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Planning a Demo - Part 1
by Zeroic/Details [issue 10/2005]

Here comes a short introduction to this new article series. I have studied media related subjects for a few years now, at the moment studying to become a professional producer. The job consists mainly of problemsolving and planning for television, movies and area of information technology. During my studies I have produced a little this and that on both television and software fields. I have learned some things that I think would benefit the demoscene. That is the primus motor for writing these articles.
I guess you all have stumbled upon the following problem in your demoscene ventures where you have some pretty brilliant ideas figured out with your groupmates, you start making a demo but eventually people drop out of the project and the whole demo ends up suspended. I state that with better planning of demoprojects we could have tons more of interesting demos released every year. The most common reasons for demo ending up unfinished and abandoned are the loss of interest by part of the makers, tight schedule, artistic disagreements and just plain lazyness where some parts of otherwise well progressing demo are not finished and thus the whole demo is once again left unfinished.

In this first part I will take a general view on project-planning. There is a pretty good measurement for project success in business life. It is a three way scale. In one cup you have time. Second cup is quality. Third cup is resources. Now imagine this scale with these three cups which you have to keep balanced at all times. Too big expectations on quality will require more time and more resources to keep the scale balanced. Too little resources requires more time and probably less quality. Since in demoscene we don't usually do things for money, we can see that the most valuable resources we have is the team. Your group. They are gold and diamonds for the demos, so do not underestimate any part of your team.

Lack of motivation. From the first brainstorming moment gather around the whole expected team to share ideas. Do not push anyone's ideas aside right away, but try to refine them into something usable. It is important that everyone feels they have an impact on the product, making the product "everybody's child". This highly decreases the odds of people leaving the project due to lack of interest since there's something of themselves in the demo at hand. Also try to motivate your groupmates through difficult tasks by offering help if needed. If your modeller doesn't seem to be able to make a model that satisfies him or rest of the team, try to either find a replacement idea for the original model or find someone who perhaps has more modelling experience and ask him/her to help your groupmate. Just don't make your groupmate feel like a moron, ask him first if he wants help or does it make him feel uncomfortable.

Tight schedules. Time flies by and two weeks before the greatest party of the year you realise there is no demo to realease. Always be far-sighted and make schedules based on year calendar, not a week calendar. Atleast a month or two would be a good time to pull a project through before the party. You have to balance time and team's capabilities well, do not push people's limits too far or make them work on the demo 24/7. Like any work that will burn you out in no time. Keep the schedule loose enough so everyone has time for those other hobbies, school or real work they have. We're not counting on the case that anyone would actually have any social relations outside the scene ofcourse ;) Just because you have lots of free time to make a demo, doesn't mean that all your groupmates do. Ask around if everyone has the time and interest to make a demo. If you can't seem to fit a demoproject in people's schedules don't trash the whole idea. Store what you have planned so far into a secure place and when the team has the time, you already have a ripe idea in your folder.

In the next part I will take a closer look at scheduling. Following up with subjects like how to document your plans, how to set ground rules for your project, how to solve disagreements by making fair and square contracts and best of all, how to score chicks by planning demos! That part will be released in PAiN's 1000th issue "The chickscene gone wild. Wait for it and meanwhile write down your plans and ideas as you get them. Pencil and a little notebook (a paper one, not an electronic one) are your best friends. For questions, mail me directly at zeroic!at!tiscali|dot|fi

With great planning the PAiN never ceases.

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