This is the first in a series of entries detailing what I have learned as a game producer, as well as pieces of advice for people who wish to take on the role in the future.
Regardless of how big or small a game is, being a game producer is a huge responsibility. Tasks such as scheduling the entire development cycle, identifying the milestones for each phase of the project (and making sure the milestones are delivered), working with different teams to address creative or technical issues, and communicating with the publisher or external clients, fall on the producer’s shoulders.
While personally undertaking most of the producer tasks I’ve mentioned, I’ve come to formulate 3 ‘P’s that I believe are essential to good game production: Plan, Predict, and Propose.
Plan. Planning should be a game producer’s bread and butter. Micro planning and Macro planning documents should be accurate and constantly updated. Good planning also involves taking into consideration the best, worst, and average completion time for each task in order to make the project schedule as flexible as possible.
Predict. A producer should be able to predict, or at least list down the possible bottlenecks/impediments to the production process. It’s about looking ahead and seeing circumstances that could prove to be a problem.
What if the publisher suddenly decides to support a newly released mobile device? How much time will resizing art assets take? What if a gameplay feature needs to be reworked because of memory issues?
Asking these types of questions (and discussing them with the development team) and understanding how they would affect the project schedule would surely help to avoid delays and unplanned overtimes.
Propose. Once production problems are identified and then discussed with development leads/teams, it’s also up to the producer to always propose solutions and make sure that a solution is put into practice.
If art assets suddenly need to be resized before being implemented, why not propose to have artists prioritize asset resizing and have the programmers handling asset implementaion help out on coding other features until the assets are ready to be implemented?
Proposing solutions also involves thinking outside the box. Say no full QA team is available to test your build and this would delay the project, why not propose to have a small QA team start testing the build? Sure, it will take longer but at least testing could start right away and it won’t cause a major delay in the QA schedule for your game, and the other games being tested by the QA department.