Transitioning from Programmer to Leader

Before I went to E3, our team had only about 6 (or so) full-time developers. I was able to dedicate 30-50% of my time to the actual production work – programming Miner Wars.
Upon return from E3, we had nearly doubled our staff. About 11 people in Czech office and a few more abroad. I had to make a quick decision – is my future that of a programmer or a leader?
Luckily, I’d had experience as a leader before, and felt confident about a transition.
While on the flight from the US to Prague, I re-read a book on the topic: Team Leadership in Game Industry. It made me think more about the prospect of running a ‘team’; right after I arrived back to Czech I strode into the office in my new role – LEADER.
Here are some of the larger implementations I’ve made:

 

This whole transition (Marek Programmer -> Marek Team Leader) was very fluid, especially because I was dropping more and more programming duties during the months pressing on, so actually very little has changed to me – I’ve just made that mental switch.
Finally, I’d like to add that I’m very surprised how our team turned out. Everybody is enthusiastic and they all seem to love their job. Everybody is dedicated. I didn’t expect this would work in all cases – looks like we did good job during hiring process.
The first attribute we looked for in a new applicant was his/her passion for the project. I consider this the most important attribute.
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A Post-Mortem on Administrative Tasks:
A hard lesson learnt early-on was the value of administration/secretary’s role. It is, of course, important to save money, especially as a start-up business. But the time programmers, artists, and other developers had to spend on unrelated tasks ended up yielding a cost higher than which would have been saved if we had simply hired an administrative officer in the first place.
Next time we’ll be hiring a secretary the day the office opens its doors.

USA 2011 – Los Angeles, E3, …

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See more photos: USA 2011 – Los Angeles

Photos from my trip to US, sorted by date, showing my journey:  San Diego, Mexico, Los Angeles, E3, Las Vegas, Nevada, Arizona, Grand Canyon, Phoenix, back to Los Angeles, Universal Studios Hollywood, Hollywood Blvd. (and that’s basically it).

Some random notes:

Blogging started

Hello Friends,

My name is Marek Rosa and I’m the guy who started Miner Wars development.

Recently I’ve decided to write a blog to serve as a diary for Miner Wars development, Keen Software House, and my personal life. (The last category is going to be empty most of the time, unfortunately–not because I’m a private person, but because I have no personal life.)

I’ll be documenting the tough life of Miner Wars developers – covering topics such as programming, 2D/3D art, game design, story, business… basically anything that comes through me.

Luckily, now is the best time to start – today I fly to Los Angeles – our team is going to visit E3, meet industry people, shake hands, etc.–you know the drill.

We already have big and unrealistic plans for next year’s E3 – we want to make a big show, Miner Wars and VRAGE running on big screens, real 6DoF cockpit, explosions, blood, girls… Hollywood style!

Now, there is one thing better than the whole of E3–I can finally get some free time and just screw around. I’m extending my trip to the US for one more week, so my homie Ansel and I will be doing a road trip over the US before and after E3.
We’re going to visit Mexico, San Diego, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Phoenix in Arizona, then back to LA, Hollywood, Universal Studios Park, and many more! We’ll keep you posted with photos of our travel and shenanigans.

On a different note: 3 new developers are joining our Prague team and 1 more is on his way. That’ll make a total of 11 developers in Prague, 3 in the USA, and 1 in Australia, (and some other external people too). Quite a menagerie.

Ciao,
Marek