< Blog

5 tips for co-development in video games

Video game development is more complex than ever. This is how you partner up to get it done.
5 tips for co-development in video games

In the last decade video games have risen to mainstream prominence as both a lucrative business and a viable career option. With the ever-increasing demand for content, many developers look to co-development partnerships to meet their needs.

Here are 5 tips to keep your co-developement partnership on track.

1.      Partnerships are built on equality

From the simplest of MNDA’s to massive publishing deals, it is important that all parties feel that their interests are protected and respected. You should never be afraid to negotiate contracts if there are clauses that you don’t agree with or have no way of fulfilling. Both parties being willing to negotiate a contract and come to an agreement is the first sign that you are building a long-lasting partnership.

No good creative partnership starts with “take it or leave it”.

2.      Aligning Expectations

Making sure that all parties set clear expectations at the start of any project is the best way to start any co-dev partnership. It is important to have frank discussions about pricing and timelines. By engaging in these types of conversations both teams are challenged to rethink their approach and potentially come up with an even better plan. Don’t be afraid to say something is too expensive or that timelines are too short.

Better have that discussion at the start of a project than at the end when you have run out of time, money, or worse, both.

3.      Communicate frequently, but not unnecessarily

If you want a development partnership to last communication is key. However, quality is better than quality. Many developers that struggle with communicating wittier development partners often find themselves drowning in assets that need to be checked, or they're not on the same page creatively with their external development partners.

The solution is not to drown each other in reports, excel sheets, and chat messages. Often those “solutions” only add to the already stressful situation. I have found that regular weekly or bi-monthly conference calls/face to face meetings supplemented with efficient tracking methods the best solution.

The important thing to keep in mind that the relationship should be collaborative, not top-down.

4.      Speak with candor and look at the facts when problems arise

No project is ever smooth sailing all the way through. When problems arise and deadlines draw close, it's all too easy to let your emotions take control.

This does no one any good.

I've found the best way to “tackle a problem head-on” is to speak honestly about the cause and look at the facts. There is time to beat around the bush when there's a game to ship. Both sides have skin in the game. Solve the problem as quickly as possible.

In any long-term partnership, the teams succeed or fail together.

5.      Accept that not all teams and projects are compatible

The expression “don’t try to put a square peg into a round hole” holds true here. Not all teams will perform well on all projects. This is why doing bite-sized pilots can be highly beneficial for both sides to see whether they are a fit.

There are times that after production has started you may realize that expertise, subject matter, resources, and timelines do not line up. It takes real maturity from both sides to be able to recognize that a partnership is not working out.

From experience, it is possible to end engagements with minimal damage/financial cost to either party. In situations like these, it is important to act professionally and with courtesy.

Just because it isn’t working out doesn’t mean that bridges must be burnt.

Streamline has built a company of co-development partnerships

At Streamline, we built our company from the ground-up. From four guys sitting in a room in the Netherlands, to a global video game development enterprise, with studios in Malaysia, the US and Colombia.

Piece by piece, art production, QA/QC, design, conceptual planning, monetization, we put together every step to provide our clients whatever they need to make their games and get them out into the world, from the first spark of an idea to millions of players engaging with your game.

If you dream, dream big. You can get there.

And when you need help to get there, reach out. We’d love to talk things over with you.

We’ll be at GDC Booth #S742, March 21st-23rd in San Francisco. So set up a time we can get into it, or just drop by.