Game developers must be ready to take the initiative when a project management pipeline or development plan looks to be leading them into crisis, an experienced developer has advised.
Pipelines and workflows are the essential steps that take a game from the idea in a creator’s head right up to the final released product and marketing campaign. Project management software from the likes of Autodesk and Perforce, along with team structures such as ‘Scrum’, have become commonplace in modern game development.
However, freelance designer and producer Jurie Horneman has advised developers not to become over reliant on these technologies or production methodologies, as not taking the time to step back and observe your project can lead to serious development issues or worse.
“If a workflow isn’t working as well as you hoped it would, spend time and attention on it. It’s that simple, because typically no time is planned for working on pipelines, and too little attention is paid at the team leadership level,” he told Develop.
“Evaluate and measure your workflows, make them someone’s responsibility. Get the problems out in the open, knock some heads together and get multidisciplinary people to work on them.”
Horneman added that one of the qualities of a good workflow is the ability to spot mistakes easily, and thus avoid going over budget and running overtime.
“At the start of your project, look at how much content you need to create and how many people you have to do it. You should be doing this anyway for your planning.
“Then do the maths. If one programmer spends two weeks building a custom tool, or improving an exporter, how many minutes does this save per 3D object, say? Think of how many more iterations you can make, how much faster you can polish.”
Horneman and others spoke to Develop at length about the challenges that face developers with the pipelines and workflows they use in game development today.
In addition to Horneman’s advice, Hansoft’s senior production expert Oliver Teckert explained that keeping track of assets as they move between outsourcing studios and internally must be done correctly in order to avoid milestones being missed and key development time lost.