GameDev Protips: How To Manage Your Game Development Team More Effectively

In game development, one rule that I’ve always stuck to is: don’t delegate what you don’t know. When you have people working under you, you need to have good management skills. One method of management coined by Sam Walton is called the Over-The-Shoulder method. First, get a solid understanding of the task you want to delegate to someone working with you. Do some research and gain knowledge about it — it doesn’t have to be deep, but enough so that you have a good idea. Then, you work with the individual step by step and have them demonstrate it in front of you proficiently. Now, where most people mess up is they don’t check back again every now and then. You need to look over their shoulder to confirm everything is being taken care of properly.

Don’t over-analyze and forget to take tangible action to move forward. It’s easy to get stuck. There’s so much to know about game design, quality assurance, marketing, business, and many more topics that are tangentially related to the art of game development. It can get overwhelming. If you’re a practical person, you might find yourself paralyzed from action a lot. You have be able to recognize that you’re getting analysis paralysis and just take action. You must develop more of a “scientist” mindset and treat every action as an experiment. Look at the results of your experiment and act accordingly — don’t get mired in the planning process.

Remember to hire or recruit people smarter than you. Recruit people who are sufficiently talented. It takes amazing people to make amazing products, and if you’re working with people who aren’t amazing, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You don’t need to be good at all aspects of game development, so recruit people to round out your team in the right way. As an indie game developer, you’re most likely going to have to fulfill many different roles. If you’re unable to keep up with the demand of a particular role, don’t be afraid to hire help. If you can’t draw a circle to save your life, onboard an artist. If you’re not that great at marketing, consider getting help from someone who knows more about the subject than you do. Your end goal should be to finish and release a game. Start with the end in mind, and don’t be afraid to assemble a team to help you get the job done.

Important Takeaways: Make sure to understand roles before delegating tasks or recruiting. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, but you need to have a firm understanding of the basics. As a quick example, don’t hire a programmer and expect them to make an MMO if you have no idea how much work it takes to accomplish such a feat. Don’t get into the habit of overthinking. The key to making a great game is recruiting great people and just iterating on the process. Always seek to move forward. Hire people who are more talented than you in areas that you need help in.