Search Unity

is it possible to develop a good game with democracy ?!

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by ariyan-hm, Nov 24, 2014.

  1. ariyan-hm

    ariyan-hm

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Posts:
    12
    hi . im ariyan and im kinda new to game business , currently working in a small team formed of 3 programmers 1 artist (me) and a game designer and bunch of marketing guys .we're going to decide what type of game we want to work on this Thursday as a team , and im very concerned about it, cause we have completely separate ideas , this guy says we must build strategy that guy says we must build a platformer and im sure we wont be able to come to an agreement about a good game IP . and this is not new to me . my last team collapsed because of similar conditions : everyone had a separate idea about every little detail and we weren't able to design and develop a game with complete democracy.
    so what do you think we should do is it possible to develop a good game with democracy ?!
     
  2. Zaladur

    Zaladur

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2012
    Posts:
    391
    With smaller, indie teams, I find it much easier to form teams around a project than forming a project around a team. Chances are, you are running with a team where everyone wants to be the main designer, using the other team members for their technical skills.
     
  3. Teila

    Teila

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Posts:
    6,674
    Everyone wants to be a designer, even the fans. :) I used to lead a team of writers and I had to make sure they knew when hired that we were not designers. We write what they design. Still, it was difficult. The reason we all make games is because we believe we can make a better game so it is very hard to not...well, design.

    I agree with Zaladur, much easier to form teams around the project than the other way around. I recommend doing what is easiest or what team members might already have experience doing and assign one person as the lead designer. Write out an outline for the design doc and stick to it, as tough as it is. You can always add later or make a second game after finishing your first one.

    I know..easier said than done. ;)
     
    longisle likes this.
  4. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    25,356
    Get a nice stick and beat them. Place carrots just out of reach.
     
  5. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Posts:
    1,718
    No. There has to be leadership of some form. Success will depend on the quality of that leadership.
     
    ariyan-hm likes this.
  6. Whippets

    Whippets

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Posts:
    1,774
    Ask for input from team and/or community by all means. Weigh up the pros and cons of each piece of input, and then you decide. The final direction is yours; you can be swayed slightly on some of the finer points, but keep a firm grip on the destination.
     
  7. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,423
    It's possible obviously as many people have done it but yes the key is everyone needs to be able to keep their egos in check. By that I mean everyone needs to be able and willing to stop trying to lead the project and instead focus on contributing to the project. It is the whole "too many cooks in the kitchen" syndrome.

    You can value everyone's input. That is important. But you need to all share the vision and gel as a team.

    Some strategies you could try:

    Letting each person be the lead on their project. First you need to choose a project to do. Ideally starting with whoever has the simplest game project in mind with the least scope of work. Use that to get your processes established for how to best work together. Whoever had that game idea is the lead for the project. When you go on to project 2 that really excites a different person they are the lead on it and so forth.

    Another thing you can try which is most common is do the same process of agreeing to create everyone's game one after the other but this time only one person is always officially in charge and everyone else focuses only on what their area of expertise period.

    The biggest challenges for most people are that each of us has our own interests and certain game styles excite us and others bore us to death. When working on a team you all have to be willing to contribute 100% even if the current project is one where you have no interest. That is not an easy thing to do but it is life. The second biggest challenge (for some it is the greatest) is stepping down and following someone else's lead. But again it has to happen to some degree at least.

    If you could find the perfect fit.... team members who all want to create the same kind of game the same way then you will have a much easier time with it all. That is not so easy to find though so learning how to effectively work in a team is what you all should focus on right now. Pick the simplest project and use it to figure out how to (and if you can) effectively work together.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
    longisle, ariyan-hm and median like this.
  8. ariyan-hm

    ariyan-hm

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Posts:
    12
    i completely agree with you zaladur , but when you have limited budget its really hard to build a good team around a project . so you have to get them involved in project to get their attention .
    and Garbenjamin has a point for this situation everyone needs to be able and willing to stop trying to lead the project and instead focus on contributing to the project .
    i think every team should chose a leader among themselves and stick to his\her lead .
    it will surly be hard for me to and everyone to stick to leaders plan but it maybe is the only way for a project to happen indeed.
     
  9. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Posts:
    2,981
    Want the simplest solution? Shrink your scope by 100x and build the product yourself. Maybe pull in 1 or 2 part-time people to help with specific tough spots. Until you are an expert in your field and are paying salaries, your ideas hold no more weight than the rest of the team. If the leader still wants to lead, despite not having these two things, then study important qualities for a game designer, and in particular, these communication tips:

    Gigi
     
    Kiwasi and RJ-MacReady like this.
  10. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Posts:
    1,718
    Read my mind. DIY.

