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  1. GeneralJist

    Feedback on portfolio

    Looks good, If you have a resume I'd also put a link to it there. You might want to consider putting down the duration of the project.
  2. GeneralJist

    What Should We Avoid in the Industry?

    Well, Your question is a bit too broad, Mistakes or things to avoid can be put into many categories and it all depends on your situation. For example, things to avoid for indie are totally different than things to avoid for AAA. Remote work Vs. office jobs, etc. etc. etc. But in general,Avoid toxic or anti social people even if they are highly skilled. Avoid disagreements with your business partners. Avoid making games for the sake of just making games. Avoid feature creep Without knowing more about your situation, it's difficult to tell you what pitfalls you may come across.
  3. GeneralJist

    How to Get to the Next Level

    There is nothing wrong with working for free on a volunteer basis. AS the organizer and producer, it's your job to keep track of everything, and recruit a team. There is nothing wrong with finding random people on the internet to try and finish a game, however, if your not able to contribute any assets to the game, it might be difficult to recruit, because you won't know what you need to finish the game. Try recruiting for a few months, and if that doesn't work it might be better for you to find a team to join.
  4. Explains our development & planning cycles. Reader's note: This is an edited version of what we just posted on our moddb page. I literally spent almost all of yesterday, and all of today perfecting this. I was literally up till 4AM last night writing and proofing, and I still adding more and more, this is easily hands down one of the longest and detailed PR Articles I've ever written, and I'm really proud of it. (I've removed several sections that aren't relevant to design, such as direct updates to our community, as well as our Discord.) The full Article, can be found on our moddb page. There is a lot of backstory as to why I decided to put this all together, but instead of being my usual self, and telling all the related stories and tangents, I'll just say, Simone quit yesterday, and he tried to accuse me of not having a any kind of plan for what we were doing,and how never knew what was going on in the protect despite having access to all our documentation. Dear Community As yall have noticed, we've been in development for over 7 years, and we've not released until December of last year. There are countless reasons, some known to the public, others not. The thing that most don't understand is that an RTS is literally one of the longest and hardest game types to make, not to mention one of the most expensive to make, manage and maintain, even for AAA companies. It's literally a war simulation that is a problem solving machine. By that I mean we plan for and design interactions for individual and systematic problem-solving. I know some of you have been hesitant to review an unfinished work, as well as a little disappointed that we are only releasing the ASI. I know we have shown 3 new factions, and I understand that some may feel that getting 1 of 3 new things is not as satisfying as getting 3 new things all at the same time. I trust that most of our community understands that this is a mod, like The Forgotten, where they also add a fully new faction. Please remember that we are all volunteers here, and with any kind of short term or long term project, there are inevitably a lot of ups and downs; some made public, some not. Despite this, We have a very rich history and a lot of experience, and connections that we've developed since we started, much of which is documented here on our ModDB homepage. As many of you look to play our current build of 1.3: You may have noticed more concrete examples of the quality standards we hold ourselves to, and the differences between 1.0 on our current build. We are doing our best to balance and refine as much as we can, and we are adding more descriptive in-game descriptions to tell everyone what we added in 1.4, as well as full project credits, which we are hoping to make public soon, as well as add them in-game. This will potentially be a list of 120+ people that have been somehow involved through the years; some of them here for a short time, others longer, and yet others not a fit, but still came in and out of our doors. We are still figuring out the best way to pay respects to everyone who has been here, no matter what they did or didn't do. We learned from them just being in contact, and them trying to make this work. We have been fortunate enough to get both quality and quantity in our applicant pool, and we strive to continue to give them the best project experience we can. Where most mods can easily present all their tweaks and changes, it's much harder for us since we literally almost changed everything about our new faction. We didn't fully explain what all the new features and mechanics were off the bat because we wanted to give the players the experience of playing the game for the 1st time and figuring things out. As said, almost everything is custom made. We didn't reskin or replace things, and now that the original factions are open for development, we are finally getting to what most would consider "conventional modding" Also, it's important to note the ASI, and our plans for the new factions, are/were never meant to directly balance with the vanilla factions as they are currently in C&C3: Tiberium Wars. The AI currently has a very hard time countering the ASI, which some of yall have mentioned, considering ASI completely overpowered, and in some cases, not finding it as interesting to just see ASI win without a challenge. We also realize we need to be more transparent; both to help bridge the gap between our community, and everything we do behind the scenes. We don't want to just show everyone "what" we did, but more background of "why", and when we can, "how" we got to where we are. We hope to also eventually make tutorials for both in house and public consumption. showing how we do what we do. This is something Fandore has always wanted to do, but we never got the time to. Too often in the games industry players just see the end polished product, and they don't have any idea how, and why things are the way they are. This is to emphasize that the PR of the games industry has really done almost "too good of a job", to push and value product over process. Countless people think just because they enjoy playing games that they will enjoy making games. No other form of industry has that consistent and critical disconnect. No one ever thinks that because they love reading books, they will love writing books, nor watching movies, and making movies, nor listening to music and making and composing music. But somehow, when you put all those forms of media together into a game, it's suddenly different. I personally know several people who have gone to college, and in one who went to Digipen, who told me they were dropping out, because of this fallacy. Think of it, entire generations of college students, paying thousands of dollars, for degrees that they think will be that golden ticket into the Games Industry. Some schools actively take advantage of this dream and sell it hard. Later, people with game degrees find themselves pigeonholed. Where no one will hire them, not even in the games Industry, because they don't have any "real experience" in managing and developing for long-term projects. Some can't even find jobs because most people outside the games industry don't know what to do with people with games degrees & experience. You'd think this disconnect happens less in tech companies, but many "real tech companies/ tech professionals also by into the notion that making games = playing games. It's definitely partly a generational thing, but despite research and stats saying the average gamer is in their 30s, this hugely damaging fallacy and misconception continues to be perpetuated. We hope to do our best to dispel this way of thinking and educate as many as we can "We choose not to do these things because they are easy, but because they're hard." In the interview with Mark Skaggs, he says: "Ya, making games is like playing games in the sense that you're playing the same game over and over again, and it's broken", I'd add, "and it's your responsibility to fix it". Planning The project: If you've seen any of the parts of our Game Design Document (GDD) you may notice it's a bit different than other GDDs. We explain the overarching themes and designs, but we don't go into all the details other GDDS go into. Other GDDs explain in painstaking details as to what something looks like, it's stats and technical/UI layouts, etc. if your indie and building a game from Scratch, you need that. As a mod, we need significantly less, however, the trick to writing a GDD is to allow it to map out the macro of everything you're doing, while also conveying the vision. Most GDDs I've seen are too restrictive, telling people too much information, and potentially stifling creativity to some degree. You may also notice that we try not to put pictures in our GDD. This is because we allow and encourage varied interpretation of our factions and themes. Separating out all the written documentation from all the pictures of all the current assets is how we encourage imagination and creativity, of not just our team, but you the community as well. Fun fact, I wrote the 1st draft of our GDD in an airport at the end of 2011. Our GDD, like many GDDs, is a living document; And it has gone through many revisions and had a hand full of editors in leadership, me being the principal author When me and Fandore joined the project back in June of 2011 (literally a day apart, even though we didn't know each other) the project originator Umbrella secrets told us that he was getting the feedback that people felt disconnected, in the sense that they have no idea how the new factions relate to Command & Conquer, or the Tiberium universe. He asked me to fix it. So I, being the Co-lead, PR manager, and lead writer recently from the failed Tiberian Eclipse mod, did my best to connect all the lore together. I also created a full faction build list in excel, that planned out all 3 new factions, alongside all 3 original factions. (Template adapted and expanded from my work with TE) I crossed referenced all of this by role so that when we made anything, we knew it had a specific function and role. Putting in all we planned for the new factions, as well as what I planned for the original factions. (Mainly slotting in things from Kane's Wrath, as well as some new stuff to diversify the factions. I went a bit overboard, at that time, and Umbrella Secrets got a bit overwhelmed, decided we would not do anything for the original factions, besides the few assets he had made under Tiberium Eclipse. I was actually the one who recruited him to that project, and back in 2010, we were actually discussing the idea of merging the two projects. I've asked Fandore if he would have joined if we had the main focus of the original factions back then, and he said likely not. Back in the day, I also asked Umbrella secrets why he joined TE, and he said it was something that he couldn't pass up. This core build list document allowed us to have holistic planning for all factions, across all roles. And once you know the base role of a unit or structure, then you can begin to adjust the formula, to accomplish the same thing, in different ways and also mix and match roles, for true faction diversity. Furthermore, this allows for theoretical and potential experimental balancing by role and by tier. Back then, I was told to put all original faction development on hold, so we could focus on the new factions. Obviously, I was disappointed. But things turned out for the best. Because of that moratorium, I put all my energy and passion for the original Command & Conquer Tiberium universe factions into writing and design, and ever since then, we actually consistently get the comment from our community that our lore and designs are so cohesive with the Tiberium universe, that at times, they're unsure where TW/ KW/TT end, and where TS begins. Here is the 1st season of our Official TS canon: We've had people describe us as an expansion, a total conversion, an entirely new game, etc... and we are happy many others see our potential. Modding VS. Indie: Our new factions are completely original intellectual property (IP), and that is one of the things that make us stand out. Because of this, and other reasons, we do have contracts, perhaps one of the few mods that do. Many throughout the years have questioned why we don't just go indie and make a full standalone game, totally separate and divorced from the C&C franchise, given all the custom work with the factions. The answer to that is for multiple reasons: This project was started in 2010/2011 before most of the modern engines, such as unity and unreal were fully developed. Not to mention, how at the time, and still, now, there are few engines that are built to support and maintain an RTS. If we tried to build a 3D RTS from scratch, it would likely take orders of magnitude longer, and require an even bigger and more dedicated team. 3D RTS is already one of the largest investments in scope, scale, and budget. Traditionally this kind of game takes at least 20-30 full-time veterans across all departments, working round the clock for at least 4-5 years. As a mod, we get the brand recognition of the franchise, and almost a banked on the community of people that may already be interested in what we're doing. Our core leadership has a passion for C&C. By building off an existing game, by the mere fact of being "technically a mod", it allows us