At the beginning of a new project it is important to assemble a developer team to undertake that project. Sometimes there is the possibility to recruit developers and sometimes the people have already been assigned. In both of the cases it benefits to examine the team composition, expertise and related choices.
This article is loosely based on the paper I presented in DiGRA 2007 Conference titled Team Structure in the Development of Game-based Learning Environments [Full text link (pdf)].
My experience is that GBLE development is a complex task requiring varied expertise. Therefore it is rare that any one person has the needed knowledge and skills to complete a project alone.
Another fact to consider is the shared vision of the team. Creating and maintaining a shared vision demands a lot of work in communication and grounding of shared understanding. The bigger the team the more work this requires.
There is crucial expertise you need to have in the core of a GBLE team. You need someone with game design expertise (preferably lots of it and a track record to prove it), someone with expertise on learning and producing learning environments / experiences as well as someone with a lot of knowledge on the subject matter.
Of course you need the technical and artistic know-how to design and produce the damn thing in the first place, but my point is that this kind of expertise can enter the project in latter stages.
The core needs to stay intact for the whole project. They are the ones who build, cherish and communicate the concept of the GBLE, champion it to the rest of the project team (and the rest of the world). At bare minimum they must be fully committed to the concept.
These people must also understand and respect each others’ points of view. In this kind of project there is a need for many different perspectives to keep all the facets of the product shining. Suberb gameplay does not necessarily support learning and vice versa.
I think that if you get this right you are right on track for the project. Sure, things can still go wrong but assembling a right core of the team and assembling the core of the team right is a huge step towards success.