    Either shrink the scope, or get better. Or both. If you can prove you're some genius, people will be dying to work with you. If not, it's just the same old development hell... one guy quits, one chick goes full diva, blah, blah, blah and then you're stuck holding the bag like, "Ok, great. All that and there's still no game."

    The world of Minecraft is infinite, your time and sanity is not.
     
    Gigiwoo and ariyan-hm like this.
  11. puppeteer

    puppeteer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Posts:
    1,206
    Democracy is a very inefficient way of accomplishing things. You will eventually need to decide who has the vision to lead the project at hand, and make others follow her/his guidance while retaining the right to provide positive critical input.

    If you're unsure of this method, and you still don't want to go separate ways, you can agree to have a rotation of sorts for the project leadership on future projects. This way, everyone will have a chance to realize his vision without getting jumbled up with ego fights between team members.
     
  12. jepriddy

    jepriddy

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    Posts:
    4
    *disclaimer*: I am not a developer... more of a tinkerer, also I've never been a part of a software dev team. That said, I have been a leader of a team which required different contributions from different members who were experts in their respective areas to accomplish a common goal for the group. I've also been a member of a different group in a similar situation that was far less effective for various reasons. Here's the short answer, democracy != "we can't do this unless everyone agrees"... which is a common misconception. It means that majority rules. Knowing that, we can safely say that democracy in an interdisciplinary situation is a horrible idea. Take this example: A team requires 4 engineers and 1 liason... obviously the liason cannot control the group (it's not feasible to try to please everyone, and some things just cannot be realistically done at this time); however, it's equally bad if you use democracy (because the engineers outnumber the liason) because the engineering aspect isn't necessarily more important than the liason aspects... and since engineers tend to think in a similar fashion, the liason may end up becoming little more than a quiet adviser.

    The best method, in my opinion, is a feedback-oriented division of authority. As a programmer, I want to do the game this way... the code makes more sense, it's simpler, and easier to maintain/debug... but the gamer doesn't play the code do they? Certainly that doesn't make the coding aspect unimportant, but it isn't the only thing that matters... why else would we have an artist? Ultimately the key is **communication**. The most important factor of this communication is the ability to honestly represent the facts without bias. As an artist it's not your job to tell everyone else the *best* way, or the *right* way... that's really as much a matter of opinion (as informed as it may be) as anything else. The trick is to give the juicy tidbits of information that are important and sensible to those that understand them. As an example:
    Artist: "As I understand it, we are attempting to ensure that, with baseline hardware, the user can expect a minimum of 50 fps... is that right?"
    others: "yeah."
    artist: "Well, that limits what we can realistically do here. We can either try to limit the amount of scenery visible or decrease the quality of...."

    The whole point here is that the artist has been creative and come up with a few solutions to present to the group, and the group can decide as a whole the direction that should be taken. Noone will know your area better than you, so it's up to you (while in your role) to act as a steward for the group as a whole.

    All that said, this approach relies on the solidarity of the group. You must have a common goal and a common direction. Having a difference of opinion is a great thing, it brings diversity to the process of creation... but you won't get anywhere if you're trying to design two or three different games at the same time... or worst case scenario is you'll end up with a franken-game that just doesn't work. Finding that common ground in terms of the direction and feel of the game overall is of paramount importance... as long as everyone's on the same page there, the smaller semantics tend to be less consequential than they feel to each individual.
     
  13. evan140

    evan140

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Posts:
    72
    My two cents...

    Become A Team.

    The difference between a team and a group of strangers is that everyone is united in some way. Agree to what makes you all united. It doesn't even have to be who is in charge, but an agreement on how to make choices. At least at first. Also, it doesn't have to be forever. You could, for example, make an agreement for just 1 game. Then you'll make a new agreement after that. It could be the story by person X, and the game mechanics by person Y, and art style of person Z. Maybe each team member has the say about a tangible aspect like that, instead of 1 person getting to be in charge. Anything is possible.

    With a small team, follow the advice of modern entrepreneurs (see various business podcasts). Work with an iterative approach. Get something MADE, quickly! Make something small and fun. Take this opportunity to learn how you work as a team and also learn how to work on a project efficiently.

    For the meeting, have each team member make a presentation about the project THEY would like to make. Give a structure to attempt to follow. Be specific enough to get a good idea of the project each person is proposing.

    For example:
    • I have a vision for a game using X,Y,Z features and concepts.
      Example: I would like to see a game like Cards Against Humanity but using RPG mechanics.
    • I have a story, character, setting, etc idea I would like to see made.
      Example: I would like to make a fantasy game that explores the life of a quirky Paladin.
    • I don't care about what we make, I just want to make something that takes place in the distant future. Love the distant future! Can't get enough of it!
    Consider not taking on the major project from any member. Consider creating a small app to introduce a story or character. Make it something you can give yourself a very solid deadline and work towards it. Reward yourselves if you meet it. If you can make that side project happen, you can give serious consideration to the investment of time and energy to the bigger project.

