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Home page: http://www.tiebreakerstudio.com
Posts by Vince
Hi guys, its Vince
Many of us have projects we work a few hours a week working on. But often, we lose interest in a project and leave it or shutting it down. If it’s your case the question you must ask yourself is: How can I stay motivated and complete a part-time project?
I am currently developing a game with 3 friends, we call ourselves Tiebreaker Studio. The game is called Shape Invaders, it’s been in development for more than 2 years. Hopefully we will be able to finish it in the next few months. That said, I had developed a few tricks to keep me motivated through all this time and I’d like to share 5 of them with you.
Tip #1. Surround yourself with a good team
Before starting a project, you must be sure to have good teammates. Your friends are not necessarily good teammates. You must know each of them enough to be sure they will put as much effort as you during the various stages of the project. Teammates must have good communication skills and a good understanding of others expectations. As in a couple, the communication is very important in a team. A good team will be able to discuss problems and find solutions quickly. You should also setup some tools to help maintain good communication. In our case, our team has a Wiki, a bug base and we often use TeamSpeak to talk together remotely.
Tip #2. Keep a good pace (good frequency)
It is important to have good routine. You should book a few times during the week to work on your project. What is important is to work each week. You must be consistent and continue to invest efforts again and again until the project is completed. Personally, I often worked the weeknight and Sunday evening. I work when the children are asleep and when my wife listens to her TV series. In this way, I make sure to work a certain number of hours each week without losing quality time with my family.
Tip #3. Be well organized
In the team, it takes a person who is monitoring the project. It takes someone who plays the producer role. However, I do not think this is a full-time job. Using tools such as Jira from Atlassian or Trac from Edgewall Software, it becomes easier to empower every team member to keep their tasks up to date. Thus, monitoring is easier to perform for the person who is the producer. When every tasks are clear and the project planning is well organized, the team can clearly see the progress of the project and remains motivated.
Tip #4. Set goals every week
It is important to give you short-term goals to complete each week. Personally, it keeps me motivated because I set goals that I am capable of achieving. This way, it’s easy for me to see what I’ve done. Be careful, it’s better to attain a smaller goal than to miss normal one. So think small when setting your goal.
Tip #5. Meet from time to time to maintain a good team spirit
Remote working is great when doing a part-time project. It allows each team member to work when they want. However, it is important to stay in touch with all team members. I suggest planning meetings at regular intervals. These meetings allow the project to progress but they serve primarily to solidify the team. Meetings that are fun and productive forge a strong team spirit.
So I hope these tips will be helpful!
Here is a list of the tools we use at Tiebreaker Studio:
- TeamSpeak (http://www.teamspeak.com)
- Confluence (http://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence)
- Jira (http://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/overview)
In my last article, I took the time to explain the benefits I saw in being a small independent team in game development. These advantages were freedom, fun and being close to the players. However, being small and independent also has its drawbacks.
1st Drawback: Double Life
When starting a new project, revenues are often very low or simply nonexistent. It is therefore not possible to put aside our day job to dedicate ourselves only to our new project. We
must live what is called the “double developer” life. Like Batman, during the Day, we have a job that allows us to pay the bills and during the evenings and weekends, we do the fun stuff and put our efforts on the project. This is often the case for independent developers starting in the business. As a result of working only evenings and weekends, the development of the game automatically takes longer. A project that would take three months to complete under normal circumstances can easily become a nine months or more project. This lack of time to develop the game becomes a huge obstacle and can affect motivation a lot. This is why I advise you to be part of a team when starting a project that will be done part-time. Games are complex and it is often a lot easier if you do it with other people. This way, the project moves forward even if you are unavailable for a few days. Not to mention that it is difficult to have skills in art, programming and design.
2nd Drawback: Money
To some extent this is connected to the previous point. You have to be able to pay your bills, and more often than not indie devs don’t have money and do it for the love of the game. However not having a dime is a problem. Because at some point you’ll need money to buy some equipment and software and this money will come out of your pocket. If you believe in what you do it’s fine when its couple of hundred dollars, but when it’s thousands or tens of thousands you would need to spend, it becomes impossible. For example, for the game
we are currently developing at Tiebreaker Studio, we needed at least a Xbox with a Xbox Live membership and a subscription to AppHub to adequately test our game on the system, that we paid with our money. But hiring a sub-contractor for music and SFX is impossible if you want to pay them what they are worth. Fortunately there are other ways around and many companies encourage game developers by providing access to free development tools. It helps a lot smaller developers. But to some extent, when you are better equipped, it’s easier to develop a good game.
