I've been with many teams with big ambitions and excellent team members, and have enjoyed it every time. However, I have noticed how It can go wrong. I mean this as a helpful, albeit short guide on how to succeed as best you can.
NO # 1 - Preparation. One thing I have noticed is people assuming they can multi task on a small team. I have news, it won't work. What happens is that one person's absence makes a huge difference, and if he is working on a particular thing, it falls apart. People lose track of what task they are doing, and it goes pear shaped.
Also, if you rush in without having the game fully worked out, it will fail. Before you work on Anything, have the Design doc ready, with concept arts, story, Gameplay and controls. Don't rush into development if you haven't even figured out how the game works. Even on a small game, it can fail, because someone finds a need to rush ahead. Involve everyone in the design stage, or even better, before you start hiring more team, have it all ready, so the team can start moving immediately.
NO # 2 - Professional behaviour. Some people may believe that because they are only small time, they can be casual and joking. Wrong. Especially in a fledgling company, Professionality is imperative. If you joke around a lot, people take a less serious approach to the game. Not saying that joking around isn't allowed, but keep[ it outside of team meetings, game discussion, or working, because it will be your downfall. Also, contracts are important, so work one up to cover all bases.
NO # 3 - Innovation. A first project can be original while being simple. A common mistake is to assume that a first project has to be plain vanilla. Without any innovation, those first few games that are meant to put you on the map will go unnoticed. If you want an idea, I have several game ideas that could help, as I spend a lot of my time writing, drawing, and just generally conceptualizing. I simply don't develop them out of lack of interest compared to my current overlying project, and my other projects that are next on the agenda.
NO # 4 - Foresight. Too many teams think into the future. Focus on one project at a time, and write any ideas down for later reference. To use an example close to one members heart, would be G-L33t turned Solace Studios. (I currently still operate under that name Crimehawk ;) ) We started out deciding to work on a small RPG or Top down game. But, on the agenda for hiring was also MMO plans, Large RPG games and Tactics games. Way out of hand. So, focus on the first project, and be prepared before hiring.
NO # 5 - The game Studio dream. IF you ask me, designing a program is less risky, and more profitable in the long run. It also requires less imagining and more practical, making it ideal for a first project, where people are itching to create. So, don't fall into a strictly game based mind.
NO # 6 - Language. Now, this one is gonna get me some comments here. I know GM is your forte here, but think of the future. A common dream is to put GM on the Pro map. Well, no matter what you do within GM limitations, It won't become recognised outside GMC. That is because of the limtations of GM. So think about operating under a new language. I suggest learning C++, as it is very powerful, and quite broad in use. IN fact, DS code is directly based on C++, meaning learning that opens the way to handhelds, and one hell of a market.
NO # 7 - Sponsorship. In the long run, and in the short term, having funds is important. Hiring good team members and getting resources for Development becomes that much easier with money. If you work up an early demo for a larger project, or one hell of a description, you could get minor funding. Also, asking around within your community may help also. However, this one isn't as imperative as the others.
NO # 8 - Time. Now, I believe this is the most important thing on the guide. Be ready for a long journey. Writing up and completing the game design can take months, coding and refining the engine takes months, making graphics takes months, making music takes months, testing can take any amount of time, and then there is distribution. Its a long process, and a game, like a fine wine, grows better with age.
NO # 9 - Other points. This is where I just say other things to consider. If you have a great original Idea, take action to prevent it. Do market research on factors of your game, but make it seem like just general probing. If there is a main point to your games modus operandi, do not change it or discuss it.
Consider Tissue Testing, where you keep certain members of the team out of alpha testing, and ave them play the game later on. Consider Having Private Testers continually playing and making suggestions, as that helps immensely. Bow down before the power of the Non-Disclosure Agreement. And generally, just have a great time making the game, because you can't stay focused on something you don't enjoy.
Have a dedicated art team. There is more to a game than in-game graphics, so have concept artists and team graphic designers (for designing Promotional Materiel, logos, Banners, websites, GUI's, HUD's, you name it, it has to be done).
Have a Well Structured Hierarchy. Enforce rules and punish in whatever way you can. Assign duties correctly and Always have a PROJECT leader, who knows the design doc inside out. Keep the design doc fairly hidden, and only have the writer/project leader have the full copy.
A website is most excellent. Get one, have a hidden team forum, and post regular updates, even if you think no-one is watching.
Once you are established, advertise. Speak to your friends, talk from a third person point of view. Make the game sound exciting, and keep track of what has been released. Word spreads quickly if done right. So it can go from you, to your friends, to their friends, to online firends, to myspaces, to having people watch you, and try and find Info.
For a game to succeed now on PC, it has to be massive. You don't buy PS1 quality games for the PC. You buy games that look good. I suggest working on handhelds, as they are a large market that is forgiving to smaller teams.
Feel free to post any questions, comments, or suggestions on or about this guide. Post in topic if you want more information on anything discussed here. Hope I've helped in some way, shape or form.
In the time it took to read that, 10 GM teams started up and failed. [/interesting fact].
apart from Sohashu's assertion,
i think, you need to be more experienced
before you even commit to a team or even
commit on building a team...
a team with all its member experts in their
own rights... thats the quintessence of a succesful team
I have found the teams built up of friends last longer and function much better than a team of strangers trying to put together a game.