Capstone Part 9 - Reflections of the Team

This is the second part of my reflections on my time working on Capstone, and the last before I have a larger discussion with everyone in the class. This is going to be a lot tougher to write than part 1, because instead of critiquing myself, I have to critique the team. Not as individuals, but how we worked together. I think everyone’s been open about their failures and successes as an individual, but realistically, the burden lies on the collective, not the individual.

The most base level thing I want to look at is the actual composition for the team, and the relationships between people. Our producer and artist are long time friends. Our artist and I have been good friends since freshman year. The producer and I tangentially knew each other. The designer had worked with the other two before, but they didn’t have a personal connection. I had never spoken to her, before she reached out to me, asking to form the team. In short, there were varying levels of knowing each other going into the project, which I think was a small issue. There’s risks to working with friends, and risks to working with strangers, but working with a weird mix, can lead to uncertain power-dynamics and uneven levels of communication, as we experienced this semester.

Going into the two aforementioned points, I’d like to touch on power and leadership. Nobody on the team was a clear-cut leader who could confidently speak on behalf of everyone. Some of us weren’t outspoken at all, some only about their individual position and work, but nobody who would take charge. I noticed early on in the semester, that my opinion was valued and respected when I suggested to kill one of our prototype, and wasn’t questioned. But instead of building on that, and continuing to voice my opinions, I spent the rest of the semester silent. In that same vein, I want to point out a major positive experience I had with the team. People respected my knowledge and authority on programming. I’ve often had problems with people who don’t know my work, continuously pushing for features that were out of scope or simply impossible. Here, the few times I made a call, people listened and understood. I only hope that I made them feel the same way, in regards to their field.

The last thing I’d like to talk about for now, is communication. As already mentioned, none of us were really outspoken, which also lead to major lack of communication. My Production II team last semester, met far more frequently. At the time, I thought it was a bit unnecessary, but I see now the importance of it. It really helped keep everyone on the same page. Frankly, I’m not sure how it ended up as badly as it did, but there were various points throughout the semester, where people had completely different ideas of what the game is. That’s also on a more general level the main thing we discussed after deciding not to present. We spent too long being directionless, which left us needing to do more work than we could in the time remaining. That, being another issue that could have maybe been solved with a more outspoken leader.

As with the individual reflection, I’ll have more to say after our big discussion, but I think I’ve covered the core here. The issues that I identified in retrospect actually align a lot with what I was afraid of, going into the semester. That said, I want to make it clear that I love everyone on my team, had a great time with them, and wish them all the best on their future projects, where hopefully we’ll be able to take this experience as a lesson, and avoid the same mistakes.