I would like to ask you all a question about how I should be going about creating and especially maintaining an Amateur/Independent team for quite a big project.

I'm specially interested about common pitfalls like who to Not accept on a team for example but also any information about how to build and maintain a team of non (or very little) payed people for a project that might advance but slo(oo)wly.

Oh yes, before you downvote me for wanting to create a MMORPG, I already have created the game + server (up and running), coded the last 3 years by myself (ie. this is not a modified Ryzom or something likewise)

You can check it out here: www.mindoki.com

So now I'd love to build a team helping me out with things like creating talents, testing, making quests, taking care of the community, scripting, website (forum) etc. etc. etc.

For the story, a guy helped me for like 6 months creating a team doing graphics, plot and sound but not one of them was able to either follow a 'template' (using a texture set up and a pre made skeleton) or finish even Anything.

So how should I structure the "team", how should I recruit (should / must I handle all recruiting myself?) and what are the common caveats in such team management?


[EDIT] I removed the edit, it messed up the initial question (which is 'What's the Do:s and Don't:s in amateur team management')

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't you think its way to subjective? All of your questions can be answers with "it depends". It depends on the people you are recruiting, it depends on, how you are going to distribute the work load, it depends on your budget... \$\endgroup\$ – Quazi Irfan Jul 10 '11 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Congratulations on having a working game, but this is more a discussion prompt / rant than a question, and the questions I can pick out are varied and vague. ("How should I recruit?", "What problems should I be aware of managing a team?", "How does translation work?") \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Jul 10 '11 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @joe Well "what are the pitfalls when creating an amature team?" is a quite straight-forward question, isn't it? Ok though that I'm ranting around a bit... \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 11 '11 at 7:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a side note, you might want to browse through answers.onstartups.com for questions relating to getting (and working with) a team when you have little/no money. \$\endgroup\$ – thedaian Jul 12 '11 at 13:35

Questions about money and ownership aside, I have only one piece of advice that I found handy when dealing with a volunteer effort I worked with before:

If you want to build a ship don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 even if it means I have to continue alone until I have a game that really makes people want to be a part of it (and not a 'potentially good game in the future'). \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 11 '11 at 7:07

Well after a few minutes of play, I would say it's going to be hard to get people working for you without paying them a proper wage.

This kind of project really needs people that are fully motivated to work on it; the problem is that you've pretty much developed the game yourself and anyone helping out will probably feel much less 'involved' with the project and hence less motivated.

There are also a few points that have to be made :

  • The game is ugly (no offence) - IMO people will be more reluctant setting aside their free time to work on an ugly game.
  • The game is in french (and also with some spelling mistakes I might add :P) - You have done the right thing putting the site in english, but the main language really must be english in game.
  • The game doesn't seem to offer anything new (I haven't tested it enough yet).

Overall I'd say you've done a great job, but it's a very personal game and I think it'll be hard for others to get on-board; that's why I suggest making the whole game more accessible.

I would also recommend that if you can't pay people, you need to find a workflow which makes it stupidly easy for people to add quests, translate stuff, etc. The big problem is motivation and competence. At first you'll have to review everything yourself, but as you get good contributors you can delegate that work.

I would also look into creating an SVN type hub to facilitate adding/modifying content and make clients able to immediately test changes if they so choose.

En tout cas chapeau, c'est un bel effort ;)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, your answer is very clear (pertinent ^^) even if it doesn't really answer my questions. Merci ! \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 10 '11 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Valmond I was trying to argue as to why you will find it hard to get anyone to work on your game; maybe I misunderstood the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathan Connell Jul 11 '11 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I have had almost ten persons helping me, it didn't work out at all though hence the question about amateur team management (I still think your answer is good though and I'll work further on reducing the problems you talked about!). \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 11 '11 at 7:37

This is basically impossible, you can't make an MMORPG as a spare time project. I wouldn't know how you would get people to contribute anywhere near enough, but even if you could manage that you wouldn't be able to make them contribute the right stuff. Contributing content is one thing, making everything fit together another, and that is a lot of hard work requiring great skill, which no-one will do for free.

Don't expect to be able to do anything a lot bigger than what you can do on your own.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "you can't make an MMORPG as a spare time project." Well it is not a spare time project (it might be in the future but ATM it isn't) and people actually have been successfully able to make "mmorpg":s in an independent way (see for example Minions of Mirth). That said, I'm here because I need advice on how managing a team, might it be possible or not. If it is 'not' well then I'll go with that :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 10 '11 at 22:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm betting a lot of people gave Notch the same kind of advice... \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Holt Jul 10 '11 at 23:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...and it seems like Notch listened and did something he could manage without relying on other people doing free work. \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa Jul 11 '11 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tim Holt: :-D @eBusiness: You might be right (ATM I'm paying professional people to create my graphics) but you also makes it look like I would like to 'fool people into working for free for me', that is not the intent. It is more 'I'd love to meet people that share a vision and would like to add to a project (which indeed might be a pipe-dream). \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Jul 11 '11 at 18:12

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