3 Issues to Remember When Increasing Team Headcount

We are currently processing getting 3 new team members to our currently 5 member team. I personally don’t think in the idea of “everybody should get into team”, since from my experience that results to lots of wasted time. Sure, it might be fun, and it might you help find the right persons – but I personally try to screen good team players right in the beginning.

Why you need other team members?

This is the most important thing: why do you need team members? Be absolutely sure to answer to that questions before you proceed getting anybody in your team. Our team has had some additional need for animation, programming and concept art. We either need to outsource some of these areas (like concept arts and perhaps animation) or get new people to do these. We are still processing the “hiring” at the moment.

Focus on getting whose who do things, rather those who can do things

When I’m getting new people in the team I’m more concerned about getting people who have time and motivation to do things. I’ve seen many industry professionals, who can do amazing stuff – if only they would have time. I personally try to get talented guys who can actually finish something. I’m always more interested in “how people can contribute to the project” rather than “what piece of work somebody has done in the past”. Naturally, I will check what projects or work team members have finished in the past, but even then I’m more concerned to make sure that these people can get things done.

Increasing headcount means increased management

This one is really important: with 5 members (me included) in the team, there’s quite a lot of management to do. Coordinating, writing, communicating with the other people is always there. Since we are about to increase the headcount to 8, we need to be extra careful what kind of people we get in the team – and what it means in terms of responsibilities. Dealing with 7 other people means quite a lot of time spent on putting everything together.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I agree with you on every though, especially on the third. It shows that being a leader means having responsibility over your people. Adding a new member is about responsibility on the first place. Leaders just have to be full of responsibility for them to be role models.

  2. Dansas: “Following the same example, for the other 4, who lets assume are in college or high school, have a bit more free time, and their total weekly (weekday) output is 20-30 hours.”

    I’m in college…. I wish I had 20-30 hours a week to work on my game. : (

  3. It sure is hard to manage increasing members of a team. You’ll be like a parent with 8 children. The only difference is you get to pick the person you want in the team. Like what the post said, we need think first before considering another member. Also, be sure that we choose the right person. These are crucial points to consider, and we certainly need to double check our decision before going onward.

  4. Well, 8 people is not a lot in these circumstances. Some people are not as active as others. It is online, with people located in different countries and timezones. Older people have jobs. Younger people are in colleges and high schools. Consider this: You are a small company starting up in Palo Alto (Oh Yea!) and you have 3 full time employees. Thats roughly 8-10 hours a day (depending on how much the employees enjoy what they are doing) So thats about 40-50 hours a week – or 160-200 hours for all 4 employees. Now consider this: You are starting up an online company, with volunteers who love doing what they do, either trying to get into the “industry” or a much beloved hobby. Lets say you have 8 people. 4 of them have jobs. They get back at around 5 or later. They have to eat, spend time with their family, relax. Time flies by, and before you know it. Its 9 pm. You work for 1 or 2 hours and its off to bed to start another day. So that is about 4-8 hours TOTAL for the people with jobs per weekday week. Following the same example, for the other 4, who lets assume are in college or high school, have a bit more free time, and their total weekly (weekday) output is 20-30 hours. Now, do not forget holidays, weekends, etc… Some full time workers actually enjoy doing their work, and work on the weekends. Some of them do not, and program/draw during work ( I programmed with a few database administrators who did this ). Any way you look at it, 8 people is very little. It gets even harder to assign work because of timezones, free and busy hours.
    I programmed in a large startup sourceforge project a few years back, who had somehow acquired about 25 source forge programmers within a week. The project was dead within a month. The project “banned” chatting by instant messengers and IRC – he said we wasted too much time planning and chatting :P. He switched to mailing lists, and the project was dead within a month ( Mailing lists DO work, depending on how you use them in large, multinational projects).

  5. @Raelifin: I really don’t know when is the right time, but I know when is the wrong time, and wrong time for one-man project is in the beginning. You can do a lot of stuff with self-made placeholder art.

    Secondly, if I was to create a 2D game (which I’m not – since I’ve always been into 3D…) I would probably go similar route like Cliff Harris ( http://cliffski.blogspot.com/ ) is taking. He does almost all the art by himself, only using software that can produce photo-realistic stuff. I suppose it depends which kind of 2D game you are making (for example: Adventure games most likely would need to have artists right in the beginning).

    @Howie: yes, that’s where one must aim to.

    @Mark: Well, I’m sharing this info in greater detail at the Insider forums, but briefly put I’ve been fortunate to find enthuastic AND skilled team members who work with me for royalties. We are contacting game companies in effort to publish the game through other channels than pure self-publishing (and by other companies I don’t mean Big Fish Games or other casual game portals).

    “tbh, its the financial aspects of getting a game off the ground that sends me into a cold sweat every time.”
    I’m not 100% sure if you refer to the fact that “1 man means 100% royalties while 10 man means 10% royalties”, but I also look it from the point of view: “1 man equals 1 finished game while 10 men equal to 10 finished games” in same time.

    @Blueskied: Yes, 8 is a lot. 5 is a lot as well in my books, and getting 8 people in the team is not to be done lightly. I’ve tried to share here in my blog – and will also mention details in the Insider forums – how I’ve managed to find the right people, and keep the team motivated. With minimal budget it is difficult, but I feel really good for having such a great people to work with.

    And that “disappearance” – it happens :)

  6. Wow. 8 is quite a bunch.
    I wonder how you find people who don’t throw the hat before they even contribute something to the project, let alone stick with it to the end.
    You sure have to hire professional people who have a good reputation. And they will cost money.
    Talking from experience i am outsourcing most the graphics for my upcoming game to several artist. One (that i found in a forum) has disappeared since Christmas.

  7. I’m wondering what sort of remuneration you offer your team members, is it salary, profit share, or a combination of both?

    There are always ‘teams’ looking for members, often offering only a profit share, which seems to me, that unless the team has a solid history of making a profit would be a definite no-no for anyone with bills to pay.

    tbh, its the financial aspects of getting a game off the ground that sends me into a cold sweat every time.

    Sorry if I seem a little (lot) nosey :-)

  8. I like your thoughts about the matter. I certainly wouldn’t want the wrong guy in my team. Choosing the right one is hard to do. And if in doing so will cause me time, I’ll see to it that the one I choose is worth the time.

  9. Speaking from the perspective of a young individual hoping to enter the game publisher field, this blog got me wondering.

    When is the right time to outsource? If you are managing a 2D project which is nearing the pre-alpha stage and it has no art outside of placeholders of yet, would you go for hiring a full employee or outsourcing/getting freelance assets? Why that choice and not the other?

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