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  Working alone vs. partnering up  (Read 5764 times)
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Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Posted 2011-06-27 12:57:32 »

I've tried both, working alone on games, and also partnering up with others. I'm not talking about working on Breakout clones, but rather end-product indie games that can potentially be sellworthy.

Working alone is least complicated, but can be boring, dull down your interest, and simply be difficult to develop since you don't have anyone to throw ideas at, get feedback from, and share the complexity burden with. You have to do everything A-Z, sounds, graphics, code, AI, networking, etc. etc. Each task can quickly evolve into a few weeks worth of research. A single developer cannot mentally work on all aspects.

But I've also tried partnering with others, and that's been a horrible experience. Out of all the projects I've been involved, and all the partners I've worked with, only 1 has not disappeared absolutely within 1 week, but that person was still only 1/3 as active as I was, although he did do work for 3 months. Most of these people seem to be very green as well. But really, do people join projects as a laugh? The worst part with a partner that is absent is that you think you have someone to work with, throw ideas at, but just isn't there.


I simply do not understand why it's so difficult to find a proper partner to develop games with. There seem to be a lot of individual game developers out there in the same situation, but somehow it seems near impossible for people to cooperate.

All these resources working alone and produce nil.


Ok, what is this post all about? Just ranting. It's healthy to do sometimes.

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Offline kappa
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JGO Kernel


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★★★★★


« Reply #1 - Posted 2011-06-27 13:11:12 »

Read a pretty nice article a while back. It describes finding a gaming making partner as follows:

Quote
Finding a good game-making partner is like dating in a lot of ways. You may think that all that matters is skill: “Oh cool, I’m a programmer, and this guy’s an artist… let’s DO THIS!” But no, there are other things to consider, like personality, experience, timing, and mutual interest. Like a romantic relationship, you don’t want to be in a position where either you or the other person is far less dedicated. Test each other out a bit with some smaller projects, because it can really be devastating when a key person drops out after months or years of development.
Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Reply #2 - Posted 2011-06-27 13:23:45 »

Read a pretty nice article a while back. It describes finding a gaming making partner as follows:

Quote
Finding a good game-making partner is like dating in a lot of ways. You may think that all that matters is skill: “Oh cool, I’m a programmer, and this guy’s an artist… let’s DO THIS!” But no, there are other things to consider, like personality, experience, timing, and mutual interest. Like a romantic relationship, you don’t want to be in a position where either you or the other person is far less dedicated. Test each other out a bit with some smaller projects, because it can really be devastating when a key person drops out after months or years of development.

So, True Smiley

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Offline pitbuller
« Reply #3 - Posted 2011-06-27 13:30:07 »

You should set bar higher and try to pick only team mebers that has good track record.
Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Reply #4 - Posted 2011-06-27 13:44:54 »

You should set bar higher and try to pick only team mebers that has good track record.

As with the dating metaphor, those who have a good track record are already taken. It's like hitting on women that are only married, because they have a good "track record".

But why should anyone with a good track record join with someone who has none?

Check out the 4K competition @ www.java4k.com
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Offline pitbuller
« Reply #5 - Posted 2011-06-27 13:51:36 »

You should set bar higher and try to pick only team mebers that has good track record.

As with the dating metaphor, those who have a good track record are already taken. It's like hitting on women that are only married, because they have a good "track record".

But why should anyone with a good track record join with someone who has none?
Becouse everyone there know you. If I would not have two jobs and one project I would be more than willingly to team up with you and I bet there is many like me out there. Most of them likely has lot more merits than me.
Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Reply #6 - Posted 2011-06-27 14:15:05 »

You should set bar higher and try to pick only team mebers that has good track record.

As with the dating metaphor, those who have a good track record are already taken. It's like hitting on women that are only married, because they have a good "track record".

But why should anyone with a good track record join with someone who has none?
Becouse everyone there know you. If I would not have two jobs and one project I would be more than willingly to team up with you and I bet there is many like me out there. Most of them likely has lot more merits than me.

