- Tips & Best Ways to Collaborate With Remote Game Developers
- What is Game Dev Collaboration?
- Types of Remote Collaboration in Game Development
- Team of Freelancers
- Full-Time Remote Work
- Outsourcing to a Professional Team
- Top 7 Game Dev Collaboration Tips
- 1. Make Sure Everyone Has a Defined Role and Boundaries
- 2. Actively Monitor the Processes and Needs
- 3. Choose the Right Tools
- 4. Keep a Well-Organized Documentation Pool
- 5. Ensure Regular Meetings and Feedback
- 6. Select a Conflict Resolution Tactic
- 7. Stay Connected Beyond Work
- Consider Pingle Studio Your Trusted Partner
- Final Thoughts
In the wake of the global pandemic, multiple industries have resorted to working remotely. This trend has not left game development untouched – according to the GDC State of the Industry 2020 Survey, around 70% of developers had to switch to remote work.
When asked about the challenges faced during the transition, many developers have mentioned communication as the most important one. And it’s no wonder, as game dev collaboration is an essential factor that can make or break the success of the project. So, let’s review some tips and practices that might make collaborative game development for remote teams easier.
What is game dev collaboration? Collaboration in game development is when designers, developers, and artists work together via thought-through communication and a mutual working environment to deliver an end-product. It is an essential part of the problem-solving and design process. A well-designed game has a good balance and alignment between its elements, from visual style, character and level map design, gameplay elements to audio design, controls, and even marketing approach. All these aspects result from the correct collaboration.
For all the aspects and the overall vision to align, the team members need to communicate constantly. However, in a remote setting, this can be challenging. You have to make sure every person has a good enough internet connection and additional quality tools, like a mic and a headset, to make socializing easy enough.
Furthermore, there needs to be a way for people to access a large repository of files for your game. They need to be able to download and modify the source code, design assets, and other files, and get updated about the changes made by other team members as soon as possible.
The lack of communication and management of workflow for game dev collaboration can result in misunderstandings, lack of alignment between different game parts, which results in more time needed to complete a project, potential crunch time, and missed deadlines.
Now that you know why collaborative game development is important, let’s find out how to build a game development team remotely.
One of the most common ways to collaborate with game developers, artists, and designers is to hire them as freelancers. You can find freelance workers for hire on platforms specifically designed for that, like Teamups or Teamstarter, or even on gaming forums in discussions dedicated to collaboration and jobs.
One of the biggest benefits of using freelance services is that they are generally cheaper than other alternatives. They usually have their equipment and tools they have experience with.
Unfortunately, freelancers work worldwide, so it is often challenging to coordinate the communication of the team with each member in a different time zone. Overall, managing such teams is a tough task, as you would need to carefully control the timing and relevance to your standards. Freelancers are also not as invested in your project, as they will simply move on to the next one once yours is done.
If you want to build a long-term team for several projects down the line, you can hire remote workers for full-time positions. This type of game developers' collaboration is usually more attractive for specialists due to the stability it promises.
Full-time workers are incentivized to get to know each other better, as they know they might have to work together for a long time. This makes the communication more effective and raises the team morale. They are also more dedicated to each project because they know that the project’s success is reflected as their success.
The biggest disadvantage of this model is that it is the most resource-draining. It is up to you to provide the experts you hire with high-quality tools, good internet access, and proper training. While the investment might pay off, you still need funds to put the team into motion.
Outsourcing the efforts to a professional team is another form of video game development collaboration. Multiple studios are ready to share your burden and help you bring your vision to life, and Pingle Studio is one of them.
Hiring a professional team combines the benefits of both previous methods without many disadvantages. They don’t require many resources from you because they have their tools and equipment they are familiar with. You also don’t have to wonder, “How do game developers work together?’ – the team has experience working together on other projects and is used to collaboration with one another.
The only major downside of this approach is the risk of choosing to work with the wrong team: they might defraud you, get away with your money, or even steal your assets and ideas. That’s why careful team consideration is the key in this approach.
The first step towards better collaboration with a game development team should be checking if everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Some roles in the game dev team have overlaps, which leads to a conflict if the duties are not defined properly.
Another aspect you should pay attention to in remote collaboration is people’s boundaries. Each team member should have a well-defined and respected schedule to avoid overworking and burnout. Having realistic expectations about the outcome of their work is also helpful to promote collaboration and achieve better results.
Monitoring the development process is one of the best game dev collaboration tips. You can determine a lot by checking the trends in productivity of each team member and reviewing what’s going on with your infrastructure.
Such monitoring will help you proactively react to any potential problems, better allocate your resources wherever they are needed, and provide overall improvements that will help your team to work to the best of their abilities.
Selecting the right tools is as important as selecting the right team members. Each project has certain specifics that might be better solved with a tool explicitly made for them. Furthermore, some collaborative tools can greatly improve the communication between the team members, thus making the development process more effective.
This can be problematic if you don’t have a lot of experience in the industry. If you’re not familiar with certain tools, it might take a lot of time for your team to adopt them, which might do more harm than good.
Up-to-date documentation can help one developer quickly and easily learn about changes introduced to the game by others. It is also a great tool to monitor the development progress and attribute the contribution to each developer.
Keeping a well-organized documentation pool will prove to be especially helpful if you hire a new developer in the middle of the process. This is the best tool to bring them up to speed, explain what else needs to be done, and clarify their responsibilities.
To make sure there is open communication between every team member, there needs to be dedicated time to share ideas, discuss their processes, and give feedback to each other. Such meetings need to be conducted regularly to make sure everyone is on the same page.
While some developers think that too many meetings only decrease their productivity and are unnecessary, there is more good than harm from regular meetings, even if you only spend a couple of minutes to synchronize.
If you know how to collaborate with a game development team, you are aware that the clash of ideas is inevitable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the outcome depends on how you handle the situation.
That’s why there needs to be a conflict resolution tactic determined early on that will help discuss each option and make a decision with no hard feelings. It can be resolved with an open vote, a unanimous decision, a game of Mortal Kombat – whatever suits your team best.
This point often gets overlooked, but establishing a personal connection in your game development team can help the process a lot. Firstly, it helps to achieve a better mutual understanding, thus avoiding any potential miscommunication.
Secondly, it boosts morale and makes people feel closer. Working at home, sometimes you need that reassurance that someone is going through the same things you do. Even having a meme group chat can be helpful in this regard.
Pingle Studio is a team of professional developers, designers, and artists with a lot of experience developing and co-developing games remotely. We’ve worked with small and large teams, and in each case, we have managed to set up an effective collaborative process both within our teams and with our partners.
We let our work speak for us – we’ve co-developed such gems as the cyberpunk adventure Beyond a Steel Sky, explosive 3D shooter Rocket Arena, beautiful and unique Lost Ember, and many others. Check them out to assess our experience better.
Ensuring an effective game dev collaboration can be challenging in the age of remote work. However, it is essential for the success of your project. Hopefully, the tips above will help you hire the right team and make sure that the collaborative process is effective enough to bring your vision to life. If you’re still struggling, contact Pingle Studio, and we’ll help you develop a successful game on your budget and timeline.