to drastically expand our scope and scale of our vision, far beyond a traditional indie game. We were beginners when we started, so we weren't weighed down by the pessimism of experience. Faction Build Lists Here is a picture of part of the build list template started for another unreleased RTS indie game, for a rev share C corp, Animus Interactive called Ascendancy that I made back in November of 2016. They ultimately decided not to use it, and I was only a project manager/ game producer for 2 months. (I worked directly with their CEO, and due to circumstances and timing, it didn't work out. (They decided not to use the template, even tho their GDD was like at least 50 pages long, and they had all these roles they were planning for) (I extracted all our roles and put them side by side, so they could get a sense of what it was for.) Here are the currently updated ASI build lists: I know spreadsheets aren't the sexiest thing we can show, and most people don't want to read, but these are one core pillar of how and what we do, and how we do it. Arguably one of the main reasons we've been so successful and consistent for so long. Furthermore, if you're still having a hard time with learning how to use the ASI, this literally tells you what everything is, and how to use it. And like our GDD, this is a living document. (This might possibly be the 1st time anyone has shown a spreadsheet on all of ModDB/IndieDB) We can't show anyone in the public the other tabs until the factions' are released, but I assure you, they are all filled out to a large degree. The key thing to understand is that not everything is filled out for the new factions. We have roles, but we don't always have something created for that role. We left them blank, not just because we weren't there yet, but also because you the community are on this journey with us. We have some upgrades and support powers, but there is much that hasn't been finalized and put in-game yet.Most of the sections of upgrades and support powers are in our GDD for all factions are also largely empty. (and have been for a while, since we'er not there yet.) The moratorium on original faction development was lifted after the ASI was released, for a lot of reasons, but mainly due to our current resources and staff. The build list was, and are finally being updated, after being archived for all those years. As said, having me, and the community wait for so long for original faction development actually worked in our favor, to a large degree. If some of you will remember back in the Summer of 2012, I looked at the ASI build lists, and realized we were actually missing an anti-structure unit for the ASI, Umbrella secrets didn't want to make one, because well, at that time, he was mainly the principle artist as well as principle coder, but Fandore realized I was right, and hence we put it out on our Forums. Hence the Athore was born: We actually later switched it's role with the Pharaoh hound, which was the artillery unit at the time. Our Development Cycle: Games usually need to strike a balance between story and gameplay, often, a game will prioritize or sacrifice one over the other. The thing about C&C is it always tried to bring both to the table, and have them work together in a holistic and unified way. We've held true to this vision across everything, and our development cycle is meant to be cyclical, ASI > Colony > D51 >ASI Colony >D51, etc. Now, we are going to GDI, > Nod >Scrin. All the buildings for ASI, Colony, and D51 are done, but that is most that is finished and finalized. There are of course some units for colony and D51 that are complete, but not that many. Remember, you the community can help us shape this project. (Perhaps in ways few mods and games allow) We mainly need support powers and upgrades for the ASI, right now. Because of this cycle established near the beginning of the project, we are constantly going through development as well as what usually happens in preproduction. We did have an original preproduction phase back in 2011, but we didn't maximize the potential of that time, due to many behind the scenes reasons, and this is an oversight that has really continued to bite us in the back. (preproduction is almost always the most active part of a project, because nothing is really finalized, and literally anyone can chip in.) However, back then and now, we had, what I just call core 4. This allowed us to keep and maintain a unified vision of the project, and we still keep that vision, 7 years later. Even though the project originator Umbrella Secrets is no longer with the team, and hasn't been on the team, since the Summer of 2012. That's the thing we do is respect the direction and decisions of people who were once here. It's all too often and easy to throw them under the bus, or reverse something they did right after they left, or even present it like they were never part of the project at all. But if we did that, we'd constantly be going backward, and then things would take oh so much longer, not to mention changing fundamental things just because you don't like it is not a good enough justification. Furthermore, If this happened, this would just beg for a long line of baggage, drama, and ruffled feathers. Changes to foundations are usually judged on quality, function, and simplicity. The thing I've learned from putting the original factions on hold for so long is what they are, and what they could all be about. It's allowed me to plan and thing beyond what C&C was, to what C&C could be. In the interview with Louis Castle, he said, one of the best things you can do for a game is deciding what it's not. Knowing what your not doing, and what you need to cut will tell and inform you as to what your core game is, and allow you to focus on the things that will make the most impact This point really struck home with me, and I realized, that not developing the original factions at all, for so long, it allowed us to better define what those were all about, and to use that to define what the new factions could and should be. This is how I usually think of it. There are 6 variables in an equation, you have no idea what's what, but you have some solid knowledge about what 3 of them could be. so, you do your best to understand, explore and flesh out those 3 known variables. (the original factions). Now you have an equation with 3 known and 3 unknowns. So, now, you use all those 3 known variables to systematically test refine, balance and explore each new variable, one at at a time, until you know all 6 variables, and can finally solve the equation and answer the question of what each variable is, including It's proper place, form and function in the entire system. We basically started defining, and building each variable, each faction, and as we continued, the vision and plans of what the new factions were started to crystallize. There's a big difference between letting the data lead you to a conclusion, and jumping to the conclusion, and finding data that supports your view. One is scientific while the other is just telling yourself what you want to hear. Once you have a new variable, that is well enough defined, you use it as a control, to test and refine and check your previously known variables, adjusting them as needed. You keep doing this, over and over and over until your fully satisfied with all variables. Why Command & Conquer was successful: The other core thing that made C&C such a groundbreaking and global success, is it hit on geosocietal politics of the day, in such a way that that it would be relevant and resonant for generations to come. Asking anyone to create that, in any game, let alone in an RTS, is very difficult. It requires a depth of planning and future insight that is almost uncanny it in it's accuracy. It requires forward thinking, while respecting and learning from the past. You are literally trying to propel your audience into the future, and get them to experience things, not just as they are, but what they could be. It requires you to propel them into the past, and realize and recall that time in such a way that they can feel and remember it like it was yesterday, no matter how many years ago it was. We don't pretend like we have all the answers, but we do have a lot of questions, and by knowing the right questions to ask, we can figure out where we are going. Too much of the C&C community, and much of all modding communities are all focused on recreating the past, that definitely has it's place. But it's all nostalgia, and that has it's limitations. In doing what we do, we continually look to the future. Take a listen to what Louis Castle had to say on the topic from Community Battle CastPrimetime. (mark 35:55) As for me, I look forward to serving my teammates and communities in learning from the past, listening to the present, and leaving a legacy for the future. And Remember, Building something is relatively easy, it's the maintaining it over time that's hard. Hope this helps you all see a bit more... Tiberium Secrets ASI track 6 -Behind the mirage - Mod DB For Our Full ASI Sound Track: To Quote Mr. Ancient Aliens... "Long Ago, In The Distant Future..." This could look familiar.... April 9th, 2012: January 23, 2015 Grey Goo humans node and conduits Fandore said he actually got a message from someone in Petroglyph years ago, saying we were on the right track. “For those with drive, and for those who endure, they shall be bonded forevermore.” For everyone here @ Tiberium Secrets: Jist (Project Coordinator/producer, PR Lead, Lead Writer)
  5. Here: How We planned Tiberium Secrets RTS, Development Cycle Explained + Discord Open to All It's all here: https://www.moddb.com/mods/tiberium-secrets/news/how-we-planned-tiberium-secrets-development-cycle-explained-discord-open-to-all
  6. GeneralJist

    GDC recap

    To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the game we're modding, we are releasing video of the Internal ASI Alpha, and the rest of our animations. Which can be found here Summaries of GDC from each of our perspectives are also given. (I'll be writing an in depth article on my experience and preparation soon) Left to right, Matt Ross (Fandore) Eric Chou (GeneralJist) GDC Recap- Eric Chou (GeneralJist) So, what a ride. I can easily say, one of the most stressful, rewarding, and exciting times I've ever had in my entire life. Matt was here from 2/23/17- 3/5/17. From meeting small indie devs to big brand industry professionals and everything in between, I learned so much about myself, the industry, and where our project stacks up in relation to everything else. The main take away I had, was I didn't realize just how rare our situation was. Sure, we're successful, and sure we had experience, everyone there had to be some shade of both, but what really struck me was, there was no other project quite like ours. (I can say with 99% certainty that we were the only mod project there, especially with our level of passes, which were traditionally valued at ~2K a pop.) Nor was anyone else there likely representing an RTS, nor were there that many people who have been on the same volunteer project for 6+ years. (We also don't quite fit clearly into the categories of "mod", "indie" or "industry", we seem to be in a grey mix of all three, challenging the limits and definitions of each.) Every time I met someone from a company, especially a big company, I'd see them look at my badge, get interested in talking, but after I told them we were a mod, and after I handed them my card, they would get this really perplexed look on their face, essentially trying to figure out how someone like us were able to have the level of passes we did, and how we could seem so professional. As I'm explaining the project, It seemed they would usually fall in to 1 of 2 categories. Interested and really curious as to how we did what we did on passion as the primary motivator. Intimidated/ threatened that we got our experience without going through the conventional system. Despite this, most of the speakers seemed to respect our work, we actually got 15-20 minutes from the guy who facilitates indie dev communities from Amazon. He strangely just launched into how we'd be competing with the big brands, such as Disney, EA, etc. without asking what we did, which meant he somehow already knew. With me networking with the project managers, and Matt networking with the artistic and technical leaders, we covered a lot of ground. I met managers from Amazon, Microsoft, Unity, Blizzard, Riot, Wizards of the Coast, and many other lesser known organizations. For example, Microsoft wants us to publish on the windows store, which I'm not sure if it's even possible. Also, I've been getting regular calls from google affiliates, asking if I'm the business owner, to pay them to register our company profile, and feature us on all the search engines except Yahoo. (Left to Right, Matt Ross(Fandore), Scott Reismanis(INtense!), Eric Chou(GeneralJist) We met with our sponsor Kevin Hawkins (Khawk), chief admin of here, morning of February 28[sup]th[/sup], and he gave us a bag of swag. We also met with Scott Reismanis INtense!, chief of moddb/ indiedb, etc. nd we discussed ways to improve the platform and all the affiliates for everyone. I didn't realize just how big an impression we had left on him, which he describes on his own Blog. We met with our Lawyer the afternoon of March 2nd, and we touched base briefly. Now, I'm still not sure what I can say publicly about our lunch with Lou castle, but suffice it to say, we had a good conversation as to where C&C was meant to go under Westwood's direction. We only had 30 - 45 minutes, but we also discussed the ground-breaking nature of Legends of Kyrandia, among other things. We each left the meeting with a good sense of how we could potentially help each other out for future goals. We got some great