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A Journey into Production: Part V - Alpha Testing

The UAT Games Studio Project - Ascendance enters into Alpha testing and I talk a little bit about difficult employees this week in my Journey into Production.

Catch up by reading my previous entry here:

A Journey into Production: Part IV - http://gamasutra.com/blogs/SamyDib/20150803/250207/A_Journey_into_Production_Part_IV__Teaser_Trailer.php

Ascendance

Ascendance Website: http://www.gamerslifeproductions.com/ascendance/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AscendanceTeam

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ascendanceteam

Beta… er, Alpha Testing

            So this week the team has put in many man hours to get the demo up and running. We have reached a point to where it would appear that it’s in a stable state for testing purposes. After the decision was made, we uploaded it to our website for everyone to download it and test. We labeled this our Beta testing phase as we felt it was in a pretty good state. Well it didn’t take long for us to realize just how farther away from completion we really were. Within the first few hours of the game being live, the Unreal Engine 4 community was on top of it and testing it out for us. One of the first vital notes of feedback we received was that this version of the game was not anywhere near complete enough to be called a “Beta test.”

            There were too many things still uncompleted in there and people took notice. The team lead and our programmer had a quick discussion and agreed that we should revert the phase backwards into the Alpha testing phase to better convey the current state of the game. As such, we went back and began to edit our social media posts so that they reflected the overall team decision on what phase the game is currently in. We took note of the change and made sure the community understood that we were appreciative of their time, efforts, and recommendations. Although we didn’t want to go backwards in the development stages, we wanted to ensure the community that we are serious about providing the best possible version of this game and that their feedback was vital to making that happen.

Difficult Employees and Underperformers

            This week I had the pleasure of reading another chapter from “Team Leadership in the Game Industry” by Seth Spaulding. In this chapter he went over a few crucial things that any leader will eventually come across during their career. Heck, even if you’re not a leader, chances are you going to come into contact with a difficult employee. Everyone can probably think of that one person right now who can be labeled as toxic in their work environment and contributes to an overall black aura. This negative energy isn’t good and can definitely help to damage the overall morale.

            So what do you do when you come into contact with a troubling employee? Well there are quite a few things you could do, but for me I believe the first thing is to set that employee (or multiple if there’s an issue between two) down and have some healthy confrontation made. As a leader, you should act as a mediator of sorts and be there to allow the two employees to speak what’s on their mind while maintaining a professional persona. Allow each to speak their mind but without becoming too aggressive in their words. If one party has ill feelings towards another party but doesn’t do anything except grumble to their peers, then nothing will ever get fixed. If the two parties come together and speak their mind about what’s bothering them, then each party will be made aware and we all can start working towards a solution to help fix everyone’s current state of mind.

            When it comes to those who underperform at their job, it can cause some issues amongst the team. Many times the underperformer will make mistakes or not complete their tasks as quickly as expected of them. Due to their pace, it could possible pass some of their load onto those who excel and finish their work early, causing them to take on more work to compensate for the underperformer. This isn’t healthy for the morale of the team and the company itself. Even the quality of the game can be affected if the underperformer continues to make mistakes on models or programming code.

            The book established that although it may be difficult to do so, sometimes the best option is to fire the underperformer. It’s never fun to let somebody know that they will no longer be working there, but when their work is causing more damage than helping the overall production; it’s time to make a change. There were notices made that once the employee was removed, the production of the game and team morale corrected itself. I can see where this would come into play and falls back on doing what’s best for the game, the team, and the overall company. Sometimes tough decision need to be made.

            Well that’s it for this week, so until next week, happy gaming everyone!

 

References

Spaulding, S. (2009). Team leadership in the game industry. Boston, MA: Course Technology, 

PTR/CRM.

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