TEAMWORK AND YOU PT. 1: RECRUITING

What I learned while working on a team

  • Red_Nova
  • 10/29/2014 06:45 PM
  • 3429 views
Teamwork and You





After Remnants of Isolation won the Grand Prize for the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest, I was asked to give a presentation at a game design university about my time during development and to share anything I learned that might be useful for anyone wanting to make a game with a team. I decided to submit that presentation here, edited to be more relevant to working online.

This is only the first half of the presentation. This half focuses on how to best go about finding teammates.

Disclaimer: This article assumes that you are looking to make a game for fun, or for a contest. Commission work or any sort of professional actions are entirely different matters and not covered here, although there are good points to keep in mind. Also, this is speaking from my own experience. I am in no way claiming to be an authority on this subject.


1: Myths:

Before we talk about working on a team, we should probably go over the most important step that must be taken before any others: Actually finding a team. You're going to be spending a lot of time with them, so it's very important to make sure you know your potential teammates. After all, they CAN and WILL be the difference between a stellar project and a broken, unfinished mess. So how do you go about finding teammates? Let's start by busting a few myths:


Setting yourself up for failure: random, non-specific, recruitment threads.


Often I have seen threads on forums saying something along the lines of, “I want to make a project with someone. Message me if you are interested,” AND NOTHING ELSE. This is a terrible way to recruit members, as not only does it show that you have no vision, but it sends a clear message that you want OTHERS to do work for you. Whether or not that is your intent is irrelevant, because that is the message you are conveying. Honestly, I could write an entire article about why these threads are stupid and pointless. Maybe that's just my bias talking, but I hate recruitment threads on principle. They're so impersonal, and 90% of them (that I've seen) are created by people who just made accounts five minutes prior to making said thread. Suffice to say: DON'T DO THIS.

"But Red_Nova! What if I have a plan of action ready to go? What if I have lots of details I can share with others about my game? What if I'm dedicated enough to be able to lead this team?"

Sounds great! So what have you made?

"…Pardon?"

What have you actually MADE? You know, like what games have you made?

"…I'm a good writer and artist! And I’m very dedicated and-"

No, no, no. I’m not asking what your skills are. What. Have. You. Made?

"Well, I haven't made any games. But I have lots of IDEAS!"

… *sigh* You know what you are? You are...



The "Idea Guy"


Listen to me very carefully:

That mentality that you have a bunch of ideas you want to see in a game but you have no skill at making games yourself, that if you have someone to help you, your game will shine? Drop that mentality.

Guess what? EVERYONE is the idea guy. EVERYONE wants to make their dream game. You know what the difference between you and them is? They are actually WORKING to make their ideas a reality. Why in the world would they want to stop their own projects that they want to work on to team up with some random person who has no experience under their belt?

Don't give some weak excuse like, "I'm not good with RPG Maker, or Unreal Engine, etc. and I need someone who IS," Allow me to give you a translation of the previous sentence, "I'm lazy and want others to do work for me,"



Now that we have those two myths busted, let's talk about what you SHOULD do.


2: Arm Yourself:

It's great that you want to work on a team. Before you even THINK about other people and their skills, however, take a moment to make sure YOU are ready to collaborate. No, I don't mean are you WILLING to collaborate. Teamwork takes a LOT MORE than just dedication and a vision. You need to be able to show others exactly what you are capable of doing.


Bring your tools to the table:

Every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some people are good artists, others are programming geniuses. What are YOUR strengths and weaknesses? Are you a good writer? Can you not tell the pointy end of a pencil with the erasing end? You need to figure this stuff out before you even THINK about finding a team.

Remember the first point mentioned about random, non-specific recruitment threads? They are almost always submitted by someone who just created an account two or three minutes prior to starting the thread. I mean, if you had to have brain surgery, would you entrust yourself to someone who had NO medical experience? Not even gone to medical school? Unless you're absolutely insane, you would not. Yes, I am aware that brain surgery and game development are two very different things. I'm trying to make a point here!

