Game Development Reference
Track your actual expenditures against your budget.
Maintain the team's identity and spirit. You don't have to use some management
guru's oddball exercise for this. Instead, find an activity that fits the personality
of your group, whether it's going to an amusement park, playing laser tag or
paintball, or just going out for a movie and popcorn every once in a while.
Work with marketing and PR to keep them fed with the materials they need.
The resulting previews and features will re-energize your team members when
their spirits are low.
When it's time for a tradeshow, remember that demo versions of the game are
like miniature projects—they cannot be tossed off in a few overtime hours.
Demos need their own tasklist and schedule and must be included in the
technical plan from the start. Testing should be included in any demo plans.
It's also a good idea to form a mini-team, including testers, that is dedicated to
making the demo successful. Their work should include doing dry runs and
testing of demo hardware setup, software installation, in-house execution of
the demo, and, when the time comes, performing at the demo site. The dates
of major tradeshows are known years in advance, so no one should be caught
short when the next one rolls around.
Be ready for a shock or two. We work in a volatile industry and any project that
lasts more than a year is likely to experience at least one management upheaval,
corporate buyout, or other calamitous experience. The trick to surviving these
is to keep your head down and do the work . Things are rarely as bad as they
seem. If you stay focused on the job at hand, the corporate storms that rage
above your head are less likely to kill you.
Lastly, have a few features ready to “throw off the back of the wagon�? to help
you manage scope.
The definition of Alpha varies from company to company. Generally, it is the point at
which the game is mostly playable from start to finish. There might still be a few
workarounds or gaps and all the assets might not be final, but the engine, user inter-
face, and all other major subsystems are complete.
As you enter Alpha, the focus starts to shift from building to finishing, from creating
to polishing. Now is the time to take a hard look at game features and content to
decide whether any must be dropped in order to make the schedule. Now is when
more testers come on to start ferreting out bugs. Now is the first time the game is seen
and evaluated by people outside the development team.