成立遊戲工作室是一件愚蠢,殘酷的事,所以你應該去做

原作者:Guest Author 譯者:Willow Wu

Kyle Smith是德國柏林手遊工作室TreasureHunt的合夥創始人&CEO。

前EA員工Smith在2014年建立了TreasureHunt。現在他和PocketGamer.biz分享他對於建立遊戲工作室的個人見解和建議。

成立遊戲工作室是一件愚蠢,殘酷的事,所以你應該去做。

TreasureHunt成立的頭一年多並沒有發生什麼大家所期盼的牛逼故事,那一年對我們來說真的很艱難。

我們是一家在柏林的遊戲工作室,對比兩年前的我們,如今我們的定位是怎樣的,我感到很迷茫。我們擁有世界頂級的團隊,手上還有一個在測試發行時讓我頗感自豪的遊戲Pet Paradise。

下文的所講述的個人經驗是從一個工作室的CEO和首位創始人的角度出發,談到了一些我認爲我做對的事,還有做錯的事情——後期改正了,還有一些我正在着手的事情。

爲什麼你想要成立一個工作室?

“想要做遊戲”,我感覺這不是一個好答案。說實話我認爲這答案挺糟糕的,我猜你也會覺得這答案挺無聊的。

TreasureHunt(from pocket gamer.biz)

TreasureHunt(from pocket gamer.biz)

嘗試着去修復某個東西或者去完成某個做的不是很好的東西,甚至是根本沒做好的東西,我覺得這樣比較能夠調動人的積極性。

跟剛開始相比,我們的任務有點變了(還在繼續),但是我們總是有一個固定的任務,重點就是“修復”。你不必按照我們的方法走,但是這就是我們在做的事情。

想想也是挺棒的:有一樣大家想要的東西,但是直到現在都沒辦法實現,而你正在做。

雖說這不是拯救世界但是感覺就是很酷,這是有某種目的的。

你將會過上那種虐得你體無完膚的日子,而且說實話,我不覺得“做遊戲”這個念頭能夠給你提供足夠的動力,讓你繼續下去。

做好拋棄心血的準備

當我決定要成立工作室的時候,我已經在這個行業幹了大約有12年了。

我18歲的時候是《極品飛車》的遊戲QA,我也在EA Sports做過3A級別主機遊戲的首席策劃師、製作人和創意總監,做過新IP遊戲,還有F2P手遊。

都是了不起的經歷啊。但是在此之前,你至少要淘汰掉自己80%的心血。

不管你有多少經驗,從這個角度(遊戲邦注:作爲工作室創始人)接受行業內這種現實又是另一種情況。因爲你接下來做的事情,你要如何做決策,比起以前是有很大不同的。

跟那些走過這段路的人們交流,多找人說說話。

說真的,多向別人尋求幫助吧,儘管這挺煩人的。將來有一天回報給人家就好了。

去找那些有過這段經歷的人談談,這應該是你首先要做的事情之一。問問那些已經成立過工作室的人,問問他們我下面所寫的問題。

TreasureHunt團隊

你們之前有哪些失誤?哪些方面是沒有失誤過的?我應該再去找另外某個人談談嗎?建立起你的人際關係網絡,這樣別人才能把你推到正確的軌道上。

在這個混合團隊中,你是什麼角色?

你要當CEO嗎?還是其他人去當?要不要有CEO這個角色?管理方式的透明化我之後會再說說,但是,你在這裏到底是幹什麼的?還有另外一點很重要的,你不做什麼?

如果在剛開始的時候你就操之過急,每個無關緊要的決定你都想要自己去搞定,那你會瘋掉的,而且會事倍功半。

我喜歡招募和其他人力資源的相關話題比如說文化。我也喜歡制定產品策略和產品開發運營,所以我就做這個了。其他人就做其他事。

僱傭比你優秀、比你睿智、比你有能力的人

在初期你的身邊就應該圍繞着這些人:他們所掌握的領域知識對你來說是陌生的。簡單來說,我之前做過的最好的決定就是找了一個會營銷的合夥創始人還有一個有商業背景的合夥創始人,因爲我已經有了產品/設計方面的知識。

