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I need stories about making things

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:40 am
by Blossom
So, uh. I'm kinda working on a Master's thesis about when people in a preexisting online community decide "We're gonna make a game!", focusing on why they succeeded or failed to make that game, and what can be done to help them succeed. I've got a couple good case studies, but the more stuff I can pull from, the better. Looking specifically at situations where a group cooperates to do a thing, not where an individual makes a thing with help - community efforts rather than a singular vision.

So! I remember you people doing a few group Knytt Stories levelpacks. Would some of the people who were involved in that be willing to lay out the production of those, and talk about what happened, how, and why? And if there were other significant efforts at doing games that I'm forgetting, or even non-game things, those also?

Re: I need stories about making things

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:21 am
by Friday
I can say with 100% resolve behind this opinion that ek1 happened because Newbie and Zara made it happen, ek2 happened because Newbie made it happen, and ek3 happened because I made it happen after Newbie declined to make it happen.

I'm not downplaying everyone's contributions to those projects. I know a lot of people worked really hard on their levels, and their art. But without a single person at the head driving everyone and doing the lion's share of the "work" (defined as time spent on the project not directly making a level, such as copy pasting levels into the final project [which takes hours], tracking down people to make levels, making them make levels by repeatedly reminding them that they need to make a fucking level, tracking down people to make art assets, compiling everything, fixing bugs, playtesting the game over and over and over to find said bugs [and still missing a ton anyway] and coordinating everything to make a cohesive whole) the project will not go anywhere.

tl;dr: you need a motivated, dedicated and effective leader. Preferably not one with an extremely warped sense of difficulty who ends up making 50% of the content and ruining it.

Again, not downplaying the group's importance. The EK projects would not have been what they were without so many people working together to create something amazing.

Re: I need stories about making things

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:01 pm
by Brantly B.
As long as one person cares deeply about the project, it will not die, even as others flit in and out like dreams.

We had the idea of making one person the "Director" for The Mayor, and that was the right track, but the concept that the product owner does not have his or her own two feet on the ground working on it was the major flaw. The most successful projects seem to be the ones that are really important to one person who knows how to work with other people, and helped along by an army of happy little minions who are treated with respect.

Alternately, you can just get money involved in it.

Re: I need stories about making things

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:43 am
by Brantly B.
Further reflection on recent successes and failures have brought to light two other important factors.

The first is the concept of deadlines, which I've discussed before when this topic was brought up. Deadlines are correctly identified as the main enemy of quality and because of this it's tempting for amateur projects, unfettered by budget and customer demands, to operate without them, and to release work "when it's done." The problem with this is the problem I realized after having to cut off work on the Outer Heaven intro in time for it to broadcast: If I hadn't done that, I would have NEVER finished the damn thing, I'd still be obsessing over parts of it until I got sick of the whole thing. I suspect that's the primary cause of death for projects that people care about.

You have to walk a delicate tightrope with this stuff, though, because the last thing you want to do is put down stakes when you're asking for people's time. We've tried that here and it resulted, quickly, in contributers deciding that they have higher priorities. The more correct way to go about it is to make expectations clear and flexible, which I think is what was very well done with EK2. Almost everybody dragged it out, and if course I took it to an extreme - but since I was making it clear what I was doing and why I needed the extra time, I didn't catch much shit for it. Which brings us to the other brobdingnagian point, communication.

Communication problems grow larger the further away people are from each other. No amount of technology really nullifies that fact. Existing communication issues also multiply by a factor every time a new person is added to the project. Take several people who are all disparate from each other, and communication becomes a MASSIVE issue that most groups don't even recognize, let alone competently address.