If you want to put a team together, show others that you are actually worth their time. How do you do this? By having a portfolio. A resume, if you will. It doesn't have to be a complete game. Heck, it doesn't have to be a game at all (though it is the best display of commitment), but it needs to be SOMETHING! It can be leadership experience, art you've made, or a promising prototype. No one cares about what you WANT to do; only what you have DONE.

No, concept art and 1 page plot synopsis do not count.

Having completed work sends a strong message that you not only have sufficient skill to complete a project, but the commitment to see it through to the end. People will look at your completed works and feel MUCH more assured about helping you. Having a portfolio also gives you the chance to analyze what you are and are not good at, skill wise. If you find you're pretty confident about your writing, then you should be looking for artists and musicians. You won't know this until you do your own work.

By the way, this is also applicable if you want to JOIN a team as well, not just form one.


Have a plan:


Going back to an earlier bullet point about having non-specific recruitment threads, the absolute WORST thing you can do is simply announce that you want to make a game with someone.

"Oh really? You go onto a game development forum and announce that you want to develop a game? How original!"

People are naturally drawn to those with confidence. And there is nothing that says, "I'm confident," more than a plan. No, it doesn't have to be a complete plan. But, like your portfolio, you need to have SOMETHING that can draw potential teammates in. What kind of game do you want to make? An RPG? A Visual Novel? How long do you expect to be working on it? What's the setting? Story? Make an outline of what kind of game you want to do so others can see.



All right! Now that you've armed yourself with a plan, experience, and dropped the losing mentality, it's finally time to start looking for a team!


3: Let’s go get a team!


So if recruitment threads are not the best idea, how DO you go about finding a team?



Get personal!


You finally have an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and have a portfolio you can show off. Now it's time to look around at other users and check out their games. What parts of their games interests you? Do their games have that certain something you lack? Great.

Send them a message or leave a comment on their game pages. Tell them how much you loved their mapping, or their music choices, or their art. Start building a relationship with them. Get to know THEM. Their personality and reaction to your input speaks volumes about what working with them would be like. Here’s a shocker: How well you get along with a person is just as, if not MORE, important than their actual skill level! Crazy, right?

For a personal example: I've known unity for about five months before the Indie Game Maker Contest was announced. We had tested each others games and learned each others strengths and weaknesses. By the time the contest came around, we understood each other to the point that a certain mutual trust had developed between us. This has many huge perks that I'll get into later. When I asked her to partner up with me, I'm fairly certain there was no hesitation in her acceptance.

Does that sound like a lot of work? Are you not patient enough to play their games when you could be working on your team project?

Tough.

Granted, you probably won't need to wait five months before asking them to be a part of a team, but if you're not willing to spend time to get to know people, you have no business putting a team together in the first place. Honestly, since game development is a major time consuming process, I would think the lack of patience would deter you from making a game at all, let alone on a team.



Trust: The most powerful tool a partner can have


Being able to trust your teammates allows you to focus your mind on more important matters. Like I said before, a certain mutual trust and respect was built up between unity and I before I asked her to partner up. Because of this trust, unity was able to bring our third team member, Sooz, on board for Remnants of Isolation.

I admit: I was... more than a bit nervous about having a new person come into the team, especially one that I've never met before. But Sooz was a friend of unity, and I trusted unity's assurances that Sooz was a skilled artist and a hard worker. I would NOT have had that kind of faith in unity if I had just asked her to work with me a day after first joining the forums.

Another benefit of trust is being able to tell your team what needs doing and allowing them to do it their own way. I'll go into detail about the specifics of that later, but the important thing to remember is that, since we're on forums, we lack the personal connection we would have in, say, a room. Skype does not count. No matter how connected you are, if you are not in the same room as your team, there will ALWAYS be a certain level of distance between you that will never close. You have neither the time nor the energy to talk about every single little detail when developing a game. Since game development DEMANDS attention to every single little detail, you can get caught up on arguing the finer points while the rest of the project still hangs over you.

There is absolutely nothing stopping your partners from just deciding to drop your project, either. Remember: We're on the internet, and people have other responsibilities. If they feel like their work for you isn't turning into something worthwhile, they can and will leave. Then what happens to your project? It becomes a mess.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________


And that's the first half. Now that you know how to go about finding a team, and how you may better yourself to be more approachable, the second half will focus on what to do once you have your team and project ready to go. I hope this article is useful to you. Thanks for reading!

