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Title: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: ForumBot 0.8 beta on August 20, 2008, 04:17:32 PM
Interview with Scott Jennings

Posted over at Giant Realm.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Tige on August 20, 2008, 05:15:27 PM
What can you say?  The interview reads like every other mmo interview in the past 8 years.  Only now WoW is used as the reference instead of EQ.

Except now we have these cool smilies!  :awesome_for_real:  :oh_i_see:  :uhrr:  :ye_gods:  :grin:




Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Jade Falcon on August 20, 2008, 05:54:15 PM
In all these various interviews I keep reading, I keep seeing the mention of project managers and the inability of them to keep track or control of resources,time,costs what have you,are these positions that hard to find the proper people for these days?

It's not like these games are a new idea anymore.There's been lots of launched,canceled or failed mmos across the industry with I'm sure hundreds of people with experience,are the only ones getting hired to these positions the ones that cover their ass the best from their last gig?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: bhodi on August 20, 2008, 06:07:06 PM
In all these various interviews I keep reading, I keep seeing the mention of project managers and the inability of them to keep track or control of resources,time,costs what have you,are these positions that hard to find the proper people for these days?

It's not like these games are a new idea anymore.There's been lots of launched,canceled or failed mmos across the industry with I'm sure hundreds of people with experience,are the only ones getting hired to these positions the ones that cover their ass the best from their last gig?

I hate to tell you, those type of people are scarce in the non-gaming commercial world and the government world as well. It's just a skill that not a lot of people are very good at, even when they think they are.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lt.Dan on August 20, 2008, 06:29:06 PM
Or it could be that project management is the scapegoat but that would never be the case since code and design always works first time round.   :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Ratman_tf on August 20, 2008, 06:46:56 PM
That was a lot of talk about Tabula Rasa. Did SJ have much to do with that title, or was it just the topic du jour?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Margalis on August 20, 2008, 07:22:16 PM
Quote
In all these various interviews I keep reading, I keep seeing the mention of project managers and the inability of them to keep track or control of resources,time,costs what have you,are these positions that hard to find the proper people for these days?

Very difficult to find. 95% of people working in software plan for better than the best case scenario. Nobody wants to be realistic because realistic is depressing.

The problem with "release when it is done" is that it works great if you release a great game that sells well, but if you delay forever then release a piece of crap you're fucked. So while it may work for Valve, Square and Blizzard it probably won't work for a bunch of other companies.

I don't think Vanguard would have been any good had it had another 3 years, because the skill of the leadership was the limiting factor.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: schild on August 20, 2008, 07:23:03 PM
No doubt. There are some places where all the money and time in the world won't produce awesome. Like Silicon Knights.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Margalis on August 20, 2008, 07:35:13 PM
I was going to use that example but I liked Eternal Darkness and I hear the Kain games were decent. They have problems with some of the craft of game making though that time won't fix. In particular good-feeling combat is not their strong point.

The problem I have with talk of casual MUD crap is that to me it's like saying that the future of books is Harry Potter and Twilight. (Yes, I just lumped those two together) That may be true to some degree but at the same time we don't want to read Twilight and self-respecting authors don't want to write it.

In three weeks I will officially be a red name and then people can flame me.  Should make for some good times.  :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: taolurker on August 20, 2008, 09:36:42 PM
That was a lot of talk about Tabula Rasa. Did SJ have much to do with that title, or was it just the topic du jour?

I think the interviewer was trying to draw parallels to the recent NCSoft financial info and layoffs, and therefore spent (too much?) time asking Tabula Rasa questions.

Lum didn't work on TR at all AFAIK, plus he can't talk about the "mystery project" he was on, so maybe that was why the questions centered mostly around his previous employer or their other games which he could only speculate on. There wasn't even really much MMO wisdom or "teh phunny".

I'd say the only remarkable thing here was actually getting Mr Jennings to participate in the interview, and I hope if he agrees to another one, it will actually talk about something he's worked on or is working on... Heck I had at least 10 questions I'd ask before any of the ones asked about Tabula Rasa (let me know if you want me to send them to you Lum).


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 20, 2008, 09:43:42 PM
Could always just ask here, although if I can't answer I may just reply with a Rick Astley Youtube instead.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: taolurker on August 20, 2008, 09:50:34 PM
Why ask them on some forum, when I can collect a number of them into a Q&A that may grace the front page of some site, with potential monetary payments involved?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 20, 2008, 09:54:00 PM
I think you answered your own question there.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: schild on August 20, 2008, 10:17:14 PM
The interviewer? Who was that guy?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Margalis on August 20, 2008, 10:18:03 PM
Question: What is the last project you worked on that you can talk about?

Seriously...


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 20, 2008, 10:21:29 PM
Dark Age of Camelot, although I didn't have much if any voice in its design (which is all 99% of people care about!)


