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  1. Plays with fire
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    Any game developers/programmers here?


    Hey!

    I've got a nightmare client who's trying to make a game and has been trying for a couple of years (though I only stepped in at the beginning of the summer).

    She's been consulting with full-time game companies who tell her to build a little bit of it, test it, change it based on feedback and so on until each piece tests perfectly.

    Trouble is, I was given 3 months to deliver the final working game and she won't pay additionally for changes.

    When this became clear that she wanted to make unlimited changes with a fixed budget and deadline, I had to stifle a laugh, but now she's all horked off that her deadline isn't being met (because she didn't give me the interface until 1 week AFTER I told her I needed it).

    My question, finally, is how does this really work? I told her I'd love to follow her plan, but months wasn't even close to enough time, but she didn't believe me until I asked how long her contacts at the game company take. Not surprisingly, she told me 1-2 years.

    Is this common to build and test small pieces? If it is, how long should we do this before actually moving forward?

    Thanks tons for the input!


    :grimey
    Last edited by Frank Grimes; September 6th, 2009 at 10:40 AM.
    “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” -- Horace Mann

    "...all men are created equal." -- US Declaration of Independence
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    Devshed Supreme Being (6500+ posts)

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    It depends on how much planning goes into it. With the perfect plan everything is taken into account so you can easily chop a project up into modules and work on things one at a time, knowing before hand how each module should talk to the others.

    A near perfect plan goes as above but as development progresses you realise certain areas need to be redesigned as they don't work as well as expected or just plain don't work.

    I'm a bit lame when it comes to planning. I look at the whole picture and make a quite general plan. I'll focus more of my attention on the areas I think will be quite complicated. Why do that? Well I may make the perfect plan (hasn't happened yet) or my clients will but then in the real world they will almost always ask for changes along the way. Some will be trivial, "can this be red instead of blue?" but some will be "Might be good to have the symbol in the [currently static still image] logo explode and throw out mini logos, bit like a roman candle". That's one I received yesterday ^_^

    Lately I've been lucky and my main clients have become very good at working out exactly what the want which means I just have to follow their plans. I got to cushy with this and am now very much regretting taking on my latest client. A simple one week project has now dragged on for 3 months. It's an endless stream of changes. They seem to think that since they can write the change in a single sentance that it's probably just as easy to code it. I'm very tempted to just drop them but I know it will leave them in a very bad position and possibly end their company as it's mostly based around this application.

    Half the problem is that they don't seem to care/comprehend how much work the changes they want are. The other half of the problem was that I didn't stress from the start that there is a limit to the amount of changes they can have before having to pay more cash. Like I said; I got lazy after working with really good clients for so long.

    Personally, if the client is a PITA and more hassle then they're worth then I'd drop them or at least drop the project. From what you've said it sounds like she's trying to shift the blame onto you or at least take out her stress on you. If she's the top pin in the client company then I'd lean towards the later. If she's not then I'd go with the former since she's probably telling her superiors how much you suck. If that's the case then I'd write a very polite and formal e-mail explaining how you regret that you feel the need to walk away from this project due to how unreasonable she has been considering her numerous failings. Send it to her but also CC her boss in to it.

    It's easy to dive in and try covering lots of areas of a project in one big go but as it gets more complex your code will more than likely become less managable. Working on smaller chunks until they're complete lets you focus on that area and develop your coding style for that project as you go along. Later on you can revisit the areas you developed earlier on and update them to suite the style you later settled into.

    It's time to move onto the next module when you've finished coding the current one and all tests come back clear.

    The order that you work in becomes a factor as well. It may make more sense to work on certain areas before others as it will make testing easier.

    Sorry, lots of English Breakfast tea makes me speed type!
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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  5. Plays with fire
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    Thanks, Tann. That pretty much confirms what I thought.

    I've already produced a single version of this game based on the feedback and with an insane deadline, but am being blamed for missing the deadline because it wasn't what they wanted. The problem with that first iteration is all of it was done w/o a contract and the only documentation is my notes.

    For the second iteration I was very clear about documenting every function and detail of the game and required signatures before designing the UI. After the UI was signed, I required at least 3 weeks for coding.

    Naturally, none of this happened because the client was always thinking changes were perfectly okay at any time and even crossed out my "changes" clause in the documentation once (that didn't last!).

    Yeah, I'm dropping the client ASAP. We're in the same boat...dropping the client before the project is finished would disastrous.

    The biggest problem here is the client is just ignoring the deadlines and my process -- all of which was thoroughly documented and clearly communicated every step of the way.

    Done and done.

    Thanks.
    “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” -- Horace Mann

    "...all men are created equal." -- US Declaration of Independence
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    Devshed Supreme Being (6500+ posts)

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    <80s Style>dun dun dun another one bites the dust</80s Style>

    Well I'm not dropping this client just yet. They've been a bit foolish though as they entered into this agreement with another company where they have to pay £10,000 per month to them for access and usage of a service they provide. Because of all their changes and niggles to my part of the project and to the main site developer they've now had to pay two months of charges even though they haven't been able to use the service. I've told them I'm only working on it up till the end of the second week in September, after that I'm on hiatus for a few weeks. They already know they'll end up paying for a third month of none usage plus I'm going to charge them a premium for using up so much of my time.

    I'm not going to work with them again after this project is finished. It just doesn't work for me in a time/cost/stress way. They're nice guys and all that but they're just to naive when it comes to software development. There's only so much you can tell them before they start to think you're a nay-sayer.

    Glad you reached a decision on it all. I was going to suggest that I could redirect the thread to the lounge as it isn't really Flash specific and you could get some opinions from the other devs. Just remember that some may say mean things because they suck ^_^
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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    Devshed Supreme Being (6500+ posts)

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    oh, so I guess I did kinda just suggest it then! The offer's still there and is well worth taking before you make a final decision. I'm not really the most business savy person, I just know and do what works for me and my gang.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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  11. Plays with fire
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    Hey--

    I'm just going to wrap up the project (it is in Flash) so the deadline is met then hand over the source files (_after_ I'm paid, of course) and tell them I'm walking.

    You're very right, too, about being able to tell them only so much. Nothing is sinking in so I swallow my pride, be professional and protect my reputation.

    The one thing I learned from this is you can't document enough and you can't hand-hold enough. Sometimes I'm more nanny than developer.

    Comments on this post

    • Tann San agrees : "Sometimes I'm more nanny than developer" - amen :)
    “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” -- Horace Mann

    "...all men are created equal." -- US Declaration of Independence

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