When projects fail big time…

By Tiia van Lokven|January 29, 2017Game design & development, IGAD, Soapbox|0 comments

The past block has been tough.

I’ve been diligently putting all my strength to trying to work my butt off as well as support and guide those unsure and inexperienced for weeks and weeks….

And you know, despite all of that, we still failed miserably.

In the long term this experience will allow me to grow as a person and as a future professional, but right now I am darn bummed out. Bummed out because of the potential that was RIGHT THERE beneath the surface and we just failed to grab it. I feel somehow personally responsible, even though I know damn well it’s not solely my fault.

Bouncing back from this is going to take a while, I think. While the announcement that we were to be redlit by our client came as a sort of a relief (believe it or not), I still asked myself just how we got to the point we ended up at.

So as an exercise in figuring this out, I went ahead and wrote a lengthy postmortem based on a template provided by the school. In putting my thoughts to words, neatly divided into rows of What Went Well, What Went Wrong and Lessons Learned, a certain pattern emerged. The main points I would repeatedly talk about were Communication, Ownership and Being Proactive.

These are all things that are not being taught by the school.

It was rarely ever that someone’s skills at a piece of software that held us back, or spaghetti code that stumped the programmers, or the designers were incapable coming up with something fitting for the level design.

A recurring problem was people simply not acting as professionals, trying to solve problems as they arose, or bringing issues they found to the rest of the team to talk about and fix. It was more likely that the said issue was simply shoved until the rug until someone else found it. Weeks old questions remained unanswered, or blame was shifted around instead of trying to tackle what was right in front of them. People were running away from being responsible for anything, and in the end many decisions had to be taken by people who had not been part of the process from the beginning.

This, right here, shows the difference between students OWNING the product they’re working on, or simply working on it because they have to work on it (because their friends are working on it/because no other team wanted them/because this team had days that fit their schedule outside of school). This can, of course go too far – people choosing to work in a certain way because they thought it is the best way, and not giving a damn about whether it had been agreed upon by the team – and cripple a project as well. Finding the golden middle road is important here.

Looking back at just how many issues we had, I was sort of surprised that we didn’t crash and burn in week 2.

Now I know better what to encourage and what to look out for in my next project. I hope everyone involved has learned their lessons and will carry those with them onward. There is so much we all can learn if we just pay attention to what is going on.

But enough of that!

Luckily enough I’ve been putting time and love into creating things on my free time that make me happy.

So recently I picked up gouache paints and went at it! You might have already seen these on my portfolio, or possibly on Tumblr or Twitter, but I figured I might want to write a bit about them while I am at it.


At first it was simply to try out something new, but the deeper I got into painting, the more I realized it really relaxed me. The simple act of picking up paint with my brush and spreading it on paper is very therapeutic. As long as I can quell the perfectionist urges that scream at me how every detail is wrong, I am really enjoying painting. Not all of these are equally good in an objective sense by any means.. but I had fun making them!

Anyway, thank you for tuning in and reading my blog!

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