A short blogpost this time, with a small but valuable lesson that we learned at Ronimo a couple of years ago.
At some point we figured it would be wise to make two artists make designs for an important character, and then from all the designs they make choose the best. At first glance this looks like a really good idea: two people will come up with a much wider range of designs and the chances of reaching something really good are a lot higher than with one artist.
However, there is a gigantic downside as well: in a sense making this design becomes a competition, and one of the two artists will lose. This can be incredibly demotivating, especially if an artists 'loses' a couple of times in a row.
So we decided to not do this again, and just give a single character to a single artist to design. That artist makes a lot of different designs, everyone can give feedback and in the end we choose from his concepts. We can still have variation and something to choose, but whatever is chosen, it is always a design by the artist working on it, so he never 'loses'.
For this same reason, we also rarely move a task to someone else when a specific artist appears stuck on it. It is often better to struggle a bit, or to let it rest for a week or so, or to get help, then to give the entire topic to someone else and see him find something cool within a day. This feels too much like someone else did a better job, and we don't want that kind of competition in our office. Of course, if someone asks for the task to be moved, then that is totally okay.
I guess some people might excel under competition and stress, but in general, I feel it is a good idea to try to keep any form of 'winning' and 'losing' outside our development process.
(Except when playing games, in which case everything else must give way for the glorious purpose of pwning n00bs.)