Indie tutorial: Organizing your work as a team
spiffy goats indie tutorial indie team management startup working with a team
First of all, I'll remind you once again that the more people you have on your team, the worse - the more people you’ve got, the bigger the tension and stress can get and you may easily lose control of them. There are many approaches to working on a project, I’ll present you how I do this.
Now, if everyone has already looked through the prototype, group yourself up and start a conference on Skype or any other communicator of your choice that allows more than 2 people to chat at the same time. Or just meet IRL if you can. During that ‘brain storm’ everyone should give their own ideas, remarks and comments about the project. Even if the idea might seem meh at first, someone might be able to modify it and turn it into a very good one, so never be afraid to share your thoughts. Someone that is working as a designer in your team should be writing down all those ideas.
After the ‘brain storm’ he should sit alone and separate good ideas from the bad ones, bearing in mind that he has to limit himself to not design a project that would take too much time to complete. He should also take into account that the team is most likely inexperienced and so very complicated mechanics shouldn’t be included in the final design. Surely there might be many great features you would like to see in the game, but you have to be realistic – someone will have to implement them and do all that in an optimal time. Pick what you’re capable of, you don’t want to sit on your first project for two years.
After the initial adjustments, the designer shows a more detailed vision of the game to the other team members. And again – discussion. Now without those big ideas, just do the small changes if needed and you’re ready to go. Keep in mind that you don’t have to plan all maps, missions, vehicles, enemies or anything like that at the beginning. Those details you can always do further in your development cycle. Programmers and artists should know from start what to expect from the game and what is needed (it sucks when you realize in the middle of your work that half of the code is trash as someone just thought of changing one feature or that some of the assets are going to waste because something wasn't clarified from the beginning).
Someone who is handling organization in your project should write down all the needed assets (sprites, sounds) and create some sort of milestones for the development process. Sure, you could go with just todo lists, but the possibility of 'unticking' more tasks at once as you approach your big milestone, which puts a solid closure on this particular part of the game, is a much better motivator. You will always know what is done, work will be divided into portions that are easier to handle. It's also easier to force yourself to work when you see that there are only a few more tasks until the end of the current milestone, instead of seeing a 2MB txt file with the todo list of all things needed to finish the game.
And picking tasks for the next milestone is always a fun event for the whole team ;)
Here is a list of some tools that might help you in your work:
- Dropbox – for assets, design documents, you can also store here todo lists, assets list, some other project files, etc.
- SVN/Github/Bitbucket – for programmers specifically as for example Visual Studio and Dropbox seem to hate each other. When you and others work on the same project opened several times on Dropbox, it will start to create some crappy database files or other shit that takes quite a lot of space. It’s just irritating.
- Forums – can work the same way as Dropbox, surely brings better organization of files and may look better but isn’t so convenient, Dropbox is much faster to use, though we still use forums for some development-related things.
- Wiki – project documentation, not every project needs it though, for some forums work just as fine
- Skype/MSN – for chatting & conferences.
- Google Docs - sharing documents, with the possibility of real-time co-writing is surely something that could be useful.
There is one more tool that I left for the end of the post, it's so good that I can't express it. It's called Trello, it's a website where you can easily organize work for the whole team. We're using it since Rune Masters and it's really a perfect tool that can substitute almost all other tools. With Trello you can create milestones, todo lists, handle discussions about various topics, host images, files, notes, literally everything that you could need. It looks like this:
Let me know what you think or what you’d like to read about in the comment section.
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If you have yet to start working on your prototype, remember – a small but interesting idea is the key!
Reprinted from the Spiffy Goats blog