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Starting new (possibly opensource) project, finding teammates, building community?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by wanucha1, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    Hi, I want to get into game development and I need help with organization stuff.

    I have a lot of professional programming experience (Java backend, research simulations), bunch of free time and I don't have to care about my money for some time. I can handle most of the technical stuff associated with SW dev (git, tickets, ...).
    I tried solo developing games in Unity two times, I had no major technical issues, but both tries failed on motivation.

    This time I want to start a project, work with other people and have a community to motivate me. I have a solid idea, I already started programming and now I need the people.

    My main goals are:
    • Develop and improve a freeware game, that I will be happy with and it will find its fans.
    • Work with other people, they will happily work for free with me.
    • Develop and improve my team leading and presentation skills.
    • Teach something new my teammates and learn from them.
    • Get better at game design and development.
    • We all will enjoy developing it and stay motivated.
    • If possible, I don't want to start a company yet.

    Now the issues that I need help with:
    • Should it be opensource? (pros, cons, ...)
    • Where do I find people to work with me?
      • I will need mainly sound and texture artist, maybe community manager.
      • They don't have to be very good at the beginning and don't work every day, they will work for free.
      • How do I motivate the teammates, if I cannot pay them? I can only promise them experience.
    • Everything about starting a community, presenting the game, creating a web page, ...
    • All the legal stuff about it.

    Please if you have any experience with this, I would appreciate your advice. Also if any of my goals and expectations are incompatible or something missing, let me know.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  2. Yanne065

    Yanne065

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    I think is nearly impossible to have someone work everyday and free for you
     
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  3. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    Ok, I edited it to be more clear :) I don't need them to work every day.
     
  4. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Few issues here. If people are working with you for free, they are working WITH you and not FOR you, and they are not YOUR team. They will cooperate but only as long as the interests align, and will walk away as soon as it is no longer fun. What's more, they'll also will activley try to insert their ideas into the project.

    As a result you won't really develop any sort of presentation or team leading skill, because people aren't following you in the first place.

    Basically, non-commercial and opensource development often works like this:
    ^^^ Those guys aren't helping each other. Each drags the donut in his own direction.

    There are few reasons to go opensource:
    • You're making a political statement. "Free as in Freedom" is that. Those projects usually use GPL license so evil corporations won't make the code proprietary.
    • YOu want everyone to benefit from your code. This is chraacterized by more permissive code license, like zlib, mit, bsd, etc.
    • You have somethign interesting, but have no means to make it commercial, so you set it free.
    You cannot use viral licenses with unity or unreal (as you wont' be able to open the code of the engine), so #1 goes out of the window. The con is that as soon as you accept code contributions, you lose control over codebase, and license change would technically require agreement of all past contributors of the code. The pro, uh... I don't know. You probably help someone with freely accessible code. Maybe. Someone might make something cool out of it, once again, maybe.

    Check out deviant art and the like. Expect a lot of people with awful skills. Expect them to waste your time or try to steer direction of the project.
    For example:

    A: We need a soldier sprite with animation.
    B: Here you go.
    A: (O_O)
    A: Why is that a naked antorpomorphic wolf and there are pornographic animation frames?
    B: Ah, about that, you see, I had an AMAZING idea....
     
  5. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    One con/risk of opensource I forgot to mention is that someone can fork the project and make something that is more popular than the original (maintained by you). This doesn't really happen often, but that's a possibility.

    Then again, a sufficiently dedicated person can clone your commercial work too and make a more popular clone.
     
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  6. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    Thanks for the reply.
    I was thinking how is it possible for more people to work on a free project and maintain main course and now I see it's not very possible. The opensource options now looks like it will cause me more trouble than positive results.

    So the best option for me now looks like the way most solo devs go: Start a solo game, build a community (I still need to figure this one out), start a company, find a publisher (I don't need that now), finish the game, sell the game. Start second project and with the made money they can hire someone, then work on leading skills.

    Or go back to Java backend and improve leading skills much faster on a project that I don't really care about.
     
  7. DauntlessVerbosity

    DauntlessVerbosity

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    You don't really need a publisher nowadays.
     
  8. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    just go one step at a time. You'll waste time overthinking things at this point.
     
  9. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    I tried it two times and failed on motivation, I need a plan for that. I thought a team will help, now this option is almost gone, so the other option is community, it does not have to be big.
     
  10. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    step 1 is finish the game.

    motivation issues is likely caused by a number of factors: maybe you scoped too big, spread yourself too thin, had unrealistic expectations, etc. Or maybe just need to develop work ethic in general. It's not a failure unless you quit. Reassess, reevaluate, make a new plan and persist. Persistence always wins.

    I think there's no point trying to go to step 2 and beyond without completing step 1.
     
  11. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    It is possible if they're getting paid.
    Project being released for free doesn't mean that participants receive no salary.
     