Btw. love your KERS game. It's a bit rough, but fun, simple and tough Smiley

Check out the 4K competition @ www.java4k.com
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Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 361
Projects: 3
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Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #7 - Posted 2011-06-27 14:38:21 »

And yet when it comes to selling your games that took years to make etc. etc. it seems that people get positively irate if you try and charge more than $5 for them, which doesn't amount to much when it's all split up. So you wonder why no-one wants to work in indie games development Smiley

...well, rather, everyone wants to work in indie games development, but only after a few years realise it's hard slog and not the road to riches that might have been perceived...

Cas Smiley

Offline teletubo
« League of Dukes »

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Medals: 48
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Exp: 8 years



« Reply #8 - Posted 2011-06-27 14:58:04 »

I've had good times working together with a friend when I wrote the deceased Tactics Pompster Online . The problem, is that always one part has more motivation than the other, and one will always think the others are not engaged enough on the project .

On my last project, Reign of Rebels I decided to work completely alone, from coding to graphics . I must say it is very rewarding to see it when it comes to an evolved stage, however many times I wish I had a partner maybe just to keep my motivation up . Right now I'm pretty busy at work and have few time to work on it, and the less I work on it, the more my motivation fades .

Somtimes I wish I had a partner, but it is indeed difficult to find a person who is good AND engaged enough . Some people have offered to join me, but I think I would just lose lots of valuable time explaining my code and the guy would drop out in the first real challenge .

Yeah. rant rant rant .

Offline gouessej
« Reply #9 - Posted 2011-06-27 15:17:35 »

Hi!

Working alone is least complicated, but can be boring, dull down your interest, and simply be difficult to develop since you don't have anyone to throw ideas at, get feedback from, and share the complexity burden with. You have to do everything A-Z, sounds, graphics, code, AI, networking, etc. etc. Each task can quickly evolve into a few weeks worth of research. A single developer cannot mentally work on all aspects.
I think handling all aspects alone is hard, I agree with you, we can hardly be very good both in programming and arts. However, the relationship with the interest and the fact you're alone depends on each person, we are all different. In my case, I work almost always alone for years, only a few few people are interested in my projects and I don't mind. I make my game for me first and after that for others. You can get feedbacks from people who are not in your team, even on technical aspects for example in open source projects.

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Offline Gudradain
« Reply #10 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:36:06 »

I guess I'm really more motivated when I work in team and I get more inspiration. My biggest problem is often to get feedback on my idea. Most of the time I spend developing is not actually coding it but rather designing the way (usually away from my computer). You have to think to a lot of things to get a good gameplay and once you got your idea well defined it's easy to code (but it can still be a boring game). I would say my time spent on a project is as follow.

coding : 10%
debugging code : 20%
testing game : 30%
designing game : 40%

I don't know why it's like that, but it's the reality for me. (Unless I hit a technical wall Smiley )
Online Riven
« League of Dukes »

JGO Overlord


Medals: 781
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Exp: 16 years


Hand over your head.


« Reply #11 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:39:44 »

Maybe my view is a bit simplistic or outdated, but I seriously believe that for two people to work together as a team and stay motivated, they have to be in the same room.

Hi, appreciate more people! Σ ♥ = ¾
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Offline Gudradain
« Reply #12 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:53:33 »

Maybe my view is a bit simplistic or outdated, but I seriously believe that for two people to work together as a team and stay motivated, they have to be in the same room.

Well they at least need to communicate directly, it's true. Chat is a minimum. Talking with real voice online is even better.
Online Riven
« League of Dukes »

JGO Overlord


Medals: 781
Projects: 4
Exp: 16 years


Hand over your head.


« Reply #13 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:56:17 »

Maybe my view is a bit simplistic or outdated, but I seriously believe that for two people to work together as a team and stay motivated, they have to be in the same room.

Well they at least need to communicate directly, it's true. Chat is a minimum. Talking with real voice online is even better.
Chat is a really poor substitute for speech. Video chat is still nowhere near as good as reallife. Maybe some people would manage, but I'm sure I wouldn't.

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Offline dishmoth
« Reply #14 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:57:24 »

I know it rarely ends well, but I'm going to have to try teaming-up on a game project some day.

