Collaboration.

Storytime.

A couple months ago I decided to take the advice of the numerous blog posts and YouTube videos I had consumed, and their advice was, “…as a beginner look to collaborate with others”.

The justification for this was that to develop my skills, and quickly, I needed to work on actual projects with the goal of finishing them (having a finished, shareable product at the end). And also as a beginner trying to do everything was going to be overwhelming and make it less likely that i finished anything. Also being able to bounce ideas and learn from others was invaluable.

So with this information in hand I decided to jump right in. I had found out about a site called TeamUps which was new and offered a space for people looking to collaborate a place to meet and join forces. So with a limited skill set to offer I looked through all the listings and narrowed down a group of projects I thought I would be able to help with. Now I have been slowly teaching myself C#, but thought that to take on and be responsible for all of the programming of a project a bit intimidating and settled for maybe doing some smaller tasks. I came across a listing for a Voxel Modeller (you might’ve seen my posts about Magica Voxel, a voxel modelling software. If not check them out here and here). I decided this was low risk and that I could actually offer some value to a team.

So sent the poster a request and waited. After a short wait of maybe a day or two I heard back they were interested in seeing some of my work. They added me to their Discord channel, so I quickly threw together some models in the style I thought they might’ve been looking for. They liked them and just like that I was part of the team.

I started out by working on some of the models they needed for the game. Now I saw firsthand why collaboration is so highly regarded. I got instant feedback on my models and had to make changes. I quickly got better at using Magica Voxel and even worked out new methods for my work-flow. It also forced me to work on my skills as opposed to fitting in random bits of time to practice (which I sometimes skipped altogether).

Unfortunately, the group I had joined had too much room for feedback and instead of considering the minor suggestions of the group, there were open discussions for pretty major changes, such as the art style and even the theme/genre of the game. Now had we all been part of the process from the beginning then we could chalk it up to brainstorming a game idea, but as the team and idea were already established, artwork and assets were already being created, I thought it weird that such conversations were being fielded. Especially when you consider we were effectively a group of strangers that decided to work together on the initially proposed idea.

One of these major changes saw me no longer being useful to the group. They decided to ditch the voxel art style and instead opted for a low-poly style. Not really being able to do any 3D modelling in a satisfactory way or time I was no longer as useful and this collaboration ended. Now I don’t consider this a failure as I was able to bulk up my own skills in an area and notice an area of weakness that I wanted to explore, so that day I downloaded Blender and have been getting familiar with that.

All this to say there is value in collaboration, and I hope to do another collab soon, this time with a more established team and idea.

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