  12. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    Really? I watched some solo dev videos and all of them advised to build a community asap. I think my main reason was no feedback from others. Then focusing on details too soon and not expanding the game. Maybe also the other reasons you mentioned.
    True but I would have to get money for them somewhere and go though all the bureaucracy about salary and taxes. That will be even more challenges at the same time.
     
  13. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    i was under impression you hadn't made any published games. i would consider build a community a later step you focus on after you're comfortable with the "complete a game and publish it" step.
     
  14. DauntlessVerbosity

    DauntlessVerbosity

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    Discipline is what gets you through times when you lack motivation. You won't always feel motivated. It's the people who develop the discipline to keep going regardless of motivation who have a chance to succeed. Personally, I've found that desperation is extremely motivating, though pretty unhealthy, so I can't really recommend it.
     
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  15. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    And in the end was it worth it or would you do something differently?
    I heard about the discipline many times, but also sometimes no motivation means I'm not doing it right and I need to change something. I never really seriously worked on my own, so I cannot distinguish yet that dismotivation from a long term bad mood dismotivation. Well I have almost no motivation to work in a company again, so the way ahead is almost clear.
     
  16. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    From "Shadow of the Hunter" by Richard K. Nelson:

    "Young men said that breathing hole hunting was too cold, that it involved too much waiting. The old men said only that people must eat..."
     
  17. Owen-Reynolds

    Owen-Reynolds

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    That's definitely a thing. People do all sorts of things for free, for fun. With games it's even better: people like to see their stuff out there, get their name on something published, something to put in their portfolio, and it could possibly lead to a paying job. And now people are even more accustomed to using Zoom and never meeting in person.

    Where and how to find people? How to weed out the meatballs? I suppose I'd start with the particular project. There's a thread here about Boxing manager games with people just jumping in about the one they're making, their favorites, and what style they really love. No one wants to work on just "some game".
     
  18. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    In my opinion trying to distuinguish between types of "dismotrivation" is just another form of procrastination.

    If you decided to work on a thing, continue working on that thing. A good reason to work on "the thing" is "if you won't finish it, you'll regret it".

    Community wont' magically remove the unfun part where you actually have to work, and managing community and interacting with it is also work.
     
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  19. Owen-Reynolds

    Owen-Reynolds

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    That's an odd thing to say, since finding a group of people doing the thing that you were doing solo is probably the most common way of motivating oneself. Every softball league has someone "managing community and interacting with it" because they enjoy it.
     
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  20. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    If you reach the point where "desperation" is your motivation then I think you made a mistake a while ago. Game dev is a luxury pursuit. It's expensive and, unless you're lucky, typically a much lower return than other ways you could invest similar skills (such as the job you've already got).

    As for applying discipline in general, this is something you should pursue if you love it. If you're questioning whether or not it's worth it then I doubt that trying to do it in a commercial capacity is for you. Not because it isn't "worth it", but because "worth it" is different to every individual, and if you can't see how it's worth it for your own reasons... see above.

    For me, "worth it" comes from a bunch of things. Working on my own stuff is personally fulfilling. I love seeing how others react to playing something I designed. I love building my own version of cool stuff I've seen others do. The technical challenges are interesting to me. Working with a diverse creative team is just awesome. It's working towards my own ambition rather than someone else's goals. I get to determine and make the impact I want to make on the industry (even though I know it'll be small). I enjoy being productive and may as well channel that into something useful.

    That's why it's "worth it" to me.

    Even when I'm paying them I've always considered people as working "with" me rather than "for" me. I personally much prefer a relationship based on mutual respect rather than on a power differential, especially when it comes to a creative team.

    All of the stuff you've said there, as far as I'm concerned, is stuff that's important to being a good leader in the first place. Whether you're paying them or not you'll still get the most out of a team when your interests align. Hopefully you've picked your team well and inserting their ideas into the project is positive rather than negative.

    But... they are still your team, in the same way that your family and friends are also "yours". My team isn't mine because I own them. They're mine because we choose to do things together rather than separately. With that in mind I've had success with teams in both paid professional contexts and unpaid side projects. Either way I look for the mutual benefit.

    That does mean giving up a little control, but I don't care. If you've got the right people then the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    The hard part is finding the right people.
     
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  21. dibdab

    dibdab

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    I'd rather see tools and some (mini-)features being developed by the community

    there were some tries, projects released on github, (like the ceto ocean) but it's kinda not working.
     
  22. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    All that you said sounds like the ideal future I want. When I was making lots of money on a boring project, I totally felt like wasting my life. And about the team, this sounds like a long way to get to that point. What were your first steps and how did you get there?
     
  23. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Character differences, I suppose?

