The ‘About Us’ section doesn’t really have the full picture about our roles, so I figured this might be a good time to take a moment to explain our rationality behind our choices, and possible guide someone else who might be in a similar position.
When I started work on Glyph Gates, I just wanted to see if the core mechanics were fun, and tested it as much as possible, starting off as a designer and a programmer. After a lot of testing, the original idea was pretty different to what I ended up with. One by one, incremental tweaks would move the original ‘Elemental Match-3’ concept to a framework which accommodated it. When I approached Supcher, looking for an artist, around 40% of the programming framework was where it needed to be.
We identified early on that our main chokepoint in the project would be in art assets. Glyph Gates doesn’t have any features which demanded a lot of programming work, but art assets on a mobile platform need to be very polished – and we had more animated assets than is usual for a game of our scale. Because of this, Supcher took on a purely art-focused role, as we were expecting to not be releasing until he’s done all of his work, wheras I had a lot of expected down time.
Because of that, I essentially took up the role of ‘Not Art’. My goal is to have the project go as smoothly as possible without having to distract Supcher from game assets. I do all of the programming, and I lead the design direction which Supcher is also a part in as well. I also handle testing, and do the assortment of jobs which fall under the nebulous realm of a producer: setting milestones, seeking advice from peers and forums, and setting up MailChimp accounts (it’ll happen one day I swear).
And as you are experiencing right now, I’m the lovely that talks to the community, and tries to make our marketing effort a little more significant than the $0 we have to spend on it. I make blog posts, manage social media accounts, and try to make my face known on online forums such as Reddit’s /r/gamedev so that I’m not a new face when I tell everyone about the game I released. But really, this might be a bit misleading, so an example might be in order to illustrate my point.
While setting up this website, we started off having Supcher do all of the art assets, but realized very quickly that this was expected to halt our in game art development by over a week. Because game art will be the only thing keeping us from release, we need as many man-hours to be put into it as possible – and marketing art is the weird kind of ‘throwaway’ art which is never really finished or final. So we decided that I should implement feedback and continue tinkering with the aesthetic of the website so that Supcher could keep working, even though my role is technically ‘Not Art’.
If you’re looking for a takeaway from our process, the best I can say is this: Find what fits your team best, not what fits your roles best. I’m studying graphic design, so I’m less daunted by a task such as setting up the art assets for a website. But for someone in my position who isn’t confident in art, what might be best for the team actually is what strictly fits their role.
What do you think of the roles that we have set up? Do you know of a game development team which has an interesting method of distributing tasks? Write in the comments below, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!