trusting your dev team
I've been reflecting on project management and working on a team lately. It occurs to me that one thing isn't clear when you're working with others: you have to give up a certain amount of control on your project. In lead positions, this is a shocking realization, and you get people driving projects into the ground because they refuse to let other people alter the vision of their baby. Frankly, I've been in that position in varying degrees.
The weird thing is that being in a lead position sounds like you're the one making all the decisions. It sounds like you're in control. You're the project lead, right? In reality, if you're doing your job right, you delegate a good bulk of the work to other team members. On a high level, you have decisive power on the direction of the project: mechanics, art style, casual vs competitive. When it comes to individual development tasks, however, your influence is smaller.
You can't be granular about it. If I expect my artist to come to me every time they question something about their task, I'll get a hundred questions about what line thickness should we use, is this color green too saturated in context. I have to let the artist make those decisions. I have to let the level designer, the programmer, the sound designer make decisions based on their resources, time, and skill. Otherwise, the project gets bottle-necked with me, because I'm stuck answering hundreds of questions from everyone.
The end result of the project, I've found, is that nothing in the game looks exactly the way you envisioned it. It's hard to watch that happen. It's hard to let go and trust your team members' individual visions. It's frustrating, and it's scary. But as a leader, you have to look at it from an above perspective. Is there really a problem with the way they did things? Does this really conflict with the game's success? Answer is usually no.
There have been so many times that I've looked at an asset that somebody spent hours on and had significant issue with it, for one reason or another. Other team members thought it was great, though, so I supported it; it went into the game. And you know what, once it was in there, it worked with the game and became a part of its identity. At that point, I may still have problems with it, but I must admit, my opinion on that matter isn't important. The real consideration is whether the asset impacts the project positively or negatively.
So, to those who want to work on a game development team, you probably shouldn't start with a super personal passion project. You have to let go of things, and frankly, it sucks. It's likely best to learn the skill of letting go in a less emotionally volatile context.
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I like games. I hope to one day make them as a means of survival.