advice from all the sessions we went to, and are looking to apply them as we progress in development. It was great to get confirmation from so many diverse sources that we were on the right track, and we were doing things the right way. (I also got full access to GDC Vault, which documents all sessions for review, traditionally valued at $400 a year per person.) As the week wrapped up, I got to show Matt the beautiful city of San Francisco. This small trip has had us redouble our efforts, and commitment to providing the highest quality product we can. It was great for morale, and great to meet so many people we've respected for years. We will be soon registering as an LLC partnership, to formalize our future direction. Thank you to everyone who has supported us to get to the present times, the wait is nearly over. GDC Recap- Matt Ross (Fandore) So, the conference.... Well, so much has already been said, and covered, but, one thing I thought was fairly interesting was this one guy I met, when I was heading to another session. He worked for EA, and use to work on C&C:3 back in the day. He talked a little about how he felt that EA was going in the wrong direction with the franchise, by trying to force C&C into a mobile form. He said this was a concern many of his fellow devs had as well, and that it should always be on the PC, for it to reach its proper potential. We talked briefly about our project and our projected goals. he seemed fairly interested in what we were doing and said he'd spread the word back to EA. He actually told me he would like to meet my producer, and he thought we should all have a sit down with the higher ups. Apart from that very interesting exchange, most of the time I was busy in conference sessions, with less than 30 mins to get to the next room. (Some of which, were on the complete other side of the convention center.) While I was in one of the sessions, waiting for it to start, I happen to overhear the conversation of two individuals sitting behind me. They were wondering how someone like me (most likely my age) could be there and understand so much about the games industry. The guy sitting next to him spoke up and told him that I co-lead a mod team and that we had been going for 6 years without any monetary incentives. Initially the guy asking the question was a bit nonplused, and asked what was so impressive about that, and the other guy said, "hold on a sec, you have to see this." and whipped out his phone. The other guy just looked over at him. and said "That's not just dedication, that's drive." It was really nice to hear we were getting props from total strangers at GDC, not just from my friends =), but heck, I don't do it for stuff like that, I do this because I love the work and I love the people. Another major highlight was I also got to see many other Indie developers there, one of which I talked to a fairly good amount was the guys developing "The Nightmare from Beyond". We got a good chance to talk, though we mainly discussed internal team work and business structure, we did however get a chance to talk a little about the future of gaming in general. Now, on to Lou castle, not only was it an honor, it was a privilege to speak with him. I asked him some questions about a very old game that was put together back when Westwood was still a fairly new company. The game Legends of kyrandia was a point and click adventure game unlike any other of its time. it had great humor great art direction, and almost seamless reaction time compared to the storyline things just "clicked" when you played the game. I enjoyed listening to how the team from back then structured and developed the title and it was definitely a game enjoyed quite a lot from my childhood. we also discussed the direction originally planned for C&C and what was intended for it at the time. though I unfortunately cannot go into too much detail either, I can say it is very interesting to see what could have been. I want to thank our sponsor Kevin for allowing me to take part at this year's GDC, i also want to thank all the members who made the event possible in the first place. it was my first time in the San Francisco area and I had a blast! (I talked everyone's ears off for days after I landed back home...) Sorry for not saying more, there were just so many things me and Eric did and talked about while I was there, that it's hard to focus on writing a public update. (I also don't usually write updates, so forgive me, I'm an artist....) I learned quite a lot, and I look forward to seeing what next year will bring! I also want to thank YOU, our community, this would not have been possible without you. the closed Alpha release is coming soon. It's time to get back to work!
  7. Preface The issues and solutions brought up in this are a snap shot in time back in 2/21/2015, as the rest of the academic project I posted here in Part 1, which goes over a detailed analysis of the roles and responsibilities of a producer. Problem 1 solutions were generally implemented, via the project management tool Trello, while problem 2 solutions were not. Minor editorial updates, clarifications, and current team status was also updated. (Original statuses was retained for comparison purposes.) Originally written 2/21/2015 I'm considering writing a 3rd part for documenting current status, or a new article or series of articles that are related to, but are independent from this organizational Industrial psychology school project. (Not sure what subjects yet.) These 2 parts are the project in its entirety and standalone for educational purposes. Academic terms and concepts are used in this article due to the original assignment guidelines, and may require basic research for complete understanding. The introduction mirrors the one in part 1 for context/ background purposes, and can be skimmed/ skipped if you already read it jump down to the "Structure" section. (Updates of data are given in parenthesis as contrasting from when this was originally written) Interview with Louis Castle at the end of the article. (If you listened to interviews from both parts, you may find a very intriguing contrast between the perspectives, specifically around the release and production of Command and Conquer: Generals.) Feel free to suggest or ask me anything. Thanks for your time and attention, it won't be nearly as long as part 1, I assure you. Introduction I've been acting as a project coordinator PR manager and Lead writer for a modding game development team since Summer 2011, which was when the team was formed, before then it was just one person working as of September 2010. In the game development sphere, there are effectively three general tiers individuals can fall into: Our project, Tiberium secrets, effectively falls between modding and indie, this is because although we are changing and existing game, the level and degree of our contribution is on the scale of building entirely new assets, mechanics and lore, usually, those who mod, do this to a smaller degree. Our project is a real-time strategy, the base game, has three playable sides, our mission is to add three new and diverse playable sides to the game. We've also designed it so that these new sides can both complement, yet also be independent from the base game. So, due to our project scope, we might be considered in the independent sphere, however since we are changing an existing game, direct financial compensation is not possible. We do however intend to set up a donations pool once our product reaches alpha. Structure We use Skype and Google Drive to communicate and share files. Everyone works remotely, and span across multiple time zones. We use a skype group chat to communicate, and have a department based file organization structure in Google Drive. The cross functional team is/was currently composed of 13/16 members, me included 1/1 producer, 3/3 writers, 5/7 artists, 2/2 audio composers, and 3/2 programmers, and 0/1 engine specific Vfx artists. (With some individuals with multiple skills) This is the base personnel count. Ages range from roughly early 20s to mid-30s, and we're all guys. We structure our organization with department leads, as well as a managerial staff, for which I'm the project coordinator, I also lead the PR as well as the writing department. For this assignment, I'll focus on my responsibilities as a project coordinator, this is akin to that of the producer, which I analyzed during the last part of the project. Basically, my responsibilities involve making sure everyone on the team has the resources and support they need to complete their tasks on an effective level and timely manner. (I duel use the titles because out of game design and the entertainment industries, the roles of a "producer" are not commonly understood. Furthermore, the role is also very fluid in the games industry itself.) I also effectively act as the HR department, by that I mean, I solve personnel conflicts, manage all the backend personnel files, emails, and documents. I structure and schedule the meetings, and am responsible for vetting, recruiting and removing members from the team. Currently, each department lead is part of the managerial staff. Lack of a solid coding department is the primary reason our project has stalled so much in the past. (Our last lead coder, who was former project co-founder left without leaving any documentation of his work.) Schedule Seven of the members signed on between December of last year and February 2015, this is because we have had issues regarding retention, motivation, engagement, and team dynamics in the past that made recruitment problematic. Although we have had our ups and downs throughout the years, I'm still very satisfied with the performance and quality work we have been able to produce. Our current Development schedule has us completing our Alpha build by July 1st 2015(Sumer 2016). In the past, we didn't have any kind of schedule, since this was a volunteer project, however as things picked up, we realized, without a schedule, it was easy for people to drag, and not be committed or motivated to producing work. The target deadline was the beginning of summer, because that's when students will get off school, furthermore, June through July is the old anniversary of team formation. (It's now November). Beyond that, that should give everyone enough time to really get a sense of releasing our first faction. Working Remotely Due to the online nature of our cross functional team, direct supervision is not feasible, thus motivation and engagement are constant concerns. Without financial compensation, motivation to work proves to be an interesting issue, because online, you can't threaten people to do things, nor deny access to critical resources. The thing that Skype and other Internet communication systems allow is for collaboration but also solitude. Everyone is essentially working from home, thus they get the comfort of their own desired environment, while also being able to connect and collaborate with people around the world. This makes direct distraction an issue that we don't have to deal with. So far, most of my current fellow team members seem to be good enough sorts. I'm rather satisfied with the level of professionalism to which they conduct themselves. Each of them has their own abilities, and respects those of others. It causes contention within the team if someone believes their skills are more valuable than others. In fact, the person who started the project, who left back in summer of 2012, used to tell me that I was just a writer, thus he tried to discount my contribution. I'm really glad that I've worked past that, and now am part of a team that has people who respect each other's talents appropriately. The main way we measure contribution is by observable effort, this equates to time spent. When you start to put things in time spent terms, people start to think less about their individual contributions, and more about how much time everyone's spending on their work, making things happen. Despite our periodic successes in recruiting, there are still issues that are important to highlight. First Problem: Attrition Upon a recent review of our personnel records, I found through our course of development, we've had a total of 51 (87) people affiliated with this project. Furthermore, 17 (37) of them had signed on, and effectively contributed nothing substantive to the project, they were either manually removed due to inactivity, or just stayed largely silent after they signed on, and just faded away over time. So, a full 30% (23.5%) of individuals felt or were completely disengaged while they were here, the reasons that I got from the few that responded were that they were too busy or they didn't have the skills to do the job, which is strange, because this is a voluntary project, you'd think that a person would be able to assess his or her schedule and priorities accurately, and determine if they had time and ability for such an engagement when they originally signed on. (But that logic doesn't usually hold up due to classic human nature, which is overestimating your capabilities, and underestimating the time and effort something would actually take.) Our current total are 50 members, current and past that have contributed throughout our 5+ years. In the past, we did not have any kind of orientation process, thus I can see how I and the organization didn't give them adequate support. However, on the other hand, it's really a waste of time, all around, when someone says they will be a part of something, or do a task, but then not turn up, or engage in any communication thereafter. Initiative is a very important thing in this type of environment for everyone, because we can't just tap Someone on the shoulder, or knock on their cubicle or office door to get their attention, we have to wait till they get on Skype