For telecommuting teams, I made a few changes

1 view
Skip to first unread message

Michael Lubker

unread,
Mar 27, 2009, 12:37:50 PM3/27/09
to Game Studio Manifesto
Also posted here: http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=00eed5b52dfd1d9d7c46f3eaf2cd1896&postid=220989#post220989

Here's my version (because I work with distributed teams, and on a
contract basis mostly - benefits are hard with this economy)
Any comments would be appreciated. Due to message length, I've only
showed what I've edited.

* Salaries are fixed contracts, negotiated at beginning of employment,
all employees also get at least 1% of the company's profits.
* everyone takes the same day off.
* if we ever have to “crunch” and work unpaid overtime, I’m afraid
we’ll all have to start coming in 5 days a week. I know, it’s tough.
Overtime would be paid in my case by increasing profit sharing.
* no key hours - being a telecommuting company, we have a schedule for
contacting people, other than that there are no key hours.
* you own the company: everyone has vested equity (not options) in the
company, and profit sharing.
* If your manager believes you’ve got better, they have to increase
your share in the company/profit sharing.
* Playing games, during company time, is an expected part of most
jobs, since we are a “game development company” and you *need* to know
what our competitors are doing. At least 8 hours/wk is expected. Some
of those hours should be used playing our games and reporting bugs.
Everyone does QA. Everyone should also make a blog post on our private
and public blog systems every workday.
* Use the extra day off for 20% time?
* Projects not on company time are owned by the creator. If you wish
to pitch it to us or work on it on company time, we will seek an
appropriate license. We encourage open source releases.
* Team food/drink doesn't really apply in the case of a distributed
team, maybe monthly if budget allows. Healthy food WOULD be
encouraged.
* at any given time, we aim to have a substantial majority of staff
working remotely / telecommuting, e.g. around 50%
* everyone gets the same pay offer no matter whether they are near or
far
* all employees are required to be online and available *and reactive*
on IM (preferably voice chat) during all working hours
* Internal required social networking/blogging should transparentize
any frictions between team members.

Adam Martin

unread,
Mar 29, 2009, 1:17:05 AM3/29/09
to Game Studio Manifesto


On Mar 27, 9:37 am, Michael Lubker <snowballz.g...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Also posted here:http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=00eed5b52dfd1d9d7c46f3eaf...
>
> Here's my version (because I work with distributed teams, and on a
> contract basis mostly - benefits are hard with this economy)
> Any comments would be appreciated. Due to message length, I've only
> showed what I've edited.

Great, thanks for that.

> * all employees are required to be online and available *and reactive*
> on IM (preferably voice chat) during all working hours

Id' suggest you explore the details of what form the "online and
available" takes in more detail, as it matters a lot more to
telecommuting teams, and there's a lot of stuff that can be defined in
advance if you know you will work this way.

For instance, at one place, we used to have "official" IM rooms for
particular topics that everyone was logged into at all times and could
comment on at any time, and which lead to spontaneous shared
conversations on key issues, but also had infinitely many personal/
private/one to one / ad-hoc topics.

For instance, how are you going to run meetings over IM? There are
some interesting things you can do (e.g. have a meeting that lasts two
days, but no individual attendee spends more than a total of one hour
reading and responding to things spread out over that time).

> * Internal required social networking/blogging should transparentize
> any frictions between team members.

I can see this being problematic. Insisting on people blogging is back
to the same thing of attempting to demand/schedule-in-advance
"creativity": most people can't be told when to blog, they can only be
supported and encouraged, and then left to do so.

Michael Lubker

unread,
Mar 29, 2009, 1:31:07 AM3/29/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the reply!

On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 12:17 AM, Adam Martin
<adam.m....@googlemail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> On Mar 27, 9:37 am, Michael Lubker <snowballz.g...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Also posted here:http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=00eed5b52dfd1d9d7c46f3eaf...
>>
>> Here's my version (because I work with distributed teams, and on a
>> contract basis mostly - benefits are hard with this economy)
>> Any comments would be appreciated. Due to message length, I've only
>> showed what I've edited.
>
> Great, thanks for that.
>
>> * all employees are required to be online and available *and reactive*
>> on IM (preferably voice chat) during all working hours
>
> Id' suggest you explore the details of what form the "online and
> available" takes in more detail, as it matters a lot more to
> telecommuting teams, and there's a lot of stuff that can be defined in
> advance if you know you will work this way.
>
> For instance, at one place, we used to have "official" IM rooms for
> particular topics that everyone was logged into at all times and could
> comment on at any time, and which lead to spontaneous shared
> conversations on key issues, but also had infinitely many personal/
> private/one to one / ad-hoc topics.
>
> For instance, how are you going to run meetings over IM? There are
> some interesting things you can do (e.g. have a meeting that lasts two
> days, but no individual attendee spends more than a total of one hour
> reading and responding to things spread out over that time).

