January 27 2024

6 min read

On the Prowl, again

In my full-time day job, I am a software engineer. When workload for team(s) become too time consuming for the size, we attempt to scale up.

Engineer's have a funny joke that goes something like, "Nine women cannot birth a baby in one month". The meaning of this humorous statement is that scaling "creative workers" is not a linearly scaled benefit; in fact it has a reverse effect if groups scale too large.

An excerpt from the tickled ancient truths found within the Tao of Programming Book 3 clause 4

# 3.4
  A manager went to the Master Programmer  
  and showed him the requirements document for a new application.  
  The manager asked the Master:  
  _"How long will it take to design this system if I assign five programmers to it?"_

  _"It will take one year,"_ said the Master promptly.

  _"But we need this system immediately or even sooner!  
  How long will it take if I assign ten programmers to it?"_

  The Master Programmer frowned.  
  _"In that case, it will take two years."_

  _"And what if I assign a hundred programmers to it?"_

  The Master Programmer shrugged.  
  _"Then the design will never be completed," he said._

The lesson here is that we cannot have what we want by throwing mere bodies at creative problems. Rather, we need the correct people on hand to execute any vision properly. Usually the ideal contributor is made via training, not found in the wilds.


The people that put their hands to work for SteelPinion enjoy the project's theme and are excellent artists. Each produces a differing kind of crucial artistic contributions whether it be concept, music, or models.

Taking their efforts and putting it on display is something I've always wanted to do well. A way of representing their contributions clearly, even as the game is being built ever so steadily.

I imagine a sort of museum setting where people visit and take inspiration from these artists; alas I feel as though I've been unable to fully create such an environment yet.

This site in many ways is a kind of catalogue of our creative progress, and yet there is so much we haven't been able to properly share yet.

The Bottleneck

I am the bottleneck here. The team has produced some quality art and assets as far back as two years ago. I underestimated all the time and skill it would take to stitch those assets together within a game engine like unity/unreal.

There are several kinds of processing required for each asset type. Even though I myself have become capable of assimilating those assets into a game-ready form, I am just one man with only a couple of spare hours a day.

I did place some effort in training two other programmers, but their heart just wasn't in it for one reason or another. Instead of continuing to search, I simply dove into the project's programming depths myself.

Renaissance Men

Looking to hire another part-time "stitcher" reminds me of all my friends and family who work as "part-time teachers". Any part-time teacher I've known ends up working way more than they are payed on the clock. This is because a teacher often has to produce a lesson plan for the class, and schedule events, among other clerical/admin duties.

Game development is similarly encased with side research around asset import/export techniques, troubleshooting complex frameworks, and mastering dozens (yes dozens) of toolchains.

What this boils down to for an indie game project is finding another one whom wants to make games out of passion. Finding people who love artistic expression, and yet are not afraid to delve into numerous fields of study to accomplish their dreams.

A Beaten Path

We've been here before looking for artists and have found some excellent allies already! However, anytime I've looked for a reliable programmer/stitcher buddy, those efforts have thus far failed.

I suspect many other would-be "stitchers" experience the same shock I myself had earlier in the gamedev journey; when one finally discovers the deep time investment required to construct a modern high fidelity steampunk strategy game.

SteelPinion doesn't have any "programmer only" roles. Working on this project requires more than just a programmer's tasks, since one must be both artist and programmer to successfully "stitch" these assets into the engine.

What's Next

I originally meant to write about the layered music by Michael Rechen and show off the MANY models Leo has been crafting. This would make for a great topic next time since I derailed so hard!

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