Things to watch when managing a team.

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I have spent a large portion of my career managing development of small game projects. Now that i have some experience as a manager in other industries i can see some of the challenges that are unique to a producer or project manager in the game development world. I want to share some things that I think may be useful for Producers or Project Managers, Continue for more.

One of the most important things to communicate to your team is that function is more important than form. Everyone needs to be on the same page and working toward the same goals. Your team is making one project and every component needs to do it's best to reinforce the whole. This means the needs of the project dictate specifications of everything. If it doesn't make the project better, don't do it. This can include things like; inside jokes, art choices, overwrought code, music that is too complex, and much more.

The key is really to make sure no one is putting their personal needs and desires before those of the project. Team members should proceed with the best solution rather than what they want to do. If you are the one running the project, you need to watch this carefully and be able to see this going on.

The next one is more specific to games. You need to find the fun at an early stage. Sitting around building up a monetization model around something that is boring is a waste of time. Even if you are making a cow clicker you need to find something satisfying about it.

Those with experience can see fun on paper or in an idea, but most people can not so it's always best to try our some very rough prototypes. Many get around this just by copying.. But then you will not truly understand how best to make changes.

One of the challengers here can be getting your team to set their preferences aside and agree on the best mechanics. The best way to help this is to give everyone a chance to play and a chance for feedback.

Implementing useful feedback from someone who may be in opposition to something about the project usually appeases them and gives you more room to work.

Another thing to watch our for is frustrating control schemes or convoluted interfaces. These things could easily ruin a great game

Next, some games can have lots of content. You could have a game and all of its systems finished and you just want to add more content. I find this is a great place to put coders and artists who are still levelling up. Its experience, you usually have time for do overs here if needed.

This next one is the most important. Communication! In my experience a lot of people in the games industry like to keep to themselves. You need to be aggressive in opening the gates of communication. Getting your team to talk freely not only to you, but the rest of the team as well.

Have short daily meetings. In said meeting have the team address each other and not you. Pro Tip, focus on taking notes, have them engage in eye contact in conversation with each other, if they are talking you are just there to step in when you need to. Set up post work activities for bonding if you need to. Its to your advantage that these guys are the best of friends.

If you do this right it ends up taking a ton off of the managers plate. Issues will emerge and be solved without you even knowing.

More tips as I think of them.

-Chris


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