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3 Tips on Rapid Iteration for Digital Art Teams: Launch Your Game Faster

The mudstack team has shared with us some invaluable guidelines for studios on how to accelerate feedback and iteration processes, and ultimately launch the IP faster. 

If you haven't lived under a rock for the last 6 months, you know about the depth and breadth of layoffs that have been happening in the gaming industry.

Those left standing have to quickly adapt to survive and then thrive.

The success of a game studio will hinge on how well artists and developers can iterate, making it imperative for studios to refine their processes and hunt for efficiencies.

"Do more with less" is going to be the mantra for the future; the trick will be to do it without crunching and burning folks out.

Rapid Iteration is the Game-Changer

The gaming industry is evolving at a disconcerting pace. As player expectations rise, studios are under pressure to deliver not just compelling experiences, but also deliver them on schedule.

The secret sauce? Rapid iteration. It's the bridge between a studio's vision and a game that launches on budget and schedule.

Iteration Speed Directly Correlates to Feedback Dynamics

Any game developer will tell you that iteration isn't just about blindly making changes. It's about refining based on actionable and clear feedback.

A fundamental principle emerges here: the faster feedback is shared, received, collated, and acted upon, the quicker and more effective the iteration.

On the opposite side, delayed and disjointed feedback means wasted work - that's time and money you won't get back.

Most Studios Are Not Set Up for Rapid Iteration

Unfortunately, many obstacles can slow down this ideal feedback-iteration loop, especially in mid-sized game studios:

  • Infrastructure Limitations: Many studios employ off-the-shelf tools that, while powerful, aren't necessarily tailored for swift feedback integration. This mismatch can introduce delays as teams struggle with the shortcomings of these systems.
  • Communication Challenges: Hybrid and distributed teams, which are increasingly common, face unique hurdles. They don't have the luxury of an over-the-shoulder review or walking over to your lead to get their thoughts.
  • Outsource Dynamics: Outsourcing brings expertise and team augmentation to the table, but the logistical challenge of coordinating with external teams in different time zones extends feedback loops even more.

When combined, these realities result in delayed feedback that is often misplaced or hard to find. The systems in place were never designed with the unique needs of digital art teams in mind.

3 Tips for Streamlining Feedback

Given these challenges, studios should consider specialized external tools designed to expedite the feedback and iteration processes:

  • Centralized: Does your team rely on tools like Slack to share feedback? It sounds like a good idea at first, but once a team gets past a handful of artists, the scale of content produced balloons, and managing feedback on Slack becomes a major challenge.

    Is endless scrolling and frustrating searches for feedback part of your team's day-to-day? Make your feedback stay with the file it's for to avoid this pain.

  • Timely: With teams often in different time zones and locations, artists should be empowered through their tooling to solicit feedback when they are ready. Make these requests trackable and visible so both the artist and the lead know the status.

  • Integrated: The best tools don't exist in isolation. They integrate seamlessly into a studio's workflow, centralizing feedback and making it actionable in real time. This not only streamlines the iteration process but also ensures consistency and alignment across teams.

These key principles were top of mind when we designed and built mudstack, a digital asset management platform for game studios.

The art team at VR Vision cut their time to review 3D files by 75%, and reduced time to set up a new project by 60% when they started using mudstack.

Feedback that is visible and coupled with the file (and version!), cloud storage for a single source of truth, and artist-friendly file versioning are the key features of mudstack.

A desktop app that integrates into the artist's local desktop workflow brings it all together into a digital asset management platform built for game studios.

For mid-sized studios looking to compete globally, refining their feedback dynamics and leveraging purpose-built tools, like mudstack, can be their ace in the hole, ensuring their games launch on time and stand out in a crowded market.

The mudstack Team

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