Dev Diary: That First Step

by Angel Leigh McCoy
So much work goes into getting a new business off the ground. You have to ask yourself so many questions in the beginning. Questions like:

  1. Is this really what I want to do for the next five years? Ten years? Twenty?
  2. Can I commit 100% to seeing this through?
  3. Am I prepared to spend the time and money necessary to make it a success?
  4. Can I be the leader my team will need in order to not only succeed, but have fun doing it?

After much soul-searching, I realized that I’m ready to lead a team. I’m ready because I have experience doing so and because I have learned much in the past five years about working with a video game development team and many years before that mentoring and supervising others.

Perhaps the most important step you’ll make toward shipping a game is knowing yourself, your shortcomings and your talents.

Making a game is a huge commitment. Primarily because you have to involve other people. I’m pretty good at being self-motivated, and I’m enough of a loner that I’m highly self-sufficient. However, there is no way I could make a game by myself. I don’t have all the skills necessary.

I’m more of a Jill-of-all-trades kind of person. I know a little bit about many things, and a lot about storytelling. So, I took stock of what I do well, what I know in depth, and what I know superficially, and I began plotting out what coworkers I would need to bring on board to fill the gaps left by my areas of inexpertise.

I had to be honest with myself and take a sincere assessment of myself. I listed all the areas of expertise needed in the early stages of game development, and I rated my knowledge in them on a scale of 0-3, with 3 being expert, and 0 being null.

Areas of Expertise Required for the Early Stages of Game Development

  • Programming (1)
  • Game design (3)
  • Art of various sorts (1)
  • Community building (3)
  • Audio/music composition (1)
  • Story (3)
  • Leadership (2)

No zeros, thank goodness! Once I had a clear idea of what I would need, and what I could definitely not provide myself, I went looking for the right talent to fill the holes.

  • Programming: Alison & Bridget, and some me
  • Game design: Alison, Bridget, and some me
  • Art of various sorts: Grace, Elan, and Kim
  • Community building: Elan and me
  • Audio/music composition: Andre
  • Story: Me.
  • Leadership: and me.

So, if you’re looking to make a game or do any large project, this is where you start: with yourself. Assess your commitment and your needs, and assess what role you can reasonably play in filling those needs. Then go find awesome folks who can do what you can’t, like I did!

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