3rd Drawback: Stress
For some people like my friends Dan and Richard, we can add one more drawback: the stress. My friends have recently taken the plunge, they abandoned their main job to devote themselves to Tiebreaker Studio full time. For them, the time of regular paycheck is over. As they too have bills to pay and live on their small savings, you can easily understand how the situation can lead to stress. They replaced the inconvenience of the double life for an even greater money problem. No pain, no gain… and actually it’s the bet they take. However, even if it’s a personal choice, it is still a bit stressful!
4th Drawback: Marketing
In large companies, we often see entire teams dedicated to the marketing. Those teams work hard to promote company’s AAA games. In a small indie company, it becomes quite a challenge to stand out of the crowd. To overcome this major drawback, we must use resources available to us like our friends, family and social networks. With a little luck and a good game, chances are that people will notice it and start talking about it and hopefully buy our game. However, nothing is easy and it takes a lot of effort.
In summary, I believe double life, money, stress and marketing are the major drawbacks of indie developers. However, these obstacles can be overcome if you are dedicated to what you do; and to my opinion the benefits of being indie are much greater than its drawbacks
Hi Guys it’s me Vince
It’s been several months since we started developing Shape Invaders and we love the experience so far. We make a good team and complement each others. Our team is made of two programmers, an artist and a designer. In this article, I will talk about benefits of being a small indie game developer.
1st Benefit: Freedom
Being an independent developer is freedom. Being independent is being free to put what you want in your game, to choose the technology you want for your game and to change any aspect of your game without having to hold 2-3 meetings to make sure everybody agrees. Being independent means being truly effective. We have no time to waste on trivialities. In a team like ours, when someone has an idea, we talk about it briefly, look at the good and the bad and make a decision. It’s fast, simple, and effective. Being independent is also having the freedom to decide how many features we want in our games and decide when to release them.
2nd Benefit: Pleasure, passion
Being an independent developer is also about making games for fun. For my part, I would be much less happy if I was making games alone and the game would look a lot crappier too. I love knowing that I am surrounded with talented people with whom I get along great. Also, I know that my friends put as much effort as me in the realization of our games. This helps keep my motivation high. Happiness also comes with passion. We all have a passion for video games. As a programmer, I love to give life to the resources that Rich produces. I love it when the game comes alive and players can finally enjoy it. It’s a feeling that makes me go crazy! What also makes me happy is to know for whom I’m doing this. Sure, I work for myself but for my friends too. I love knowing that what I do, I do it for them and their families. This is a project that impacts the lives of several people I love and that really matters to me. In a large company, you make the game, get your salary and that’s it.
3rd Benefit: Close relation with fans
Being indie is also making games for players, for fans. It seems a little silly to write that, but it’s true. We do not develop a game for a publisher or a license, we develop it for the players. In a way, being independent and small humanizes us a bit more compared to industry giants. We write more often on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to get in touch with our fans. We are much less “corporate”. We also listen more carefully to feedback from players and it is very important in the development of a game. That way, we can improve a game faster and even add features that we might have never thought of.
4th Benefit: Learning new skills
When you create a game and build a small studio, the things to do are numerous as they are varied and even with our experience sometime there are some tasks we’ve never done before and have to learn, and that’s great! Being an independent game developer allows us to develop new skills and improves our resourcefulness, which in the end make us better at what we do.
As you can see, being small and independent has many advantages but it also has some drawbacks that we will share in another article. So stay tuned as more Tiebreaker goodness are coming your way in the coming weeks!
You can follow me on Twitter by clicking bellow.
Hi everyone and welcome to our web site. We are Tiebreaker Studio, a hobby game studio made out of four friends who love video games and want to share their passion with the world. We started to work on our first game a year ago and now we feel it’s good enough so we can start show it to you guys. All with full time jobs and most of us with families, we work on the game during our spare time, which is late at night or during weekends. Furthermore we meet once every two month and work 18 hours straight in what we call production blitz. Anything goes during these meetings, we work on the game, eat bacon, joke about stupid stuff and dream about the future. What’s the most important for us? It’s having a good time with friends creating games we love.
Our first game is named Shape Invaders. What is it? Well take Space Invaders, mix it with Critter Crunch, add a dash of madness, a lot of love and BAM! you have a fun and simple action game. Shape Invaders will be available on XBLIG as soon as it’s done. Follow this link to visit the game section to learn more about it.
-The Tiebreaker crew