TEAMWORK AND YOU PT. 3: RMN

What I learned while working on a team

  • Red_Nova
  • 05/11/2015 02:59 PM
  • 1856 views
Teamwork and You



This is less a part 3 of Teamwork and You and more of an addendum of part 2, which you can read HERE. This article is less about teamwork in general and more about using some RMN features that some may not be aware of. Yes, there are plenty of alternative methods of communication with varying levels of effectiveness. However, RMN does have a surprising amount of features that enable effective communication between team members.

One thing to keep in mind is that RMN is not the ultimate solution. Something could happen that would temporarily shut down the site. As such, RMN is probably best if you're working on smaller projects. If you're going to work on something huge (like Final Fantasy Discovery huge) you're probably better off moving off site to arrange your documentation.

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1: The importance of documentation

When you're working alone on a game, documentation is important. When you're working with a team, documentation is vital. Keeping your documentation as precise and accurate as possible is important to make sure that you are all on the same page. In fact, I made a conscious effort to go through each and every segment daily to make sure that I didn't deviate from the design of the game.

If there is any confusion, you can go to the section and pull quotes to remind others why you made certain choices.



2: Why I prefer it over Skype or Google Docs:

RMN is awesome, but you may be wondering why we chose this method instead of, say, Google Docs or Skype for ease of communication. After all, aren't they more specialized in the field of sharing design documents? At least Google Docs is. Well, you are correct. It's especially convenient that you can make the edits to a document yourself as well as add annotations in the appropriate places on each document. However, if everyone can edit and annotate as they please, it would be pretty easy for information to get confused or distorted, especially if there is some sort of miscommunication between your team that could cause any incorrect edits to be made. Plus, as far as I could tell, it would be difficult to revert back to a previous version of the document.

In order to prevent information from getting jumbled up, it's best to gave one person alone be in charge of making edits to the documentation. This will keep everything organized and the team doesn't have to worry about random changes after certain parts have been implemented.

The second major reason I prefer RMN is comments. If information needs to be referenced at a later date, it's best if you can just scroll through the comments and mentally retrace your conversation. Google Docs has a drop down menu where you can read all the annotations in order of posting, but I found that it isn't as helpful as reading through an entire conversation near the bottom of the page. Perhaps it's just the layout of RMN that I like, but it helps keep all the information organized. Forum posts are the same thing as annotations, but they are all collected into one area that you can easily reference.


The final reason why I like RMN is you can set up different tabs for each category of your game. With tabs, it's easy to keep all the information organized within each category, so there's no hunting down a long string of messages just to find one directive or instruction you had forgotten about.

Here, take a look at the Remnants of Isolation page list:



You can see here that we have a different page set up for each category of the game. This is important because there are a lot of aspects that go into a game's development as I'm sure you're already aware. Keeping all that information straight in your head isn't hard, it's impossible. Therefore, organize your thoughts and plans into each category and make a tab covering each one.

Arguably the most important page of this entire list would be the Deadline page. Here, the different dates where certain parts of the game are expected to be finished are listed. Use this tab to set both short term and long term milestones to give the team constant goals to look forward to. When should the first level be completed? The second? Third? When should the character art be finalized? When should the enemies in the first/second/third levels be done? And of course, when should the actual game be completed.

Pro tip: Plan to have the beta build finished AT LEAST four days before the deadline. That way, you can go back and fix up issues and pretty it up later. Better to have a mediocre playable product than an unfinished one with a pretty ribbon.


3: That beautiful little checkbox, "Dev's Only"



If you make a new page with this box checked, only people listed as devs and testers can see this. This makes communicating with the team that much easier.

Guess what? Testers are part of your team as well, so you should make sure to set up your game page so you can talk with them just as you would a team member. Plus, naming people as testers gives them a nice boost in Makerscore, and as we all know, Makerscore is life!

However, if you choose to go this route, understand that testers will now receive notifications of every post you make in non testing pages. They aren't devs, so they won't be able to sift through all the pages you've set up, just the ones they receive notifications for. You could use this as an opportunity to have an in-depth discussion with testers about their reports

If you're okay with this, then great. Just be aware that this will happen.

Going back to the management page section, if you scroll upward, you'll notice another checkbox:



Leave this unchecked. Checking this box will make the page available on the primary navigation bar on the public profile. Of course, nobody that you haven't named as devs or testers will be able to actually follow the link, but having a public link that players can't follow is just unprofessional.



4: Hot potato the build:

This section alone could go in a different article about development styles so I won't go into too much detail here. I'll just say this: You have the ability to mark downloads as testers's copies. Use it. This allows you to put up PLAYABLE content for your team to actually PLAY and look over. Because until you have something PLAYABLE, your perfect design plan is about as meaningful as a fart in the wind.




It's important that you do this constantly, because a) you get a constant feel of how the project is turning out (which is almost never like how you planned it in your head) and b) it contributes to a checks and balances system. If you're playing new content that your teammate just uploaded, it's possible that you could catch something that they did not, and can address it before it becomes a problem later down development time.


