Structuring a team out of Double Developers

I'm not the only Double Developer in the world. To the contrary, there are many helping me make Waveform, the first game from Eden Industries. In this post, I explain how the vision of Eden Industries embraces Double Developers.

Hello again everyone! For this week's entry in my blog series about what it's like to be a Double Developer, I thought I'd extend the focus from my personal experience and explain how the notion of a Double Developer has helped shape the vision for my company Eden Industries.

So as you can probably appreciate if you've been reading my other blog posts, I think that the concept behind being a Double Developer is great! Although it can create some demanding time schedules, I believe it's a fantastic option for passionate people wanting to express their creative freedoms and make some cool stuff! So in structuring Eden Industries, I wanted to retain that idea and ensure that the people I'm working with have the same opportunities to follow their passions as I was lucky enough to have. 

Since we have no publisher and no established milestones, we're not slaves to having specific things done at specific times. Moreover, since most of the team are also Double Developers, having timelines set in stone would be difficult anyway with everyone's external commitments. Now obviously we have a general idea of the kinds of things we need to get done and when we'd like them to be done, but it's pretty nebulous. I agree that this isn't necessarily the greatest solution for bringing games to market in the fastest way possible, but I believe it's a fairly decent process when you have a group of developers all working other jobs and not being paid until the game is done :)

So because we have no strict timelines and because I want to create an atmosphere in which people have the same creative freedoms I've been privileged to enjoy, at Eden Industries every team member is able (and encouraged!) to work on whatever their heart desires. This freedom is obviously constrainted by whatever tasks we agree should be accomplished for the project we're collaborating on so that the main project doesn't stall, but apart from that there are no limits. In fact it extends even further that that; the team members are encouraged to utilize the tech of Eden Industries for their own projects.

Although I don't think the tech I've built up for Waveform is revolutionary by any means (the neatest bit being the in-game level editor I made), the fact remains that it's still a reasonably complete game engine. And for the other team members at Eden Industries, it's a game engine that they are quite familiar with. This familiarity, and the fact that it's already at their fingertips, makes it a great option for them to putter around with making their own games. I wholeheartedly believe that each member of Eden Industries has great ideas and the capacity to make an awesome game; it's my goal to partner with them to see it happen. It's one part business strategy, one part friendly cooperation, and one part desiring to have more awesome games in the world! 

Let me give you a few examples of how this has already proven to be a beneficial system. If you've seen the trailer for Waveform (here in case you haven't), you know it's a side-scrolling action game. The fact that the engine is already built to handle that kind of game, and the ease at which the level editor allows for rapid content creation, led one of the level designers helping me out on Waveform to have an idea for another type of side-scrolling game that he wanted to make. From a programming perspective, most of the work for his idea is already done. So he is interested in partnering with me to help make his game a reality, with me providing extensions to the level editor to allow him to create the content he needs. 

Although Waveform is the primary game in development at Eden Industries at the moment, we're also hard at work reviving an old JRPG prototype I put together years ago. Since a lot of the team are big fans of RPGs, everyone has their own idea of an RPG they'd like to make. And once our JRPG engine is complete and the level editor extended to handle that kind of content, a few of the guys have already expressed interest in creating their own RPG out of it.

At it's core, Eden Industries is structured to be a distributed, co-operative network as opposed to a rigid, traditional company. We want to squeeze every bit of awesomeness out of the tech we create, and to accomplish that we want to empower each team member to bring their passion to life. So many game companies out there make fabulous tech; they then use it in one or two games before re-writing it. It seems like such a waste, especially when there are so many talented people at these companies that could take the tech and make something wonderful from it. I'm not suggesting that the company just give away their tech; that's not what we're doing either. But by partnering with the talented people already invested in you, you are able to amplify the reach and effectiveness of your investment in your engine and tools. 

Eden Industries is a new, and as yet unproven company. I can currently make no claims about the effectiveness of this distributed, co-operative strategy for making games. But I can tell you one thing: it's been a lot more fun so far! 

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