or email them, waiting for their response. Furthermore, it's understandable that some people prioritize off-line interaction to online interaction, thus we had times in which we haven't heard from someone in more than two weeks, yet they still expect to be part of the project. The main balancing act that we have to do is to accommodate both those doing this as a hobby as well as those who are doing this to try and get into the games industry. If you structure and schedule too much for the hobbyist, he or she will drop out because it's too demanding. While, if you're too lax and sociable with the dedicated individuals, they will drop out because they're not feeling the project is fulfilling or facilitating their future goals. Not balancing and understanding this difference, is one of the key reasons why I think we had such a high turnover rate in the past. I believe the core members, me included have an effective commitment, we should after all, that's what drives engagement and dedication. I hope that the new members do as well, however, I know that we also have a continuance commitment, by that I mean me and the old members, had been with this project for a long time, in the past, I've struggled with our lack of success, yet, did not give up, because I know that I have invested a significant portion of my time effort and life to this project. As for the co-lead, he doesn't have the resources to go to college, thus he tells me he sees this project as his rite of passage, and rivals me in continuance commitment. The thing is, on the Internet, continuance commitment is usually rather fluid, because there are so many people out there doing a variety of different things, it's very easy for new recruits to flake, because it's rather simple for them to find a new project. In fact, I know all too well that there are those who are freelancers, who don't commit too much to a project, and they just are on the sidelines as contributors, given their skill, they are able to participate in multiple projects, and have rather low effective commitment to any specific organization. Orientation My current on boarding process, is engaging new members in an interview for about 30-60 minutes, with my co-lead, in which we explain what the project is about, and give the new person an opportunity to ask questions. After that, I go over in detail are Google Drive, granting them access to what they will need to fulfill their responsibilities. I give everybody one week to go through everything, to determine if this is something that they want to be a part of, getting them familiar with how we organize our files, and the standard of work that we have. I just called the week orientation time, in which they are not expected to produce any work. They can if they feel that they have a good grasp of what is expected of them, but I don't push. I do this, because I want them to not feel overwhelmed, nor do I want them to produce something, and then have it not fit within the themes. Ever since I implemented the orientation in December 2014, we've had 3 potential recruits drop out during this time, because they realized they didn't have the time to contribute. Furthermore, we also had one person get to work right away, but then complain about the lack of uniqueness and limited marketability of our project. As soon as he said that, it became clear to me that he had not taken adequate time to review the existing documentation and files. He decided to leave due to these perceived issues. Just last week, a potential coder, couldn't communicate in verbal or written English to us, we spent about an hour and a half trying to give him an abilities test. We asked him to debug something, and he couldn't do it, I'm not sure whether it was due to the communication barrier, or his actual abilities, but since then, I added English verbal and written fluency to the standard job advertisement. Despite this orientation procedure, we have had three people within the team still display an inability to produce or communicate after their orientation time. I removed them this weekend, after much deliberation with the co-lead and their respective department lead, in this case the audio and art departments. The co-lead had brought his concerns to my attention last week, he felt that these inactive individuals, were potentially demotivating everyone else in the team. He felt that it was unacceptable, that he was putting in his effort, while others were just coasting. He determined that there should be an eight hour a week minimum commitment to the project. Which is beyond generous, because completing just one task in the art or audio departments usually takes an average of 10 hours. This policy proved effective, since two of the people who were concerning us, contacted me, as well as their department lead, thanked us for the opportunity, but said due to their current schedule and responsibilities, would have to prioritize paid work, thus would have to drop out of the project. they left things on good terms, and kept it simple. Despite this, they ended up taking our time away from those who would actually contribute. Both of them were recruited in the beginning of December (which was a light month because of the holidays) so, we effectively invested in these two individuals, and lost two months of productive potential. If we don't solve this engagement issue soon, I'm concerned that this kind of behavior will continue to damage productivity and overall morale. Second Problem: Motivation Another concern is that of team meeting attendance. Currently, we have a weekly staff meeting, which usually lasts one hour. During this time, each department gives an update on their progress, mentioning any questions or concerns they have regarding their current task, or the project as a whole. Last month, I sent emails out pulling people for their schedules, to see when would be the best time for the weekly team meeting. I got very limited responses, and the few that responded, told me that they were available whenever. So, I scheduled it for Sunday at 5 PM Pacific standard Time. The first few meeting turnouts were admirable, but participation has decreased. Most of the time, we don't even get six people, of course, it's important for the department leaders to be there, and I tried to base the schedule around them. I also record the meetings. I'm concerned that because people know I do this, people feel they don't need to turn up, and they can just get briefed later. It's one thing if the meeting doesn't fall appropriately in your time zone, it's another if people just don't make time for it. As the project coordinator, it's my responsibility to make sure people know what's going on, part of that, is that people are aware or at least have the ability to become aware of what the other people in the team are doing, even if they don't directly interact with them on a regular basis. Nevertheless, sometimes, it's better for people to just worry about what their current task is, focusing so they can accomplish it in the most effective manner. If I distract these people with what's going on in another department, it might reduce productivity. On the other hand, sometimes, people need to know the big picture, so they understand how what they are doing relates to others in the team, so we collaborate effectively to accomplish the end goals. Balancing these two are critical to continued participation and engagement. It is possible, that some people aren't showing up, because, they are concerned that they don't have anything to present, because they been busy. The other important note as to why meeting attendance is so critical, is because of our schedule, we effectively have about 18 weeks until our target release, thus we have 18 hours of meeting time, which isn't really that much if you think about it, it should be enough, but at the same time, in this environment, nothing extremely catastrophic will happen if we don't make our target deadline. So, motivating volunteers to produce on such a schedule is proving quite difficult. Another thing, is that in a normal business setting, if you missed a team meeting, you would go ask your supervisor or your coworkers what occurred. In this environment, not everyone takes such initiative, thus I found, that it's really up to the managerial staff a.k.a. me to inform them of what happened. Finding the appropriate way to motivate attendance is the issue, I can't very well move on without them, nor can I keep them in the dark, and hope that they get the interest to ask what happened. The other thing is, absenteeism in these situations, doesn't necessarily equate to low productivity. It's possible that members prioritize getting their work done over checking in. In fact, one person already told me that he might not show up to a meeting because he's been working hard on his current task. I did however, tell people that there are department meetings as well as team meetings, and if you had to prioritize one, go to the department ones. It's become clear to me that department meetings don't actually occur. I had hoped that each Department lead would schedule a department meeting during the week, but at the same time, I'm leaving it up to the Department leads us to how to run their own department, figuring out what specifically works for his members. Currently, they just do individual check ins. Once again, this goes back to the balance between those doing this as a hobby, and those doing it to try to gain experience to get into a related industry. The only way that people are really being paid is in credit, and experience. For two of our former members, I did write them a 3-page letter of recommendation, but each of them was with us for two years. Ultimately, our goal is to go independent, and make this into a company, dangling that in front of people likely doesn't seem to be an appropriate extrinsic motivator either. However, we will notice those who dedicated their time and energy when it was a free project, and look on those intrinsically motivated individuals with more favor when the time comes. When we used to be a smaller team of about 6-8 people, meeting attendance had a higher turn out, we usually got the 4 core people, and if we didn't, we'd just have a meeting when they turned up. But now, with a larger growing team, we can't be so loose with our meetings and schedules. Problem 1 Solutions The challenging thing here is that when applying social learning theory and social facilitation to a online Skype environment, you get mixed results. In the in person office, it's easy to see and hear other people working around you. However, when your online, you don't actually know what people have been doing until or unless they or another person reports it directly. You would think that in a situation in which you don't know if others are working, you would not work, but it seems that because it's ambiguous, and people work on their own time and pace, people still usually effectively produce. Just not when you necessarily expect. This somewhat confounds mere presence effects, since it's difficult to determine if this applies in an online atmosphere, while comparison effects usually still happen. The other thing is, it's fairly difficult to observe interactional justice unless it's public. On the other hand, if a person at any point perceives that they are being disrespected or mistreated, they won't be productive, thus procedural justice would be the most important way to ensure that everybody has the same opportunities. Maintaining detailed records of important decisions and expectations is key, to make sure people feel heard and are aware of team events. Continuing with set standards, and consistently informing them of recent developments, emailing them out at least 2 to 3 times a week might assist in keeping people engaged as well as accountable. A key thing that I made clear to the audio composer when I approached him about being the lead audio 2 months ago, effectively leading three other individuals at the time, is that because sound was a new department, there would be a lot to do that wasn't so clearly defined, I let him know that this was a challenge, but also an opportunity to set a standard. After he settled into the position, I let him know that he had the opportunity of job enrichment, which specifically meant, he would be able to directly write up his plans into the design document itself. Traditionally, only me and the managerial staff had this task, but since he had demonstrated his abilities, he earned the right to be a part of it. I think this really worked in everyone's favor, because now he has become more engaged, reinforcing the level of respect and communication to other members, not just in his department, but throughout the team as well. I found that when motivating people to act online, you really need to meet them at their level. I'd use the Maslow's hierarchy of needs to exemplify this. When people come online, there mainly trying to fulfill their social and ego needs, however, if you are able to potentially provide self-actualization, then that is something that is truly memorable. I believe because of this hierarchy; the normal money motivation is not as desired as one might think. By providing a challenging, time bound, specific, measurable and relevant goal to within each task, it should increase productivity and engagement. Making sure that each task fulfills each of these areas is something that should be imposed on everyone. Currently, tasks are assigned, but lack the time bound factor. For example, this week, we assigned the two coders an assignment to look at the source code for another project, and extract a specific feature that we would like to have. One is responsible for finding it, while the other is responsible for examining our existing files for where it should be placed. We explained