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Dev Diaries #7 - Project Management

April 4th 2021 1:54 — Fred Toms, Programmer / Project Management - @Tommy2Doors

Happy Easter for those who celebrate it!

You'll notice I've prefixed all of my previous dev logs with only one title: Programmer. This is in fact, not true, and has never been true. Like Jordan, I take on several roles, one of which is Project Management. What this role includes is finding contractors and assigning them work. This sounds simple, but it's not. Over the course of SPECTRE's development, we've dealt with all sorts of contractors, all of whom we have dealings with exclusively online due to COVID-19. As many of you are well aware, often times the internet doesn't exactly bring out the best in people. One of our modellers (the modeller for our Spectre character, actually) disappeared off the face of the planet after: surviving two earthquakes, one hurricane, moving to Japan, and having his computer literally explode. Of course, all of these 'disaster' events occurred when we were wondering when he would produce the work we had paid him for, but he had not produced a thing. Thousands of dollars paid with little to no content produced. This is one example of many. Many. Finding contractors is exhausting. It's a constant grind of identifying a contractor; checking his portfolio to see if his skills are at the same level we need him to be; showing Jordan his portfolio and we discuss if he might be a good fit; interviewing the contractor; discussing payment plans that we can afford; going through our banking and actually finding the money to pay this individual; writing a contract with deadlines for work to be delivered; receiving the work and hoping, praying that it was done properly and without issue. And 90% percent of the time, there are problems with the work that's produced. And that's totally okay - we can't expect perfection from anyone, least of all ourselves. But then additional steps into this whole process are introduced - fixing the problems (often complicated) and arriving at a solution. And sometimes arriving at that solution requires multiple contractors to come together and solve problems. And sometimes contractors don't see eye to eye. Sometimes they storm off and slam the door, as much as they can do so in an online environment. And when that happens, it leaves us in the dust to gather the pieces and try to, still, arrive at a solution.

You may all be wondering where the Reaper reveal trailer is. Sometimes I wonder where it is too. The above issues have, perhaps not plagued the trailer's development, but it has certainly slowed it down. Key assets have been delayed again and again. Holes in the mesh. Animators disappearing. Having to hire, re-hire contractors again and again for the same work. Technology failures. The list goes on and on. I'd love to arrive at work, sit down and bury my head into the code. Just program, all day long, from sunrise to sunset. But part of my job is wrangling people in and supervising all of the goings-on I've described above. Project management is absolutely exhausting. The issues described above is also one very small piece of the puzzle of making a game. Add in visual fx, audio, marketing, accounting, etc. Rest assured, despite all these set backs, programming on the game has continued. Development continues at a break neck pace. But we're often left in a position where the gameplay functionality exists and the assets don't. And that means we can't show what we would love to, because placeholder assets are nice, but we can't show that. So I ask you have a bit of faith and a lot of patience.

We currently have a Reaper teaser made separate from the actual trailer. Jordan and I have been weighing the pros and cons between showing what is a very bare bones look at the Reaper, versus having everyone wait for the official trailer. It's a tough decision. We don't want to water down our Reaper trailer, which we have poured tons of work and money into.

But standby. Good things are on the way.

- Fred

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