Outsourcing work and project management
Project management isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You keep the team happy and productive, while being harsh and sticking to the schedule. It’s an under appreciated and thankless job, but someone has to do it. I came to GoPlay Games from Obsidian Entertainment working on the production team for Alpha Protocol (360, PS3, PC) and the skills it takes to manage a large team directly relate to a smaller team. iPhone development is a quick turnaround compared to large titles, but it still requires schedule coordination and clear goals to the team or the project will run late. One month late for a AAA title happens all the time, and extends the project by 1/20, while one month longer on iPhone doubles the project timeline and costs.
Outsourcing is similar to project management, but requires clearer communication. Managing a team in the same office is easy when something needs to get done because you’re able to talk to the team in person. With outsourcing, the team you are working with is rarely on location and communication is done by email, and sometimes phone. The GDD, project schedule, and quality of the work needed to be done has to be relayed clearly or the work will run late ultimately causing the project to go over budget and miss a release date.
Gearing up for GDC
Going to GDC is a must, even if you go for no reason. GoPlay will be at GDC this year with a few meetings setup, but we’re going to informally network. We’re there to meet people and exchange business cards, and who knows something may come of it. It takes a lot of preparation on how to pitch yourself, hold up a conversation, and knowing what is going on in the industry. It would be pointless for us to talk to a publisher and know nothing about their games. Whether we use the information or not, it’s good to know what games have been released and are going to be released by any company that can be attending. If anyone asks who we are, we need our pitch down so it’s clear, smooth, and if they have any questions that we know the answer without having to think about it. If you had to pick 1 event a year to go to, it would be the GDC up in San Francisco, CA.
Social / Professional Networking, its woes and rewards
Professional networking is key if you want to get a job, or to build business relationships with other companies. A large portion of my day can be searching the internet for different companies we could work with or outsource work to, and finding their contact information. Emailing the generic email posted will work sometimes, but it requires in many cases workarounds. It’s a lot of work, and at times it takes emailing 10 companies to find the 1 interested, but it’s worth the effort. Building an extensive network makes it easy for down the road when we have work to be outsourced, or knowing a company that can outsource work to us.
Social networking is one of the easiest ways to get a job. Find events where video game professionals get together and go to it and network. I clear my schedule once a week to go out and get drinks with video game professionals in the LA area and it helps build vital contacts, but more importantly friends. If I was starving for a job, I could ask anyone I get drinks with and they would be able to get me a job. They know my personality, skills, and work ethic to get my resume ahead of everyone else’s. With social networking, it’s a good idea to get to know someone and pitch yourself very casually. Going to an event or gathering and annoying someone for a job or pushing the subject hard won’t get you anywhere. Talk to them, get to know them, and incorporate it casually that you’re about to graduate or in-between jobs. Make them want you, not you wanting them.