Maybe I'm odd but I like working as part of a team in my day job.  Although possibly I've been lucky in having (for the most part) competent, sane(-ish), well-organized co-workers (YMMV).

The worst thing about working on games by myself is having an idiot for a boss. Tongue

Simon

Offline loom_weaver

JGO Coder


Medals: 17



« Reply #15 - Posted 2011-06-27 17:59:32 »

My theory is that until I can finish my own game, I will be lacking my 'battle scars' that gives me street cred to both join a future team or attract other members.

I know from my own professional experience in non-gaming programming, that the last 10% of the project takes 90% of the effort and the majority of it is not sexy nor exciting.

The barrier to entry to the game creation community is pretty low (play games, sign up on a forum).  How many of 100 people who say they want to make a game, actually complete one?
Offline cylab

JGO Ninja


Medals: 43



« Reply #16 - Posted 2011-06-27 18:00:48 »

Maybe my view is a bit simplistic or outdated, but I seriously believe that for two people to work together as a team and stay motivated, they have to be in the same room.
Exactly this.

Well they at least need to communicate directly, it's true. Chat is a minimum. Talking with real voice online is even better.
In 99,9% this only works if you personally know the guy and you worked with him in the same room once. There has to be some social aspect to this like the partner want to stay your friend or want to stay in business with you. It simply doesn't work (let there be the 0,1% exception) with people found on the internet.

Mathias - I Know What [you] Did Last Summer!
Offline Eli Delventhal

JGO Kernel


Medals: 42
Projects: 11
Exp: 10 years


Game Engineer


« Reply #17 - Posted 2011-06-27 18:26:15 »

Although it's not released yet, I think I have a successful relationship going with an artist and we to this day have not developed in the same room. He finds artist friends to help out, and I find engineer friends to help out, and we develop whenever we have time and send email updates. These are the key takeaways for me to make that work:

1) Send a lot of emails, and be really detailed about them.
2) Have regular Skype calls, like once every couple of weeks. This is great for spitballing ideas.
3) Set milestones, and hit them. Without milestones, it's very easy just to not do any work and play video games instead. Smiley

All that being said, we did in fact push back our announce/unveil date for our project, because we agreed it was still too rough. It is now almost a month after the fact. But the way I feel, even if it's a snail's pace, as long as both people continue doing work (i.e. they don't actually stop) then the project is healthy. It's not like we want to make money or live off this (well that would be great, but I'm a realist), we just want to get something out there. So time is not of the essence, as long as there is progress.

See my work:
OTC Software
Offline namrog84

JGO Ninja


Medals: 46
Projects: 4


Keep programming!


« Reply #18 - Posted 2011-06-27 18:27:18 »

I know its not "ideal" for everyone,  but one way one of my friends and I are able to "be like in the same room" but not

We use skype,  with 2 monitors, and we set up a screen share, so that he sees my desktop, and I see his desktop, full screen.  We then can just talk and see whats happening. If he has a question, I can instantly see what its about, and I can show him on mine.  

Its the closest thing to being in the same room.

We haven't worked together like this for any real "projects"  but for mini random things, its quite useful.  And you don't need the frames per second all that high for most things like this.  If you want you can even set up the camera in the corner too if you need to see faces.


Though I still agree, nothing beats in person.
You need alone time and together time in programming I feel.

"Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted"
Offline Spasi
« Reply #19 - Posted 2011-06-27 18:33:24 »

The programming team in my day job is two people; me and my twin brother. We live 800km away from each other for the past 11 years. The rest of the company is also split in these two locations and I have a hard time remembering the last time we were all together in the same room. The project works, we're expanding, competition has a very hard time catching up to us. Development has been non-stop for the past 3 years.

All discussions are done via skype or classic phone calls. Oddly, we rarely use emails, it's indeed better/faster to just talk to each other. Emails are usually 3rd party info and bug reports.
Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Reply #20 - Posted 2011-06-28 10:08:29 »

I think this is the reason why people create "companies" and get more people into the same place, pay them money not to leave so they STAY.