我們處理問題、做決策要從三個不同的角度出發,但是目標是一致的。你希望跟你同一層級的人可以向你發出挑戰,讓你學到什麼東西,而不是一味地重複你已經知道的東西。

不要想重塑每個東西,不要總是過度思考

不要想在一開始就做個聰明人,我打賭你覺得你就是這麼聰明。

如果有某樣東西火起來了,很多工作室都在做,說真的,那你可以也開始做,明天起就不走尋常路。你將會面臨各種大大小小的決策,多到讓人覺得荒唐。

策劃經驗教會我的就是儘量把事情都簡單化。

Kyle Smith

大家都用Unity來做遊戲,所以不用愁沒有社區支持,而且還有開發者能夠幫你,非常棒,我們就用這個吧。好了,下一個。

接下去你要搞砸好多事情,繼續擁抱那些不可避免的失敗然後繼續向前衝。非決策行爲會害死你。

把握好(工作期間)工作和娛樂之間的平衡

小問題,但是我覺得在這方面實際上我們做的不錯。在工作日裏我們埋頭苦幹(但是不要death march那樣的方式),週五到了我們開啤酒,吃美食。

看看你想要創造出怎麼樣的的公司文化,基於這個,去找到遊戲和工作的最佳平衡點。不要把所有事情都跟“有趣”掛鉤。

那些真正有天賦的人實際想要的是努力工作,完成某件事,所以說製造出遊樂園一樣的氛圍對那羣人是沒有好處的。

不要把工作室當成你的第一個遊戲:起始規模小,招募速度快,然後發展起來。

Pixar的人說過一個金句:“我們不是完成了電影,我們只是讓它上映。”

我們的首款遊戲並沒有我們期盼的那麼好。你也許也會這樣。做個後備計劃吧。

結合當時手頭上所擁有的資源,我對我們的第一個遊戲遊戲過於躊躇滿志。

你面臨的是團隊問題和做事問題這二者的結合,這跟你之前呆的地方是不一樣的,那裏的團隊結構、做事方法都是已經定好的,而在現在這種情況下做你的第一個遊戲無疑是困難很多。

這個忠告是早先我從一個非常睿智的人那裏得到的,我當時沒有聽進去,真是後悔莫及。不要跟我犯一樣的錯誤。

不要犧牲質量,但是也要認識到你的限制。

舉個例子,你的要找一個辦公場所但是預算不多,這並不等於說你就不能找到一個好地方。

看看周圍,如果你感覺不對就直接說“不”。找找二手但是硬件質量好的地方,這樣比那些既粗製濫造又貴上天的新地方划算多了。

好好利用你現有的資源,加些創意,但是千萬不要將就。

需要有人管事,但是這並不意味着他們應該告訴每個人該做什麼。

工作室的責任制度應該是有一條底線的。做遊戲就夠複雜的了,不該有人對每件事都指手畫腳。

我不在乎你的團隊是不是實行扁平化管理。你覺得什麼東西符合你的公司文化,能夠起作用,那就去做吧。但是責任應該是屬於某一方的。

這對你來說可能有些棘手,但是對於工作室是有好處的。在第一天你就要定責任問題。據我所知,我們在這方面從來沒有遇到過麻煩。

和你的朋友和家人保持密切聯繫

在娛樂產業中你想全都靠你自己打拼,這樣太艱難了。

要保持健康、密切的人際關係網。留點時間給你的親朋好友,你以後會需要他們的。

如果你真的很看重建立一個工作室這種事情,那麼有些棘手的事真的會對你產生影響。

如果責任是屬於你的,那你能跟同事,甚至是合夥創始人抱怨的東西也只有那麼多。

關於這點,Ben Horowitz的《創業維艱》(The Hard Thing About Hard Things)寫得更有深度,而且文筆更好,但是你的團隊、合夥創始人能夠理解的東西還是有限的。

有時候,最有用的建議是在和朋友喝酒的時候得到的。你必須要去試試(雖然經常會失敗)成爲團隊的平衡點,所以好好利用你的人際網絡去實現這個目標。

這也是我目前致力實現的目標之一,因爲頭幾年的時候我經常埋頭於工作中,經常都是長時間的。現在我們擁有了一支成熟的團隊,我的關鍵作用就是保持平衡。

每天早上,我給工作室帶來的外部正能量越多,我的工作質量就會越好,創意決策就會越優秀。

總結:人

如果非要說個在成立TreasureHunt過程中我最喜歡的事情,那就是我可以決定誰是一起工作的夥伴。

工作時的TreasureHunt

大多數時候我講的話題都是關於人的,這並非無心的。要選擇符合下面情況的人:

