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How can someone lead a game project who has no game development experience?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Master-Frog, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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  2. frosted

    frosted

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    Sure. But it'll be a nightmare (even if it actually succeeds).
     
  3. antislash

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    one can with lots of money :D
     
  4. Master-Frog

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    Maybe if they had experience directing a movie? Producer of a radio show?
     
  5. Master-Frog

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    As in sub everything out?
     
  6. antislash

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    yep or making lots of expensive errors ;) but speaking seriously, hiring a project manager with game dev experience is possible.
     
  7. Master-Frog

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    But you have to pay the programmers and artists right?
     
  8. antislash

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    you said "lead" not "do the entire"
    ofc if you need all work to be done, you may pay people for that, unless you have plenty of animal magnetism and some guru skills and you are able to make people follow you in the name of love...;)
     
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  9. Master-Frog

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    Seems like you still need somebody with knowledge of making the software to act as an intermediary.
     
  10. antislash

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    there are some project managers available from time to time when they finish a project, jumping to another.
    a project manager will tell you what kind of persons you need to hire and eventually will be able to recruit them (or define position).
    you can hire this person as part time consultant, i think some here are able to do the job.... if you pay them for.
     
  11. Kiwasi

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    Everyone's got to start somewhere. My general suggestion is to learn game dev by jumping on to an existing project and completing that. Preferably a paid role with an established studio.

    However its also possible to jump straight in and do things yourself. Just be prepared to learn a lot of lessons the hard way.
     
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  12. JamesLeeNZ

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    There are a lot of project managers that manage coding projects with zero coding experience.

    Often they are not as good as leads with actual experience.
     
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  13. antislash

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    right, a project manager is a manager...
    a project manager with background is a good manager

    but hey, Anselmo, if you fell you have the guts to manage a team, then go for it, but you'll have to give them money or a seriously designed and inspiring project , lots of indies just work this way.
     
  14. Deleted User

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    They're actually called project "destruction" specialists, they take a simple concept and wrap it in so much red tape / procedures that a simple premise that takes a week all of a sudden takes a month.

    Hell if the big bosses ever cottoned on that people could write documentation and schedule their own stuff in their calendars, the un-employment queue would spike over night...
     
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  15. Fantastic Worlds Studio

    Fantastic Worlds Studio

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    All I have to say is that if someone wants to lead a game design company with no design or programming experience, they need to understand and accept the limits of what can be done and when. I worked a lot in food service, and saw first hand too many times where the corporate big-wigs made a rule to affect the kitchen and clearly never worked in a kitchen in their lives, let alone the ones they owned.

    This is like the US and the Congress' Committee on Science and Technology, run by politicians making decisions on science with no clear understanding of any science at all.

    So if you're in charge with no coding/designing experience you need to consult with the lead programmers and make sure what you want can be done and how long it will take.
     
  16. Master-Frog

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    The reason I ask is because of a recent experience I had, where a project making little progress had recently lost several people and when I tried offering suggestions, I was met with the proverbial wall of "don't question me" from such an individual... kinda gave me a few chuckles. Just wondered what the ol community had to say about it.
     
  17. Deleted User

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    Sounds like a loss TBH, if people are leaving and the rest remaining don't listen it sounds rather Titanic.
     
  18. aer0ace

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    Really depends on what the reason for the lack of progress was. Can't blame management if the work wasn't actually getting done. You can blame management if they led the team along a course of a series of missteps that resulted in a lot of wasted work. People leaving can be the result of either of those. But it sounds like it might have been because management was unwilling to offer compromises.

    Curious what your suggestions were...
     
  19. Master-Frog

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    A combination of everything you just said.

    I suggested the manager decide what everybody was supposed to do... very controversial
     
  20. JamesLeeNZ

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    I find its marketing that makes your life miserable... this is when a pm with coding experience is best, because they understand the repercussions of that wizzbang feature some dimwit from marketing told the customer they could have.
     
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  21. Deleted User

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    Don't even get me started on sales :D.... Gotta love the techie life, feels like you're the only one with common sense. It's especially hilarious when they try to tell you how to do your job, because they've been at the company 2 years and "understand" how things work.

    Yeah peeps, sure you do. Let's just ignore the decade plus of technical experience and let's go with your hair brained idea.

    *Cough* sorry, it still feels fresh :D..
     
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  22. Frpmta

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    Now that I wonder... Anyone got a good link regarding Game Development Project Management?
    Both sites and books. I have of course Google'd it, but what are the must read resources?
     