But that's a big commitment, and since we're mostly doing this as a hobby, or just trying to make a indie game in our free time, we're not ready to do that. Besides, you need money to survive, and you get no money from doing this.

Strangely, there seem to be a shitload of people INTERESTED in making games, but when it comes to actually putting in the hours and hard work those people just melt away like butter on a frying pan. I've worked with quite a few, and most of my effort went into communication, trying to keep the other party interested, trying to get replies, feedback, and then he vanishes and my interest vanishes as well. Then they reply a couple of weeks later "Hey, sorry, been busy in real life, wife, kids, job, dog...etc.". I mean, what the f. did they expect and why the f. did they join if they have so much going on in their personal life? Game development is not like going bowling one evening, it's a commitment for many evenings for a long period, months to a year.



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Offline ra4king

JGO Kernel


Medals: 345
Projects: 2
Exp: 5 years


I'm the King!


« Reply #21 - Posted 2011-06-28 10:14:49 »

So very true...

Offline Roquen
« Reply #22 - Posted 2011-06-28 13:25:16 »

What works really really well is to...wait, the baby's crying.
Offline ra4king

JGO Kernel


Medals: 345
Projects: 2
Exp: 5 years


I'm the King!


« Reply #23 - Posted 2011-06-28 15:18:34 »

What works really really well is to...wait, the baby's crying.
ROFLMAO

Offline Eli Delventhal

JGO Kernel


Medals: 42
Projects: 11
Exp: 10 years


Game Engineer


« Reply #24 - Posted 2011-06-28 17:17:55 »

Yeah I'll admit I have had many more failed partnering attempts than successful ones. The artist I'm working with now actually jumped ship on me for this exact same project like 3 years ago, then he randomly contacted me all fire and brimstone really wanting to get it started. And we've been working pretty hard on it since. I've had probably 4 or 5 failed team projects before this one, all with the same story as Appel. I think really it's key to keep trying, and eventually you'll end up working with someone who feels as passionate as you do.

See my work:
OTC Software
Offline appel

JGO Wizard


Medals: 50
Projects: 4


I always win!


« Reply #25 - Posted 2011-06-28 17:32:15 »

I do find it strange however that the people who share this experience never end partnering up.  Roll Eyes Is it a "not invented here" attitude?

Check out the 4K competition @ www.java4k.com
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Offline Eli Delventhal

JGO Kernel


Medals: 42
Projects: 11
Exp: 10 years


Game Engineer


« Reply #26 - Posted 2011-06-28 17:41:51 »

I do find it strange however that the people who share this experience never end partnering up.  Roll Eyes Is it a "not invented here" attitude?
Good question. Remember that community project Kev proposed that led to a whole lot of ideas and zero work? I know there have been a few before that too. I think that us coders are just as likely to say "oh I've got a baby/wife/video game playing to deal with" as anyone else.

Also for me I've always got in the back of my mind that if something is successful that my team makes then I want to maybe form a company and do things full time, which is going to be difficult when people are in Europe and I'm in the US. Smiley

See my work:
OTC Software
Offline namrog84

JGO Ninja


Medals: 46
Projects: 4


Keep programming!


« Reply #27 - Posted 2011-06-28 18:40:52 »

I think there are a lot of really talented people here in many different areas.

I just don't there are perhaps any excellent "team leaders" who strive and pursue trying to get people together and able to maintain long term motivation, ambition, and ability to inspire members.

Because most of those people are probably already on a project somewhere else and people tend to gravitate towards them.  Or JGO has just drawn the short straw on those people finding this place.   

I have a feeling there might be a higher chance of finding those types of people in the iPhone, XNA and Flash forums though.  They are just the hot ticket lower hanging fruit right now.




"Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted"
Offline philfrei
« Reply #28 - Posted 2011-06-28 22:54:55 »

This is SO much like the music business. Everyone wants to write/record songs or music, but just don't realize how much actual work is involved. I think the same must be true for film-making, animation, any artistic endeavor. It seems like fun, to be "creative" but then the reality sets in. (My 5-word synopsis of the opera "La Boheme"-->"don't quit your day job".)