能夠教你那些你不懂的知識,而且你也想要讓他們親自教的人。

願意(禮貌地)挑戰你的人。

上面這兩種類型的反面分別就是自負的人和阿諛奉承/唯唯諾諾的人。

你的合夥創始人(如果有的話)、領導層、實習生、顧問、投資人、勞務人員、甚至是你連面都見不上的外包人員——都審查審查。

要確保他們都是聰明、有能力、正派的人。在其他方面雖然也會不盡人意,但是如果你有這些基礎,那你就有能力去往目標所在之處。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Kyle Smith is co-founder and CEO of Berlin mobile games studio TreasureHunt.

An EA alumnus, Smith set up TreasureHunt in 2014. Here, he shares with PocketGamer.biz his insights and top tips on establishing a games studio.

TreasureHunt is currently hiring.

Starting a games studio is idiotic, brutal, stressful and you should totally do it.

TreasureHunt’s first year plus was not one of those darling, rocketing-to-success-on-the-back-of-a-unicorn stories. It was a really tough first year for us.

We‘re a mobile games studio based in Berlin and I have difficulty grasping where we’re at today compared to where we were two years ago. We have a world-class team and a game that I’m really proud of in soft launch called Pet Paradise.

Below is a collection of personal experiences from the perspective of the CEO and first co-founder of the studio on things I think I got right, did wrong – which we fixed later – and some things I’m working on now.

Why do you want to start a studio?

I don’t think “to make games” is a good answer. I think it’s a pretty bad one, actually. I think you’ll get bored.

It’s more motivating to try and fix something or do something that isn’t being done well, or at all.

Our mission has shifted a bit (and continues to) from when we started but we’ve always had one, and it’s focused on “fixing something”. You don’t have to take that approach, but that’s what we’re doing.

It’s nice to think that you’re making something that people have told you they want, but that they’re not getting right now.

You’re not saving the world but it’s a cool feeling. There’s some purpose there.

You’re going to have days that punch you square in the face and honestly, I don’t think “making games” would have been enough for me to keep going.

Get ready to throw out a lot

I had been in the industry for about 12 years when I decided to start the studio.

I was in QA on Need for Speed when I was 18 years old and have been a Lead Designer, Producer and Creative Director on triple-A console games, EA Sports franchises, new IP and free-to-play mobile.

Big deal. You basically have to throw out 80% of what you’ve done up to that point.

Accept that coming at the industry from this angle (as studio founder) is a very different bag no matter how much experience you have because so much of what you’ll be doing and how you make decisions will come from a pretty different place.

Talk to other people who have done it. Talk to a lot of people, in general.

Honestly, ask for an annoying amount of help. Just offer to return the favour one day.

Talking to people who have done this before should be one of your first focuses. Spam people who have started studios and ask them the same thing I’m writing about here.

The TreasureHunt team

What went wrong? What didn’t? Anyone else I should talk to? Keep building up your network so people can keep nudging you in the right direction.

Who are you in this mix?

Are you going to be the CEO? Is someone else going to be? Is there a CEO? More about management clarity later on, but what do you actually do at this place? And more importantly, what do you not do?

If you spread yourself too thin at the beginning and try to make every tiny decision yourself, you’ll go insane and do a bunch of things poorly as opposed to a few things well.

I like recruitment and other HR topics like culture. I also like product strategy and product development operations, so I do that stuff. Other people do other stuff.

Hire people better, smarter and more capable than you

Surround yourself early on with people who know what you don’t. Easily, the best decision I made early on was grabbing a marketing co-founder and business background co-founder since I had product/design covered.

We approach decisions and problems from three different corners but still have the same goal. You want people at your level that are going to challenge and teach you, not re-affirm what you already think you know.

Don’t reinvent and over-think everything

Don’t try and be so, so clever at the beginning. I bet you think you’re so, so clever.

If something works and a lot of studios are doing it, honestly, just start there and break the mould tomorrow. You are going to have to make a hilarious number of decisions every day, big and small.