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: taolurker on August 20, 2008, 10:22:49 PM
My question from the GiantRealms comments section:

Quote: "God. Someone make a new studio here, because there are tons of awesome people out of work and moving that don't want to"

How come you aren't starting your own company Lum?? I bet there's a venture cap out there more than willing to give Scott teh Jennings money for his game company.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lt.Dan on August 20, 2008, 10:27:44 PM
Dark Age of Camelot, although I didn't have much if any voice in its design (which is all 99% of people care about!)
You put "Dark Age of Camelot" and "design" in the same sentence.  Cue Hrose in three....two....one....


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 20, 2008, 10:56:19 PM
My question from the GiantRealms comments section:

How come you aren't starting your own company Lum?

a) no burning desire to
b) already personally have a substantial debt burden (yay credit cards and years of living beyond my means years ago)
c) don't particularly want to mortgage my family's future.

A is the most important. I want to make games, not manage a company.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Quinton on August 20, 2008, 10:58:14 PM
In all these various interviews I keep reading, I keep seeing the mention of project managers and the inability of them to keep track or control of resources,time,costs what have you,are these positions that hard to find the proper people for these days?

It's not like these games are a new idea anymore.There's been lots of launched,canceled or failed mmos across the industry with I'm sure hundreds of people with experience,are the only ones getting hired to these positions the ones that cover their ass the best from their last gig?

I hate to tell you, those type of people are scarce in the non-gaming commercial world and the government world as well. It's just a skill that not a lot of people are very good at, even when they think they are.

Really great PMs *can* make a difference, but often the PMs are stuck in a position where their job ends up being "take the impossible schedule imposed by partners/funding/management/market and the time that engineering *thinks* it will take to actually build the specified whatever, and try to resolve these two completely incompatible constraints while keeping something that sorta resembles the original end product goal".

I <3 my PM.  Usually they're completely useless.  Got lucky this time around.

- Q


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Ratman_tf on August 20, 2008, 11:30:43 PM
Could always just ask here, although if I can't answer I may just reply with a Rick Astley Youtube instead.

When the hell is Obama gonna start passing out those damn donuts?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 21, 2008, 12:58:37 AM
Could always just ask here, although if I can't answer I may just reply with a Rick Astley Youtube instead.

When the hell is Obama gonna start passing out those damn donuts?

Can we get our own goddamn Dunkin Donuts?

YES WE CAN


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Margalis on August 21, 2008, 01:32:26 AM
Dark Age of Camelot, although I didn't have much if any voice in its design (which is all 99% of people care about!)

Why are you at all important then?  :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Dren on August 21, 2008, 07:49:17 AM
Hmm, I'm trying to get to this so called interview, but the link doesn't seem to want to show me anything.

Tis blank.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: schild on August 21, 2008, 07:50:26 AM
Shows up for me. It's not on the f13 page you know. Click the words "Giant Realm."


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Nevermore on August 21, 2008, 09:44:16 AM
My question from the GiantRealms comments section:

How come you aren't starting your own company Lum?

a) no burning desire to
b) already personally have a substantial debt burden (yay credit cards and years of living beyond my means years ago)
c) don't particularly want to mortgage my family's future.

A is the most important. I want to make games, not manage a company.

Everyone wants to be a player, no one wants to be the GM.   :oh_i_see:


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Slyfeind on August 21, 2008, 09:53:18 AM
Very difficult to find. 95% of people working in software plan for better than the best case scenario. Nobody wants to be realistic because realistic is depressing.

Also good project managers have the skills to make more money on non-game projects. I've seen/heard from lots of people who "graduate" out of games to make twice as much money at those Excell thingies and Database whatnots. Why anybody would do that backwards is quite beyond me!


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Lum on August 21, 2008, 10:30:49 AM
Dark Age of Camelot, although I didn't have much if any voice in its design (which is all 99% of people care about!)

Why are you at all important then?  :awesome_for_real:

I'm fun at parties.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Ironwood on August 21, 2008, 10:48:49 AM
And apparently good at conversations too.



Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Dren on August 21, 2008, 10:49:42 AM
Shows up for me. It's not on the f13 page you know. Click the words "Giant Realm."

The page is blank for me here.  I tried the link to Giant Realm, but I can't get there from here.

I don't think my company wants me to see this interview.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Jade Falcon on August 21, 2008, 02:20:13 PM
Very difficult to find. 95% of people working in software plan for better than the best case scenario. Nobody wants to be realistic because realistic is depressing.

Also good project managers have the skills to make more money on non-game projects. I've seen/heard from lots of people who "graduate" out of games to make twice as much money at those Excell thingies and Database whatnots. Why anybody would do that backwards is quite beyond me!

Which begs the question with so much proof of these issues sinking multi million dollar projects why aren't they paying up for the right people?


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Ratman_tf on August 21, 2008, 03:03:06 PM
Very difficult to find. 95% of people working in software plan for better than the best case scenario. Nobody wants to be realistic because realistic is depressing.

Also good project managers have the skills to make more money on non-game projects. I've seen/heard from lots of people who "graduate" out of games to make twice as much money at those Excell thingies and Database whatnots. Why anybody would do that backwards is quite beyond me!

Which begs the question with so much proof of these issues sinking multi million dollar projects why aren't they paying up for the right people?

Rock Star syndrome. Everybody thinks they're the exception.

