team spirit

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by Igmon, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. Igmon

    Original Member

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    Hi,

    After realizing how difficult it is to be a lone wolf game developer, I decided to pursue projects with teamwork.

    An old classmate of mine from college offered a venture to work with a team, they already have a game concept planned. So it's cool and everything and maybe just maybe I can work with a great team.

    Currently as it stands right now, I seem to be failing to grasp this concept of having a highly motivated group.

    I am completely demoralized and it just isn't working...like putting a round peg in a square hole.

    There is no team spirit at all, I ended up designing the game aside from just working on the core game engine and I don't think anyone really is up to this.

    The thing is, the game isn't worth my effort anymore and we have this ridiculous deadline.

    It's true when you start coding the actual game you can't easily go back, so I think I am at a crossroad.

    My first thought is to just leave and find myself people I can easily relate with when it comes to game development...They are great people and all, but it just doesn't work.

    So I'd like to know what really makes a motivated team and detect the ones faking it. I know there will always be ups and downs in a team, but at the very least they are motivated.

    Anyway, just wanted to release all these stress here in the forum... :eek:
     
  2. Andy

    Original Member

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    Oh, this is pretty easy really.
    Develop and publish good game. Grab huge amount of money for it. And later you will be highly motivated and connected to each other team.

    But hell! What time, efforts, deadlines etc. that requires... :(
    Believe me or not but this is so individual - nobody would be able to recommend you the correct step here. You will get several answers - choose from them what you already decided - and make the step based upon your personal understanding of your concrete situation. :)

    So, just good luck,
     
  3. Sunshine

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    I too have had alot of problems keeping my team in line. Several of the coders were unable to do the tasks assigned and had to be thrown back into the pond.

    As far as motivation however, it is only yours to find it in yourself. The project we have mostly runs off of results. If you hit the deadlines and produce the code you stay, if you do not, then you go. :D

    However as far as this statement
    It might happen that this is true, as the engine's capabillities will directly affect what can happen during the game.
     
  4. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    My advise, don't work as a team unless you pay your team members salary. I have seen very few instances where the added resources of a team member are more then the amount of overhead and emotional drain that comes along with them.
     
  5. paulm

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    Working with team members is not necessarily a bad thing. So far, I've worked concept art for a few teams for the last couple of years, and had the privilege of meeting some talented and dedicated people. The people are out there, but they are hard to find.

    How come you find it so hard to relate to the people you're working with? Are they not passionate?

    There are no fakers. If people aren't producing, then they aren't motivated, or they have no clue about what they're doing. If it's clear they have a brain, but are maybe overshoot their goals way too often, then maybe they need to be relegated to a role where they don't have as much control so they can learn a bit more. Otherwise, they need to be ditched. This may or may not include the person who recruited you in the first place.

    Not only that, small teams don't have much guidance on where to go on, so there's invariably a team leader they come to rely upon. Is he or she reliable? Do they believe in their concept, and do everything they can to advance it. Not only that, are they sharing the concept around and inviting you to participate in its evolution, or are you just being used as a cog in a greater machine?

    it sounds like you're the only one doing *anything*. That may be the way you made it sound in your original post, but if that's true, you need to ditch the team. If there's someone who is doing work, or who you do get a long with, take them with you. If people say that 'I can't do x until y happens', get y happening. For instance, for concept art I generally request that I have unit descriptions from the designer. While the designer is doing that though, there's no reason I can't brainstorm my own stuff though.

    I suppose it will depend on your team constituents, and you're best placed to judge how much they work.

    Also do realise, that it takes a while for a team to gel. Maybe the project isn't interesting in itself? Indie projects, you at least need to engage the minds of the people within, and if it doesn't do anything for anyone (another FPS, anyone?) then maybe the concept needs to be re-explored.

    Hope that helps somewhat.

    Cheers,
    Paul.
     
  6. Igmon

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    thanks for the replies guys, it really means a lot. I feel a bit better :eek:

    yeah the answer does boil down to each individual rather than a straight answer.

    I agree with the whole production line and the bottle necks such as needing 'x' before 'y'. Unfortunately I stand in 'y' and end up doing some of 'x'.

    but well simply put, I draw circles, they draw squares.
     
  7. kerchen

    Indie Author

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    If the team isn't working, it isn't working. I'd suggest having a frank discussion with the whole team, telling them what you've said here. If you can't do that, then you don't really have a team to begin with. However, it sounds like you've already made your decision anyway.
     
  8. Cartman

    Indie Author

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    This week I ended my working relationship with a team I had worked with for about 2 years. They are a very talented bunch of people however there were things that just didn't fit with what I needed. After I had met my obligations to the group, I bowed out. Here are the lessons I learned:

    1. You need a strong leadership structure that is passionate about the game and also very good with organization and people. We had neither.

    2. You need to be strict about schedule adherence. We missed alot of deadlines because of people who couldn't say no to a feature request. Also estimations of time required to add a feature were grossly underestimated.

    3. A clear agreement about who gets what in the organization is imperative.

    4. Don't invite your friends to join, just because they know a little bit of something. Just because you need a "map maker" badly, doesn't mean the person will be dependable.

    5. No value in testing. Without thorough testing the game can look good to you but look awful to a user.

    6. Inconsistent enthusiasm with the market. Our releases were so far from each other and our fans got tired of waiting that we had to rebuild our fan base each time we released. Not a good way of doing it.

    I'm sure there are other points I can think of. Overall it was a fantastic experience, but from now on I think I'll go it on my own.
     
  9. Andy

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    We are going away from each other with my partner in almost every next day... in last 15 years... ;)
    But as I said above that requires efforts (huge efforts from time to time) to stay together.
     
