Just about every graduating senior in the various game design schools wants to run or own an indie studio.
You'd be lying if you said 'No'; the independence to run your own designs, be your own boss, work with people that sync with your style, and having an establishment, these are all desires we want to fulfill. Machinations can run wild when you think about it further; this isn't like owning your own house, this more akin to running your own ship and crew, and going on an expedition.
Graduation day is closing in, and I cannot stop thinking about forming my own team. No Team, no dream.
Granted I don't have any cash for funding; but let's safely ignore that for now. It's still fun to think about what kind of crew you wanna muster.
The scope of the team can also be defined by the goals and the technology you wanna attempt; this breaks the difference between sailing to India on the traditional route, or sailing elsewhere and find some other continent.
- Have a rapid pipeline, using a home grown game engine.
- Small team size, maximizing roles.
- Minimize all tech or third party tools and costs.
- Release a game every 3 months.
- Release Everywhere.
- Multicore or Mobile.
- Everyone starts off with their 'day job'; even with an established studio.
- (this ones the important part) Accumulate seed funding, from our own efforts.
To be able to fund ourselves, we have to start small, and start owning the boat. Eventually, we hope to get rid of our day jobs.
- Networked development. It doesn't matter if your crew crosses continental borders.
- SDKs : iPhone/iPad, PS3, Intel TBB, Steam.
- Open source art tools.
- C, and nothing but C for anything close to the metal, or any SDK API.
- C++/C# for gameplay or game logic code.
- Pick a scripting language, tread lightly, don't go crazy on coding abstractions.
- Threading architecture that doesn't suck.
- Home grown level editor, loader, skinner, animation rigger, navi-mesh.
- Use boids for all movement, 2D or 3D.
Keep in mind that I am not prepping the team for a specific genre of design. Again, I'm thinking of this as my own Alaskan crab fishing boat. The journey itself will dictate the design of any game coming from this team.
And without further ado;
The Engine Master
Knows system level code, operating systems, virtual memory, network sockets, and multiprocessor programming. Also responsible for deploying all the tools that anyone will need. The studios 'Build Nazi'. No Engine, no game. SCRUM Master. Must know how to rig an AI. SVN is his second language.
On the short, I've compressed a technical lead, and a producer into one role.
The Render Guru
Knows shaders, and everything you can possibly molest in OpenGL/ES. Also an expert artist. Particle simulations should be as easy as poaching an egg for breakfast. Primarily owns the rendering section of the game.
The Camera and Controls Agent
In charge of everything related to UI, and everything related to camera placement in the game. Gameplay controls are designed by this member. Also in charge of the in-game GUI, menus and debug console. Must have a clue on how to do sound for game feedback.
Pure visual artist; sculpting, 2D, 3D, lighting, civil architecture, mechanical architecture, textures, geometry models, rigging. Tertiary physics background extremely helpful.
The Expert Gamer
I don't care if this guy doesn't know how to program, BUT, this guy has to know paper prototypes. Excellent fiction writer. Must have a SciFi bias. Given tools for level design, must be able to crunch out level after level after level. Awesome forumer and evangelizer, must know how to talk to the crowd. The "gaming pulse" of this boat. Every day is a testing day.
The Procedural Omnimancer
Must know his C.S. AND have the coding ability to back it up. Everything that can be procedurally generated; this crewman must say 'there's a function for that'. Also owns all the game logic code. Must know how a thread works in a lock-free environment.
You'll notice that there isn't a "lead designer" in this case; the team should be small enough to own the entire design doc, by heart.
I probably missed out a lot of roles, but than again, this crew is geared for getting seed funding; through small releases and gaining a player base.
So that's my boat. And now, I go to sleep.......