Part 2 is up! You can check it out HERE

Posts

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Ooo! RMN was in need of a cool article like this! Well done!
So many truths together, must be painful for some. Lol
Too bad most people won't read this before posting terrible ideas on the job board.
author=JosephSeraph
Ooo! RMN was in need of a cool article like this! Well done!
So many truths together, must be painful for some. Lol


Thanks!

author=Link_2112
Too bad most people won't read this before posting terrible ideas on the job board.


They probably saw the big wall of text and just nope'd out of the article. Maybe I should add in some pictures to make it more visually engaging. But it's already so long...
It's the same reason people don't understand the submission rules. They never read the article on it. I think it could end up being something linked to people as Liberty warns them in their topic.

It's ok that it's long and "dry". For something like this you'd end up adding pointless pictures of like, the A-Team, as a joke. No need.
NeverSilent
What do you call a grizzly with no teeth? A gummi bear.
4336
Hey, Red_Nova! Want to make a game together? I alread have some great ideas, just need you to implement them for me.

I'm just kidding, of course. A good article with a lot of painfully honest yet useful advice. I'm looking forward to reading the second part.
unity
You're magical to me.
8643
author=Link_2112
It's the same reason people don't understand the submission rules. They never read the article on it. I think it could end up being something linked to people as Liberty warns them in their topic.


I think that's a great idea! :D

author=NeverSilent
Hey, Red_Nova! Want to make a game together? I alread have some great ideas, just need you to implement them for me.

I'm just kidding, of course. A good article with a lot of painfully honest yet useful advice. I'm looking forward to reading the second part.


XD "Hey, I came up with the idea, so I've already done the hard part. All you have to do is all the work!"
author=NeverSilent
Hey, Red_Nova! Want to make a game together? I alread have some great ideas, just need you to implement them for me.


You got it! I know my ideas are GARBAGE compared to your genius! What was I thinking, making a game on my own? I'm TOTALLY on board with stopping all my stuff and joining up with you!

I'm just kidding, of course. A good article with a lot of painfully honest yet useful advice. I'm looking forward to reading the second part.


Thanks! I'm doing my best to get it done as soon as I can!
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
13724
You'll have to excuse me if I mentally answered the "So, what have you made?" question with "Darigaaz, what have I not made?"
Great read, Nova. Every n00b needs to read this ( they probably won't ). If there is an IGMC next year, I'm going to test out the team-work aspect myself. :D
Thanks, yuna! I'm glad to hear you liked it!

author=Link_2112
I think it could end up being something linked to people as Liberty warns them in their topic.


I would be so honored if this actually happened! Now I need to really hurry up with the second part while the presentation is still fresh in my mind...
BurningTyger
Hm i Wonder if i can pul somethi goff here/
1266
I've very much often been the "idea mAn" in the past, but have had some good output too. Portfolio and practice time- that's partly what MOG is about.
Good to hear! Hope it helps you in some way.
Forgive me for bumping an old thing, but this is incredible! If I ever do launch a team (which won't be until I finish at least one semi well-liked game on my own) I will be armed with tools to do. :D
That's fine! Thanks for reading!
kentona
The A is for DRAMA
18905
Now I want to make a topic with “I want to make a project with someone. Message me if you are interested,” and nothing else and see what happens.
Good, good. If you're as veiled and obscure as possible, the allure of mystery will CERTAINLY attract the kind of crowd you're looking for!

Oh, and don't forget to add an "Unpaid" tag to your topic.

EDIT: Apologies. I forgot to tell you to mention that this is a LONG TERM project as well. How could I be so forgetful?
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
13724
Heroes Realm 3 confirmed.
unity
You're magical to me.
8643
"I want a dozen unpaid professional level coders, artists, and musicians to help me remake Final Fantasy 8 but starring the cast of Dragon Warrior 4 and replacing the junction system with Dress Spheres."
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
13724
Full HD and 3D modelling/rigging, right?
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