Leading creativity-a video game developing story

Hey everyone.

Games are a huge part of my life and have been ever since I played tag on the playground. They give me the sense of understanding concepts within its reality and the ability to expand on those concepts. Creating and changing any game that I’d come across, such as Monopoly, dodgeball, dancing, running, etc. The freedom games give to me is like a white canvas for my mind to spatter all of its creative juices onto. That was worded a bit odd, but you get my point. This reason alone is why my goal is to be a game developer, and why I enrolled in Cogswell’s game development program.  It’s a great feeling now to see myself growing up to be developing video games as a profession and enjoying the ever loving heck out of it. But ignoring all the joy of my own self progression, there’s a huge hurdle that most did not tell me that I would have to jump over:  leading a team, more specifically, being chosen to lead a team of developers in making a video game that came from your creative mind, even more specifically, leading a game that has been in development for 4+ months and still being motivated to see it through. There is no length of the specifics and hardships of my leadership role, but I don’t want to focus on that too much. Instead I want to tell you all of my experience thus far on this particular project and what I’m learning along the way.

Let’s start off at the beginning of my first semester of college, where after a simple idea pitch for a game lead me to heading a video game. It wasn’t too hard to tell people about my idea since my grasp on the concept was pretty solid, even for a freshman, and many of the people that heard my idea really responded to the vision presented. Next came organizing the duties of the people who were on board the project which wasn’t very difficult since even though we were beginners, we all had strengths and we all knew what we wanted to work on. After roles were set out, it was time to set goals… or goal. You see, when working with people who have never made a game, you end up making a central goal from the initial vision and working around all the details to get there. Our team ended up doing that and somehow getting a playable level in with only minimal graying of scalps. After that hell was traversed, we tried to look ahead. Sadly, developer issues came into the picture and put the project on hiatus until further notice. All the while I was trying to get everyone on the same page and not at each other’s throats which was not even close to easy. Finally, after the project was halted and a break was had, the team came back to a meeting I led to find out who would be staying and who would be leaving. Of the initial 9 that were on board, only 3, including myself, were left. You can imagine that losing most of my team was pretty hard, but understandable from their perspectives. They didn’t see this as something that would make them happy, so why continue? It was my duty to let them know their work was appreciated and they would still get credited when the game was done. With all of them knowing that, they left and the remaining members were left to pick up where the project left off.

Skipping ahead to now, it’s March 15th, 2011. The new development team that is working on my game idea is going strong and working harder than before to get out a product before June. There are no internal conflicts, we work without complaining, and there is progress to show. I’m still considered the creative lead, but this time around I’m making sure things don’t get out of hand and people can communicate with one another without feeling like they need to yell across the room. There are some concerns here and there about our progress, but it’s always positive criticism. It has shocked me that after a few short months I would learn so many lessons from my first project and still feel confident about continuing. It makes me hopeful that my current project will be finished and will make me feel proud when others get the chance to play it. Whether they like it or not is up to them…but I’m working towards like! See you guys later!

-Davain M.

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