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Design Discussion: Teamwork

November 15th, 2016

Design Discussion: Teamwork

Forged Chaos, like many other indie start-ups, is a team of part-time and remote contributors. We’re spread out across the US from east to west coast, and each of us has a different amount of time that they can contribute to the development of ToA: Exile. Because of this, we face challenges that can impact our timeline rather drastically. The key to overcoming all of it is teamwork, but perhaps not how you might expect.

The first challenge we face is the availability of our team members. Some team members work day shifts, other’s work rotational shifts, and some of us don’t have regular jobs and so keep odd hours. Add the differing time zones to the mix and it can be difficult for team members to work together on the same thing. The team overcomes this by honoring our weekly meetings and scheduling cooperative meetings for the specialized groups. For instance, the artists regularly get together outside of our weekly team meetings to discuss the art style and seek professional feedback from one another. They aren’t required to do this, but it without these extra meetings the art style would not be cohesive throughout the game.

The second challenge we often encounter with development is pacing. As with availability, the pace of contributions varies amongst the team. Some are able to regularly contribute and drive the development, while others can only contribute a smaller amount or in a less vital way. To keep resentment from developing, each person’s contributions are tracked and a minimum is required from all team members based on their abilities. Going above that minimum is rewarded and allowances are made for real-life events that reduce a team member’s productivity below it.

In addition to keeping us all working in the same direction, our weekly meetings give the team a chance to bond. We joke around, sometimes tease one another, and otherwise acknowledge the contributions of each team member. It gives us each a chance to show off our work to one another, which is very rewarding. Afterwards we all download the latest build of the game and play around together while we discuss various aspects of design and offer feedback on anything new. All the interaction helps to strengthen the bonds between the team members and encourages cooperation.

At the head of all strong teams is an equally strong leader. It is thanks to the leadership of Brax that we have been able to make such outstanding progress in such a short time. He keeps us focused, funds the cost of valuable time-saving plugins along with testing expenses, and ensures that everyone is contributing to our progress as a whole. It is so important that every team member does their part because we just aren’t able to support a normal sized development team.

What do you think are key components of teamwork? Share with us over at http://www.trialsofascension.com/forum/threads/design-discussion-teamwork.5984/.