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Distributed Game Development

Book Description

Take control of your global game development team and make successful AAA game titles using the 'Distributed Development' model. Game industry veteran Tim Fields teaches you how to evaluate game deals, how to staff teams for highly distributed game development, and how to maintain challenging relationships in order to get great games to market. This book is filled with interviews with a broad spectrum of industry experts from top game publishers and business owners in the US and UK. A supplementary web site provides interviews from the book, a forum where developers and publishers can connect, and additional tips and tricks. Topics include:

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Full Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. About the Author
  7. Chapter 1 Preface and Overview
    1. 1.1 Introduction
    2. 1.2 How Is a Team Leader to Juggle All of This?
    3. 1.3 Who Is This Book For?
    4. 1.4 Preamble on Distributed Development
      1. 1.4.1 Why Would I Use Distributed Development?
      2. 1.4.2 So You Don't Like Outsourcing and Think It's a Bad Idea
      3. 1.4.3 The Difference between Traditional Outsourcing and Distributed Development
      4. 1.4.4 Who We Will Meet in Our Case Studies, and Why We Care about What They Have to Say
  8. Chapter 2 Overview of the Development Process
    1. 2.1 The Basic Games Development Cycle
    2. 2.2 Concept Discovery
    3. 2.3 Pre-Production
    4. 2.4 Full Production
    5. 2.5 A Word on Demos
      1. 2.5.1 How to Prepare Properly
      2. 2.5.2 How to Use Distributed Development Teams to Alleviate Demo Problems
      3. 2.5.3 When They're out of Control
    6. 2.6 Alpha, Beta, Final
      1. 2.6.1 Finaling
      2. Interview with David Wiens, Project Manager at Disney Online
    7. 2.7 Manufacturing and Distribution
    8. 2.8 Launch Day
    9. 2.9 Post Launch Support and Updates
    10. 2.10 Summary
      1. Interview with Rhett Bennatt, Art Director, Aspyr Games
  9. Chapter 3 Your World and Your Internal Team
    1. 3.1 Types of Distributed Collaboration: How to Organize Your World
      1. 3.1.1 Organization of Key Players: Developers, Publishers, Customers, and Retailers
      2. 3.1.2 Traditional Distribution Model
      3. 3.1.3 Digital Distribution Model
    2. 3.2 Organization of Distributed Development Teams
      1. 3.2.1 The Core Team
      2. 3.2.2 What to Do with the Wii?
      3. 3.2.3 Separate Multiplayer
      4. 3.2.4 How Many People per Group?
      5. 3.2.5 Subcontractors
    3. 3.3 How to Pick Your Internal Reps
      1. 3.3.1 Flexibility
      2. 3.3.2 Diplomacy
      3. 3.3.3 Travel
      4. 3.3.4 Technical Skills
      5. 3.3.5 Dedication
    4. 3.4 Key Roles and How to Identify Good Candidates
      1. 3.4.1 Producer
      2. 3.4.2 Associate Producer
      3. 3.4.3 Development Director
      4. 3.4.4 Art Director
      5. 3.4.5 Technical Director
      6. 3.4.6 Senior Designer
      7. 3.4.7 Integration Engineer and Build Master
      8. 3.4.8 Technical Art God
      9. 3.4.9 Audio Guru
      10. 3.4.10 News Flash: A Team Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts
    5. 3.5 Insourcing: It's Like Hiring Family Because Dad Told You To
      1. 3.5.1 How to Use Insourcing Effectively
    6. 3.6 Summary
      1. Interview with Robyn Wallace, General Manager, Blue Castle Games
  10. Chapter 4 External Partnerships
    1. 4.1 Where to Find Candidates and Teams
    2. 4.2 How to Know What You Need
      1. Questions for Fay Griffin, Development Director, Electronic Arts
      2. 4.2.1 Partner Evaluation Matrix
      3. 4.2.2 Warning Signs When Evaluating Teams
      4. Interview with Luke Wasserman, Senior Producer, 2K Sports
    3. 4.3 How Developers Can Find Partners and Publishers
      1. 4.3.1 On Agents
      2. 4.3.2 Why Developers Need to Self-Promote Early and Always
      3. 4.3.3 Warning Signs for the New Developer
    4. 4.4 How Developers Should Evaluate a Development Deal
      1. 4.4.1 The Assignment
      2. 4.4.2 Pay
      3. 4.4.3 Royalties
      4. 4.4.4 Delivery and Acceptance
      5. 4.4.5 Intellectual Property Rights
      6. 4.4.6 Credit
      7. 4.4.7 Future Relationship
      8. 4.4.8 Key Employees
      9. 4.4.9 Use of Subcontractors
      10. 4.4.10 Termination
      11. 4.4.11 The Value of an Appendix
      12. 4.4.12 Strategic Value
    5. 4.5 Roles and Responsibilities
      1. 4.5.1 Marketing
      2. 4.5.2 Localization
      3. 4.5.3 Manufacturing
      4. 4.5.4 Quality Assurance
      5. 4.5.5 Publisher-Independent Quality Control
      6. 4.5.6 First-Party Certification
    6. 4.6 Summary
      1. Interview with Sergio Rosas, President and Founder of CGBot
