Game development is not always about making the game itself but all the supporting endeavors surrounding the project. Depending on the needs of the team as well as its size and budget, the producer should explore the potential avenues of co-operation with external partners. Let’s go through some of the most common ones.
Publishers like Square Enix, EA, Paradox Interactive are the most common external partners for game development teams. Depending on the contract and their services, they can help with many of the things talked about here. If not directly, then at least through their own networks.
After the publisher, marketing the game is almost as equally important. Dev teams can market the game themselves through social media channels, but that requires a lot of luck to break through on your own. A dedicated marketing team can help a lot with the game's discoverability.
There are many other different services a team might need during the development and ranging from QA-testing to legal advice and many others in between.
Sometimes during game production, the team might into issues issues they themselves cannot handle due to not having enough of the required talent at hand or the knowledge needed for that task. It might simply be more cost-effective to outsource some work. A good project plan also includes information about possible outsourcing needs, though emergencies can still happen every once in a while. In these times, it is the producers' job to find someone outside of the team who can help with the task. If you are working at a larger company, it is likely that the company already has a working relationship with many outsourcing companies, so your job is to communicate the team's needs to them.
Quality Assurance (QA), is the most common type of outsourced work due to it being considered more cost-effective as supporting a large internal QA team can be quite difficult.
Art assets are outsourced at a regular pace to other studios, some even outsource all their art production.
Even at times, depending on the project, there might only be a producer in-house, while all the development is outsourced to a third-party.
Translation and localization can take a lot of time and the dev team most likely does not know all the languages in this wide world of ours, so it is smarter to let a dedicated partner handle that.
Just like with all relationships, there are some good indicators that you can use when choosing partners for a project. It is important to be very thorough when looking for partners as overlooking something may cause a lot of harm down the road.
Click on the cards to learn more about choosing the right partners.
Now you have chosen your external partner - till death (contract) do you part. But now, it’s time for the hard work. Any relationship requires that both parties be ready to put in the work necessary to see the partnership bloom into a beautiful flower. Let’s go through the necessary steps required for doing just that.
Step 1: Organizing
Firstly, it is vital to lay down the groundwork so that all parties involved are aware of each other's actions and responsibilities.
As obvious as it may sound, you must first decide what you want your partner to work on and prepare a plan/scope of services you'll need from them. Every time a new round of service starts, be sure to specify your priorities and clarify what to be done first.
Be sure to set up systems for the following:
Step 2: Communication
Communication is a challenge when working with external partners as they can be located in another city, country, or even continent, which might make communicating difficult. However, thanks to the internet we have today at our disposal excellent tools that can help with long-distance co-operation. For example, we have chat systems like Slack and Microsoft Teams. These are good tools for reaching someone quickly and this is useful if troubles arise as it is best to handle problems quickly rather than allowing them to fester and grow.
If large changes are occurring, you should inform the outside partners as well but also email those who need the info afterward. This helps you to keep a track of communications so you can refer to them later if necessary. Regarding emails, decide at the beginning who needs to be in the loop for art issues, for programming issues, and so forth.
The most important thing in communication is to keep an open door for it. Don't make your partner dread communications with you as this might inadvertently cause them to not share their problems with you in fear of punishment. Ask questions to see how they are performing and encourage your partners to do the same.
Step 3: Feedback
Feedback is important in this type of work as your partner has been paid for their work by you or your company.
You must not be afraid to give out feedback, even criticizing. You are their customer, and they want to keep you happy. One thing to remember is that any feedback needs to be constructive in nature, not just angry shouting. It is also good to be ready to receive feedback if you are at fault for something that is hampering your partner's work. Of course, feedback can also be positive. Giving positive feedback is easy, but it is also easy to forget, so try giving it when you can.
Giving feedback improves the quality of work over a period of time.
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That’s it! You’ve now studied all chapters of this course. Give yourself a little pat on the back before moving on to the summary.