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May 8, 2021
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How Remote Game Development Teams Can Thrive

by Jori Hamilton on 04/27/21 11:16:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


The COVID-19 pandemic created all kinds of problems for game development teams as they shifted to newly remote processes. Game development requires constant, clear communication and coordination. These aren’t exactly easy to maintain over Zoom.


Managing big projects like a video or mobile game requires all the help you can get; facing long-term remote work conditions only makes this more difficult.  


Fortunately, however, these tips and tools can help carry a successful remote game development strategy. From facilitating clear communication to planning for flexibility, here’s how remote game development teams can thrive.

Facilitating Clear Communication

Communication is never easy. As complex as dealing with human personalities, learning styles, work habits, and goals can be, the distance between you and your coworkers only makes facilitating clear communication that much harder.


Luckily, there are plenty of tools and strategies for remote teams that can help them achieve efficient communication. These strategies include:


  • Focusing on and clarifying the purpose of each meeting and message.

  • Being concise — it's easy to lose focus, especially over video calls.

  • Considering differences in time zones that may make communication more difficult.

  • Using communication platforms with search functions for easy referencing.

  • Pairing the best communication and workflow platforms with your team’s needs.


Clear communication is the first and most important aspect of remote game development. Without it, you will experience miscommunications and a lack of clarity that will undermine the development process and lead to additional delays.


Fortunately, communication can be clarified with the help of these simple strategies. Make sure to focus on the purpose of all communication, from your weekly meetings to your memos. But be concise and invite conversation to keep your team engaged.


Already, many a game development company has had to postpone its projects because of pandemic concerns. Don't add to these delays with poor communication.

Managing Projects Virtually

Virtual project management can be exceptionally challenging. Remote game development during a lockdown requires virtual project management that is consistent and focused. For your team to thrive, you need to manage success through the use of the right tools and management strategies.


First, you need to understand the importance of the critical path. This is the chief goal of your project and a roadmap that will take you through every stage of successful game development. The success of your critical path depends on each member of the team understanding their individual goals and how they contribute to the larger one. Then, consistent check-ins and reminders will help smooth your overall workflow.


The way you go about project management can make all the difference in the success of your game. Make this process easy on yourself with the application of communication platforms that allow you to set goals, check-in, and instant message your team. From Asana to Zoom, plenty of options are out there, many designed specifically for game design teams.

Expect Delays and Plan for Flexibility

Next, start preparing for delays right now. It seems nearly every studio, from huge AAA developers to small teams, is experiencing delays because of the challenges of remote work and a pandemic-altered workforce. With the effects of the pandemic likely to continue for years to come, outlining your plan for delays should now be a standard aspect of any project.


If you are coordinating internationally with other teams and resources, as is often common in the game development world, delays are just business as usual. Sometimes, time zone differences can leave you with next to no shared working hours. Additionally, clear communication is hard enough within your own team; sharing a vision across oceans is a whole different game. This requires a longer, more carefully communicated development process.


Accordingly, you need a plan in place for reacting to a delay. Your response will vary depending on the needs of your company and project. This might include marketing and PR management, investor outreach, and staff re-budgeting. Create a design plan from the beginning that is built for flexibility. This can give your remotely working team the room they need to do their best work.


Additionally, focus on keeping up morale and managing burnout to help support employee productivity. Celebrating your employees can be a great way to keep them engaged. Do this with transparent goals and plans, holiday parties, time to socialize, and a general celebration of health and wellness in your team culture. 

Ensuring Successful Remote Game Development

Clear communication, effective project management, and continuity plans for delays are all essential in the modern world of remote game development. By building these features into your virtual workflow process, game development teams can thrive. They will experience the freedom and flexibility to adjust to the changing economy and virtual development needs.


Find the right communication tools and strategies for your teams to best ensure the success of your projects. Then, double down on quality communication in every aspect of development.

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