    Having a community means you'll need to dedicate time to moderating it. Moderating the community is the time you spend not working on your project. Additioanlly softball league is probably not the best thing to be compared with gamedev.

    Lastly, community rather than motivation can create pressure. Some people won't be able to handle it. I recall a certain odd webcomic that suddenly disappeared for the year, as the author had pretty much nevrous breakdown due to perceived exceedingly high expectations. That created fear of screwing up, and made him unable to work.

    A person that handles salary is also the person that has the final say. Basically they can put their foot down and say "we're not doing this thing". And the rest will have to follow through or quit. You can't really do that to the same effect in non-paying setup. As you don't have the leverage.

    In case of non-commercial projects there are people who mistake their position for that of the salary paying boss, try to put their foot down, talk about "their devs"(as in people they OWN) and think themselves to be a king. That creates nasty conflicts and make people walk away.

    Basically, there are two different approaches. A project with a "visionary", and a project that is a "hive mind".
    In case of visionary, there's one person or a small group that know what they need done, and the rest follow their lead.

    In case of "hive mind", you have a melting pot of the ideas and approaches that can eventually result in something happening, but not a single person would be responsible for the whole thing.

    So, basically, centralized/decentralized approach.

    I prefer centralized approach with roles clearly defined and respectful business relationship, rather than a decentralized group where people might feel obliged to act as friends/family of each other.

    But like I said, that's character differences.
     
  24. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Either you've got a bad team or you're a crap manager if it comes down to that, though. Leadership-by-threat hardly sounds like a healthy or positive working environment to me. Even if I'm paying people to do something I want them to choose to be in my team because they want to be, not because of the paycheck.

    Also, consider that in this industry people often get paid less than if they applied the same skills elsewhere.

    It's just as much a mistake in paid teams, too. Honestly, if your team members are good then they can get jobs elsewhere, so even if you're paying them I'd want to give them other reasons to stick around and give you their best, too.
     
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  25. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Might not have been the best example. It is not about threats.

    If you call a plumber or electrician, then you don't really need to, say, befriend them first. You also don't need leadership skills in order to ensure that they do their job properly. You know what you want, they give you the estimate, you agree, they do the job, you pay. That's it.

    That's a great business business relationship. Actually, it looks pretty much ideal to me..

    A situation where you call for a plumber and get:
    "Why in such hurry, Komrade? The estimate can wait, first we dRRRink in the bar and talk! The leaking faucet isn't going anywheRRe!"

    Has its own perks, but uh... not exactly get things done faster.

    And if they want to be here because of their paycheck, then what?

    //Opinion.
    Basically, to me it looks like in the west there's a tendency of some people to want their team to be friends or a big family. Also to me it looks like this is the case of employer overstepping their bounds. Social dynamics are a big can of worms, and i'd very much prefer to deal with a "reserved professional". Or be that "reserved professional".
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
  26. Owen-Reynolds

    Owen-Reynolds

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    This seems like asking if you can get good candy for $20. Clearly the answer is yes -- nicer candy isn't that expensive. But NegInfinity is arguing "no" because of process: you can't just throw a $20 in the air and have it turn into good candy. For children that's useful to explain. And sure, there's more to it than just getting 4 people to agree to be in a game-making group then giving orders. But we all know that. It's like saying "no, $20 isn't enough for good candy".

    I just heard a "How I built it" on NPR where someone (who now has a big sunscreen company) asked a bunch of chemists to help with a new formula. She eventually found one who was interested in her idea and offered to help her for free. Sure people like getting paid for a straight job, but they also like volunteering to do interesting stuff.
     
  27. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    You aren't making sense. Are you trying ot make a snowman, I mean strawman here?
    And if you have something to say, you can tell it directly without roundabout "But XYZ argues that".

    Regarding your example. Sure, skilled personnel may agree to do unpaid work, but that's like winning a lottery. Happens sometimes and not to everybody.
     
  28. Owen-Reynolds

    Owen-Reynolds

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    If you get a chance to talk to commercial authors or artists (maybe they're the Guest of Honor at a convention) they all have stories about how you always want to burn your work when it's nearly done. Game post-mortems on gamasutra sometimes have this. Your original idea was so cool but in the design process you've cut things, changed others, and now you just hate it, hate it, hate it. That's normal. You learn to see it for the perfectly good thing it is, finish it in that style, and that people will probably like it.
     
  29. wanucha1

    wanucha1

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    I can imagine that. Also hating own decisions made at the beginning, that caused lots of trouble at the end and looking forward to get over this mess and start something new and better.
    But I think most important is if people enjoy most of the development process, not focus on the final product. ...and then get money to pay the rent.
     