What gets me is that even the 800lb Gorilla started small monkey with stuff like Rock N' Roll Racing and Blackthorne.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: UnsGub on August 21, 2008, 10:41:54 PM
In all these various interviews I keep reading, I keep seeing the mention of project managers and the inability of them to keep track or control of resources,time,costs what have you,are these positions that hard to find the proper people for these days?

They are harder to find then good developers, designers, and artists.  The game industry just does not reward those positions like the rest of the tech industry where you will find the good ones and you get what you pay for.  The other issue is most of them are not give the responsibility\power to do their jobs.  The egos of developers, designers, artists, and publisher end up driving the show.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Viin on August 21, 2008, 10:57:52 PM
I <3 my PM.  Usually they're completely useless.  Got lucky this time around.

You are super lucky. I had a great PM for 6 months who quit after realizing the whole organization had screwed itself into a 'do nothing, release nothing' attitude. Now I'm stuck with ditzy PMs who can't keep what day it is straight let alone manage more than 2 projects, *and* don't have a single clue as to what devs are talking about so can't call bullshit on long-shot estimates - creating an awesome snowball effect that leads to simple website changes taking 8 months.

I'd really prefer to be my own PM than fix everything my dedicated project PM is suppose to manage.

Also I haven't noticed any good paying PM jobs around, most of them pay less than a mid-level java dev and they are much more crucial. Occasionally I see 100k+ for Senior PMs but only 1 out of 100 people who label themselves "project managers" are anywhere near worth that. Of course, you never know until you throw them into the thick of it and watch them get steamrolled because they can't figure out how to schedule a meeting in Outlook. By then it's too late.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: UnsGub on August 21, 2008, 11:20:12 PM
I'd really prefer to be my own PM than fix everything my dedicated project PM is suppose to manage.

You just doing scrum\agile\xp\etc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCRUM#Adaptive_project_management) by yourself.  That methodolgy is made for building games but for unknown reasons not being used in the industry.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: schild on August 21, 2008, 11:22:15 PM
Some companies use it. But yea, it's rare. Mostly because the generation of leads on games right now still thinks they just know how to [manage projects] because they're so awesome at their job. unfortunately, they're not awesome at their job, are blowhard egoheaded weirdos, and think Delays Are OK.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Viin on August 22, 2008, 09:52:18 AM
I play the Product Owner role in Scrum, our PMs are suppose to be the Scrum Masters + PjM stuff (resource allocation, etc) but that hasn't worked out. Some of that has started to shift to dev managers. I really wish we did Scrum for Realz instead of this bastardized version we came up with to "make everyone happy".


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: tommh on October 21, 2008, 01:33:33 PM
Most of the studios I've worked for haven't even had a PM. Instead there's usually a producer, sometimes a creative director, a gaggle of leads, and some vaguely titled executive above it all. If you think this sounds inefficient...your right.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: NiX on October 29, 2008, 11:09:17 AM
I'm in the middle of taking a Project Management course and I can see why it's hard to find a good PM. A majority of the people in my class still don't get what PM is. Our prof actually had the balls to outright say "Plan for the worst" and people can't comprehend such an idea. I guess that's why something like 60-70% of Projects fail.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Sky on October 29, 2008, 11:47:30 AM
It's a simple mantra a lot of people just can't comprehend. I learned it from Donald Trump's Art of the Deal: if you can live with the worst possible outcome of a deal, it's a good deal. Seems a lot of people can't imagine the worst possible situation, or simply think it won't happen to them because they're special. It's my first consideration when planning almost anything.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Jeff Kelly on October 29, 2008, 11:53:46 AM
Well I wrote a huge post (http://forums.f13.net/index.php?topic=13751.msg479148#msg479148) on project management in games a while back (at which point I was accused of being 'that who shall not be named' for style of quoting)

Most IT projects fail because of lack of project management. System and Embedded Software Companies regularly manage multi-year 200 person+ 100 Million LoC projects on the deadline because they have a tight PM in place (also failing a Deadline costs millions in regress and damages).

The only thing I mostly hear from game companies is 'OMFG project management is hard, we do new and different stuff that cannot be planned at all, please give us more monies'

Also management in game development largely suffers from the peter principle. Just because you were a good designer doesn't mean you are a good manager and people are never trained to be managers they just assume the roles.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Nebu on October 29, 2008, 12:22:36 PM
Sounds like these people could learn a lot from scientists.  99% of science fails to produce the results that we expected, yet we have to find some good in the results in order to maintain our research funding.  Plan for your ideas to fail from the get go.  If something works, be critical rather than optimistic.  I thought that was just common sense.


Title: Re: Interview with Scott Jennings
Post by: Soln on October 29, 2008, 01:34:08 PM
the sad truth I can vouch for as someone who makes his living as a PjM is that most organizations don't care -- they get things done without planning (agile or not).  Drama and fear are sometimes the biggest drivers to project completion, not good planning. And it's not just business types -- a lot of dev managers don't want PjM's in their tent either.  They don't want actual effort or bugs metrics being circulated. :oh_i_see: