“What’s it like to work on a great software development team facing an impossible problem? How do you build an effective team? Can a group of people who don’t get along still build good software? How does a team leader keep everyone on track when the stakes are high and the schedule is tight?
These are the questions posed by a new book called Beautiful Teams: Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders, a book which takes a a look behind the scenes of “the most interesting teams in software engineering history,”
One of those interesting teams is us, in fact there’s a whole chapter dedicated to us entitled ‘Building Games’, in which our very own Mark Healey gives a detailed insight into the founding of Media Molecule. The giant interview, spread over 11 pages, covers things like the Making Rag Doll Kung Fu, building and growing a team, pitching to Sony, and getting Stephen Fry on board.
We really needed some tutorials, so I prototyped these as videos, and I kind of had in mind, “If I’m going to have someone teaching me about things, they need to sound interesting, and funny.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy immediately sprung to mind. I don’t know if you’ve seen that film or read the books, but Stephen Fry did the voice of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book in the film. And I was just like, “It would be so perfect if we could get him,” not really thinking that it’s a possibility. But someone in Sony heard me say that, and the next thing I know, it’s like, “OK. We’ve got Stephen Fry. He’s into it.”
The next thing I know, I’m in a studio, watching this huge character of a man read through the scripts to the game! I got to meet a hero! So that’s definitely one of the cool things about working with a big publisher. They can make things like that happen. And we were lucky he was really excited and into the whole game. That was a dream come true, really. I do think his voice is perfect for it.
Alongside the Mm chapter, there many more stories from other veteran software development folk, who by way of interviews, discuss their various successes and failures.
In addition, if you were to buy this book, you’d also gain Massive Karma Points, as some proceeds from the book will be going to PlayPumps International, a company set up to provide easy access to clean drinking water and play equipment to children and their families in Africa. They do this using an innovative device which doubles as a water pump and a merry-go-round for children – the water pump is powered by the children at play. Neat!
Authors: Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene Copyright 2009 O’Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with Permission ISBN no. 9780596518028