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在开发团队中有效进行头脑风暴会议的方法

作者:Andrew Curley

介绍

关于任何合作团队项目,我最喜欢的便是第一次头脑风暴会议,大家一起在黑板上写下某些内容,成员们一大声说出自己的理念和计划。在这已开发阶段,所有的一切都是可能的,这对于任何团队来说也是双刃剑般的存在。团队领导者会发现自己总是尝试着去阻止“一辆脱轨的列车”或“放猫(游戏邦注:指试图去控制 或管理 一群无法控制或者出于混乱状态的个体。代指不可能完成的任务)。更复杂的是,团队头脑风暴会遭致一些派系的形成。幸运的是也存在某些方式能够帮助制作人和游戏设计师去缓解甚至阻止这种情况的出现,即通过明确混乱局面的结构并赋予团队中的个体成员权利去传达自己的想法。

在开发团队中有效进行头脑风暴会议的方法

brainstorming(from welovead)

明确不同阶段

在很多情况中,头脑风暴就像沙盒游戏一样。团队成员可以自由地实验,进行即兴创作,并且能够深入探索自己的想像,但不管怎样每一款沙盒游戏也都需要一些界限。对于较大工作室或公司中的开发团队来说,他们可能需要面对来自管理层的新项目要求,如IP的性质,游戏引起,类型,预算等等。所以拥有一个明确的结够能够让制作人和游戏设计师在一个明确界限中去尝试各种理念。

而对于独立项目来说,团队领导者必须自己去创造头脑风暴沙盒的界限。我发现在这里自上而下的方法最有效。即先从询问团队成员的技能和喜好(包括类型,风格等等)等等开启讨论,然后将其记录在便签纸上。团队领导者应该亲自参与到这一过程中,并且更重要的是,他们必须见证着整个局势的发展。游戏设计师应该去寻找重复的理念和偏好的样式,而制作人应该记录下团队成员们显著与特殊的个性。这些信息对于试验生产阶段的团队发展非常有帮助。

项目领导应该将这样的讨论时间设定在30分钟以内,最长不能超过1小时。最终项目领导将通过相关群组和主要重叠领域去整理便签纸而对这部分讨论做出总结。足够幸运的话,开发团队将能够在此明确他们想要创造的游戏类型。

收缩沙盒

在最初会议的最后,制作人应该分配给每个团队成员在下次会议前需要完成的任务。通过使用全新建立的项目框架,他们必须写下3个游戏理念,且每个理念的描述不能超过2个句子。这能够提供给较低调的团队成员展示自己的空间,并也能让想法过多的成员专注于真正优秀的理念并选择出最佳想法。但这里也存在一个苦恼,即当团队成员再次见面去讨论自己的想法时,他们只能传达一个想法。而这将推动每个团队成员去选择出最出色的那个理念。

在向其他团队成员描述自己的理念期间,其他团队成员可以提出一些问题,但你也需要牢记这必须是一个快速进行的过程。制作人应该在黑板上写下所有成员的想法,而游戏设计师需要努力去推动这一过程。在最后一位成员说完后,整个团队将能够以明确一个最终理念为目标展开讨论,即可以通过删减理念或整合多个理念成为一个全新理念。如此沙盒将变得更加可控制了!

继续向前发展

当然啦,因为这并不是一个真正民主化过程,所以在团队决定最终项目理念时肯定会有人觉得不爽。而就像在最初的头脑风暴会议中那样,你也应该观察哪些团队成员保持安静,感到无趣或受挫。在团队会议结束后几天内,我总是会与一些即将共事的成员进行部门会议。在这些会议中我会问团队成员3个问题:

作为美术师/关卡设计师/设计师/程序员等身份你的优势和劣势是什么?

你是否想要再次经历或避免在过去项目中遇到过的某些情况?

游戏设计师和我该如何帮助你获得成功?

