I recently got a chance to attend XDS - the External Development Summit - for the first time. It’s a fun and interesting conference for both companies that provide services to game developers and to the developers that need them. Although the primary target of the conference was AAA console developers looking to outsource art, there were some great learnings for Mobile Game Doctor and our customers as well.
In several presentations both outsourcers and their customers talked about what it takes to make an outsourcing (or co-development) arrangement work, and a clear and consistent picture emerged. In order to keep both sides happy, you need to have clarity, transparency, flexibility, and outstanding communications. At Mobile Game Doctor, we try to practice all of these things.
Clarity: Before we begin any project, we invest time in understanding where our customers are and what they need. We do our best to structure most of our projects around a clear, well-defined set of goals and milestones. We’re still happy to invest our time and energy into customers who aren’t quite sure what they need - above and beyond a helping hand - but then we do our utmost to start the project off by learning more about the client and project and defining a clear, agreed-upon set of goals and deliverables.
Transparency: At Mobile Game Doctor we do our best to assign a subject matter expert to every project. We are completely transparent with our clients about who is working on what, about other workload they may have, and any project-specific challenges we may face. We are proactive about communicating any issues or challenges that we may be facing on the project, and we are honest and constructive in our feedback on the products and teams.
Flexibility: We have been in the business more than long enough to know that things can change while you’re building a game. Developing and playtesting lead you to new understandings of what of it is fun in your game (and what isn’t). Market conditions evolve while you’re developing, and your business itself may change and evolve. And all of this can lead to significant changes in your game. On all of our large projects, we include a clause in our contracts that allows our customers to change their mind about what features we should be working on or how we should deliver work, so long as it doesn’t substantially change the scope of the project. This lets us keep up with the changing demands of your project in real time without needing to go back through additional rounds of negotiation.
Communication: At Mobile Game Doctor, we like to integrate with your team’s communication channels as much as humanly possible. Our Slack apps often have 6-12 different team domains down the left-hand side. We do our best to integrate with all of our customers’ communication and documentation tools to make it as easy as possible for them to integrate our work and reach us whenever they need us.
All of these things come naturally to us as part of our commitment to our customers’ success. And our commitment to clarity, transparency, flexibility, and communication helps us make our outsource design model do great things for our customers.
Mobile Game Doctor is a boutique game design and production consultancy that partners with game developers worldwide to help improve games, teams, and processes. Dave Rohrl is its Founder and one of its Principal Consultants