Maybe there is another type of collaboration to consider. This is something I'd be willing to consider. Have a partnership where each person is writing/developing their own game, but takes the time to really look deeply at what the other person is doing, in order to be a true sounding board. So, I would share my progress, as I code, and problems, in hopes of getting good ideas & feedback maybe some shared code, and would similarly set aside some time to review what the partner is doing. It would be "clean" in terms of financial ramnifications (each gets income from their own project), and there is less downside if the partnership ends mid-project.

One big issue, there has to be some meeting of the minds. If the two don't have some fundamental agreements on the project direction, things will undoubtably drift. Also, drift is sometimes a passive way of expressing criticism, or of avoiding confronting the partner. Disagreements are a hard social skill to manage. Sometimes those who disagree should part company, other times, diving into the disagreement to get to the bottom of it can unearth some really valuable insights. (thesis, antithesis, synthesis)

One last point: you can't try and farm out all the boring stuff to the partner (unless you find a partner that thinks it is interesting).

"Greetings my friends! We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives!" -- The Amazing Criswell
Offline JL235

JGO Coder


Medals: 10



« Reply #29 - Posted 2011-06-29 00:19:49 »

Working in teams can be difficult. A common issue is around other people not working as much as you, and to be honest as long as they are bringing something I didn't do, then I try not to care. But a similar question to this came up on Forrst recently, so rather then repeat myself I'm just going to post it here. It earned me a star, so hopefully some people will find it useful:

I've worked in teams that have both communicated very well and very badly. The best one I'm calling the 'good place', and there I always knew everything that was going on. At the worst, the 'bad place', I very rarely knew. These are my thoughts:

Forcing the use of communication software. Everyone must have an e-mail and messenger clients open whilst working, and that's ALWAYS! If you are too busy to use messenger then tag yourself as 'busy' (so you can grab them in an emergency). Being 'busy' should also be respected.

Tonnes of communication. Part of this is about always communicating, and part of it is about knowing what to just ignore (because it's irrelevant). It's better to receive a mail and ignore it then to have not received it (that's not to say ignoring is good, just better the nothing). For example there is no reason why two devs can't discuss an issue over the group mailing list rather then one-on-one.

Make the most of your time. At the bad place I've sat through 2 hour meetings where 3/4 of it was spent by the guys in charge chatting about programming languages and what they did during their PHDs. Time spent chatting over something hat had no relevance to the product. At the good place we had a 1 hour weekly meeting: 5 minutes of messing about (usually doing stilly things with the video network) then 55 minutes of 100% pure business.

At the end of meetings at the good place I knew what everyone else worked on, and what I working on before I went in. At the bad place I'd often walk out and have no idea what anyone else, or even myself, was working on.

Finally meet often, very often! Both as a team and individually one on one. Bad place only did a weekly team meeting, and over my time there more then a third of these got cancelled. That's why I often didn't know what anyone else was up to.

Most of all they need to be enforced. The reality is this is all just common sense, everyone I have worked with would fully agree. But it's amazing how often this stuff gets side tracked. I also find people tend to follow the guy in charge. If he/she doesn't communicate, then chances are that everyone else will presume that is the norm. Again both the good and bad places I have worked at reflected this.

At the good place they also did long lunches every few weeks where one part of the department would show off what they were building on and perform a Q&A about it. There was free food, drinks, cake, etc; and the management would pretty much take a back seat. It was devs presenting to fellow devs, so it was very informal and social.

One thing to add onto that; some people have mentioned that online voice/video is not good enough. I'd fully agree it is _NOT_ a substitute for real meetings, not even close (and it's one reason why I don't think people should only be allowed to partially work from home, but that is a separate discussion). But at the 'good' place above we had a weekly video conference between our team and another in mainland China (about 30 people in total) and several times a week I'd have conference calls with the testers in India; I got loads of stuff out of both.

Again it's common sense. If it's run well, like a proper meeting, then online voice/video works very well (being at a PC can even help the meeting). It's when the other guy is distracted on StarCraft/Reddit/YouTube/etc (which I found a lot of people did during meetings at uni); that's when it doesn't work.

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