I recently put up a post on reddit about working 100% remote, and the answers from a lot of people seemed to hover around remote working where the office was reachable, where people met up atleast once a week to sync up or were close enough to reach each other.
But when Saurabh and I connected with each other and wanted to explore game development, we found ourselves 3000 km apart geographically. So meeting physically was not an option. What we had going for us was previous work experience with each other and a good sync, but we had never done any kind of development remotely before.
Three months later though, we couldn’t be happier. There’s a game launched, with great feedback and a fast, growing userbase.
I think we were able to pull it off because of a combination of personality traits , work ethics and work methodology, and here’s what I think worked for us.
1. We’re self-motivated. We both work ourselves to death, and usually, other people around us have to tell us to take it easy.
2. We’re both democratic and unselfish – we listen to each other, weigh options and choose the best way forward. Sometimes a decision is uncomfortable for one of us, but we still move on with what we feel is the best way forward.
3. We both enjoy a good dose of humour, take it easy and talk random stuff all the time. I think its a mistake to be serious all the time, and optimize everything. It kills the journey.
4. If I can’t reach you, I won’t panic, and nothing is ever so earth shattering that 24 hours will ruin it – we never, never panic when we can’t reach the other person.
1. If someone else can do it I can – in the past three months we’ve both worked outside our comfort zone. The list of stuff we’ve dealt with include Magicavoxel, Voxelshop, Inkscape, Unity, documents, articles, social media and so on. We tackle everything with a child-like curiousity to learn and implement. That means that for neither of us, any role is off hands. This gives us the flexibility of giving any work to each other, whenever one of us stressed or bored about it.
2. Neither of us micro-manage or try to increase productivity – We’re not trying to optimize each other’s work or optimize time consciously,
3. For both of us, the deadline is always ASAP, which means there’s no timeline, just find whats critical right now, close it and move on.
4. We talk about everything work related to each other, no decisions are ever taken on thier own. We don’t pick roles and assign responsibilities. We discuss everything and each pick what we want to do for the day.
5. We don’t worry much about meeting deadlines.
1. Our work methodology is really simple. Pick one crucial thing everyday and finish it.
2. We don’t use todo lists at all, except on those few days when we have a lot of things to do and can’t track them.
3. We are constantly online talking to each other on Skype, Google hangouts or facebook messenger – whichever decides to work for the day 😛
4. We decide what we want to do everyday, there’s no work schedule as such, but we do assign broad deadlines. We think very little about them, and are more focussed on doing things. Surprisingly we’re always done before time.
5. When we want to communicate a feaure or idea to each other, we always use sketches. We used to initially attempt expaining things through words. Trust me, it never works, because you’re trying to convey your imagination, and all the other person is getting is your logic.
6. We think a lot before we implement something. If there’s something big that we’re not sure about, we’ll first do mocks of it, or simple implementations, and test it thoroughly before we commit to any serious effort. In fact the game was developed the same way. It started with testing gameplay on paper and pen, then we made a prototype, found that people liked it, then we decided to put some serious effort and come up with a full implementation of the game.
I think we did well for 3 months of effort. I don’t really compare how fast we work with others so I can’t give myself a medal of honour. But I’m extremely happy with what we’ve achieved.
If you have a remote team out there, shout out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experiences.
If you are an artist and like how we work, send me a mail at email@example.com and join us, we’re always just a skype call away 🙂