why it was to be done but not when it should be done by. Furthermore, specific feedback should be given, currently feedback is given intermittently as to the quality of work. Being specific in feedback should both increase member interaction as well as overall engagement. Leveraging the Pygmalion effect should help things along, giving open and appropriate praise to reflect our expectations of an individual's performance should be more clearly enacted. The thing is that me and my co-lead are both very conservative when it comes to showing our satisfaction. Being a little more liberal with that may strongly encourage people to produce good quality work. Potentially, directly recognizing individuals during team meetings as well as in the general chat. Furthermore, displaying positive affectations during the on boarding process, highlighting praiseworthy actions in a person's past experience or education should also be imposed. For example, the next time we go through an on boarding process, a thorough review of the candidates past experience should always be done, it's currently done inconsistently, but if it is done every time, challenging Accomplishments should be made known to both the candidate, as well as the rest of the team in the group chat. Currently, the individual is just added to the group chat and associated access documents, and introduced to the department members they will be working with. Perhaps, providing a link to their profile, and praising a specific piece would both draw attention to the new individual in a direct positive light, as well as giving everyone a potential place to start the conversation with them. This would set up, and make clear the past standard of work as well as expected quality that we can predict to see. This might later also feed into self-regulation once we give them a task. Problem 2 Solutions I've recently considered including exclusive incentives for turning up to the meetings. Originally, I thought this was a little silly, since I think turning up to weekly staff meetings are part of being an active member in the team, having to explain or motivate attendance seemed a little bit strange. How else would they know what's going on in the project? Well, I do record, maybe I should make or delay the access to that recording. However, denying them that information actually hurts me and the project as a whole more than it hurts the actual members in question. Thus I've provided the recording either directly to them in Skype, or just putting it in Google drive under the meetings and recordings folder. I'm still doing my best to limit scheduling conflicts, it's possible that this is an extraneous variable. Let's assume that this is accounted for, because there's no way for me to force them to turn up. For most, this is still a hobby, and it's probably quite evident that I take this a little bit more seriously than most others. To me, a job is a job whether you're getting paid or not, by that I simply mean I consider this a responsibility. Overall, I strive to retain organizational justice, a simple reward or punishment for not attending would not really be fair, because I really know there are certain individuals that can't attend due to scheduling conflicts, either specific or due to their times zone. Furthermore, it's well documented that punishments are largely ineffective, because they only indicate what not to do, but, not what the desired result is necessarily. Punishing volunteers is not really a good strategy at all, For obvious reasons. Furthermore, a traditional financial or benefits based incentive model, which most companies can work with is not an option for this case, because this is a volunteer project. I generally found, that in the vast majority of online environments, there is no stick, you can only have carrots. So, before I go and introduce an incentivized intervention, to potentially increased motivation attendance and performance it's important to understand that incentive plans in general have six primary considerations: Timing of the incentive Contingency of the consequences Type of incentive used Use of individual-based versus group-based incentives Use of positive incentives (rewards) versus negative incentives (punishment) Fairness of the reward system (equity) (338 Aamodt, 2013) Ironically, I was thinking of granting access to the SME interviews that I conducted for this project, as well as other recordings that I've been able to obtain by attending game development talks throughout this quarter. I would do this on a staggered basis, and only provide them to the people that showed up to each weekly meeting. This would effectively time the reward, and be an exclusive type of positive incentive. Furthermore, this would bring engagement, motivation and potentially productivity up, since it would show people that I'm serious about completing this project. I once heard that information is the new oil, but unlike the finite supply of oil, information is abundant and potentially limitless. It's in control of information and access to people, that you can really exert power. But let it be known that I'm not a big fan of exacting it. It's rather interesting to me actually, because just the other day, my co-lead told me directly that I had power. This is the first time in my entire life that anyone has really directly told me that they think I have power. I find it rather unsettling to be honest, because I really really don't want it, and usually stay away from people who actively seek attaining power. I just do jobs that need to be done, and do my best to support the people along the way. If the above solution isn't effective, or is isn't able to be effectively implemented, perhaps a more extensive personnel record should be maintained. Feedback on specific tasks would be documented and kept so both the individual in question can track their progress as well as documenting for specific team progress throughout the week This might mean creating an additional policy, to try and track member comments, attendance, and activity. Encouraging or mandating people log their progress on a centralized system. The shouldn't be too difficult, since Skype documents all of these already. All that would really need to be done, is to take all of those, and put them in a separate organized document. Effectively time log everybody, and require weekly submissions, possibly twice a week. This way, even if they don't turn up to the meeting, we still have some kind of record of what they accomplished. Currently, if they don't tell us what they've done directly, were effectively in the dark until the next time they're active. Furthermore, current personnel records just keep track of their off-line and online name, skills, time zone, email, primary and secondary task, and activity status. Conclusion I expect implementation to be relatively seamless, since I'm the one who would be responsible for proposing and in acting these solutions. Implementation would likely take anywhere from a couple of days to a week for most of these. Follow-up and results would potentially occur within about a one-month time period. I'll bring this to the 2 to 3 individuals that are also part of the management team to see how we can specifically incorporate these suggestions, or at minimum, engage in a discussion about these and any other perceived issues within the team. This makes me think that there needs to be an additional Department leads meeting, that is specifically about discussing any personnel or any other kind of issues that may have arose in a given month. Or, have a single meeting that is one of the weeklies, that is something like a month in review. Currently, all this is done informally, which actually works, because it's on an as needed basis. (It's stayed that way ever since, due to everyone's busy schedules and time zone differences) If it isn't clear from my efforts, I really enjoyed this project, because it's allowed me to directly meld my academic direction to my hobby and passion, in an official way, and for that I'm extremely satisfied. Interview Highlights Louis Castle Executive, creative Artistic and Technical Director at Castle Production Services, Co-Founder Westwood Studios "there are very few new problems, new takes on the same old problems. I don't find many people that are resource constrained exactly, it's usually about what your trying to accomplish with what you have, and the time you have... Everything ends up being resource constrained not because there isn't money, there isn't a team, or there isn't talent, but because there doesn't feel like there is enough time, time and money to do all the things you want to do. 'Laughs' so, I think if you wanted to look for a common theme, it might be the use of my time is to be an editor, to try to focus on the things that are going to make the most difference and discard the ones that aren't... The best decisions about a product you can make is what it isn't, deciding, 'this is not necessary for our core game loop or this is not necessary or right for our audience. there might be a better way to do this, a cheaper way to do this, or maybe we shouldn't be doing this particular thing at all. That then gets you a little more capacity to focus on the strengths." "To be a really valuable creative leader, or technical leader, I think it's really important to have gone through the jobs you are directing... if you want to get to the point of directing things, you need to actually be doing those jobs, to become as good as you possibly can." "It's already happening, but I want to see more and more people see games as just another form of entertainment,... they say have you seen it and read it... I'd like us to get to a point where playing it is just a natural question, did you really experience it?" "In general, a great producer knows how to speak to those different disciplines and knows how to properly support and nurture the efforts of lots of talented people to get the best work out of everybody... you're doing whatever needs to be done to unlock capacity for your team and talent, and that sounds vague and difficult to describe, and that's why it's a hard job to do... the job of a producer changes every single day, the thing that they do that isn't part of their job, but is just necessary is the simple kind of asset relocation and task management, task prioritizing, things like that, those are all challenging if you're the single point of business accountability, if you don't have a business manager... everyone's barking for the time and money and you have to decide what works and what doesn't work and make that arbitration, when your good at the job everyone on the team feels like they're doing their best every day. And it feels magical, and they say, wow I worked at that company and there was never any problems, it's like 'oh no, there were plenty of problems, no, you got a good producer, a good producer doesn't expose any of that to the team, they protect their team and talent from worrying about all of the perils of the job, and just focusing on getting their best work." Intervew Recording (~60 minutes) Base questions were same as part 1, but I went with the flow more here. References Aamodt, M. G. (2013). Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach7e. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-project-coordinator.htm http://www.moddb.com/mods/tiberium-secrets
  8. I'll see what I can do with the preface, and overall to make it more accessible. However, as you  and I know, average joes' don't succeed in game dev,  let alone become decent producers...sure my style is a bit more intellectual and deep then most people would have the patience for, but I see it as a filtering tool to weed out those who don't has what it takes. I don't believe in dumbing  things down for the masses, I believe in pushing their boundaries to rise to the occasion.     In what regards is this all nietzschean?
  9. Hmm, Well, it's a job analysis: http://www.job-analysis.net/G000.htm   As in any kind of academic project, the format was generally predetermined in the sense of what was needed to be covered. If you really want, I could attach the prompt, but that might be too much.   1. My goal was to do a systematic cross comparison my project roles & responsibilities to expected roles and responsibilities in Industry producer roles, and thus see how transferable my experience is.   2. It's not meant to be an exhaustive list, as you and the interviewee said, it's not possible to present it all.  I'm indeed trying to summarize the role overall/ on average, as you'd say, this isn't a role that can have a short description.   3. This part is more of a prospecting form, in terms of compiling a lot of information on the subject together in one place.   4. As for the Interviewee, He used to be an Executive producer at Westwood & Electronic Arts, I only mentioned his current role, and the role he had when I Interviewed him. (With the assumption, that if people want to learn more about him, hey will dig themselves.)   5. The purpose is to provide this raw information to the game dev community, learning from my experience, and the experience of others. If you’re looking for a provocative assertion, or an action plan as to how to use this information to help a person’s own goals, that's the responsibility of the reader. (I did my job by just compiling the resources)     6. Well, this project was already finished, I already put some polish on it for this release, unless there are specific areas of concern that can be addressed, that it will need to remain as is. Normally this project is a group project, but others in my group were skeptical if I could get access to the interviewees. Point being, unless you have specific concerns or advice, I'm not sure what you think should be done to fix the perceived issues.