  23. landon912

    landon912

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    Ah the feels here. Unfortunately I'm under NDA.

    Just please, if you're a project manager and don't have experience in the field you're managing, listen to the people who do on your team. Take their advice.
     
  24. Polywick-Studio

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    Usually they do. The art director or technical director is usually, an artist or developer previously.

    If the person has no experience in leading a team, I don't know of any...
     
  25. Polywick-Studio

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    Is that a game being developed?

    Is it a paid project?

    Are there artists and developers on that project?

    Can you provide more info?
     
  26. tedthebug

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    Sometimes project leads are hired to attend all the meetings etc so that the team leads can focus on getting their teams to meet deadlines. In the public service we called it promoting people to their level of incompetence I.e. You promote people until they are to incompetent to get promoted any higher but high enough to be removed from the levels that actually have to do work.
     
  27. Master-Frog

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    Unpaid, yet people are being bossed around. Bad situation.
     
  28. KidMakesGames

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    Yes you can,with 0 zero experience.Just watch the project and make programmers/artists help each other,that way,less work for you.If you pay people they will work better and you can boss around,if not then be chill and try to make it fun,so nobody gets bored. :D Ohh yeah-give advices and be a chill person,but proffesional.
     
  29. Master-Frog

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    Anyone?
     
  30. ippdev

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    Tell em to STFU and produce a GDD. No GDD then they don't get to tell everyone what is going to occur if they cannot grasp the pipeline of development tasks and goals.
     
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  31. Master-Frog

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    This is what I'm saying... if you expect people to do something, you need to know what they need to do before hand. You can't take a wait and see approach... haha.
     
  32. Polywick-Studio

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    Was this a local job or a remote job?
     
  33. ippdev

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    Trump 'em -> "Yer Fired!"
     
  34. antislash

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    ippdev is right, you must bring a solid project, well thought, and show them the interest of it ans its potential.
    no GDD no cake.
     
  35. Master-Frog

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    Thanks guys
     
  36. Polywick-Studio

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    > How can someone lead a game project who has no game development experience?


    You cannot. The person will have no experience in doing basic things - coding, development, game design and very important things which cannot be easily teach, such as, IAP design, game design, detailed arts.


    They often taunt us, like,

    They often tell their art is better -
    I tell them - if you art is so good, where is your card-art on TCG (Trading Card Games)?

    - their code is better...
    I tell them, you have not coded a single line in your life.

    Their portfolio have nothing for years on end.

    It's very difficult to teach such people if they act in such manner.
     
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  37. angrypenguin

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    That's ok, because those things aren't their job. I've managed team of artists before despite not even having basic sketching skills. Project management is its own skill set, and good project managers are managing people with unfamiliar technical skills all the time. The things you list should be the domain of relevant technical, design, and art leads, with whom the project manager should work. In fact, a project manager on a large project typically won't have time to look over the technical aspects on their own.

    That's not to say that having a basic understanding of what your relevant team(s) are doing isn't a huge benefit, but it shouldn't be a roadblock in and of itself.
     
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  38. antislash

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    backing angrypenguin post...
    i have founded a games school 12 years ago .. and we planned to have a section dedicated to project managing..
    i had no experience in creating businesses, but i did it and it is still successful.
    but i linked with the right people, in engineer shools, listened to their advice.
    the eng school directors advised us on how to create a proper project manager cursus aside the game creation section.
    and yes, it is a skiil by it's own and a project manager doesn't have to know about each skill but he has to know how to articulate each one, the project manager doesn't make technical or artistical décisions, he puts people that can take those decisions working together, the project manager facilitates their work and make sure the corresponding ressources are available to them.
     
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  39. ironbellystudios

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    I think its important to remember that lead design or lead producer are a) very different roles and b) the smallest task on your plate is ideas. That is the most common misconception I think about design.

    Newcomers believe that they have the most brilliant ideas ever and therefore should be designers. That's ok, we were all like that once. Once you have a bucket of experience you realize that the idea stage is not where your value is created. It is being the link between technical limitations, artistic limitations, and imagination and finding creative solutions to problems that arise within that linkage.

    So, when someone is rejecting your ideas, it is important to keep in mind it could be because your ideas are good but there isn't a good grasp of the limitations they are breaking, or could be your ideas are just not as good as you think (gotta learn to let go when your vision isn't aligning with team member's - especially in a role that you are not wielding complete authority). Could be other things too of course :)

    Point is: Design is more about managing relationships and expectations than it is about ideas.
     
