Posts Tagged ‘Dev Blog’

Business development

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.

Getting up and running

It’s time to Goplay: I spent a year working as a Production Assistant on a AAA game, and after that experience I started a company that makes iPhone games. Project management has taught me a lot about the inner workings of a game company. I know that the projects that I manage now will never come anywhere close in scope to my last one so this will feel like a walk in the park. It has always been a dream of mine to start a company making video games and Apple has provided an amazing opportunity for me to do so. “They made me an offer I can’t refuse”.

Working on Popple: Popple is an amazing little game. It’s very hard to design a simple yet fun game, I mean I can rattle off game features for an MMO like it’s nothing, but really getting down a design for a simple arcade game is not so easy. Judging by the feedback I would say we are on to something with a lot of potential. I can say though that watching this product move from a design document to the first build was exhilarating. Then seeing the builds increase in features and polish is a sign of a dream of mine starting to come true. Also, I am so glad to have the teammates that I do. Everyone has been stepping up and going above and beyond what I expected to help get this game finished and this company all set up. It feels good to be a part of such a motivated force.

The future: If we reach our sales goal for Popple we will be able to acquire office space, full time employees and all of the other amenities a business needs but only for a few months. On a positive note though, if I had my team working on iPhone games for 8 hours a day 5 days a week we would turn out more titles in less time. So my goal for Goplay Games over the next few months is to just get established. I will be talking with some investors over the next two weeks to see if we can speed that process up a bit. Regardless the future looks very bright, gotta start wearing my shades again… Larry Charles