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Globalizing Production for the Future

September 23, 2009 Article Start Page 1 of 6 Next
 

It's time for game developers to reassess their outdated production processes, grow up, and mature their business models. It is time for us to admit that most companies' current production models are not sustainable or are completely and totally broken.

Making games is getting harder and harder each year -- as well as exponentially more expensive. For most teams, the old production models aren't working, and most teams and companies are struggling to figure out how to re-invent themselves and stay in business. The days of needing 50 to 200+ developers working for two to three years on a game must change in order for us to find a way to become more profitable.

Like many other technology and manufacturing industries have done over the last century, game developers must learn to change and adapt their business and production models in order to survive. Over the last few years there have been a lot of companies turning toward outsourcing as a way to save money.

However, most teams just see outsourcing as a way to make cheap art. Production Globalization is about taking outsourcing to a much deeper level. It includes being able to work with teams across the world in much better ways than you ever have before. It is about minimizing risks in production and not creating more.

Production Globalization isn't just about making games cheaper, but about restructuring your companies, teams, and methodologies to be more flexible as needed and to allow you to use the best possible talent for the job when you need them and to not have to continue to pay them when they aren't needed. It is about making your teams much more scalable and adaptable to the projects needs from day to day and month to month, and not having to keep a large internal team around which is only productive part of the year.

This article will show you how to build your team, your infrastructure, culture, production processes and technologies to maximize its global production capabilities. You will also learn how to deal with cultural issues, time differences, differences in process, technology issues, approvals and other issues which plague globalized teams.

Production Globalization Defined

Production Globalization is the process of adapting your production processes to allow you to work with teams from around the world. This means that you are in essence creating a "virtual team" of people who aren't located in the same facility, but who must work together daily (or at least very regularly) to be successful.

This not only includes being able to work with teams in China, but also teams down the street. Production Globalization is the process of adapting your game development tools and pipelines to allow your team to hire other teams and individuals to help you develop your games. Production Globalization is not new, and many teams use it to some degree, but very few have effectively formalized it and optimized their teams and cultures for it.

Production Globalization is not just "outsourcing" parts of your game. Outsourcing is generally thought of as having another team help you with the artwork for your project, but is rarely applied to other disciplines. The term "outsourcing" could be the same as Production Globalization, but it has many negative connotations already, as most stereotype it as referring to just creating artwork on the cheap.

Production Globalization is most relevant to larger teams and projects, but most of the same principles will apply whether you have five, 50, or 500 people on your team.

"Work for Hire" is generally hiring another team to help you with some aspect of your project. This could be with porting some version of your project to another platform, or doing some aspect of the project which your team is unable to do, like the multi-player.

"Contractors" are generally individuals or companies who come in to do one thing on a project, like create storyboards, write dialog, or create some rendered cutscenes.

For many teams, however, the thought of using another team to do anything but create some art or do a port is a scary thought and often not even something they would ever consider. So, when evaluating whether your team could benefit from changing your development process to a more diversified model, you really have to approach it with an open mind, and realize that it will take a little time, technology, and training to get right, as well as probably a major cultural shift at your company.

It is important to realize that Production Globalization can take place on a variety of different scales. It should allow you to utilize virtual teams or consultants from around the entire world or from down the street just as easily. It should allow larger publishers and companies to have flexible resources across many studios, groups and teams which can also learn to share resources in new and much more beneficial ways.


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