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Re: Game projects

On Thu, 31 Oct 2002 16:37:01 -0600
Gianfranco Berardi <linuxmail@gbgames.com> wrote:

> I am just wondering what people have experienced as a better
> arrangement for getting ideas and such across: meetings or online
> discussions?

It depends on the people IME. The best example I can give is related to 
what I do at work - not game development but distance learning course
development, but my experience in gamdev has paralleled this so far.
When developing a course there are usually at least six people involved:
the project manager, one or two people writing the words (you don't want
to know what happens when this goes over 2), one to three people making
animated/interactive material that supports the words and at least two
proofreaders. Some people may fill more than one role (I generally
manage the projects, write words and work on the animated/interactive
stuff). On any project there tends to be at least one person who is
uncomfortable working via email, web forums (fora?) and online debugging
systems. However, those of us who are comfortable with it tend to be
able to hammer out complex subjects quite easily. Email and web forums
have the advantage over face to face meetings that everything you
discuss is written down and it is a simple matter to keep an
exhaustive picture of what has or has not been discussed. Unfortunately
some people seem to have trouble participatng over purely electronic
media - the reasons I have encountered tend to range from a sense of
detatchment (they don't feel they are part of the group because they
can't see who they're talking to) or information overload through to
difficulty presenting a concept or argument in a way that is
unambiguous. This means that we often have to have face to face meetings
to discuss the discussions make online to make sure that everyone agrees
and to keep everyone in the loop. If all of your team are hardened users
of online discussion systems (and using art packages or diagram
generators at the least - even if they have no art skills, diagrams are
often a vital part of discussion) then you probably only need meetings
once every blue moon (if that) but if you have a few people who need
the extra contact then you may need to organise regular meetings so that
they don't feel they are being pushed out.

> In the book "Game Architecture and Design" it mentions that meetings 
> should be restricted to only very major decisions, and that some other
> way of transmitting information, such as a web forum or some central 
> website, should be used for general discussion such as game design and
> technical details.

Probably because of what I mentioned above - face to face meetings are
pretty much information-sinks for details (which is probably why
PHBs like meetings so much....) Half the time people will come out of
them only remembering a fraction of the discussion and probably with
three or four different versions of what actually happened. Minutes
are generally useless unless they are virtually a complete transcript
of the meeting. Online discussions generate concrete, complete records
by definition so they should be used as the basis for tehcnical or
detailed discussion.