Week 9 — Industry Insight 1

2021-07-23

In the week 9 spark forum, we’re asked to imagine starting up as a team. Here’s my individual answer (not my team’s):

Firstly, if we ever changed our name from The Falmouth Foulmouths, it would have to be “Juan, Luis & Partners” (credit: Josh, and a wat? link for our non-UK friends). We haven’t discussed working together in the future as a team, although our Team Charter makes provisions for taking the idea further after this module is over (either as a team, or individuals, and things start getting litigious at this point).

Even though we’re only focusing on making a narrative-branching audio-first game, Luis had the insight to create a platform for distribution and where other authors can easily make similar products. So, I can imagine starting that with the guys, and taking it further. I would probably refer to myself as “CTO”, although I’m more likely to end up an individual contributor. (“Many stellar developers are interested in only coding and not interested in people management roles.” - their words, not mine 😀) We’ll be as remote as possible, and on a 4-hour-workweek because we’re all Tim Ferriss fanbois (I’m guessing), with communication being entirely via end-to-end encrypted smoke signals (read as: work-life balance, and not an interruption-driven culture).

The “& Partners” in our name is exactly what it says on the tin: we’ll be a worker collective. (This is an idea I’ve thrown around on our Discord, as too much money goes to the top nowadays.)

CYOA is trademarked by ChooseCo, so our slogan will have to be “Choose Your Own Misadventure”, with lots of Grimm/horror themes. Logo? I’ll let Maciej worry about that one.

How to find success: make good stories. Neil Gaiman is a super nice chap, so it might be worth trying to approach him to get some celebrity cred. Have really good sound design, binaural audio, plenty of ASMR vibes. Promote eye health, as you’re not necessarily staring at your device for this one - you can “play” with your eyes closed.

A few things to take note of:

Individual contributor

I really do think I’m more likely to do gamedev on my own, and collaborate every now and then with other one-person-indies (i.e. self-starters who knows how to get things done). I like to collaborate with folks in short bursts, and don’t want to be saddled with a company, and be responsible for people’s salaries, or their motivation.

Worker collective

As much as I dislike seeing so much wealth rise to the top on a daily basis, perhaps starting a collective will be quite hard indeed. Or it won’t happen easily. I think relationships that end up in partnerships like these take a lot of time, so perhaps the “collective” idea will gestate.

Work-life balance

I’ve quoted Roald Dahl before. Go to his website and skip to the section labelled “What is your work routine?” (or, listen to it here) He only writes for 4 hours a day (2 in the morning, and 2 in the afternoon). But, it is deep, focused work (Dahl 1988).

I think this is all human beings are capable of. Anyone who sits in an office for 8 or 9 hours a day are fooling themselves and their micro-managing middle-managers. You do a few hours of focused work, if you’re lucky, and the rest of the time is spent on water cooler chatter, meetings, reading the news, going for a long poo so your can swipe through your phone in peace, etc. I’d rather just spend the 3 or 4 hours working, and spend the rest of the day on my own terms.

Not an interruption-driven culture, as remote as possible

Interruptions are aplenty, and bad for our productivity (“Interruptions at Work Are Killing Your Focus, Productivity, and Motivation” 2018). I won’t allow interruptions at all in my fictitious organisation, and everyone would be tucked away deep inside their Eudaimonia Machine (Murray 2020), in the inner chambers, where deep work happens. (They’re free to come out, of course!) Or, their own little Roald Dahl writing hut (Telling Tales with Carl Ashmore n.d.) (which was actually inspired by Dylan Thomas (“Inside Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut” n.d.))

Tips from the industry

Lots of good tips from Spry Fox (Fray 2014), but here are the ones specifically about remote teamwork:

  • Keep prototypes so small that you only need max 2 people on it initially (e.g. designer + programmer, or a lone technical designer)
  • No paper prototypes (as the team is remote, digital prototypes work better)
  • timezones can be a PITA, but you can hire the best people
  • chemistry can be difficult to achieve over video chat

Week development log

2021-07-25 Sunday

Started preparing for the 3-minute demo video for the final submission:

  • have all art downloaded and in a central location
  • have all SFX downloaded and in a central location
  • have all ambient sound (forest + footsteps) downloaded and in a central location
  • all imported into a new iMovie project
  • started a doc on Google Docs detailing the plan for the video

The rest of the week

I’m waiting on the rest of the team for their assets so I can start making the 3 minute demo video. I feel frustrated, because everything will be ready just as I am about to move again (on July 31st), this time to an AirBN in Stroud, for one month. The move will disrupt my free time over the weekend, and the early part of the following week.

Meanwhile, I’m researching pitch decks so we can make an impact with our final assignment. (And updating blogs, of course!)

Bibliography

  1. “Inside Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut.” n.d. Available at: https://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2017/may/inside-roald-dahls-writing-hut [accessed 29 Jul 2021].
  2. “Interruptions at Work Are Killing Your Focus, Productivity, and Motivation.” 2018. RescueTime Blog. Available at: https://blog.rescuetime.com/interruptions-at-work/ [accessed 29 Jul 2021].
  3. DAHL, Roald. 1988. “How Do You Keep the Story’s Momentum Going?” Roald Dahl on writing. Available at: https://www.roalddahl.com/create-and-learn/write/roald-dahl-on-writing [accessed 21 Oct 2020].
  4. FRAY, Andrew. 2014. “Innovating In Your Pants.” Andrew Fray. Available at: https://andrewfray.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/innovating-in-your-pants/ [accessed 29 Jul 2021].
  5. MURRAY, James. 2020. “Eudaimonia Machine—Is This the Blueprint for the Virtual Workplace?” Workfront. Available at: https://www.workfront.com/blog/eudaimonia-machine-blueprint-virtual-workplace [accessed 18 Nov 2020].
  6. TELLING TALES WITH CARL ASHMORE. n.d. “Roald Dahl Interview and Short Film - Pebble Mill at One 1982.” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQkz_X1Rg60 [accessed 29 Jul 2021].

This post is part of my critical reflective journal and was written during week 9 of the module co-creative development.

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