We currently have a mailing list for major topics, and generally use
IM for one one chats so far... as we get further into the project, I'd
imagine we'll use Voice Chats and actual team meetings. In the past
I've tried to do team meetings, but with multiple time zones they can
be a bit of a nightmare... I'd appreciate suggestions on this (I have
some people in Europe and some in the US)

>
>> * Internal required social networking/blogging should transparentize
>> any frictions between team members.
>
> I can see this being problematic. Insisting on people blogging is back
> to the same thing of attempting to demand/schedule-in-advance
> "creativity": most people can't be told when to blog, they can only be
> supported and encouraged, and then left to do so.

In one project management system I used, they turned scrum into
blogging - basically had a page with "things I did", "things I will
do", and "roadblocks"... we tried to do this weekly, it didn't always
work out, but it can be somewhat useful - I could see it being more
useful if it was more like a social network so you could actually see
updates from your colleagues on roadblocks in realtime.

Have any game companies implemented an internal social network that
you know of? Just seems like it could be useful... I don't necessarily
want blogs, but tweets would be nice ;)

~M

> >
>



--
~ "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for
lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" - Benjamin
Franklin

http://snowballz.joey101.net

Adam Martin

unread,
Mar 29, 2009, 2:27:34 AM3/29/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
2009/3/28 Michael Lubker <snowbal...@gmail.com>:

> In one project management system I used, they turned scrum into

Everytime a company does this, they throw away 90% of the value of
Scrum, while telling themselves that they've only lost about 10% of
the value.

This is such a big issue it is specifically referenced in the core
Scrum texts - and yet people still do it. Sigh.

> blogging - basically had a page with "things I did", "things I will
> do", and "roadblocks"... we tried to do this weekly, it didn't always
> work out, but it can be somewhat useful - I could see it being more
> useful if it was more like a social network so you could actually see
> updates from your colleagues on roadblocks in realtime.

We did this over IM, every day, before I learnt about Scrum. It worked
very well that way. Of course, people in different timezones would
drop theirs into the DailyScrum IM window when they woke up. It was an
excellent way both to announce their online presence / availability
for work issues, and to contribute to the dailyscrum (-style meeting,
since - as noted - we weren't aware of scrum at the time)

> you know of? Just seems like it could be useful... I don't necessarily
> want blogs, but tweets would be nice ;)

I think a lot of the things that people try to do with blogs could be
better replaced by private tweets.

However, even tweets throw away a lot of value and ease of use
(browsing archives, length of messages, etc), so I'd personally start
with IM and master that first, and then be cautious about branching
out.

Bruce E Hennigar II

unread,
Mar 29, 2009, 4:59:58 AM3/29/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
We actually use IM where I work to monitor what we do on a case by case
basis and for call logs. It helps immensely and since it's instant it works
out nicely.

Michael Lubker

unread,
Mar 29, 2009, 9:59:50 AM3/29/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the thoughts...

Another project I have worked in (with David Perry) has used Teamspeak
and Skype for group meetings, as well as a forum.

( http://topsecret.acclaim.com - the bit-misnamed-at-this-point
community MMO project)

~M

On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 3:59 AM, Bruce E Hennigar II
<bruce.h...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> We actually use IM where I work to monitor what we do on a case by case
> basis and for call logs. It helps immensely and since it's instant it works
> out nicely.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: game-studi...@googlegroups.com
> [mailto:game-studi...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Adam Martin
> Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 11:28 PM
> To: game-studi...@googlegroups.com
> Subject: Re: For telecommuting teams, I made a few changes
>
>

Andrew Crystall

unread,
Mar 31, 2009, 11:18:37 PM3/31/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
To me, potentially what seems called for is not IM but IRC.

It's multi-channel (so you can have channels for general, project,
specalisation and so on) as well as person to person, you can write
bots which respond to commands and can update external systems like
schedules and so on.

Andrew Crystall

Michael Lubker

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 12:13:40 AM4/1/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
I have used IRC quite a bit (FOSS projects use it a lot)

~M

Adam Martin

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 1:25:13 AM4/1/09
to game-studi...@googlegroups.com
2009/3/31 Andrew Crystall <acry...@polarorbit.net>:

>
> To me, potentially what seems called for is not IM but IRC.
>
> It's multi-channel (so you can have channels for general, project,
> specalisation and so on) as well as person to person, you can write
> bots which respond to commands and can update external systems like
> schedules and so on.

You can do all that with any modern IM system too.

But in addition you get:
- much better GUI
- much higher acceptance rate with users
- much better protocols (e.g. skype with built-in 256-bit encryption)
- much richer value-adds (again e.g. skype you can switch to voice or
video at any time, and then drop back to text - although I've never
done a multi-person video call on skype, never quite needed *that*)

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages