A recent article from none other than Gamasutra featured several game producers discussing dealing with dependencies. Frank Rogan of Gas Powered Games indicated that problems with dependencies all stemmed from a breakdown in communication. The question is, is there a way to keep communication flowing just as smoothly remotely as in-house?
When I worked on staff, the big board of milestones, goals, and, by extension, dependencies, was up for everyone to see. We could chat in front of it, discussing the latest episode of “Supernatural” or run in fear of the Nerf gun. As a remote worker, however, I’ve noticed that I’m only made aware of my milestones and only occasionally notified of my dependencies and about who’s depending on me. For instance: “The dialog must be done because we start voice recording on x day.” “Don’t start this section until I’ve talked to the programmers.” Or one of my favorites: “We haven’t figured this part out yet, we’ll let you know” where the “we” could be the producers, the designers, the programmers, or the publisher for all I know.
Personally, I like knowing as much as possible. However, knowing too much could lead to problems if your outsourcing partner doesn’t understand the process. This is one of the benefits of working with writers who have also worked as producers or designers. If your writer is unfamiliar with programming needs, they may make the wrong assumptions.
What do you think? Should outsourcers be treated like the team, with full knowledge of the project plan? Or do you think that’s more trouble than it’s worth?