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Hopefully, after all this, you have a better understanding of how you can use RMN's features to make communicating with your teammates easier. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading!

Posts

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CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
9762
Pro tip: Plan to have the beta build finished AT LEAST four days before the deadline. That way, you can go back and fix up issues and pretty it up later. Better to have a mediocre playable product than an unfinished one with a pretty ribbon.


Yeah wow, I don't think I've ever done this.

This section alone could go in a different article about development styles so I won't go into too much detail here. I'll just say this: You have the ability to mark downloads as testers's copies. Use it. This allows you to put up PLAYABLE content for your team to actually PLAY and look over. Because until you have something PLAYABLE, your perfect design plan is about as meaningful as a fart in the wind.


I prefer using Dropbox for this because 1) Downloading from RMN can sometimes be slow, and 2) Dropbox automatically updates the version inside your entire team's folders.

Nice article on how to use RMN to sort your documentation and builds. Maybe I'll consider using it instead of Google Docs for my next team project. Cheers, Red.
author=CashmereCat
I prefer using Dropbox for this because 1) Downloading from RMN can sometimes be slow, and 2) Dropbox automatically updates the version inside your entire team's folders.


This is interesting. I try to keep as many tasks as I can on as few sites as I can to keep it as simple as possible, but this makes me very curious. I'll have to look into this a bit more.

Glad you got something out of the article!
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
9762
Yeah, I mean we used Dropbox for Our Desolate Planet and it meant we were able to commit very small changes by just replacing a couple of files within the Data folder, and it would automatically sync everyone's game project on the computers (if you have the Dropbox app installed). You would then copy the files from the Dropbox folder, edit them to your liking and reupload them, and we would keep periodic backups to make sure we didn't lose anything.

Our development process was a mess mostly because of a lack of cohesion in the ideas of what we wanted the game to be, but nevertheless the Dropbox service was very useful in providing a quick, reliable and robust way of updating the file versions.
Cap_H
Well, well, welp
5311
Thanks, Nova.
I definitely learned something.
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration, and Guardian Angel of the Description Thread
14182
What about communicating with your team before you even have a gamepage? Don't get me wrong, being able to use hidden pages is a great feature, but, I'm at least 90% sure an accepted gamepage is needed before you can add tabs, (whither they are hidden or not), to it.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
9762
PMs, IRC, Skype or Facebook messaging are options. I'm just going to create an analysis of the pros and cons of each just because I feel like it. Don't mind me.

PMs
+ Able to create long, formatted posts and generally more control over
+ Centralized on a site RMNers visit each day (RMN)
- Chat isn't quick, talking over each other is easy because you may compose while the other person is replying and miss their message
- Easy to miss things in very long PMs
- Must specify adding each member of your team each time you send a message

IRC
+ Instantaneous chat
+ Easy to use, no installation required (Mibbit is web-based)
- If you disconnect accidentally, or quit, does not keep chat logs so you don't have a log
- Can get annoying to someone if they're trying to work and they keep bugging you on IRC, more talk than do

Skype
+ Instantaneous chat
+ Good, organized group chat with a log of what has been said
- Requires installation onto your computer
- Can get annoying to someone if they're trying to work and they keep bugging you on Skype, more talk than do

Facebook
+ Instantaneous chat
+ Good, organized group chat with a log of what has been said
- Having to share your real life name and persona
- For people who have to use Facebook for personal use, you appear online even when you may not want to interact with this group
Is it me, or do you like to make a lot of these pro/con lists, Cash? This is a really good breakdown of the pros and cons, as I don't use IRC for Facebook. Do you mind if I add this to the main article? It could be very useful to people.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
9762
I make lists all the time, often out of compulsion. Most of them I don't show to people, partly because it's a bit embarrassing saying, "Oh yeah, and I rank things from best to worst, as a hobby". When I want to go see a film, I will put all the films that are showing into a spreadsheet, gather the IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic ratings and paste them into this spreadsheet, then use an algorithm to find out which one has the highest overall rating. I could probably devise a script that automates this.

I have a list of all the RPG Maker games I ever remember playing, ranked from best to worst, and rated as a percentage value. People would probably hate me for being so objective about my opinions. I used to include ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for Audiovisual, Story, Gameplay, Presentation, and Innovation, and then I tried to generate an algorithm that would most accurately represent my views. I have a list that tries to predict how good future films will be based on the director and writer's previous efforts. I created a list of the best to worst Batman films based on user and critic reviews, including animated and straight-to-video. I went on a scouring hunt to find low budget films that generated high returns, and ranked them based on the user and critic scores. I followed American Idol day-to-day, analyzing the ratio of likes to dislikes on each of the performer's videos to try and track who was most popular at the time.

In a nutshell, I'm pretty fricking crazy about making lists and analyzing stuff, so much so that it often affects the usage of my time negatively.

Yes, you can add the table in there if you'd like.
kentona
▲▲▼▼◄►◄►(B) (A)
19528
It's almost as if the person who implemented these features into RMN is a seasoned game developer himself!
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