Indie project management is for suckers.

January 15, 2012 in Game Development by Chris Charabaruk

So yeah, Painter Story. Hard to believe it’s been eight months since the last post, without anything really to show for it. Most indie game projects would have been dead by now, after such a period of time, but because I’m more stubborn than a mountain of goats, I’m forcing myself and my poor team to carry on.

Working on an indie project is an exercise in pain and frustration. Most of the time you have grand dreams at the start, which have to be hacked down into a stub because you’re short on all the elements required of successful project management: time and money.

Big, cheap, fast: You're lucky if you even get to pick two.
And even if you skimp on scope, quality will probably suck, too.

On top of that, everyone else has their own vision of the project, probably competing with yours. And unless you have money to pay everyone for their work on the project at the start, it’s a volunteer effort. As someone who runs conventions, I know how difficult it can be to get volunteers to actually do what’s needed, because they require some kind of mental or emotional buy-in to whatever mindless tasks you assign them. It’s worse than herding cats.

I remember from college, being told of a statistic. Something like four fifths of every project fails, and a good number of those failures are spectacular ones. Forgive me for not remembering the actual numbers, it’s been eons since those days. But yeah. The chances of a project not utterly going up in flames before finishing are not good. The chances of the project actually being completed are pretty bad. And for the project being completed, and turning out well, I’d say that calls for walking in a thunderstorm carrying a metal rod because lightning apparently never strikes twice. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, success is rare, managing an indie project of volunteers is suffering.

Anyway, we’re climbing back on the horse again. I hope to have a draft of the first half of Painter Story complete by this year’s Anime North, and if it isn’t, feel free to yell at me if you see me there.