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Designing a game with a partner/team...

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DanogNellows
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Joined: 08/02/2008

Just wondering if anyone has an "method" of
designing a game with more than one person.

Do you write down ideas together and make copies
so everyone is on the same page when not together?

things like that...

My buddy and I are are working on an idea, but we only can get
together once maybe twice a week. So i was wondering how
to keep our creativity going while seperate yet on the same page
when we are together.

Any suggestions, advice, funny stories about working as a team
are appreciated.

Thanks,
Danog

dr_Edge69
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Designing a game with a partner/team...

I think a great way to create a game as a team, is to set some things that are unflexible.

like the theme, some material, some game mechanics

and than let each other do what they want without being stop by the others

and after some time you'll compare what your project has became, maybe the mix of all your projects will make a great game.
Or maybe it will generate some new ideas for separate game who knows :)

rkalajian
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Designing a game with a partner/team...

I've actually been working on an RPG project with my friend from Rochester, NY (About 6 hours away from Torrington, CT)

Things are pretty smooth. We keep in touch via email and IM and are always sending each other files, updates, etc..

Sometimes it's hard, but it seems to be working.

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Designing a game with a partner/team...

Over that past few years, I have been involved with a few other people developing an RPG, kids card game, card/rpg/hybrid.

We are all spread out across NYS(Rochester, Syracuse and Albany), it is a struggle to keep focused and ideas flowing. Not only does the distance cause problems, but regular life(work, family, money) interferes.

Best idea I can give you, break the project down into pieces, assign those pieces and keep sending out updates, ideas and drafts via email(or hardcopies when you meet during the week). You will be able to take ideas/concepts/thoughts from these emails/IMs and fold them back into your game.

The RPG I worked on started out as a 7 page email. It is now up to about 300+ pages(broken in to 2 books, web information(once the website is back up and working), and various additions that we will publish at a later time)

One of the most productive times we had developing the RPG was when we all took various areas, we all took ownership to develop whatever we wanted for these areas, the others would be your reviewers/editors. Keep in mind that we also when through a few rough drafts of basics ideas/mechanics/etc that we wanted to use, so the rules would be consistant.

Anonymous
Designing a game with a partner/team...

I am about to embark on such a collaborative adventure. I just went through the process of hring 4 game designers to work with. I've never attempted this with game design before, but I've done it a lot with software.

My plan will be to start out with the "maximal vision", i.e., the kitchen sink. How can we make a game that is a desert topping AND a floor wax? Pair those ideals with some real-world constraints, such as cost and practacality (size of box, number of pieces, amount of player bookkeeping). And now pair all of that with some "intangibles"; rate of decision, weight of decision, play experience quality, &c.

What I'm hoping is that 5 strangers can come together and brainstorm without stepping all over each other's ideas or losing sight of tehd esign oals. When enough meat has been brainstormed, people can select the actual elements/issues they want to work on and work on them, with periodic (once or twice a week) peer review.

My fear is that we will become a committee. No force on Earth is as powerful as a committee when it comes to happily obliterating an idea.

So, anyone got any wisdom for me before I embark?

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Designing a game with a partner/team...

Thompson wrote:
I am about to embark on such a collaborative adventure. I just went through the process of hring 4 game designers to work with. I've never attempted this with game design before, but I've done it a lot with software.

My plan will be to start out with the "maximal vision", i.e., the kitchen sink. How can we make a game that is a desert topping AND a floor wax? Pair those ideals with some real-world constraints, such as cost and practacality (size of box, number of pieces, amount of player bookkeeping). And now pair all of that with some "intangibles"; rate of decision, weight of decision, play experience quality, &c.

What I'm hoping is that 5 strangers can come together and brainstorm without stepping all over each other's ideas or losing sight of tehd esign oals. When enough meat has been brainstormed, people can select the actual elements/issues they want to work on and work on them, with periodic (once or twice a week) peer review.

My fear is that we will become a committee. No force on Earth is as powerful as a committee when it comes to happily obliterating an idea.

So, anyone got any wisdom for me before I embark?

Collaboration is a great tool, but I think the old addage 'too many hands in the pot' really applies. My initial knee jerk reaction is to limit the # of designers to three, four at the most. It's very difficult for every one to have the same vision for a design when you reach 4 or 5 people. And even then, it's just as difficult to find people who are willing to compromise for the good of the project. Good luck in your endeavor.

-Darke

IngredientX
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Designing a game with a partner/team...

Thompson wrote:
My plan will be to start out with the "maximal vision", i.e., the kitchen sink. How can we make a game that is a desert topping AND a floor wax? Pair those ideals with some real-world constraints, such as cost and practacality (size of box, number of pieces, amount of player bookkeeping). And now pair all of that with some "intangibles"; rate of decision, weight of decision, play experience quality, &c.

This is a very interesting idea. Having multiple brains/egos working on the same project can be a great thing and a terrible thing. Is there someone (probably you) who can act as Grand Poobah and pull rank during a debate? Or is there a "voting" system where debates can be settled?