  11. Chapter 5 Getting off on the Right Foot
    1. 5.1 Making Sure You Have a Shared Vision
      1. 5.1.1 How Do You Best Establish a Shared Vision?
      2. Interview with Bill Byrne, Professor, Art Institute of Austin
    2. 5.2 Defining Project Parameters: Scheduling Goals, Techniques, and Milestones
      1. 5.2.1 Types of Scheduling
      2. 5.2.2 How to Structure Milestones
      3. 5.2.3 Dealing with Multiple Platforms Simultaneously
      4. 5.2.4 Devising Collaborative Schedules: Scheduling from the Ground Up
      5. 5.2.5 What Does Good Look Like?
    3. 5.3 Kickoff Meetings
      1. 5.3.1 When You First Discuss the Possibility of Working Together
      2. 5.3.2 When You Hammer out the Terms
      3. 5.3.3 When the Project Is a Go and the Contract Is Signed
      4. 5.3.4 When the Bulk of the Staff Starts to Come Online
      5. 5.3.5 When Key Team Members Meet (Art Directors' Summit)
    4. 5.4 How to Keep Balance among Internal and External Teams: Avoiding “Us versus Them” and Other Common Problems
    5. 5.5 Tools for Keeping the Team in Sync
      1. 5.5.1 Source Control
      2. 5.5.2 Using Source Control across Multiple Sites and Teams
      3. 5.5.3 E-mail
      4. 5.5.4 Subgroup Aliases
      5. 5.5.5 E-mail Archiving of Critical Information
      6. 5.5.6 Flagging and Tagging
      7. 5.5.7 Etiquette
      8. 5.5.8 Instant Messaging
      9. 5.5.9 Video Conferencing
      10. 5.5.10 Shared Documentation Space: Wikis, Sharepoint, and Google Docs
      11. 5.5.11 Defect Tracking
      12. 5.5.12 Asset Review
    6. 5.6 Summary
      1. Interview with Everett Lee, Production Director, Sony Online Entertainment
  12. Chapter 6 Maintaining the Organism
    1. 6.1 Establishing and Maintaining Trust
    2. 6.2 Progress Checkpoints and Milestone Tracking Progress
    3. 6.3 On Equipment and Software Needs
      1. 6.3.1 For Developers
      2. 6.3.2 For Publishers and Those Who Loan out Gear
      3. 6.4 How to Know When Things Are Going Wrong, and What to Do about It
      4. 6.4.1 Play the Build
      5. 6.4.2 Metrics
      6. 6.4.3 Try to Break Down Communication Silos
    4. 6.5 What to Do When the Job Requires More Work Than You'd Agreed Upon
      1. 6.5.1 Find out Why
      2. 6.5.2 Determine If You Need Additional Resources
      3. 6.5.3 Even When It Is Difficult or Expensive, Do What You Say You Will Do
    5. 6.6 How to Deal with Product Goal or Design Changes
    6. 6.7 How to Gracefully Exit When Required
    7. 6.8 Finaling and Product Submission
      1. Interview with Phil Wattenbarger, Director of Product Development, Certain Affinity
    8. 6.9 The Postmortem
    9. 6.10 Planning for Your Next Date
      1. 6.10.1 For Publishers
      2. 6.10.2 For Developers
    10. 6.11 Summary
  13. Chapter 7 Site Visits and Common Situations
    1. 7.1 Site Visits
    2. 7.2 Who to Send and Why
      1. 7.2.1 Critical Meetings
      2. 7.2.2 Collaborative Creation
      3. 7.2.3 Getting to Know Individual Strengths and Weaknesses
      4. 7.2.4 Soaking up Their Attitude
      5. 7.2.5 Troubleshooting
      6. 7.2.6 Celebrating
      7. 7.2.7 Surprise Inspections
    3. 7.3 Representing Your Company and the Project While On-Site
    4. 7.4 Language Barriers
    5. Interview with Frank Klier, Development Manager
    6. 7.5 Cross-Pollination
    7. 7.6 Dealing with Distractions
      1. 7.6.1 Understanding Local Politics
      2. 7.6.2 Ferreting out Destructive Non-Work Distractions
    8. 7.7 Cultural Differences
    9. 7.8 Regional Conditions
    10. 7.9 Helpful Tools for Staying in Touch with Home Base
      1. 7.9.1 A Cell Phone with an International Rate Plan
      2. 7.9.2 Instant Messenger
      3. 7.9.3 Skype
      4. 7.9.4 Blackberry or Other Mobile E-mail Device
      5. 7.9.5 Remote Desktop
    11. 7.10 Failure Study: When the Schedule Is Wrong
      1. 7.10.1 What to Do When Your People Are Spending Too Much Time On-Site
    12. 7.11 Failure Study: When Your Vision Is Clouded
      1. 7.11.1 When You're Shooting for the Wrong Target
    13. 7.12 Failure Case: When the Bugs Eat You
    14. 7.13 Failure Case: The Decision-Making Bottleneck
    15. 7.14 Hot Potato Projects
    16. 7.15 Summary
      1. Interview with Mark Greenshields, CEO of Firebrand Games
  14. Chapter 8 Review, Conclusions, and the Future
    1. 8.1 A Review of What We've Discussed
      1. 8.1.1 Chapter 1: Preface and Overview
      2. 8.1.2 Chapter 2: Overview of the Development Process
      3. 8.1.3 Chapter 3: Your World and Your Internal Team
      4. 8.1.4 Chapter 4: External Partnerships
      5. 8.1.5 Chapter 5: Getting off on the Right Foot
      6. 8.1.6 Chapter 6: Maintaining the Organism
      7. 8.1.7 Chapter 7: Site Visits and Common Situations
      8. 8.1.8 Overall Conclusions
    2. 8.2 What the Future Holds
  15. Index