    Become a team first.
     
  14. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    7,783
    A game needs a vision, and someone driving that vision. It's that simple.


    Thier role may vary, but someone needs to be the advocate for the game. Games are complex and while many people may be involved, democracy is a sure way to make a crappy, uninspired game.
     
    Gigiwoo and hippocoder like this.
  15. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    25,356
    Adding a bit to zombie's post - democracy isn't the same as input, so you can still have a strong clear vision of what the game is, but people can give input and feel valued still. Just not at the expense of the vision.
     
    zombiegorilla likes this.
  16. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Posts:
    2,981
    Have you released any games this way? My experience argues for the exact opposite. Before you start forming teams and democratizing yourself to death, try making a game BY YOURSELF! Make the most TRIVIAL possible game you can make in 4 weeks and finish it!

    PS - I agree wholeheartedly with @zombiegorilla and @hippocoder. A game needs a vision - a driving force, that is open to all sorts of inputs.

    Gigi
     
    hippocoder likes this.
  17. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    7,783
    Totally. I didn't mean to imply it in a dictatorial sense, but in a game advocacy sense. Input is critical to good team health and sense of ownership.

    Given that games can take a long to time to complete, it is often the case that after you have spent a year or more working on a game, you drift into thinking of future improvements and v2.0 long before the public ever even sees v1.0. Having someone who carries and maintains the vision of the core/base game really keeps it on track. Typically everyone involved is highly creative. Balancing balancing improving the game with new ideas that arise and not losing the core game is important.
     
    Gigiwoo and hippocoder like this.
  18. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    25,356
    Specially artists who dream of features that look amazing and can't ever possibly work without breaking half the core mechanic :)
     
    zombiegorilla and Gigiwoo like this.
  19. ostrich160

    ostrich160

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Posts:
    679
    This quote (is it a quote even, or a fable? I dont know) I find all too relevant to indie game development. Everyone has ideas, everyone wants theirs implemented, and the end product is none of your original plans. Sometimes, often even, this is a good thing, but I prefer to work alone
     
    Kiwasi likes this.
  20. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,452
    This strikes me as a bad idea. Democracies in general don't work. Give any number of people a single task to do and they will come up with a myriad ways to do it. That's why we have a leader.

    Look at democracies all around the world in politics. Nobody votes on each decision. Rather you vote in a small group of representatives to make the decision. That group of representatives will often then vote in a leader that makes the actual decisions when it comes down to the wire.
     
    Ryiah likes this.
  21. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Posts:
    383
    I read the first post in this thing, and it reminded me of every group game project I did in school which failed utterly.

    You have 1 game designer, 3 programmers, 1 artist... and some marketing...

    If you have a designer... then hang the design on the designer. Give that person the authority to design, make the decisions, shape the game, that's what a designer is for.
     
    Kiwasi likes this.
  22. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    2,605
    I am not a fan of democracy in business and projects.

    A better word for it is "bureaucracy".

    I think it's much better to have a leader that takes input, but keeps the project on track. Unfortunately, without immediate financial incentive that falls apart real fast and people walk away.
     
  23. felix_of_mars

    felix_of_mars

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2013
    Posts:
    18
    As someone who has worked for big and not so big teams and had games released I would say you always need a responsible stakeholder even if you listen to all ideas there needs to be someone calling the shots and being responsible. At the end of the day its a bit like project management and again you need to be confident in what your saying is fact. you may get it wrong sometimes but its a lot better than spinning your wheels and not releasing a product or even worse releasing something inconsistent and broken due to ideas that don't gel.
     
  24. ostrich160

    ostrich160

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Posts:
    679
    But within indie teams a designer can work really badly, especially if its just an ideas guy type role. I would never work in a team like that.
    The only real solution in my opinion to this is to have the game designer as, in this case, the artist as well, so they need to do some technical work.
     
  25. LaneFox

    LaneFox

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Posts:
    6,434
    Elect a leader and let him make the final calls based on team input.

    If the team doesn't like it, then you have a crappy team.
     
    Not_Sure, DanSuperGP and Kiwasi like this.
  26. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    2,605
    Well that just sounds like work...
    [/SNARK]
     
  27. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    4,137
    That name... this topic... haha...

    Try making a list of everyone's ideas. Then group ideas that cover the same mechanics. Then narrow it down ones that are overly similar. You should be left with 1-3 ideas that show a range of approaches for that one mechanic and the group decision from there will be easier to make.
     
    GarBenjamin and Kiwasi like this.