taking all the code is ridiculous: the code (and other assets) must safe if a person leaves. Not being able to run the game to test your work also seems bad. Redoing work is acceptable sometimes, but only with a purpose, not walking in circles. Doesn't feel like a good project (or team) to be part of.

If you decide to stay, can't you do smaller parallel projects for yourself? With this, you can learn new skills and have a better chance of having a finished product, that you could be proud of.

 

This other thread has some ideas about keeping the scope clear, with help of a good design document. It can really help to keep everyone on the same page about mechanics, level design and othet things.

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24 minutes ago, NeverSay said:

Should I suck it up and try and kick my butt back into gear or is this the time to step away and look into new possibilities?

Never allow projects like this to impact your life, they are hobby projects so keep them that way.

Leave when you want, there is no real obligations. Allowing them to keep what you made should more than cover your part.

3 Years is a long time to spend on a project you did not believe in. The real question is do you want to leave?

29 minutes ago, NeverSay said:

I think I might be with a team that is deep within development hell and they are all in denial about it.

Happens all the time and in many different ways. Very-very few of these projects ever finish even with skilled team members. There needs to be someone who drives the project, even if they are hated for it later.

When you pull out of the team remember that you can't use stuff based on there concepts in your own work or portfolios without there permission. So don't bother taking it with you.

 

If you join a project like this I advice not uploading "Final" work until the game passes the design phase. This saves a lot of effort on your part as most games never finish the design phase; in fact it looks like the one you worked on is still stuck in design.

Only placeholders is needed during design and can be used up to publishing.

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NeverSay, it's clear that the project is not being managed well. Rather than continuing to pour energy down into a bottomless pit, why not find another project that doesn't have all those problems? Perhaps you know and trust some of the people that were involved - if so, it would not be a mistake to work with those people again. But it would not be a good idea to work again with the person who was running that project. 

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Hello there.

Unless this is paid contract work, you should just walk away.  And do not feel bad about it because after putting in at least two years of your life, you have got very little in return - and they are still expecting more. 

While I understand all too well that games require some room for experimentation,  when its your free time you are giving up, you dont want to have to bugger about redoing things just because your best friend is trying play George Lucas.  Sounds like they have no respect for your time and effort, and taking the piss if not paying you for the insult. 

As you have already figured out for yourself, a small team needs to keep it small and slim. Get out of there and make space invaders or something more suitable.   Bring back the fun!  Team up with a programmer who is struggling on the art side( and just grateful to have another soul to work with ) and you'll most likely do far better.

 

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16 minutes ago, TerraSkilll said:

We can offer some advice, but the final decision is yours, and only yours.

That said, some points are not clear. What exactly is this team? Are you an small/indie game studio? Is this a professional project or is it being made in your spare time? Are everyone putting real money in this venture? If not, who's paying the bills? As I understood, you're an 3d modeler and animator in this project, right? Do you have other responsabilities? How was decided which person has each role (design, management, production, programming)? Everybody agreed with one person having so much power over the project?

6

We were a small group of random people who got talking in a chat room and then tried to make a game in our spare time, I got to know them well before I even thought about putting any money towards the project but when I thought they where trustworthy I put a lot of money into it (software, software subscriptions, convention costs.etc..),  though thankfully I didn't do what one person did and sink their life savings so they could work on the game full time (which they lasted 8 months before needing a job).Though besides that we all chipped in to pay for stuff but the main software I use for my work (of which my focus is 2D character rigging/animation) is in the name of someone else in the group....and he is the one who ran away...so that opens up more possible problems for me using that software to the point I'm considering just saving up and getting it again with my own money so I fully own it and not just a 3rd of it. At the moment besides working on this game I'm working what is supposed to be a part-time job but i end up at work more often then i get days to myself, so I burn a lot of the midnight oils. As for roles, we each took the role of what we had some skills in but as for leader ship...well it started off as a democracy but then just spiraled out of control.  Hope this clears up some of the points.

Also thank you all so far for your input, I think I needed to write this all out so it's not in my head and just having the fresh perspectives on this is very helpful :)

 

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1 minute ago, Anri said:

Just out of curiosity,  what animation software are you dependant on?

A software called Spine, it lets you take 2d images and turn them into 2d rigged puppets, it also has a strong meshing tools that allows for good control of deformation and weight painting. It's a good software but I'm curious if there is a way to do the same thing in Blender or something. 

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