My background is design, so I’m coached into trying to keep things simple.

Kyle Smith

Everyone uses Unity so it probably has a lot of community support and available developers attached to it; cool, let’s use that. Move on, next decision.

You’re going to screw up a ton. Embrace that inevitably and charge forward. Non-decisions can kill you.

Make decisions, JFK style

Addendum to my last point: If you’ve ever listened to the Cuban Missile crisis war room tapes (I mean, who hasn’t!?), JFK almost never speaks.

He mostly asks questions, sits there and absorbs the opinions of all the smart folks around him.

I don’t pretend that I actually do this all the time, and think I’m actually pretty bad at it. Which is why it’s a current area of focus for me.

When I do it, it works. I talk so much – it’s my worst habit. Have you seen how long this article is?

But when I successfully employ JFK-style sit-there-and-absorb-it-all decision-making from either my leads, engineers or whomever, results are generally positive. Don’t be like me, be like JFK!

Balance work and play (during work)

Minor point, but I think this is one thing that we’ve actually always done pretty decently. We work hard during the week (but don’t death march) and then crack a beer and have some snacks on Fridays.

Find that sweet spot of work and play in the studio based on the culture you’re trying to create. And don’t make it all about just “fun”.

Really talented people actually want to bust their butts and accomplish something, so making a fun house environment is going to drive away top talent.

Your studio is NOT your first game: Start small, ship quick, then build up.

The folks at Pixar have a great saying: “We don’t finish our movies, we just release them.”

Our first game didn’t go how we would have liked it to. Yours probably won’t, either. Have a back-up plan.

I was unrealistically ambitious for the scope of our first game with the resources we had available at the time.

You’re working on putting a team and processes together, that make the challenges of developing your first game even harder than you’ve faced in an organisation with a pre-existing architecture of people, tools and so on.

This is some advice I got early on from a pretty smart dude that I didn’t take and totally regret. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Don’t sacrifice quality but understand your constraints

For example, just because you have a small budget for an office space doesn’t mean you can’t find a nice place.

Look around and say “no” if it doesn’t feel right. Find deals on used, high-quality hardware that’s better and cheaper then crappy, more expensive new stuff.

Get creative with what resources you have available, but you shouldn’t accept less then the best for what’s within your grasp at the time.

Someone should be in charge but that doesn’t mean they tell everyone what to do

There should be a final line of accountability in the studio. Making games is complicated enough; who decides on what shouldn’t be.

I don’t care if your team is flat hierarchy or not. Whatever works for your culture, works for your culture. But the buck should stop somewhere.

It’s tougher for you but easier for the studio. Decide on that on day one. It was and (as far as I know) has never been an issue for us.

Keep your friends and family close

You’re trying to make it on your own in the entertainment industry. It’s going to get heavy.

Keep your personal network healthy and strong. Make time for your friends and family because you’re going to need them.

If you’re really serious about this starting a studio thing, then some of the tougher stuff is really going to affect you.

If the buck stops at you then there’s only so much you can vent about with your co-workers, even co-founders.

This point was written about in much better depth and grammar in Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things, but there’s only so much your team and co-founders will even understand.

Sometimes, your smartest choice for counsel is going to come from a friend over a beer. You have to try (and will often fail) to be a point of balance for the team, so make sure to mitigate that as much as you can with your personal network.

I would say this is the area I’m working on the most right now as I got pretty buried in the first few years, work hours-wise. Now that we have a really well-rounded team, it’s important for me to draw a balance.

The more outside positive energy I can bring into the studio every morning the better quality and more creative decisions I can make for everyone.

In summary: people

If I had to pick my favorite thing about starting TreasureHunt it would honestly be that I get to decide who I work with.

TreasureHunt at work

It’s not an accident that most of what I’ve talked about is in regard to people. Pick the people who will:

Teach you stuff you don’t know and that want to be taught themselves;

People who will (respectfully) challenge you.

The inverse of these two archetypes would be egos and suck-ups/yes-men, respectively.

Your co-founders (if any), leads, interns, advisors, investors, contract workers, outsource resources you’ll never, ever meet in person – vet all of them.

Make sure they’re smart, capable and decent people. The rest won’t fall in place, but if you have that foundation you’ll be able to go where you want to go.

(source:pocketgamer.biz