  10. Indiepath

    Indiepath New Member

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    Very nice thread. I'm currently finishing my project portfolio (for university) and I'm packing the learned lessons from there... but if I would have to say the most important issue in team game development then it would be this:

    "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

    I know it might sound a *bit* religious but that's not intended. I think this golden rule is the most powerful rule in leading team to success.

    It can be used in so many aspects:
    - Goal setting & Leadership: if you think "our team members aren't doing their parts" and you start putting more rules & regulations you find yourself digging a hole... but if you think for a moment "why aren't they with me" - you can find that "hey, maybe my lack of motivation is causing them to act like that" or "maybe I'm jumping from game idea to another game idea - who likes that?" or "maybe I should put clearer goals so that other team members could do their job better"
    - Contract: How would I like to be treated? If you hog all the profits and pay lousy you end up having people who will be against you. I'm not meaning you should be a charity center but just think win-win solution for both of you.

    Think a bit how you would like to be treated and then treat others the same way. Our team has used this for 3 years now and our group is still together. Even though our first game is just about to be published.
     
    #10 Indiepath, Sep 22, 2004
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2004
  11. BongPig

    Indie Author

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    Our *team* works perfectly. :)

    Probably because theres only one person per dept!!
    One artist. One coder. One Tester. One Agent.
    Lovely.
     
  12. EpicBoy

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    An old boss of mine had a partner and he said they were in a ... shotgun contract? Horseshoe contract? Something like that. At any rate, what it meant was that if you went to your partner with an offer of any kind your partner had the right to immediately ask to reverse the conditions and you had to accept their proposal.

    So if you tried to institute something where you would get 80% of the profits, they'd say, "Thanks!" and walk away with that 80%. It kept everything fair and everyone honest.
     
  13. Bluecat

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    I heard something similar to do with parenting.

    Kids will always argue about the size of the piece of cake their sibling gets if a parent does the cutting. So when serving cake, have one child do the cutting and the other gets first pick. It's in the interest of the child doing the cutting to get the pieces exactly even.

    This could work with profit sharing too. The person doing the cutting of the profit pie should be the last to pick a piece!
     
  14. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    Epicboy - what an uncommonly good idea.
     
  15. Mentat

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    This is a good thread. I can add my own story to the difficulty of working with on a team.

    I had been working with 2 friends of mine on a side-scrolling shooter project for about 2 years. At first, everyone was so excited to be working on the project that things really took off.

    I noticed that my artist was producing great looking sprites in a reasonable amount of time, and the other programmer and I were cranking out some decent code fairly quickly.

    The project neared 60% completion, when things took a turn for the worse. We ran into frustrating collision detection problems, AI issues, etc.

    We used to work on our own throughout the week, maintaining contact through phone, email, and IM, then meet on Fridays to integrate what we've done and do any bugfixing. Unless one of us was going out of town for the weekend, we ALWAYS met, and every Friday morning we'd hold a group IM chat session to discuss the plan of action for the evening.

    Over the span of a month, the chat sessions veered away from our game and became off topic discussions (much to my chagrin), then eventually stopped alltogether.

    The artist (who was having some animation troubles that were pestering him) started "joking" that instead of meeting we should all play the new game that he bought. When I confronted him about it (i.e. "you should really not joke like that at these meetings... we're trying to figure out why this routine is failing"), he would say that "of course I was only kidding". He would also begin to fall asleep at the meetings.

    So time passed, and eventually the other programmer and I decided that we'd get more done without him physically present at the meetings (he had a tendency to interject his point of view on how something should be coded, even though he possessed absolutely no knowledge of the technical feats involved -- very annoying).

    To make a long story short, people became sapped of motivation and energy. The fact that we were friends made it much worse in my opinion. The project failed because they had given up hope that we would ever resolve the issues that we were facing.

    I am back to being a lone wolf now. My programmer friend still occasionally brings up the project ("we should finish it sometime"), but it is pretty much all talk and no action.

    It's a shame. Especially when I think back on our initial hopes and aspirations for the game.
     
  16. Chaster

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    Chaster's "Bad Egg Percentage" Theorem

    Igmon's post reminded me of an old theorem I have developed over several years of working with various teams (some amateur, some professional, some "in between")... Here it is:

    The success of any given game development team depends on the percentage of "bad eggs" vs. "good eggs". ("bad eggs" are bad team members - those who are unproductive, unenthusiastic, or just plain poor attitude, lack of skills, etc. - basically those who are more negative than positive in their impact)

    If the ratio "bad eggs"/"good eggs" is under 0.1, the team will usually be successful.

    If the "bad eggs"/"good eggs" is between 0.1 and 0.25, the team's chances of success are marginal at best.

    If the "bad eggs"/"good eggs" ratio is between 0.25 & 0.333, the team's chances of success are almost nil. ("almost" because there still exists the chance that the team could jettison some bad eggs and change the ratio).

    If the "bad eggs"/"good eggs" ratio is > 0.333 - well, forget it - the team is screwed.

    I admit, this is only based on my experiences and observations of some other teams, but so far, it's been pretty accurate... Of course, I may need to change the theorem a little bit because some people do not fall neatly into "bad" or "good" egg categories... For example, this artist I am working with... He started out as a "bad egg" in some ways (work habits, skill level) but he has displayed a good attitude (which is the most IMPORTANT indicator in my opinion) so has slowly been moving towards a "good egg" rating... LOL..

    Chaster
     
  17. Sunshine

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    My team members are more like Easter eggs,
    I'm lucky just to find them.
     

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