  10. Preface Greetings, This article is the public posting of the 1st part of a project I conducted while I was at University of California Irvine, under an Industrial organizational psychology course, originally written 1/27/2015. Here is the 2nd half of the project, Part 2, which goes over problems and procedures in my own team. This project was done under academic purposes, and I now release this report & associated subject matter expert (SME) interviews to help fellow gamedev managers, producers, and others in the field, no matter discipline or experience in game development. The Subject matter expert interview with Mark Skaggs for this part, was done on 1/30/2015, and can be found under the "interview recording" header. Sections and minor editorial polish have been clarified and added for this release. Furthermore, keep in mind, this was originally written for a non-game development audience, so I may simplify some things, and make some generalizations that may not be entirely accurate. The target audience was business minded undergraduate psychology students & faculty, introducing them to the management of game development. Despite the introductory nature of this article, I'd consider the information presented at an advanced level, meaning most managers or producers doing this as a hobby don't do such analysis of what they do, and if properly implemented and understood, can lead to management and production execution on quite high levels. In the field of HR, and I/O psychology, there is a practice called "Job Analysis", this is a way that businesses determine how and what will be done in a given job, adding formal structures where there were none. This is often the 1st step in determining the function of a position, and its place in the overall organization. The end result typically seen, is a job description by the public, and internally a compensation range is determined for said open position. Of course, modders and Indies usually don't have the time or resources to do this, and usually don't reach the execution standards due to limited manpower. The following is my effort in quantifying what I do/ have done in business & academic terms. My experience is not representative of most or typical from my knowledge, and is a sample of how things can be done, not an instruction manual on what should be done. This work is meant to open a dialogue on further bringing HR practices into the field of game development, and not a manual on how to be a producer, despite how it may seem. Although it may look like a checklist, my purpose is not indicating that if you can do & know all the things listed, you'll be a great producer, in fact, it is unlikely a single person can master all the skills, knowledge, abilities, and others (KSAOs) listed, it's better to find your personal balance and specialize, creating your own style. The following article is research on commonalities, trends and 1st hand experiences, while the 2nd half of this project, a problems analysis, goes over some specific issues I've directly faced in my own project. Introduction I've been acting as a project coordinator PR manager and Lead writer for a modding game development team since Summer 2011, and I think it's about time to systematically examine how what I do as a hobby compares to those who are performing the service in the games industry. In the games industry, producers are responsible for the overall management of the final product, they're role is to ensure timely effective development cycles, and take on the logistical backend of team, personnel and product management. Roles and responsibilities vary, from company to company, due to the scale and scope of the projects and its respective teams. Despite this, there are key consistencies that I will shed light on, both from my personal experience, as well as from the perspectives of my interviewees. In the game development sphere, there are effectively three general tiers individuals can fall into: As an individual responsible for a Skype mediated team, who has grown from 5-15+ people over time, I'd say we are on the cusp between modding and indie. Our project a 3D Real Time Strategy) RTS, is also one of the more complex game types, which requires significantly high investments in skill, time, and planning. An RTS is essentially a problem solving machine, in which you're not just creating problems to be solved, but crating interactions that are meant to lead the player to be able to create problems other players and developers didn't necessarily anticipate, nor plan for. The reason why I consider project coordinator my preferred title, instead of project lead/ project manager, is because I strive to practice servant leadership techniques. Furthermore, I see my role more as a facilitator than a leader. This is also due to the fact, that back before summer of 2012 I reported to a project lead, who has since become unavailable. Although I personally don't have an official job description, a lot of it is associated with my job titles. for in the past, I used to struggle with defining what I did, which included organizing files, writing design documentation, writing story/lore, and engaging in community communications. I used to just call myself a writer & PR manager, but as time went on, I realized just how important accurate job titles could be. In fact, the former project lead used to say I was just a writer, not fully understanding or acknowledging the potential influence I wielded. There was a time I believed him, but once I realized my place and potential, I made sure to actively understand my value. Task Analysis The following are tasks I perform on a regular as well as an as needed basis. I have ranked them after going through the interviews I've performed and related to expected tasks in the Industry Project Coordination: F2I2 -send emails to team members on important events with the project email F2I2-Reply to team members on important events with the project email F3I2-Schedule General Staff meetings through calendars, written and verbal forms F2I2-Lead General Staff meetings with informal or formal agendas F3I2-Keep time for General Staff meetings with a watch or other timing method F3I2-Document/ record weekly meetings with audio recorder on computer F2I1-Audio record weekly summaries with recorder on computer F2I1-Upload weekly summaries every Saturday to appropriate Google drive folder F3I2-Assign tasks to department leaders on skype in a written or verbal form F3I2-Engage with department leaders on skype discussions in written or verbal form F2I1-Engage with department members on skype in written or verbal form F2I2-Check in with department leaders at least once a week on skype in written or verbal form F1I2-Answer any internal questions on who to report to F1I2-Answer any questions as to the direction of the project F1I2-Answer any questions as to how to navigate and find specific files in Google drive F2I2-Direct team members to appropriate resource or individual to answer questions I don't know F1I2-Handle any personnel conflicts that I am made aware of F2I2-Maintain organization of the Google drive F1I2-Manage permissions of members of the Google drive F2I2-Add members to the team on skype F2I2-Add members to the team on Google drive F1I2-Add members to the team on our website F1I2-Remove members from the team on skype F1I2-Remove members from the team on Google drive F1I1-Remove members from the team on our website F2I1Add members to Trello F2I2 Remove members from Trello F3I2-Ensure all new members have at least 1 week of orientation time, going through standard orientation F3I2-Remind all members of the big picture and goals when needed F3I2-Maintain Personnel Records in appropriate documents on Google drive (name, email, time zone, tasks, activity level, profile/ portfolio/ sie) F2I2-Ensure design documentation has been reviewed by members Public Relations: 2I2-Maintain the website format with a computer F2I2-Manage the forum format and threads with a computer F3I2-Respond to any community messages addressed to the team on our website F1I2-Post news articles on our website F1I2-write news articles on our website F1I2-format news articles on our website F1I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant individuals F2I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant sites F2I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant sources F1I2-Time all official updates appropriately on our website Human Resources: (was under PR in original version) F3I2-Post recruitment ads on relevant websites F2I2-write recruitment ads F2I2-format recruitment ads F2I2-Ensure standardization of recruitment ads F2I2-Reply to recruitment inquiries F3I2-Seek out potential recruits on any medium Writing: F1I1 Schedule full department meetings as needed. F1I2-Check in with the other writers in written or verbal form F1I2- assign writing department tasks in written or verbal form F2I2-Manage the design documentation F1I2-Write the design documentation F3I2-Ensure the Design documentation is up to date F3I2-Discuss story on skype in verbal form F3I2-Maintain consistency across all written documentation F2I1-Write story F1I1-Write lore F2I2-Make revisions to written documentation F3I2-Accurately credit proper inspirational sources for all work Interview Highlights: (I've interviewed a producer at Obsidian & a former Intern producer at Blizzard, but the following is the most veteran subject matter expert (SME) Interview) Mark Skags Director and Board member at Moonfrog Labs, Former SVP of Games at Zynga. "I'm a believer that the product is a reflection of the team, and when you look at the products like Farmville, or Cityville which came after it, you got a real special team working on those things, guys who are dedicated, guys who know their craft, guys who want to win... now on Empires and Allies, same kind of thing... all very dedicated, dedicated to winning the long game, right, not just doing an assignment, and getting it done, but winning in the market, winning with the players, and making an awesome experience" "Technology is just a delivery plate for your game to the player, my job 1st off is to how to use that technology, the 1st game I ever made was on a 3DO machine... then it was Play station 1, and then it was PC, and then it was web, and now it is mobile. So having that perspective, and seeing all of those changes, I kind of became agnostic to 'wow this platform is bad because it can't do what the last one did'... instead... with mobile, we say, how are people using this technology? What game do I give them to fit their lifestyle, technology and usage... you got to craft your experience to how players are using that technology" "Technology effects the people that are on the team... keeping it simple was the most important thing... on mobile, it's almost like you need console experience, download size and memory size.... but now in a much smaller form factor. And that just determines who's on your team, who you hire, you have to learn the skill sets of how to get the app to players." "I'm on the producer side, sometimes it's creative producer, sometimes it's project manager producer, my goal is to make sure everyone on the team has clarity on where I want us to go with the project, that's step 1, 'can't you just establish that once and your done?' actually what happens is you establish the high level vision, and always continue to refine the details, and once you have a certain set of details and features done, like for soft launch, then you're ready to take on the next set of things, 'how are we going to prepare for worldwide launch' what features need to be in there, what bugs do we have to fix what have we learned from soft launch that we can apply in worldwide launch.' Getting everybody clarity on those things, then helping solve problems... it's like games don't want to be made, right, you line em all up, you get em all planned, and something goes wrong, 'man, if this stuff would just stay on track, we'd be golden'. We solve problems, whether it's people problems, tech problems, or maybe something as simple as, 'Apple submission is taking 3 days longer than planned, how does that work out with the rest of the plan, a third part of my role is connecting with different parts of the organization, that will help us do their part, whether it's QA, finance or marketing, it's 2 steps, making sure they understand the vision of where we're going, so they can do their job, and how the services we use from their groups, how that's all coordinated and fits into the plan." "It's an efficiency equation, once you know the people you're working with, then short emails can work, but when your establishing that relationship, of who they are, what their goals are, it's always best if you can do that face to face. And then you wing it, wing it from there. But if there's a problem, obviously go face to face, is the better answer always." "We have key performance indicators, what we call KPIs, how long will people play it, how many times a week they'll play it, how much money they're going to spend, that's company and product level, on the teams... we have 'what's the crash count we're going to have at launch, as low as possible... 