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    [OFFICIAL] Lessons In Open Development - GDC talk

    I'm doing a talk at this year's annual Game Developers Conference and absolutely couldn't do a community talk without involving the community!
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    The talk is mainly about things that I (or we) have learned during this experiment in open development.




    What is the big one lesson that I absolutely cannot forget to mention?

    Is there anything that you personally have learned about game development thanks to our process?

    Any other suggestions?


    Couple example slides (WIP!):
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    Last edited by Entropy; 07-08-2015, 04:03 PM.
    Jim Brown
    @EntropicDev
    Epic Games

    #2
    -From an "ideas" perspective, there's been a mantra that the proof is in the pudding, which has seemed to work so far. If you want your idea in, the best option is usually to execute it yourself in demo form at the very least and prove that it's viable. This is true whether it's gameplay or graphics or anything else, and the further you take it, generally, the easier it is to convince others that it belongs.

    -From a cooperation perspective - this is where things really get taken to the next level, even for the best artist among us. It's easy to think about what "my" contribution will be seen as, and to dwell too much on that, but it's self-defeating to do it. Once you've "sold" your concept, everyone by now understands the potential and it's best that from here we work together to make it better. Among the community, showing grace in accepting criticism and openness to incorporating changes means you stand a better chance of not only having your work accepted, but also developing yourself into a professional. On the flipside, a lot of people have probably learned how to give more effective feedback too and focus on what's good about a concept first, because that's really what counts.

    Everyone wants to have a role, and whether you have art/programming skills or simply believe you know the game well, this sort of approach helps everyone to have that and to be a vital part of the process.

    -From a "fan" perspective, we get to see in greater detail how a perception of "Epic" (or any studio) as a single-minded entity can be misleading. "Epic wants so-and-so". The reality is that every member of the staff has very differing opinions at times, just like us. This is useful to keep in mind when there is the temptation to believe that they don't care about the same issues we do, simply because we don't get answers as quickly as we would like. They have to discuss each issue internally before any "official" answer can come out. Until then it's just opinions, but it's good to see that sort of candidness.

    For instance I witnessed a lively discussion the other night over IRC chat between Joe Wilcox and cafe about movement. To cafe, slope dodging is a staple of the series, and I admit to myself also. It was somewhat discouraging at first to see how adamantly a member of the dev team could disagree with that sentiment. To a player who has spent years using a particular movement mechanic, it's instinct, and so an impression is created that the dev doesn't understand their own game. But the nature of UT is such that it's different things to different people and this comes out when we have these sort of dialogs. Previously we've had a splintered community thanks to similar issues. Some were adamant that UT2004 movement was better and vice versa. It was assuring that during this discussion Joe said he usually tries to look at both sides of the coin if the community is really behind something, to get past perceived issues with a feature and improve on it to where hopefully it will work for most people. You can't please everyone, but you can go a long way and this sort of candidness helps, as does mutual respect.
    Last edited by HenrikRyosa; 07-08-2015, 07:28 PM.

    UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
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      #3
      Surprising nobody else has cared to chime in? Hope my feedback is worth something.

      UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
      Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

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        #4
        Maybe you could say that when you tried to get feedback from the community for the talk you got none other than from Henrik and every other time that feedback was not really needed the community bomabarded you with useless polls, opinions with absolutely no credible relevance, strange textual phrases that even google translate could not decipher and of course pictures of ironman, you did however end up with some pretty nice weapons partly derived from community feedback
        https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...sm.zombieultra

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          #5
          Originally posted by WarpSpasm View Post
          Maybe you could say that when you tried to get feedback from the community for the talk you got none other than from Henrik and every other time that feedback was not really needed the community bomabarded you with useless polls, opinions with absolutely no credible relevance, strange textual phrases that even google translate could not decipher and of course pictures of ironman, you did however end up with some pretty nice weapons partly derived from community feedback
          Hahaha that's pretty good.

          UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
          Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

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            #6
            The problems with Open Dev:

            - Dev team visionaries vs community opinions. How much should both sides vision weigh for the final result? Too much dev leading the pack and the community will frown but too much community guidance dependance and you will end up in a chaos where popularity leads the pack and you might end up with a game appealing to hardcore veterans only that will be relatively small populated.

            - The increased resources needing to be open about things, run forums, run streams, public changelogs, talk with the community, guide the community, give feedback etc. Compare to closed source, where all the info is inside the team and needs lesser time to process it.

