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Feature: 'Small Developers: Minimizing Risks in Large Productions - Part I'

In a new Gamasutra feature, the first of a two-part series, experienced developer and manager Troy Dunniway discusses the risks involved in transitioning from a small to large development team and how to identify and avoid them.
In a new Gamasutra feature, experienced game developer and manager Troy Dunniway, a veteran of studios like Microsoft, EA, Insomniac, and Ubisoft, discusses some of the major risks involved in transitioning from a small to large development team and how to identify and avoid them. The first part in a two-part series, this feature covers four of the 10 risks outlined by Dunniway -- business risks, pre-production risks, process risks, and team risks -- and is designed to help other developers get a general feel for the inherent risks in a large-scale project. In this excerpt, Dunniway stresses the importance of a good pre-production phase, an area he believes many developers overlook or approach incorrectly: "The biggest risk related to pre-production is not having adequate (or any) pre-production at all. Some teams will jump right in and just start building the game, planning to adjust things as they go. The whole point of pre-production is to mitigate the creative risks of a project and build a plan which you know you can execute on and have proven is feasible. "Unfortunately it is very easy for a team to either work on the wrong stuff during pre-production, or to not work on things thoroughly enough, since the definition of pre-production is a little vague for most. "For example, teams have used all their pre-production time to test risky new game technologies and mechanics, but then failed to produce anything else. So, in this case, they succeeded in that they proved that their big new and hopefully cool feature sucked and wasn't worth doing, but on the other hand they chewed up 12 months and now have almost nothing to show for it -- and basically had to start over and prove that the new core idea was feasible. "Another common mistake is that people prototype a variety of features, but hack the code together. This code is usually meant to be redone, but now suddenly everyone assumes everything is "working" and that the game can be done much sooner than the team actually intended. "What you do in pre-production is just as important as how you do it." The full feature delves even further into areas of pre-production like concepting and prototyping, and covers the other three risk areas covered by part one of the series.

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