The previous article, "The Challenges and Illusions of Developing AAA Games - Part 2," mentioned the goodwill of leadership. Now, as the leader steps up to the plate, the pressing question arises: when will your game be released?
One effective management technique is to reserve a safety margin for deadlines. By setting a deadline with a buffer period, the team can account for any unforeseen issues or extra polishing needed. However, this approach may lose its effectiveness if the team catches on to the producer's strategy and starts to anticipate the extra time.
Squeezing potential involves setting a tight deadline to push the development team. This method is commonly used in the gaming industry, as it takes advantage of the fact that overtime often doesn't require additional pay. However, excessive overtime can have negative effects on the team, such as reduced personal growth and increased acting skills to cope with the workload.
Some more relaxed companies may adopt a casual approach to deadlines, stating that the game will be released "when it's done." This can lead to projects dragging on for years, and in some cases, never actually being completed. The technology and concepts may become outdated, and the game may serve as a negative example for the industry.
Taking small steps and iterating quickly is another way of saying 996 or 997, an even stronger version of squeezing potential. This approach involves releasing the game with limited content and continuously improving it based on market feedback. While this can lead to more targeted improvements and better games, it also requires an intense workload for the development team.
Game producers need to balance the need for deadlines with the impact on team morale. Occasional overtime to meet version milestones is acceptable, but long-term overtime can have detrimental effects on the team's personal growth and honesty. Regularly summarizing the success and failure of each version allows everyone time to recover and reflect on how to improve next time.
In conclusion, setting deadlines in game development can be a delicate balance between pushing the team to achieve their goals and maintaining a healthy work environment. Different methods may work better for different teams and projects, but producers need to consider the long-term effects on both the game and the team members.
To be continued......