Sunday, November 08, 2009

The invisible fire of projects

Interesting times. It is always nice to know when you can interact and cause certain things to happen, you feel alive and meaningful but only if you have a role in this action that you are going to take. Is it possible to take actions which you do not have a role? Certainly yes and what we are doing most of the time, just reflecting, doing x because of y. Doing x again if we were to take back time and sense y again and again. However, there are times which you have a choice and we talk about selection. The very essence of creativity comes from the deep power of choice. Running into the multiple paths of selection and following one is the core that builds our freedom and this is where we find our meaning, the rest of the times we are just sleep walking with the ghosts.

Such a stage has been reached at this time for Fanafzar Games. Garshasp is coming to an end and a new beginning is on the horizon. We need to select on the next project and plan ahead for our next commitment which will be at least for a 2 year period. Multiple paths lie ahead and I have a feeling that each will have big differences as far as their outcomes. Selecting the platform to develop for, whether sticking to PC or trying ways to enter the Console development is one, planning ahead for the technology and tools we have created so far is two, selecting the game genre and title is three, evaluating different middle-ware technology is four, doing research on some areas to include in the next version of the engine is five, redesigning the development process and methodology is six and finding new talent to work with is choice group number seven.

The above choice groups have options and combining them properly to lay down the path towards our goals is in itself an art form. The big puzzle which needs to be solved with many dead ends and a few paths to higher grounds.

The overall feeling is interesting and the challenge for each choice group is very exciting but there is one which is still quite a mystery for me and that is the last item. We have some ideas about the first six, at least we know ways to try out our ideas and assess and evaluate and decide but regarding the people working on the team or joining the team, there are quite a lot of mysteries. Interestingly enough the issue is not with the technical skills and abilities of these people, it is with their mindsets and attitude. The last thing on earth that anyone trying to assemble a team to work on high tech would ever think of, the last thing I ever thought of when I was trying to form a team to do something which none of them had done before in their areas of expertise and never done by our team or even any team close to us. Something with a lot of technical uncertainties and a process never experienced. People thought it was impossible because we couldn't find the specialists needed, we didn't have technology necessary, we couldn't secure the necessary budget, we lacked the experience and that their would be external pressures to prevent us from finishing a product. No one ever speculated that our biggest problem is going to be from within, inside the simplest behaviors of us human beings, being able to manage the self, being honest, having control, being there and believing. Such issues have been covered very well in books such as "Herding Cats" but in the case of our project, really the best thing that happened was the people and the worst thing that happened was the people again. When people showed to be people by following the internal wave of self management, honesty and believing, they tackled the technical issues and all mission impossibles and did miracles and whenever they lost control of the self and polluted their minds with simple nonesense, all their magic was taken to the point which they could not even deliver the simplest values to the project and became a big burden for the rest of the team to carry on their back with their bleeding bodies. This is the miracle of us human beings, something which has been talked about a little in some books, something never talked about in the Universities, something we had to experience the hard way in our project, something for us to think about every day during the next project and something which makes all the technical risks and unknowns suddenly seem really easy to tackle.

Risk analysis helps project management but the basic elements for risk analysis are the probabilistic variables which model the system and in the case of the above mentioned parameters, no proper mathematical variable or probabilistic distribution can define them and so what we need to rely on in this case is not risk analysis techniques but pure magic.

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