            - Slightly longer development schedule. Running through community's opinions needs further time & testing. (Community does contribute with content too which balances it out but the testing part still ends up taking up more time in general)

            - More hair pulling & headaches from arguing with community of differing opinions.

            The Good:

            - Free workforce! Especially useful for artistic work contribution, maps, models (weapons, characters, vehicles etc), custom & visual content etc.

            - Big pool of free Betatesters! Will find more bugs than the dev team have could done itself in a much shorter time.

            - Less of a risk to make stupid game design or gameplay decisions that a huge part of the crowd wouldn't end up liking

            - All above => Increases the chance of greater quality game since more opinions are brought into the development.


            That sums up my thoughts in a few points regarding open dev.
            Last edited by RPGWiZ4RD; 07-13-2015, 11:14 AM.

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              #7
              Originally posted by HenrikRyosa View Post
              Hahaha that's pretty good.
              The Most enjoyable thing for me as someone who doesn't often add my own opinion has been seeing the great stuff the community members have created for the game and the talent discovered from the project, all the forum contributors and prototypers have really paid homage to the franchise in a pretty religious sort of way and its been great entertainment reading the forums for the last year, I think in some ways the open community development is more of a game than the actual game and from what I can see It helps even the lowliest forum noob have an almost spiritual experience playing the game because they have been involved in the forum and it also creates legends like hypno and the other well known players, normally this wouldn't happen before a game is released
              https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...sm.zombieultra

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                #8
                You're right it feels very different playing a game I helped develop.. kind of more invested in it to some degree I guess. On the other hand I now wish I could see it through fresh eyes a year from now.

                UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
                Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by HenrikRyosa View Post
                  You're right it feels very different playing a game I helped develop.. kind of more invested in it to some degree I guess. On the other hand I now wish I could see it through fresh eyes a year from now.
                  Thats another thing ive noticed reading the forums for the past year is that even new forum members feel like they are part of the dev team even if they seem to have never played it before, that is a real double edged sword but for the most part its probably really good for the game as even if they contribute nothing but their opinion they view the game as "their game"....And also then there's the pilgrimages forum members like you Henrik have made to epic hq from other countries for the love of the game, I think the rest of the community seeing you guys there over the various visits was really empowered by that
                  https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...sm.zombieultra

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                    #10
                    That's a refreshing thing to hear.

                    UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
                    Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

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                      #11
                      Even though it says Pre-Alpha everywhere some people still seem to miss or disregard this with the risk of the game getting a bad reputation early.
                      I have no idea how to prevent this though.

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                        #12
                        For me the biggest one would be communication. I've been on both sides of the coin here (Community Developer & In House Developer in my actual job), and it's easy to underestimate how important something like a daily standup or a biweekly sprint planning meeting can be. Perhaps I'm not vocal enough through things like email, but not having those is a major hindrance in understanding what the state of the game is, what our immediate and long term objectives are, and where our efforts should be targeted.
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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Wail View Post
                          For me the biggest one would be communication. I've been on both sides of the coin here (Community Developer & In House Developer in my actual job), and it's easy to underestimate how important something like a daily standup or a biweekly sprint planning meeting can be. Perhaps I'm not vocal enough through things like email, but not having those is a major hindrance in understanding what the state of the game is, what our immediate and long term objectives are, and where our efforts should be targeted.
                          I agree with this and it seems like something that could be focused on as a path forward. Figuring out how to balance communicating with the community with getting the job done is not an easy task.
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                            #14
                            Lessons In Open Development
                            as I'm just a map maker. started in UT3.....moving on to ut4 and learning what all goes in making the game and not just a map. Gives me greater respect for the epic team and the hard decisions they have to make trying to keep the peace and what's right for the game in the long run. and in turn they are helping us have the chance to create a grate game with them. win or fail I will be forever change in having this opportunity to work with the entire unreal tournament generations coming together and fight for a future UT.
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                              #15
                              Originally posted by Entropy View Post
                              Is there anything that you personally have learned about game development thanks to our process?
                              Perhaps that the core UT team is still far too small to manage feedback on the forums effectively. The team is doing well for its size right now, but it would be even more streamlined if there were dedicated people looking over specific sub-forums, as the driving force and main feedback on a professional level, even if it's just once every few days. For example, a team member who is a professional in the audio field for the audio section, one for the character/cosmetics section, one for the map design sections, etc. Right now it looks as though various team members are posting where ever they can when they have the time, which is good enough, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

                              Having this triple A game made with open development is a great honour, considering this game is pretty much the flagship of the company.
                              Last edited by OMNIETY OMEGA; 07-14-2015, 01:30 AM.
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