Making great games requires both creative and pragmatic minds. While creators bring unique ideas and artistic vision to the table, it is crucial to align their creativity with the project’s goals and deadlines. This is where management comes into play.
Viktoriia Kolomeets (pictured), Lead Art Producer at our Corporate Ambassador Room 8 Studio, has solid experience in managing game projects. She led the team that contributed to the art production of Dead Space Remake, a rebuild of the classic sci-fi survival horror. The game was developed by Motive Studio with the help of Room 8 Studio, which is part of Room 8 Group.
Viktoriia led a project for over a year, overseeing a team of 60 artists. In this article, she shares five tips for effectively managing game projects, using real examples from her work on Dead Space Remake.
- Cultivating partnership mindset. One common challenge in service companies is that specialists often feel like mere contractors, receiving tasks and feedback through team leaders and managers without direct contact with a client. To address this issue, I made some changes to the conventional workflow. For example, we made it a practice to attend client meetings as a whole team. This approach fostered partnership between the client and our artists, resulting in increased motivation.
- Building close team connections. The project began during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we mostly worked remotely. It took a year before we finally met in person at a team-building event. But even while working online, we made sure to stay connected: we turned on our cameras during daily meetings, shared our pets on screen, and added fun backgrounds on Google Meet for birthdays. On my own birthday, the team surprised me with a cake decorated with the image of Isaac Clarke, the protagonist of Dead Space. It was a present I will never forget!
- Embracing collaboration over competition. In creative teams, there’s often a competitive atmosphere where everyone strives to find the best approach, come up with the most interesting idea, or receive the most favorable client feedback. While healthy competition can be beneficial, we prioritized cooperation. During our meetings, we encouraged artists to provide feedback on each other’s work, which is typically a responsibility assigned solely to the team lead. This approach ensured that everyone worked together towards a common goal.
- Mastering time estimation. We followed a streamlined process where the artist would create a concept, receive feedback from the client, and then refine the work accordingly for the next iteration. Since we had a significant time difference with the client, ensuring accurate time estimation was crucial for the project. If the artist didn’t send the work on the due day, the client wouldn’t have enough time to provide feedback, leaving the artist to work blindly the next day. To avoid such situations, we established an unwritten rule: “if unsure, don’t make promises.” This approach helped us maintain the quality and efficiency of our work.
- Delegation. The role of a manager extends well beyond team coordination, encompassing a range of organizational responsibilities. These include managing finances, handling legal matters, overseeing scheduling, and more. Fortunately, I had incredible associates who helped me with these operational tasks, keeping the project on track. So, my final piece of advice is simple: learn to delegate. Trying to do it all by yourself won’t make you a hero; it will make you burned out. By delegating, you can save your energy for what truly matters, driving the project toward its desired outcome.