DEV BLOG #1
The Exaggerated Epoch of Edward O'Hare | Storyend Studios
Off to the races!
Today I made the first build for the new semester!
After a long semester of hard work, discussions, late night Discord calls, and a lot of crushed walls and pivots: we were very thankful to have been selected to go forward with our project: The Exaggerated Epoch of Edward O’Hare. I was very nervous to take on the role of Lead Programmer, but was confident I would be able to manage.
For the past few weeks, we have been onboarding our 9 new members and slowly transitioning into full on productivity mode. Thankfully, there seemed to be no personal or professional hiccups, and people were able to get into the repo and read through the docs with only a few minor issues. Due to that, we have already been making a little progress on the game, laying the groundwork for full production.
Even starting in the first week, the new members seemed to have a good grasp on the game and began giving us original 5 a lot of good critique and suggestions of where to take the game. From that, we were able to quickly put together a greenlight plan that covered the big things we wanted to rework (the combat, the narrative and the levels) and things we wanted to add (boss fight, player feedback, more enemies). Since we seemed ready to go, we got to work making new documents and updating old ones.
Then, after a few character controller updates, a new level, and some production pipeline stuff on the backend straightened out we decided we were ready to make our first new build for testing. It is not a whole lot, and I imagine we will receive a lot of critical feedback, but I felt we needed a fresh set of eyes now that a few major problems from last semester (mouse look didn't work) having been ironed out so that we can get a lot of feedback on the concept itself now that there are less glaring issues distracting the testers.
MY EXPERIENCE AS A LEAD (SO FAR)
Like I said, I was very nervous taking on the role of Lead Programmer. One of the biggest things I'm told I need to improve on is meeting participation and interacting with team members at large--I'm just generally more quiet and tend to prefer listening to talking. This is doubly so when I'm in larger groups or in the presence of strangers. So it sort of makes sense why I would be apprehensive about taking on an important leadership role in a large group of predominately strangers.
I definitely got off to a rocky start not knowing how to run meetings efficiently, not taking notes and not being able to take initiative in guiding conversation and making decisions. But, because of everyone's confusion and inexperience with working in a such a large group on a project of this scope, I had some leeway not having everything 100% together as well as some sympathy and help from my team members.
After 2 weeks though, I started to get into the role, and being more prepared for and comfortable with the different meetings I was in charge of. Part of the confidence came from my team members trust in me, coming to me directly with administrative, code or repo related questions and seemed satisfied with my answers. If they were not, they were willing to vocalize it to me and we would work it out (like disagreements on development standards). The willingness to constructively disagree in of itself is a display of trust and faith in my ability to understand and respond to criticism (as well as their own professionalism, of course).
THE NEXT STEPS
For my part, I personally plan to do more prep work before all meetings, no matter how small, and continue to try to maintain consistent and open communication with team members and reflecting on my performance. This way I will be able to continue being an asset to the team by spotting holes in my management myself before they become an issue and I become a bottleneck in productivity.
As for the team: many feel the multiple planning meetings a week and frequent goal and progress meetings are tiresome (me included to be honest), but last semester really demonstrated the importance of clarity and a watchful eye on progress and risk and we all seem to recognize this. We adjusted our schedule slightly to try to give more of a day off to help, but we will continue to squeeze every ounce of value of the meetings we can, and when there's nothing left, cutting everyone loose to work on whatever they need to.
Regardless of how we feel about meetings, we are going to continue to put whenever we can into making the best product we can. I am quietly confident this team has laid the groundwork to really pull of something great.