TechHub Meetup Insights: Managing creativity in large game dev teams

Maintaining creativity in game development teams is essential for the success of any company in the industry. However, this becomes a challenge as teams are getting bigger and companies evolve. Last Thursday at TechHub Bucharest we discussed more about how to tackle this challenge at a meetup organized in collaboration with our friends from the Romanian Game Developers Association (RGDA).

Bogdan Lucaci (Creative Director at Gameloft), Ioan Palalau (Senior Producer Ubisoft) and Dan Teodorescu (ex-Senior Producer Ubisoft) were the guests of the week and they shared their know-how and best practices learned over time in an open discussion moderated by Drago? H�ncu (GM & Founder at Amber Studio Romania).

Before actually going any further, we should begin by defining creativity. According to the dictionary, creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Moreover, as Rollo May points out in his �The Courage to Create�, it requires passion and commitment since it brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life.

For each of our special guests at the event, creativity has a different, rather personal meaning. Ioan Palalau (Senior Producer at Ubisoft) sees it as a state of mind and considers that the gaming industry is one of the best places where you can perform in this state of mind since he still feels he has the option to express himself after more than 17 years working in the field.

You know you�ve been creative when you are proud of what you�ve done, when millions of people have played your game. Then you can move on to the next kick and you know you�ve done a good job�, ads Dan Teodorescu (ex-Senior Producer at Ubisoft).

Bogdan Lucaci (Creative Director at Gameloft) also has his own definition of creativity. For him, it is about the privileged relationship one has with the notion of the aesthetic, the science of beauty. � Creativity is the gift of interacting and developing and putting first the beauty of things. And some people are born with it! �, he said.

While some people are born creative, others work to develop this ability. How can creativity be harnessed and enhanced? � It�s useful to be next to other creative people, it�s the best enhancement. However, when talking about creativity you either have it or not. You can�t teach it !�, believes Bogdan Lucaci. His opinion is also shared by Dan Teodorescu who considers that the role of a creative director should be to bring people together, to inspire them and make sure everyone understands the concepts behind the game and shares a common vision.

We need processes as well even when we�re talking about creativity. You have to be able to sell your idea, to prove it�s worth it. For this, you have to build a prototype and we make this very quick, in a matter of hours! This is how we achieve progress by moving from bad ideas to good ones. If you fail quickly, you fail safe! �, ads Ioan Palalau (Senior Producer Ubisoft).

Being creative it�s not enough and it�s particularly hard to manage creativity in large teams. How can you do this? Our guests believed that it�s important to set the right expectations: people have to understand the vision and what they are going to do. You also need specific rules and protocols. " If you love gaming, you are going to fight hard to find something you like in the process, even when you feel like you are a very small part in a very big part �, completed Ioan Palalau. For him, the less cooks are in the kitchen, the better the food. �Don�t involve more people than necessary in the process. The more people involved, the more you�ll fight to convince them rather than the users.�, he completed.

As you can see, it�s not easy to keep teams motivated and creative. However, as our guests last Thursday have proved, it�s not impossible to do so as long as you know what you are going to do, you share your vision with the team and you ask them the right questions! In the end, there is no art if there are no spectators, so the creativity of the team is always assessed by the users and the feedback they give you!