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  40. Teo

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    You may hire some one who actually know what is doing and what to hire.

    Else, with out experience, I doubt anyone can lead a game dev project.
     
  41. RichardKain

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    Effective project management is not necessarily the same thing as being a good game developer. A lot of the specialized skills associated with game development aren't necessary for running and managing a project.

    That said, having some level of experience in a game development environment would significantly prepare someone for being an effective manager of such a project. Specifically, it would give them a better idea as to how long they could expect certain tasks to take. Familiarity with a normal dev environment would better prepare someone for such a role.

    Development skill and project management skill are not interchangeable. While there is some overlap, being a solid developer does not make you ready to run a team. A good developer can operate as a lone wolf. But a project manager must, MUST have solid interpersonal skills. Most of his job is not in making the game, but in communicating with the people who make the game. (and helping them to communicate with each other)

    Also, while I have been using male pronouns, it is worth noting that all of this applies to women as well as men. In fact, I would argue that women in general might be more appropriate for the role of project manager than most men.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
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  42. Teo

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    @RichardKain , your right, but if you don't have enough game dev experience, you may still finish the project, of course spending more money that necessary. Is about efficiency.
     
  43. JamesLeeNZ

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    Of course the complete flip side to this is having game dev experience does not mean you will be a good project lead either.
     
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  44. Master-Frog

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    Well lemme give you an example situation... for your consideration.

    Say project lead tells everybody do some work. Coders code, artists art, people make a prototype with some standard assets... everybody feels pretty good with what they have.

    Then novice lead says, okay it didn't work out well... what we have is no good. Now we're doing something different instead, I want coders to code, artists to do art, blah blah blah...

    Okay, so... what confidence does anyone have that this is going to actually work out this time?

    And that's the whole problem with poor leadership... where are they leading you? To an abandoned project? Off a cliff? People have every right to question leadership. It's fundamental.

    So when leadership can't even stand up to some simple scrutiny... that's when I think it's o.k. to bail.

    To me a leader needs to be accountable, have good communication skills, care about getting results and to give people a sense of confidence that something good will result from all their hard work. It's not a fun or an easy job. And it takes a whole lot more than bossing people around and telling them to get back to work.

    And stuff.
     
  45. antislash

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    this part is the worst beginning i ever see :D

    project lead don't "tell"... he first explains, first listens to what people in charge of coding and art say...
    the lead explains the goals, the strategy, the team does the tactics....

    it's almost like in a battle, a general doesn't even put a toe on the battlefileld, he plans stragegy with the ressources given to him, the officers apply tactic rules to achieve a strategy.

    your talent will be in your ability to make them firmly believe you're the man if they need you. If they can believe you will do everything you can to make them all succeed, then you have a chance to gain leadership.

    but in addition, you must develop consistent communication skills and have a strong understanding of how to manage individuals.

    first step is to be honest to them, some will forgive your non experience but no one will forgive you pretend you have..
     
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  46. angrypenguin

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    Indeed! Being a good lead isn't about being a boss, it's about making sure people understand their goals and facilitating everything they need to achieve them.

    In all my time as a lead over many projects I don't think anyone has ever done something "because I told them so". (Though there have been quite a few occasions where it's been "because the client wants it that way", which is admittedly pretty similar!) They've always done things because a) they're what need to get done and b) they're team members and want the team to succeed. I consider myself lucky and privileged to have been in a position to assemble a team of people like that, so it won't always be quite so easy as I've had it, but I still think that's an ideal to aim for as any kind of lead.
     
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  47. I am da bawss

    I am da bawss

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    They say leaders are born, not made! :D
     
  48. LeftyTwoGuns

    LeftyTwoGuns

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    Gotta start somewhere, no? Experience comes from doing. How do you get experience without doing anything? If you're willing to learn, you have the qualification to do anything
     
  49. GarBenjamin

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    Depends on the person. A good leader knows where they are leading and why. They know... or at least will make a point to find out... the strengths and weaknesses of the people they are leading. A good leader asks questions, listens and uses the input to make them better prepared to manage the project. The focus should be on managing the project not on (micro)managing people. Find good people, provide a target to reach and share that goal with them. Tell them to let you know as soon as they encounter any obstacles so you can work to remove those obstacles. Set up a meeting every week or two. Then get the hell out of the way and let them go at it.
     
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  50. angrypenguin

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    But lets temper this with the idea that people who are willing to learn typically don't try to start at the top.
     
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