Quote:
My fear is that we will become a committee. No force on Earth is as powerful as a committee when it comes to happily obliterating an idea.

So, anyone got any wisdom for me before I embark?

Your remarks about a committee are absolutely spot on. When working on something creative, sometimes a compromise early in the design phase can dilute the end result too much.

I'd imagine the best thing to do would be to split the game design tasks up into as many parts as you have designers. Assign each designer a leadership role on a single task, but let them have input on the other tasks.

It sounds like you have a huge, sprawling idea in mind. Breaking the idea up among multiple people is certainly a good start. But you may want to make sure each person is working towards a specific, salient and tangible goal. You don't want the process to get lost in abstraction.

Finally, since you're making a game and not running a nation, it's perfectly okay for someone (probably you) to wield supreme authority. Everyone is going to have their noses into the nitty-gritty of the game, and probably will not have a good perspective on the big picture. One person should sit above the others and make sure that the end result is adding up to more than the sum of its parts. There may be tasks which require two or more designers to be on the same page. Having a single coxswain in this case could be invaluable.

I've mixed enough metaphors. Best of luck to you!

IngredientX
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Re: Designing a game with a partner/team...

DanogNellows wrote:
My buddy and I are are working on an idea, but we only can get
together once maybe twice a week. So i was wondering how
to keep our creativity going while seperate yet on the same page
when we are together.

Any suggestions, advice, funny stories about working as a team
are appreciated.

Thanks,
Danog

I don't have much experience working with another designer, so I can't really help much here. I do know that there are quite a few big-name "European" designers (Wolfgang Kramer, Bruno Fauduitti, Alan Moon - yes, he's American, but his games are firmly in the "European" style, whatever that means) who usually work with another person. So it's quite a common process, and having played many of the results, it's potentially very fruitful!

I think one thing that might help is to not let this game be your only outlet. If you have an idea shot down by your partner, you can always stuff it into your other game. Whereas if this is the only game you're working on and the only outlet for your ideas, you might get frustrated if you don't think you're being represented enough.

Of course, this all depends on the relationship between your partner and you. Again, I haven't worked with another designer (game design is one of those few things in life where I'm allowed to be truly selfish), so I won't pretend to be an authority.

Good luck!

Anonymous
Designing a game with a partner/team...

I have been developing a CCG with my brother (who lives 500 miles away from me) over the past 4 years! It has been slow going (we don't get together as often as we should), but the end result is coming together nicely.

My main advice to you... pick your battles. Even if you're the "head designer" of whatever the person with veto authority calls themself, know when to give up the fight and accept your partner's ideas. You may not always agree with them, but more likely than no they will see something you don't and vice versa. If you can live with it, let it go. Save the heavy artillery for the areas of the game that you feel most passionate about.

You'll find your stride after having gone through a few debates with your co-designer(s).

Best of luck!!

Anonymous
the hardest part in my experience

The tuff part in my experience has been the graphical elements. Describing something via email vs. seeing the design, even if it's a sketch makes a world of difference. In the past I've tried using a whiteboard program so everyone could see the same thing, and it was a pain, full of lag and tiresome.

But now it seems that with a scanner and website, or even a web cam set up (provided everyone has a form of broadband) the communication is much simpler.

As for as vision. One person has to be keeper of the vision, and the others have to up-front respect that. Otherwise it may fall apart (not to mention the already listed aspect of how well you get along with eachother). This sense of management works in business and should be applied to game making - Unless you are doing it purely for fun. In that case, remember that is the key to the operation, and why you are working with someone in the first place, fun and not to let bickering or egoes get in the way of the end result, a fun time designing and playing the game.

VeritasGames
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Joined: 08/01/2008
Designing a game with a partner/team...

I work as sort of a constitutional monarch when I do designs. I pick my core group of playtesters. I design something and if the majority of the playtesters does not approve with it, we continue with it for a couple of weeks to see if their minds change, if not then I drop it. While I entertain recommendations, I tend to have final say on everything that will be playtested, but I give the playtesters veto rights over what fails to make the cut.

It's a very useful method. I tend to have the overall vision so I am more likely to understand why something should be integrated into a game. I regularly explain the "why" about a mechanic, and it helps my playtesters grasp my vision. They use that lens for determining when I'm stepping outside the core mission even if the mechanic works.

It's a very efficient and balanced way to design. Many people just give the playtesters the game and don't explain to them what they should really be looking for.

I regularly tell the playtesters, "I think X can be overly exploited. Please brainstorm on how to test the chink in the armor."

I also like entertaining ideas about rules or components from the playtesters. They often don't have the entire game in mind when they brainstorm, and so I have to tweak an idea to make it work, but they come up with fun concepts. I encourage them.

I think you also eventually need a blindtest, but for core testing, this is my preferred method.

Anonymous
Designing a game with a partner/team...

VeritasGames wrote:
I work as sort of a constitutional monarch when I do designs.

An interesting method of working, but I can't resist joking that a modern British model of constitutional monarchy would mean you just shook hands with publishers occasionally, and sat next to them at dinners. ;-)

Richard.

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