'what's acceptable, what's not acceptable?' " "The #1 determiner of success is 'Grit'... it's the ability to go set your plans, set your goals, understand it's going to be harder than you expect, keep at it, punch through the resistance or friction or whatever else is getting in your way. And the ability to bounce back when you get hit with something that's not fun, and keep going... the flip side of that coin is to also have the perspective to listen to other people who can tell you 'hey, you got a blind spot here, you're going to keep banging your head against that wall, why don't you step up and go around it... I'm going to call this drive- the internal desire to make stuff happen, make good things happen, make a mark... show some things that others don't expect is possible, and the reason I say that is because as a producer, it's one of the hardest to define jobs in the game industry, because, it basically means do everything necessary to get this project done. One day you might be talking to legal about an outsourcing agreement, the next day you might be looking at how we pull all this art and coordinate art getting into the game, inside of the memory footprint/ download footprint you have and the next day could be working on a schedule with the engineering manager to try and coordinate the engineering work with the design work, so you got to have this drive to make things happen, not just manage the stuff... the idea of the producer, is not just the manager, making sure all the ducks are in a row but as a leader who can say 'here's where we want to go, you got a great designer, let's go with this, here's how we're going to make this happen and kind of busting through that friction" "Probably the one thing that makes a great producer, is understanding the psychological factors, understanding things at a human level, because your job is to often go to someone and say 'hey by the way, how are you coming along with that, we really need it tomorrow. And the way you approach him, and talk to him, respect them, respect their craft, respect their expertise, great producers know that, they work and develop that skill." Interview Recording- 30 minutes Interview Questions Rev 3: 2/16/2015 Rev 2:1/30/2015 Rev 1: 1/27/2015 Standard questions adjust for duration (may or may not need to be said) audio recording checks can decline to answer any question at any time date and time stamp Intro' Name Education level/ field of study other occupations? past, present, future? time in position & related positions in the Industry? Can you please describe your current responsibilities? How does it contrast to your roles & responsibilities in other companies? What kind of typical challenges arise on a regular basis? Any specific projects/ titles/ teams you're particularly proud of? complements? (overall or specific) critiques? (anything could have been done better? Retrospect? highlights? (moments or situations that were particularly memorable) Goals? / expectations? for yourself for others / your organization How have you done business differently due to technological limitations in the past? How it has changed your job throughout your time. view on the online social aspects, ( face book, Forums, twitter, skype, etc.) & its potential? What qualities would you say are key for someone to have to get to where you are now? Is there any adversity that you had to overcome and has it helped you better fulfill your roles? What do you hope to see evolve in your Industry in the next 10 years? Closing thoughts? Thanks for your time and Insights Onet Search Results: http://www.onetonline.org/ When looking up video games design producer on the site, they lump all game designer roles into one category, yet neglect to specifically mention the producer, yet the details are still relevant. "Summary Report for: 15-1199.11 - Video Game Designers Full profile: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1199.11 Design core features of video games. Specify innovative game and role-play mechanics, story lines, and character biographies. Create and maintain design documentation. Guide and collaborate with production staff to produce games as designed. Sample of reported job titles: Design Director, Designer/Writer, Game Designer, Game Designer/Creative Director, Lead Designer, Lead Game Designer, Lead Level Designer, Mid-Level Game Designer, Senior Game Designer, World Designer" Below are selected relevant details from this profile that may be included in a producers' job: Tasks excerpt: Create and manage documentation, production schedules, prototyping goals, and communication plans in collaboration with production staff. Conduct regular design reviews throughout the game development process. Provide feedback to designers and other colleagues regarding game design features. Guide design discussions between development teams. Develop and maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines, and mission outlines. Present new game design concepts to management and technical colleagues, including artists, animators, and programmers. Solicit, obtain, and integrate feedback from design and technical staff into original game design." Knowledge excerpt: Communications and Media -- Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media. Psychology -- Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders." Design -- Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principals involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models. English Language -- Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. Skills Excerpt: Active Listening -- Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Critical Thinking -- Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Judgment and Decision Making -- Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. Time Management -- Managing one's own time and the time of others. o Coordination -- Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions. Complex Problem Solving -- Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. Reading Comprehension -- Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. Active Learning -- Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. Abilities Excerpt: Originality -- The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem. Fluency of Ideas -- The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity). Near Vision -- The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer). Oral Comprehension -- The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. Oral Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. Problem Sensitivity -- The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. Deductive Reasoning -- The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. Inductive Reasoning -- The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events). Information Ordering -- The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations). Selective Attention -- The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted. Visualization -- The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged. Category Flexibility -- The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways. Finger Dexterity -- The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects. Visual Color Discrimination -- The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness. A games producer's job is to facilitate the coordination of these aforementioned individuals and details on the overall production side. The description on that is closer to their role is just categorized under producer. (they can be thought of as talent managers similar to those in other industries, yet they are so much more.) "Summary Report for: 27-2012.01 - Producers Full profile: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-2012.01 Plan and coordinate various aspects of radio, television, stage, or motion picture production, such as selecting script, coordinating writing, directing and editing, and arranging financing. Sample of reported job titles: Producer, News Producer, Television News Producer, Promotions Producer, Television Producer (TV Producer), Animation Producer, Executive Producer, Newscast Producer, Radio Producer, Associate Producer" The following are additional details that have not been mentioned in the last profile: Tasks excerpt: Resolve personnel problems that arise during the production process by acting as liaisons between dissenting parties when necessary. Coordinate the activities of writers, directors, managers, and other personnel throughout the production process. Conduct meetings with staff to discuss production progress and to ensure production objectives are attained. Research production topics using the internet, video archives, and other informational sources. Review film, recordings, or rehearsals to ensure conformance to production and broadcast standards. Monitor postproduction processes to ensure accurate completion of details. Perform administrative duties, such as preparing operational reports, distributing rehearsal call sheets and script copies, and arranging for rehearsal quarters. Knowledge excerpt: Administration and Management -- Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership techniques, production methods, and coordination of people and resources. Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. Customer and Personal Service -- Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction. Law and Government -- Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process. Clerical -- Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology." Skills excerpt: "Monitoring -- Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. Writing -- Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience." Abilities excerpt: Speech Recognition -- The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. Written Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand. Speech Clarity -- The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you. Work Activities Excerpt: Communicating with Persons Outside Organization -- Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail. Other: The following are additional qualities that my interview subjects highlighted as important to the position of producer: Initiative Learning from mistakes Being humble Patience Seeing another's perspective Fostering trust Handle diverse people in age, backgrounds and abilities Sample Job Description: Associate Producer / Coordinator at Blizzard Entertainment This cinematic associate producer (AP) staff position role will support & report directly to the senior production manager and will be assigned to a variety of production-related tasks within cinematics. In this position, the AP will help facilitate communication and information sharing across the studio. This role may later become department-specific or project-specific. Responsibilities Supports the senior production manager with all production-related tasks as needed. May help support the project producer, CG supervisor, and / or production department manager (PDM) with production priorities, delivery targets, and task deadlines necessary to keep the project/s on track. Maintains thorough knowledge of all shots in progress and communicates updates from the production management team to the leads and PDMs. Tracks the publishing of assets through the cinematic pipeline and works with the PDMs to understand the status of assets within their departments. Oversees and as needed, prepares submissions for dailies and reviews. Organizes and schedules meetings related to the project/s, including arranging OT meals if necessary. Takes detailed notes during meetings and dailies and ensures timely delivery of notes via Shotgun or email to the crew and show management. Acts as a conduit for day-to-day information between project management and crew as needed or directed. Inputs shot and asset information into Shotgun as needed, including element breakdowns, asset / shot descriptions and status / delivery updates. Helps maintain confluence / wiki pages for the project/s. Helps maintain schedules, seating, and other production-related documentation. Takes and distributes notes from review sessions and production meetings. Requirements A minimum of 3 years' experience in an animation studio, or equivalent production environment in a production role Extensive CG / Animation pipeline knowledge Excellent oral and written communication skills Experience with production tracking / database software and industry best practice standards Understands production schedules, timelines, and bids Able to effectively communicate with artistic and technical personnel, as well as, show management and upper management Self-motivated and able to take the initiative as the need arises Approachable, relaxed, and friendly demeanor Able to interact and contribute as part of a team Builds strong team relationships with senior management, PDMs, supervisors, directors, and project producers Excellent problem solving skills Able to plan ahead, think outside the box, identify issues / roadblocks, and develop plans to prevent or minimize their impact on production Well-versed in MS Office Suite Working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop Pluses Working knowledge of Visio Working knowledge of Shotgun Love of movies, especially animation Love of Blizzard games Critical Incidents: As a producer of a team you may deal with the following situations: (I've had to deal with 1 & 2 in my respective contexts) Situation 1 A New highly skilled programmer of a department is causing a disruption within the team by strongly favoring and championing the use of a specific engine or technology that he/she is extremely proficient in. However, everyone else in the department is focused on using the existing technology and platform to continue the project. This individual is very skilled, and potentially more skilled then some of the veterans in the department, however he/she is new to the project, and new to the company. This person is distracting the rest of the department, and delaying the schedule by redirecting the focus of key members of the team. Furthermore, those he/she are distracting, know little of using this new technology, thus are very impressed with what is able to be accomplished, if the switch is made. How do you deal with said situation? Excellent: 1st Engage in a dialogue with the influenced members and hear what they have to say about the new individual and new technology, separate from the individual in question. Next, reassure and remind them of the end goal of the project, describe the pros and cons of how if they changed engines what potential delays could ensue, as well as who among the team would need to be retrained or reassigned to different projects to accommodate the shift. Engage with the individual, and discuss his influence. Be firm in your manner, and treat him/ her with respect. However, explain how morale, the department and by enlarge the project is threatened by his/her actions. Strive to communicate this effectively and encourage him/her to join the others in the department by getting familiar with the current engine, and being part of the team. If this is unsuccessful, finally put in a request to reassign the individual to a new project, where his/her skills will be exercised fully. Average: Engage the effected members and the individual as a group, allowing them to voice their concerns in the same space. Then, talk to other members of the department who are less impressed, and seek their advice on how you should handle the situation. Finally get your supervisor involved and ask him/her how you should handle the situation, hoping he or she will solve the issue for you. Poor: Act oblivious to the effects the new individual is having on the rest of the department, and allow them to sort it out themselves, hoping the problems will just go away over time. Situation 2 A former core programmer of a project your responsible for, who left/ got reassigned on bad terms approaches you to ask you to be allowed to return. When He/she left the project, he/she didn't leave proper documentation of any of his past work, and did not act in a professional manner toward his/ her then fellow team members. However, due to the gap, you can clearly see how he/she would be an invaluable resource to getting the project back on track, and moving at its former pace. Unfortunately, you and a select few remember and were involved with the project back then, most of the programmers who are involved currently are unable to fill his/her shoes, and are really struggling to understand the source code. How do you handle this situation? Excellent: You express your concerns in an individual setting, and treat him/her with discretion. You sit down and explain the state he/she had left the project in, and strive to understand what happened back then, to make sure the behavior doesn't repeat if he/she is let back on. You treat him/her professionally, and like any applicant that would have applied to the position. If he/she passes your process, then confer with any past members that were there during his/her term. Allow for a supportive dialogue, and ask the individual why he/she is wanting to return. Discuss any potential conflicts you foresee, and above all seek to discuss how the individual's strengths and weaknesses can be addressed. Average: You give him/her preferential treatment, and try to butter him/her up, to increase the chance that he/she will work on the project again to the former level of commitment. You accept him back onto the project, and consider requesting him/her become programming lead, since he/she is the most knowledgeable programmer at your disposal. Poor: You deny his/her request outright, and treat him/her with the disrespect and frustration you've been having