最后一个问题其实也是最重要的问题,这是创建团队信任的第一步,如果你能够更快地树立这种信任,你的游戏也会更优秀。

结论

我便在我们现在的游戏项目中使用了这一方法(即一款以禁酒时期为背景的第一人称射击游戏《For the Family》)。对于游戏的每一个新架构,我都能看到来自每个团队成员的特殊贡献,这也是我一直引以为傲的东西。所以我非常推荐制作人和游戏设计师能够尝试这一方法去进行头脑风暴会议,这将推动你去设定界限,不断推动团队的发展,并且能够帮助你提出一些有效的问题,这 也是任何领域的领导者必须学会的内容。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

A Method to the Madness: How to Facilitate the Brainstorming Process

by Andrew Curley

Introduction

My favorite part of any collaborative team project is that first brainstorming session, watching the walls turn multicolor in a shower of sticky notes, people furiously scribbling on whiteboards as others shout out ideas and plans. Anything is possible in this stage of development, and quite often that becomes a double-edged sword for teams. Team leaders can easily find themselves trying to stop a runaway train, or herding cats, or whatever management metaphor with which you prefer to describe chaos. To make matters even more difficult, the anything-goes nature of team brainstorming can give rise to cliques and dominant personalities. Fortunately, there are ways for producers and game designers to mitigate or even prevent these dynamics from occurring, by giving structure to the chaos and empowering individuals on the team to champion their ideas, often without them even knowing it.

Setting the Stage

Brainstorming, in many ways, is like playing in a sandbox. The team is free to experiment, improvise, and dig deep into their imaginations, but every sandbox needs boundaries. For development teams working within a larger studio or company, new projects likely have some requirements dictated by upper management – the nature of the IP, the game engine, genre, budget, etc. Having a structure already in place gives the producer and game designer the definitive boundaries they need to contain the rapid exchange of ideas.

For independent projects, the team leaders must create their own boundaries to the brainstorming sandbox. I’ve found that a top-down approach works best here. Start the discussion by asking the team about their skills and broad interests – genre, tone, style – and write them down on sticky notes. The team leaders should participate in this exercise themselves, but more importantly, they must watch the situation unfold. The game designer should be looking for patterns of repeating ideas and preferences, and the producer should take note of both the dominant and reserved personalities of the group. This information is vital to the health of the team in the pre-production phase and beyond.

The project leads should time-box this discussion to thirty minutes ideally, and certainly no longer than an hour. Wrap the session up by organizing the sticky notes into correlating groups and focusing on the areas of most overlap. With any luck, the team will have arrived at a big-picture view of what kind of game they want to make.

Shrink the Sandbox

At the end of this initial session, the producer should give each member of the team an assignment to do in preparation for the next meeting. Using the newly established project framework, they must write down three game ideas, no more than two sentences each, to pitch to the team. This empowers the more reserved members of the team by giving them a platform, and it challenges the more ideaphoric members to focus and choose only their strongest pitches. But here’s the twist: when the team meets again to discuss their concepts, they are only allowed to pitch one idea. This forces each person to put their best foot forward, and only the very best ideas are up for negotiations.

During these pitches, team members in the audience can ask general clarification questions, but this is meant to be a rapid process. The producer should be writing all the ideas on a whiteboard in view of the team while the game designer facilitates the pitches, or vice-versa. After the last pitch, the team may freely discuss the ideas with the goal of arriving at a single concept, either through process of elimination or by incorporating elements of multiple ideas into something new. Suddenly, the sandbox becomes much more manageable!

Moving Forward

Of course, since this is not a truly democratic process, certain individuals are bound to feel unrepresented in the team’s final decision for the project concept. As with the initial brainstorming session, take note of teammates who appear quiet, uninterested, or frustrated with the pitch proceedings. In the first few days after the team forms, I like to hold department meetings to get a better sense of the people I will be working with. In these meetings I ask my teammates three questions:

What are your strengths and weaknesses as an artist/level/designer/programmer/etc.?

Were there any experiences in your previous project that you’d like to repeat or avoid?

How can the game designer and myself best help you succeed?

The last question is the most important – it is the first step to building trust with your team, and the faster you can build that trust, the better your game will be.

Conclusion

I used this method in my current game project, For the Family, a capture-the-flag first-person-shooter set in the Prohibition Era. A level designer pitched the idea and the team rallied behind it in a single brainstorming session without any bruised egos, and we have met every milestone expectation thus far. With every new build of the game, I see the unique contributions of each of my teammates coming together to form one cohesive vision, and that is something I am very proud of. I highly recommend that producers and game designers try this approach to the brainstorming process – it will force you to set boundaries, empower your team, and ask the right questions, all essential parts to being an effective leader in any field, especially one as chaotic as gaming.( source:gamasutra )

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