A collection of things I’ve written.

Outsourcing Artwork for Better Game Development

3 min read

Hi, my name is David Tolley and I’d like to share my many years of experience and extensive knowledge regarding successfully setting up, managing and working with art outsourcing teams for computer and video games to throughout the world. Lot’s of practical experience in delivering a wide range of art assets into game and managing external teams. Anyone new to (or interested in) the subject of outsourcing artwork for video game production should hopefully find what follows interesting.

The Polarising Size of Video Game Developers

There used to be a time when developers of all sizes existed from small bedroom teams up to hundreds of people working on projects and everywhere in between. Developers of 40-100 people were not uncommon but all that has changed.

At the moment there appears to be no middle ground, developers are either large in house teams or small external teams. 30-40 people seems to be the top end for an independent developer right now.

Book Review - Linchpin, Seth Godin

2 min read

I recently finished Seth Godin’s recent book entitled “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to Drive Your Career and Create a Remarkable Future”

Why are some people easily outsourced, downsized, or freelanced into obscurity, while others have their pick of opportunities? In his most powerful book yet, Seth Godin argues that it’s more essential than ever to become indispensable - to become a linchpin. Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations: they invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They love their work and pour their best selves into it and turn each day into a kind of art - and, in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. Godin shows that the key to being indispensable is overcoming the fears that hold most of us back. If you have you ever found a shortcut that others missed, seen a new way to resolve a conflict, or made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach, then you have what it takes to become indispensable. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map.

Here’s what I thought…

Why fixed 9-5 working time is bad for video game

2 min read

I often wander between favouring and hating the idea of a 9-5 culture at work. On the one hand it fits in nicely with a family life where we work to enjoy ourselves, we turn up, do some work, go home and disconnect and plug ourselves into an entirely separate life.

On the other hand, what we do as game developers is a creative process, it requires thinking, passion and creativity that simply cannot be turned on and off at preset times of day.

Imagine a day like this:

  • 9am – be creative and passionate when you punch in
  • 12pm – stop being creative and thinking about your art.
  • 1pm – start being creative again, now, you’ve only got 4.5hrs remaining
  • 5.30pm – stop thinking, park your creativity, go home, disconnect
  • rinse and repeat.

How To Improve Your Video Game Developer CV

The way we apply for roles is still baked into the tradition of a paper CV along with the formatting that goes with it. Stop, think about it.

Imagine your Resume sat in a pile with the recruiter shuffling through them at high speed, what makes your CV stand out? Do you get your key message across in the 1st few lines?

Does the recruiter need to know your address and education first? Do we care about what you did 10 years ago? What are you offering? How do you fit the role you’re applying for? Does it communicate you?

If you’re an artist or designer, show your creativity in your CV. Remember, if you’re CV passes through an agency they will inevitably strip it of all of your contact information and ultimately re-format it.

Thought - Who are you talking to?

Remember, you’re always talking to your game players, the end audience. You’re not talking to the middle-man, the Interviewer, Lead Designer, Journalist or your Manager. Think about who it is you’re really addressing.

Marketing your video game is everyone’s job

In a world of freelancers, contractors and small, tight development communities. Everyone is on the public face of their business and reputation.

We are all constantly marketing something, be it our company or ourselves in one shape or another. Everything we do matters - your web-site, your comments in forums, the clothes you wear. It's about the message we convey in our appearance, our design, our gameplay, our technology, our ethics and most importantly our interactions with others. The sooner we realise this the better.

Thought - What does Quality mean?

Without looking it up, what does quality mean to you in terms of how you feel about a game or service? On it’s own it almost has no meaning, it needs to be preceded by something like “low” or “high” for it to make sense. Lets investigate it’s true meaning.

I think in every day life in the UK we actually omit the word “high” when we use it on it’s own. “I saw a quality film last night”, “the customer service was quality” all have to imply high quality as it doesn’t make sense on it’s own. A poor quality game is one that crashes all the time, looks shoddy and I think the most important one is that it lacks some decent gameplay.

But what does it mean to you? Quality is an entirely subjective concept, I think it typically refers to our expectations, we feel something that exceeds our expectations is “high quality” and something that falls short is “low quality”. Therefore, we may disagree on whether a game is low quality or whether I did a high quality job for you. Think about what expectations people may have about your game or service and consider how you can improve from there. It almost always doesn’t come from just spending more time at your desk.

In order to be consistently perceived as high quality you must exceed expectations, go the extra mile, be dedicated to what you do and turn out amazing work. Put that little bit more love into the game, pop in that little featurette. Failure to exceed expectations instantly places you in the realms of average and may even render your offering as low quality and it will take a long time to recover from that.