since he/she left. Blaming him/her for incalculable delays and any other negative results that have ensued due to his/her former actions. Situation 3 During a development team meeting on Friday you are made aware of a question that you don't know the answer to. Nor does anyone in the room seem to know. This question, and its answer, is critical to the next step in development, the meeting turns into a brainstorming session on how to potentially address this issue. Unfortunately, the network goes down so you can't just look it up, and even if it was up, the technicality of the details is too specific to the project to be found online. It's after hours so most of the other departments in the company you call, are unavailable. The brainstorming stalls, and devolves into socialization of what weekend plans everyone has. How would you regain control of the meeting, and limit the chance this doesn't turn into a 3-day delay of the production cycle? Excellent: You stay until a work around is found, using the process of synergy. You engage the relevant department leaders with critical questions, and start them engaging their fellow department members in dialogue. You allow intermittent socialization, which keeps the conversation stimulating, knowing the more they know each other, the better they are able to identify a workable solution. You hybridize the conversation, and actively listen to everyone. You have a focused yet free flowing discussion, taking their minds off how long it's taking, focusing om related issues, and the big picture. The solution may present itself in unexpected ways, allow for tangents, but make sure you re-center the discussion periodically. Summarize and benchmark progress, and use an impact wheel to determine just how far the problem can perpetuate, if left unchecked, noting critical intersections. Average: If after a set amount of time passed, notify everyone we have to move on to the next item on the agenda, so we could all get out on a reasonable time. I'd respectfully request who would be up to reconvening tomorrow morning to take a stab at the issue. And I'd volunteer to be here at that time, getting all the logistics ready, including food arrangements. Poor: Pulling out the agenda, you go down the list, calling on individuals to speak in front of everyone, in turn, to see if they had any thoughts on the situation. If we got no workable ideas after that process, then I'd dismiss the meeting, and have everyone consider the issue over the weekend. Since a three-day delay isn't a big deal, I'll just handle the issue 1st thing on Monday. Structured Interview questions Well, I've not been through a structured interview for my position, however, upon reviewing structured interview questions I've managed to find a few, and came up with some others: (Some of the following are taken from the specified links from Gamasutra) "What games are you playing?" (clarifier) " What do you do on your own time to extend your skills?" (Clarifier) " Why would you want to work here?" (organizational fit) " What will you bring to the team? Why do we need you?" (organizational fit) " Tell me about an accomplishment/ achievement your particularly proud of?" (Past focused behavioral) " How do you feel about crunching?" (Organizational fit) How as gaming the same as game design? (Disqualifier) " Highlight key features a GDD vs. TDD, " (skill level determiner) Tell me about a time in which you've successfully handled a personnel conflict effectively (Past focused behavioral) Describe Agile, Scrum and waterfall development practices, which one you prefer and why? (Skill level determiner) Future focused/ situational: The project your working on is nearing soft release, and the schedule seems to be on track. However, upon reviewing past performance benchmarks for the purposes of maximizing efficiency you notice significant irregularities in the performance speed of the art department. It seems that the pattern of performance speed increased over time, (meaning it's taking longer to complete), despite the variety of tasks assigned being of similar size and scope. You rerun the schedule calculations with this new data, and you're significantly dismayed at the expected delay in release. What could be the cause of this? Excellent: Sometimes, people under report the duration it takes for them to complete a task, wanting to look more effective to their coworkers, managers and producers. Due to this, as a product reaches release, the underreported times end up backfiring, resulting in increased overtime to try and make it up, or delaying deadlines. In order to try and alleviate this, review your task tracking methods/ procedures with your staff, ethicize how important it is for accurate reporting. And consider hiring some contractors/ freelancers to increase the likelihood that you can still make it on schedule. Poor: People are more energetic towards the beginning of a project, and work faster as a result, and their just getting tired as the project continues. work to increase team morale, and take some time to carefully discuss the issue with eacj member of the art department privately, seeking to find ways to get them working faster. Key issues Approach: _problem solve the issue from a personnel perspective _problem solve the issue from a production perspective _Identify/ acknowledge the issue of overtime Future focused question: -What would you do if you were made aware of an individual who didn't follow your task assignments, and instead made tasks for him/herself to do, based on the specific needs he/she saw? Excellent: Talk directly with the individual on an one on basis. I'd highlight although I do respect his/her initiative, it does make my job more difficult, because then I'm doing a catch up. Furthermore, I wouldn't be aware of all the completed or in progress tasks, making my tracking of progress all the more difficult. Furthermore, this would make progress reports skewed, since I'd have to account for a potentially unknown variable. Poor: Let the individual continue doing so uncheck. Key issues approach: _talk to the department lead _talked to individual directly _Acknowledge the skills of the individual _Focus on how the individual may not see the big picture _Highlight the place of teamwork vs. autonomy _Emphasize how task tracking would be difficult if not centralized References: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/KainShin/20090531/84130/WTF_Do_Producers_Do_All_Day.php http://laidinpeace.blogspot.com/p/game-job-interview-questions-and-how-to.html http://www.moddb.com/mods/tiberium-secrets http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1199.11 http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-2012.01 http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/7767/Video-Game-Producer.html http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/09/29/so-you-want-my-job-video-game-producer/ http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/HarvardBonin/20140412/215368/The_Future_of_Being_a_Video_Game_Producer.php http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ErnstTenBosch/20130912/200168/What_Makes_a_Good_Game_Producer_Part_1.php http://www.gamerecruiter.com/writings/westwood/a07.htm http://4hrm.info/game-producer-interview-questions/ http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-project-coordinator.htm Aamodt. (2013). Industrial Organizational Psychology An Applied Approach (7 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Chengage Learning
  11. GeneralJist

    Developing Your Game Concept By Making A Design Document

    I've gotten to 3 so far, The following is a complement, despite how it may sound: In all my years of forums, research, schooling, game development, writing, etc. I have never looked at a document, and seriously thought TLDR, before I posted until now. (I do intend to go back)   That might be hard to believe, if you don't know me, and even if you do, I have to say, I was a little put off by the attitude portrayed in the Classified AD, that linked me here. But never the less, from what I've read so far, sounds like there's quite a lot of experience behind this.   I can't help but think this is somehow a pitch to inspire someone help make a game with you, and I have a small gripe with the definition of "Designer" employed here.   This kind of format and advice will work, if and only if, the people who wrote and collaborated on the original GDD are the ones making the game. (or there is a solid promise of payment down the road)   By that, I mean, the most critical issue I've seen in GDDs is it's too detailed. If the fellow team members or new recruits had no say in what ultimately goes into the GDD, why should they care for fancy theoretical math that details how a mechanic is meant to be theoretically implemented?   It's too much, now, if you leave some of these things open, they will be able to get invested in your vision. In reading a GDD, the reader should be taken on a journey, in which they see the overall plan of the entire project, if you want specific values and how those will be implemented, then save it for the TDD.   In reading a GDD, I should have an appreciation of what has been done and discussed before, and where we are going. Not Mired in a present of what specific feature's values are in incredible detail. Details will always change, the vision should be consistent.   As the person in charge of writing & updating our GDD since Summer of 2011, It's been a constant process of how best to structure and present it. What goes in, what is best saved for a separate checklist? Why is this section here not there?  How do I write it so it appeals to all types of creative types, and not one over the other? What size font should each heading be, and the general text, so it looks and flows well? Is this feature impactful enough, and deserve to be in this document? And on and on..... Should we have highlights for showing who came up with which concepts? (I did our 1st draft back in Dec 2012, by memory, in an airport. And by Rev 9, I had credited everyone by memory as well. Each version back then was signed off by the core, and it was very long, and not as clean as the one we have now. The reason was because we tried to put too much into it.)     Your GDD will be the most concrete and most important thing about your game, more than the game itself, at times, since that is the guiding file that governs all else. It is your bible, it is your history, it is your future.   The content of it should not be changed, by any one person alone, even if that person is project lead. (who somehow became me after all this time) As you get a core team, it will be signed off by all of them, since they are the ones making it happen.   It will only be finished once you ship the last version all intend to do, and it will bind and liberate everyone.   Make it clear where it needs to be, vague where it should, and inspiring at every turn.   I made a conscious choice to not include any images in ours, despite some asking for it. The reason being that you can never neat a person's imagination of what can be, the gap between what can be, and what is, is where inspiration, creativity, and passion live.   Foster that in your GDD, and it will work, but leave no room for that, then you at best get parroting and copies of what you already have.   A GDD should say, we can do better, and here is what it could be like.   Sigh, right then,
  12. GeneralJist

    Developing Your Game Concept By Making A Design Document

    I've gotten to 3 so far, The following is a complement, despite how it may sound: In all my years of forums, research, schooling, game development, writing, etc. I have never looked at a document, and seriously thought TLDR, before I posted  until now. (I do intend to go back)   That might be hard to believe, if you don't know me, and even if you do, I have to say, I was a little put off by the attitude portrayed in the Classified AD, that linked me here. But never the less, from what I've read so far, sounds like there's quite a lot of experience behind this.   I can't help but think this is some how a pitch to inspire some one help make a game with you, and I have a small gripe with the definition of "Designer" employed here.   This kind of format and advice will work, if and only if, the people who wrote and collaborated on the original GDD are the ones making the game. (or there is a solid promise of payment down the road)   By that, I mean, the most critical issue I've seen in GDDs is it's too detailed. If the fellow  team members or new recruits had no say in what utimatelly went into the GDD, why should they care for fancy theoretical math that details how  a mechanic is meant to be theoretically implemented?   It's too much, now, if you leave some of these things open, they will be able to get invested in your vision. In reading a GDD, the reader should be taken on  a journey, in whihc they see the overall plan of the entire project, if you want specific values and how those will be implemented, than save it for the TDD.   In reading a GDD, i should have an appreciated of what has been done and discussed before, and where we are going. Not Mired in the in a present of what  specific feature's values are in incredible detail.   As the person in charge of writing & updating our GDD since Summer of 2011, It's been a constant process of how best to structure and present it. What goes in, what is best saved fpr a separate checklist? Why is this section here not there?  How do I write it so it appeals to all types of creative types, and not one over the other? What size font should each heading be, and the general text, so it looks and flows well?   And on and on.....   Shouold we have highlights for showing who came up with which concepts? (I did our 1st draft  back in Dec 2012, by memory, in an airport. And by Rev 9, I had credited everyone by memory as well. Each version back then was signed of by the core, at it was very long, and not as clean as the one we have now. The reason was because we tried to put too much into it.)     Your GDD will be the most concrete and most important  thing about your game, more then the game itself, at times, since that is the guiding file that governs all else. It is your bible, it is your history, it is your future.   The content of it should not be changed, by any one person alone, even if that person is project lead.As you get a core team, it will be signed off by all of them, since they are the ones making it happen.   It will only be finished once you ship the last version yall intend to do, and it will bind and liberate everyone.   Make it clear where it needs to be, vague where it should,  and inspiring at every turn.   I made a conscious choice to not include any images in it, despite some asking for it. The reason being that you can never neat a person's imagination of what can be, the gab between what can be, and what is, is where inspiration, creativity, and passion live.   Foster that in your GDD, and it will work, but leave no room for that, then you at best get parroting oand copies of what you already have.   A GDD should say, we can do better, and here is what it could be like.   Sigh, right then, rant over.
  13. GeneralJist

    Retro Mortis: RTS (Part 4) - A New Hope?

    My point was PR for the games Industry tries to sell the impression that game companies are above traditional business issues, at least to the player base.
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