Sunday, January 26, 2014

The difficulty of maintaining a team

This is a long one.

When I was working on my own project, I would be like all fired up and keep working on it all night. It happened so many times before and they are all useless projects like charting Stepmania simfiles for submitting to a pack in FFR webboard, learning how to compose music with my DAW, painting a anime-ish picture of my friend because she wanted a new profile picture for her Twitter.. they all have no financial value, but I'd been fun. Really fun.

I think it had been this way since high school, when I learned that I could make my own world in RPG Maker XP. Countless hours poured into learning the RMXP itself, learning Photoshop, learning about (how to copy) ruby scripts...

But now it's a different world. This project "Factora" would be for profit. I wanted to try selling things. This game was not designed to drain money through addiction like mobile games nowadays. Exactly 1 non-consumable in-app purchase has been planned for this game and yet it is so different from what it had been.

This is because I'm now no longer working alone. I formed a team to work on this game. This team has some connection with the game's background so I wanted to see what happened when 4 of us worked together. I imagined a wonderful release day when we sit back and celebrate together.

But now, my team has not been very that much active. I still talked regularly with my main programmer via Facebook chat but he said he barely had time to work on our major overhaul that we talked in the chat. He said he's extremely busy.

I could go all out and work overnight like my past self and went ahead of him. Then I can surprise him with surprising amount of new features when he's back. The task does not really dependent on each other.

But what is this feeling?

As a team, when we are not moving together, I feel like... how should I say this... I can postpone it and wait for others. What is the point of doing this all alone when we are team?

I ended up with less morale. I'd love to have this game finished but it's not the same feeling as with my personal project.

This is so mysterious. I discovered that team work is not entirely a wonderful thing like many people thought. Maybe it is because there is money involved and some bad thought like "Why should I go all out on this when others aren't working on it?" keep spring up secretly inside my head. Or is it because we are not working full time on this? Will the pace change if we can rent an office and quit our day job, gather together and seeing each other's face instead of posting progress in Facebook secret group?

I can't seem to keep my another programmer on fire long enough. And I have to keep convincing my artist to take action regularly or she will simply forgot about assigned task. I even set up the Facebook secret group for this purpose. Every little things I've done I would screenshot it or capture a video if it was an animation, and post to the group to compensate for not able to being together. The post occasionally got likes and seens but I doubt those had any effects on team's morale. The recent busy-ness of my main programmer practically leaves only me alone to push this game forward now. I should be continue working on it, but the inner me told me to wait for him.

I have not thought that it is my fault at all, until recently. Maybe I'm a terrible leader? Maybe I lacked some essential people management skills because I had been avoiding all 'leader' tasks all my university life? Or maybe my conservative monetizing model of Factora is no longer sufficient to hold the hope of my team? Are they now doubt that we can get some money with this game? Honestly I can't think of any other better monetizing method that will not severely decrease the fun and stretch the development time to eternity.

I don't feel like invading their life with constant Facebook message anymore. I want them to start reporting progress to me instead of me asking. But how can I achieve that? Am I overlooking some important things?

This is the problem to overcome. Along with a big overhaul to make "Factora" fun.

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