Teamwork troubles

amon-re
Unregistered
 
Post: #1
Hello there.

I have been working on a project called Verenia for quite a while. It used to run pretty well until a couple of months ago. I fear my project is in a downward spiral and I don't really know how to get it back on track.

(For the record, Verenia is a Myst-style adventure game. It started out as a personal project, but a few friends said this was way too cool to be a personal project. So it became a public project and I started forming a team.)

So I thought, why not ask experienced team leaders for help? (Mind you, I have read the Working With Teams article--but probably a bit too late.)

The exact problem is: the whole project is idling. There has been just a few posts on the forum this week. Most of the team members haven't contributed much.

I believe the biggest problem is the lack of time. I have been quite busy the past few months (and I still have a lot of non-Verenia work to do, so I'll stay busy for a while). It's not just me, quite a few other team members don't seem to have a lot of time either.

One thing which is probably completely wrong is that there are only two designers: myself, and someone which hasn't turned up online for the past few months. There are about 5 3D modellers, but they either don't turn up very often, lack the skills, or lack concept art (unfortunately).

That more or less the situation at this moment.

I have come up with a solution. I have no idea wether this is going to work, but at this moment, it seems like it's the best way to save the project.

Put Verenia "on hold" for a few months, maybe a year, maybe even longer.

First stage: Work on it with just a few people: storyliners and designers. No other people. Make tons of concept art sketches, and finish the storyline.

After a while, Verenia will be more or less designed, and it's time to recruit some new 3D modellers (replace the bad 3D guys from the old project with fresh ones).

Then, hire sound/music designers, work on the engine, and finish it.

What about changing the name? Would that help? I believe changing the name is a message which says "we're starting over, this time it'll be much better". Also, Myst IV has a place called Serenia. Ugh. Sounds familiar?

Sounds good? Sounds bad? Please give me your feedback. amon-re loves you when you do it. I want to keep Verenia alive; the idea behind this game is too great, I can't let it die.
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Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 2004.07
Post: #2
Welcome to the forums.

Usually motivation is a big factor in the mid- to late-project stages. People start getting burned out.

As a team leader the best way to keep people motivated is to have milestones and constantly remind people of their progress. Also, your team must know where the finish line is.

For instance, say there are five main worlds in your game. Each needs to have puzzles designed for it, 3D art created, and it all needs to be linked together with programming. That's three parts times five worlds. Fifteen items for a checklist. Keep this checklist visible to the team at all times (on a wall if you meet them face-to-face, or on a website.)

If you are creating the game as they are creating art, give everyone builds to play. Let them walk through their art and interact with their puzzles. They'll be excited to see their work in action and be motivated to finish.

Finally, this was mentioned in the article you posted but I'm repeating it because it's important. Communicate with your team regularly and often. It sounds like you have a very big team (7 is huge for non-funded indie projects) so the best ways to communicate would probably be face meetings, mass email, and a bulletin board on a website. If you make an important post to your forum, email everyone and let them know. Don't worry about bugging them- there's no such thing as too much communication. And if someone the team knows expresses interest in the game, like "looks awesome, can't wait to play it" let everyone know. Keep everyone pumped up.

Finally, let everyone know what they'll accomplish by finishing the game. A grade (if you work on a class project,) money, recognition, and getting their foot in the door of the games industry all work pretty good. And be passionate- maybe you want to see a revival of Myst-type adventure games. The more psyched you are about it the more psyched your team will be.

As far as changing the name, IMHO all it says is "we're changing the name." Unless you're moving to an actual title from a working title. Then it works pretty good Smile

Just my two cents.

Justin Ficarrotta
http://www.justinfic.com
"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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Member
Posts: 328
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #3
Also, as a team member it is much easier to get motivated and do work when the team leader(s) are getting a lot done. To me, there is nothing like progress to spur on more progress.
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Posts: 522
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #4
DaFalcon Wrote:Also, as a team member it is much easier to get motivated and do work when the team leader(s) are getting a lot done. To me, there is nothing like progress to spur on more progress.

I agree wholeheartedly from experience. As long as the other members are decent and are not out to take advantage of other team members, blazing ahead has worked wonderfully for me to get other people motivated.

-Jon
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Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 2004.07
Post: #5
Did some more searching around. If you haven't yet, check out the "Manager in a Strange Land" series of articles on Gamasutra. (Here's the latest.) It requires a free registration.

Click on the author's bio to get a list of all the "Manager" articles. It's got some stuff on communication, team enthusiasm, and so on. Good stuff.

And let me third that the leader's motivation is a huge plus in team motivation. It's a momentum thing.

Justin Ficarrotta
http://www.justinfic.com
"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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