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  1. #1
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    Talking Bonding teams in long term projects

    Basically three other guys and myself have formed together a team out of necessity to hunker down for about seven months and build a small game. So, there are inherent problems with this.

    1. Our team hasn't really gotten to know each other yet, so the group dynamics have barely been established. I seem to be the most dominant personality by far because either everyone else is more reserved or unsure around each other, I'm much more obnoxious and direct. So that means that I'm likely to be the project manager because I'm more likely to put my foot down and yell at people to meet deadlines or to go back and fix something if it's broken.

    But I don't really want to do that, I want to make the environment more fun so that by the end of the project we don't all want to strangle each other. Not so much because we're all incompetent, but because we can't stand each other as personalities. That's what I want to minimize.

    So my question is, a lot of you professionals (Assuming there are still some left) have experience working in larger, long term project groups, so what are some great ways to give the group a sense of light-heartedness and make the project more enjoyable for everyone else? Team Drinking nights? making bad puns every ten minutes? NERF GUNSES?

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  3. #2
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    Save the time start the killing now. oops but then they couldn't work...

    Seriously encouragement is the best tool you have. Since everyone is working for free I assume. The atmosphere has to make them want to produce something cool, just so they could show it off, and have the rest of you go wild for it. So, what I'm saying is yelling (even figuritively) is about the worst thing you could do for your team. Praise and suggest is the way to go.

    People will rise to the level of your expectations.
    If you think they're losers. They won't care if you think so, or do anything to change your mind about them.

    If you think they're great, they'll do everything in their power not to let you down.


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  5. #3
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    On the other hand, if they can't handle critique then they're probably not worth working with. Drawing from my personal experience, I remember that I really wasn't too worried about the professors that thought I was great, but I really wanted to show up the profs that criticized my work. So your approach is probably going to depend on what kind of people they are.

  6. #4
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    A little praise goes a long way and makes the yelling less obnoxious. When they get something right, tell them in no uncertain terms. One thing you've got to sort out first it that you all have the same vision of the game you're producing or it's going to come apart very quickly. I don't work in the industry, but team building is the same in any situation.

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  8. #5
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    Lady Black Spot is spot on. I have about 43 years experience working on teams. The first seven or so was in construction...concrete to be exact. A construction crew is a team every bit as much as a video game production team. Anyway....just to support that teamwork is the norm in most any environment.

    I'm not sure I have any solid, real advice though...team dynamics are challenging at best and tend to work or not work...rather quickly. But generally when a team gels and stabilizes it can be solid for many, many years. I'm currently working with friends who I brought into the industry 20+ years ago.

    I always tried to lead by example...but that can have problems too, as in expecting a lot from others under you. So IDK really...it's a lot like being in a band...some personalities work well together and some don't. Can't really force it, it just happens. When it does happen then sure, Nerf wars are fun...if it isn't happening Nerf wars aren't....if you get my drift?
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  10. #6
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    The free projects I've worked on all broke down due to lack of three things. Experience, discipline and a paycheck. It all goes hand and hand. It's a good learning experience though.
    Last edited by Raoul Duke; May 15th, 2012 at 04:15 PM.

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  12. #7
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    I don't work in art, but a significant part of my professional career was (actually still is) spent working in a group. I think in the very core nature of people, everyone wants to know and feel significant in order to be productive. In a diverse group you'd oven have personalities that stick out for so and so reasons, but in the end it's all about functioning as a unit. I'm with Black Spot on the praise part, it definitely helps with morale. For the guys who seem to be less involved, try to draw them in by asking for their opinions and such. Because if you think about it, someone more reserved in the group may either just be intimidated or insecure, feeling laid back because someone else is already taking the lead, or not feeling too invested and therefore not caring much. So yeah, members need to feel important, that whatever their personal contributions are matter.

    As for the group fun part... Actually, I dunno, in my experience, in addition to personality, culture plays a big role in how things sort of work out. Like, for instance when I was working in Asia people had a much stronger sense of community and so it was fairly easy to develop an outside-of-work friendship with workmates. (I mean, I remember doing karaoke nights with my boss quite often when I was in Korea haha, and I was friends with his family as well). Here in Europe, I seem to get the impression that people tend to compartmentalize the people they hang out with, like workmates are workmates, family is family, school friends are school friends... I could be wrong of course, but that's kind of the vibe I've been getting. So anyway yeah, if your group seems to be the team drinking nights kind of group, I'd say go for it. And yeah, you guys are making a game together, why not do game nights? Or do Laser tag, that's always fun.

  13. #8
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    I might add, define your group's culture right now. What is important to each of you (regarding the project / yourself)? etc. Make things clear from the get go and it tends to align everyone on the same wavelength.
    /2c

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  15. #9
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    Many ages ago I was a freelancer doing video game art and I dealt with a lot of indies and with a lot of teams who wanted to do small games. So I wrote about my experience a bit, it's more targeting at finding team mates, but there is stuff in there about motivation and management: 10 tips to attract team members.

    But for a quickie:
    • Make sure every one has approximately the same level of commitment.
    • Make sure every one is on the same page on who gets to keep the project if someone leaves the project. Put it down on paper.
    • Get people to pick tasks from a list you have all compiled together and hold them up to it, instead of giving them the tasks, they will feel more accountable.
    • Make the smallest most simple game you can. This is the most important thing you can do. Your first game should be simpler than Tetris. If it turns out fine, you can do one that's simpler than Super Mario Bros 1. The one after that can be like Diablo III but better...
    • If you are very motivated about being a team leader, read about AGILE development.

  16. #10
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    Make sure its clear whos responsibilities are whos and make sure that everyone is credited appropriately.

    Be successful quick? once you get over a few easy hurdles together you'll be much more stable. So like above said small and easy as a warm up. That should help everyone bond
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