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Globalizing Production for the Future


September 23, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next
 

Identifying Risks in Globalization

Globalizing your production process isn't for everyone. It is important that you understand and can manage the risks to the project.

Here is a checklist of SOME of the questions you should ask yourself before committing:

  • Do we have enough time to have someone else help us?
  • Do we have fast enough internet access to transfer builds and assets regularly? And will they?
  • Do enough of the teams speak the same language?
  • Can you be in the office during the day at all during the same times to have virtual meetings?
  • Do we have remote server access, like VPN?
  • Do we have source control that an outside company can access?
  • Do we have a regular build process?
  • Do we have documentation, both for our game design, technologies and tools?
  • Do we use any proprietary technologies we can't let a third party use or access?
  • Does the third party have experience doing what we need them to do?
  • Will any personality issues arise between the internal team and third parties?
  • Will the other team members delivery schedules allow this?

Having external teams isn't for everyone. However, especially for larger projects, it makes a lot of sense. But, I have still seen even small teams doing casual games virtually, and being successful at it.

Getting Setup for Globalized Production

One of the reasons that Hollywood has been successful in setting themselves up for a globalized production model is that they have invested a lot of time and resources to build up their infrastructure. They are investing in not only elaborate video conferencing solutions, but a wide variety of other technologies to help people share their work more easily.

For example, one of the major film studios in Los Angeles has set up several major teleconference rooms. Instead of just seeing everyone in a little window on a TV, they actually built identical rooms at both locations, and set up screens that are almost the size of the room, so that it looks like you are sitting on one side of the table in a huge room and they are sitting on the other side.

Everyone you see is lit the same as in your room, and is the same size as they would normally be. They made it easy to share digital files back and forth between the same rooms and have built-in tablets so that everyone can draw on the screens they are looking at and comment on them. They even set up integrated fax machines that let you easily "hand" a piece of paper to someone in the other room by putting it into the fax on your table -- and it pops out on the other table instantly.


The Cisco Telepresence Room is an example of how the video conferencing room at the movie studios is set up.

These same studios have set up amazing project tracking software systems which can allow them to see and manage everything in a project. Anyone can quickly and easily pull up any asset on a project, see every change, who made it, who requested it, how much it cost and more. A director can instantly pull up any shot and make notes and comments on it, ask questions and much more. Their system also manages many terabytes of data efficiently.

With each studio sometimes generating several terabytes of data each day, they had to find new ways to manage it, store it, find what they wanted, move it around the world and keep track of it. The studios also needed to significantly improve their tools to allow sometimes hundreds of people to work on the same shot in real-time.

So, while this may seem excessive, the Hollywood teams are successfully managing large teams and budgets around the world using these systems. They don't have these fancy systems in place to just look fancy, but because they have been proven to make the Globalized Production model work far more efficiently.

Even just a few years ago, thinking that the game industry would ever need the sophistication of a large Hollywood studio was hard to imagine. But, for larger multiplatform game production, MMO production and the development of other major titles, the game industry now needs to mature and realize that we need "tools" to work better in large teams especially.

If you have lots of extra space at your office, another example of globalization can include creating a partnership with another company for the project, and having them move into your office temporarily to work on the project. This practice is very common in larger cities like Los Angeles, where there are lots of teams near each other. Co-location can be a major help to both companies.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next

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