Post jam team:
- Patrick Lacey – dialogue writer
- Logan Byers – voice acting
- Frankie Fiore – voiced acting
- Fredrik Larsson – art direction, 3D art and animation
- Jake Thorne – software development, game design, social media management, advertising
- Twimper – 2D art and later business and startup
The jam team also included:
The project is currently on-hold awaiting the resolution of other matters. Depending on the outcome I may:
- seize my involvement and forfeit any claims in benefit of the team
- make the project open source (if my team does not wish to continue)
- restart the project, recruiting new team members
For this project I wanted to test my organisational and teamwork skills as well as targeted game design. Assembling a jam team, coming up with an optimal plan that makes best use of time and talent available, choosing the right collaboration tools and dealing with time zone differences and individual schedules were only a few of the challenges. The majority of the team were not very tech-savvy and there was a limit on the complexity of the tools we could use. Most of the communication happened on Skype with occasional email. For task management and delegation we used Trello in a Kanban manner using four stacks: “TODO”, “Doing”, “Done” and “Maybe”. Asset sharing was done mainly through Dropbox and for code we used github. To deal with the timezone differences we used Doodle to schedule important meetings.
Technically speaking, the resulting game was intentionally simple, as it had to be achievable within the time constraint. As it turned out working with animated human models was not easy, especially with the lack of an animator. To compensate for the poor quality of the animations we used code and ragdolls. The most difficult part was the management of the characters’ logical and animation state and the transition from an animation controller to physics controlled ragdoll.
There are a lot of different systems under the hood. Finding a good structuring in the mess that was left after the jam, was a real headache.
I had difficulty with certain game design problems, most notably adding more depth and a sense of progression requiring more assets, and unfortunately I couldn’t come up with an easy solution other than to use already existing free content.
I can talk a lot about my experience from this project. As look back I consider it to be an important milestone in my professional development. It was a first for me in many ways. As can be expected some things went pretty smoothly, other not so much.
I was not very good at long term team management. I preferred to avoid confrontations and tried to please everyone. I did not hold anyone responsible and I tolerated poor performance instead of managing it. In fact I would go out of my way to do tasks more suited to others, not giving the rest of the team a chance to shine. I took some decisions too lightly – the policy of having equal share of the revenue regardless of contribution was one. Had I set strict terms for the potential revenue shares and implemented a fair system that would reward individuals based on their contributions, I would have lifted the fear of freeloading and encouraged more progress to be made. I would also have been able to recruit more developers later on in the project, which brings to the second issue – we did not have a proper structure for a game development team, the team only had two part-time developers, one being me also playing as a wildcard. Two was ideal for the game jam, because I don’t believe I wouldn’t be able to effectively coordinate source code of varying quality and style coming from three or more different directions. But two was not sufficient to sustain a stable pace of development afterwards, given the scope of the project. On the other hand I was often overly-optimistic when determining deadlines, and it is not surprising that people would get upset when we failed to meet those deadlines. If I were to start this project anew I would lay some ground rules first and change the team roster, before rushing into development, as we did. On top of that own my enthusiasm drained dry in the excessive planning process, I was too focused on the team aspect than the actual game. Despite my lack of experience in unprofessional teams I think I did well. I could have done much better and I’ll definitely look to improve in the future.
Despite all bad things said, there were many positive sides. In many ways I was out of my comfort zone and learning new things along the way. If game development was a game I would have leveled up in a number of disciplines and unlocked a few achievement. First of all “Winning Streak” is by far the most popular independent project I have worked on. It was the first project for which I have put some effort into marketing. It is also first game I have gotten trough Steam Greenlight. This was the largest team I have managed (beating my previous record of 7 at university). I learned a lot of new Unity tricks. Stood on the other side of the interview table. Met new people and improved at 3D art while working with professional artists. I co-founded a company and gained some insights into business infrastructure and the UK company law.
Collaborating with a team of strangers I had just met online and gathered for the event was both exciting and scary. It turned out to be a nice group of friendly people and it was usually a fun place to hang out. Since we had a common goal we had plenty to of topics to talk about. Most of the time Winning Streak was an interesting game to work on, we could go with any ridiculous idea we come up with and it would still fit the theme.
The feeling of seeing your game being played on YouTube by hundreds of gamers was incredible. I found the game was indeed very entertaining to watch. As a designer it meant I could observe the players’ reactions and patterns of play and make informed decisions on what to add, remove or fix. Basically we had free playtesters early on in the development process. Some of the bugs in the code I discovered that way. On that note the support from the community was overwhelming, and way beyond my expectations.