  30. DauntlessVerbosity

    DauntlessVerbosity

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    Being worth it varies widely for everyone. If you have 12 children, a wife pregnant with twins and a job that feeds them all well while giving you lots of time for your amazing family, it's probably not worth it to quit that job to focus on game development. If you have no mouths to feed, a lot of experience, and little to lose, it may be worth it. Or not. You have to consider your own set of circumstances and weigh the costs, benefits, and potential risks.

    I took some time (a couple months or so) to really weigh everything. I researched, spoke to the people who know me well, and tried to consider all possible contingencies. In my specific circumstances, I have a lot of time, little to lose, and a well thought out plan.

    The main things I considered:
    Time - It can take years to develop software. Do you have that kind of time?
    Money - In the time it takes to develop what you're developing, are your basic needs covered or are you risking being homeless and hungry?
    The ability to learn - A lot of people try only to end up quitting when things get complex.
    Technology - Do you have access to the software and hardware you need. Most of the world does nowadays, but I felt the need to consider this anyway.
    What do you stand to lose? - What happens if you never make a single sale? This happens. Will it still have been worth it?
    What happens if you make it? - Do you have a solid plan if you do make a big title? Some people make one good title, put all of the money into hiring and expanding only to never make it big again and end up bankrupt with nothing. Don't do that. Diversify. Stocks. Real estate. Whatever. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

    What I didn't feel the need to consider in my evaluation was motivation. Motivation is an emotional state. Emotions are fickle. Motivation doesn't have a place in my analysis of whether my plan is good. Motivation doesn't need to factor into what I spend my time doing. Is something boring and not fun? So what? Find the fun in it. Adjust your mindset, not your activity. If a lack of motivation means that you don't do the things you need to do, then that's a personal problem that you can work on. The trajectory of your life shouldn't be dictated by what you *feel* like doing on a day to day, or moment to moment, basis.

    If you decide to move forward, make a plan, and then carry it out. That's where self discipline comes in. Every morning I pry my eyelids open at 6am, put the TV on Cramer at CNBC, log into my stock trading app by 6:30am for the opening bell, go outside and exercise at 7am (stocks permitting), work all day (with several alarms set throughout the day to remind me to stand up and move), pretend I'm stopping at 7pm, work until 9pm at which point I go to bed only to do it again the next day. Wednesdays and Sundays are structured less strictly. None of that has to do with motivation. If I have to do x, it doesn't matter whether I *feel* motivated to do x. Motivation, or lack thereof, shouldn't be running your life. You should be running your life.
     
  31. bobisgod234

    bobisgod234

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    If you don't factor in how you feel about something, what exactly is the point of doing it then, in the context of game development? Game development is a luxury for the most part. It's generally not something your pursue just for the extrinsic reward. If it stop's being luxurious, then you might be better off just getting a regular job.

    Of course there are ups and downs, so you need a way to power through those downs. But I think if you get to the point where you are constantly tricking yourself into being motivated and enjoying something (and it's not just one particular part of the plan e.g. you hate marketing but it's time to market) then it may be time to change plan.

    People change over time. Nobody has complete control over that (though they can certainly influence the direction). Acknowledging and adapting to that change is healthy.
     
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  32. DauntlessVerbosity

    DauntlessVerbosity

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    How you feel about something in general is quite different than repeatedly quitting something you want to do due to lack of motivation. A person might really want to be a doctor, but not feel motivated in medical school to study their arse off day in and day out. Nobody can expect to feel motivation every day for 4 years of medical school. They have to be able to put in the work even when they don't feel like it. Otherwise, they don't get the life they want. It's that simple. If they resort to, "I don't feeel like studying and I don't feeel like going to class." whenever their emotions are off, they don't get to be a doctor. If they didn't assess whether they really wanted to be a doctor before going to medical school, that's a different issue.

    OP wants to to be a game developer. He or she keeps failing due to motivation issues, yet is still sure about being a game developer. Cool. Then the motivation issues are something to overcome, not something to continually give in to. At some point a person has to learn to do the work whether they feel like it in the moment or not because they see the bigger picture. That's all part of growing as a person.
     
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  33. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I know that's not how you meant it, but if things ultimately come down to "do what you're told or lose your job" I'm not seeing a practical difference.
    In that scenario I agree. But that scenario isn't the same as me and a bunch of other people trying to make the best creative product we can together.

    From my own experience (which isn't all knowing) people in this industry tend to get paid less than if they did similar work in another industry, and good people don't tend to have trouble finding work.

    Given that, if someone is honestly there solely for a paycheck then I'd wonder what else is up. If they only care about the money then why are they here? If there are reasons they're willing to take a lower paycheck to do a particular type of work then I'd want to understand that and make sure things are mutually beneficial in that context, whatever it is.

    I want my team to have high morale. The fact that we spend a lot of time together often leads to people becoming friends, but that's on top of being professionals rather than instead of. But that's me.

    And, again, I'll highlight that this is for creative work. For work that's more process driven things are different.
     
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