1. Someone from a game publisher who will be the liaison between the
publisher and the game development team. 2. A furnace that manufactures
you want to learn about furnaces manufacturing producer gas, this
article’s not for you. However, if you want to learn the basics of
being a game producer, read on.
careers range from the entry-level assistant producer position to
executive producer. Here’s a sample of recent job openings on
GameRecruiter.com: producer, producer/director, associate
producer/localization manager, senior producer, executive producer,
online producer/webmaster, development director (executive producer),
producer (external), producer (internal).
But becoming any kind of producer starts with making sure you have the right skills …
Tools of the Trade
you the kid in school who actually utilized the organization features
of your Mead Trapper Keeper? Are you the one who plans, schedules, and
directs weekend game tournaments for your friends? While the rest of
the world may, on occasion, get slightly annoyed by your Julie
McCoy-your-cruise-director attitude, it’s those very traits that could
make you a star game producer. That’s because virtually every game
producer spot requires the following attributes:
- Great scheduling ability.
- Exceptional organizational skills.
- Excellent leadership consensus-building abilities.
- Ability to direct development of a project from start to finish while meeting deadlines.
a producer, you will need to know how to utilize Microsoft Project,
Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel, as well as common scripting
languages. You also need a familiarity with the latest game systems.
And, generally speaking, you should be an avid gamer.
Demonstrating Your Abilities
the game producer, a well-organized résumé is a must. If you can’t
organize a simple résumé, how could you possibly organize the
production of a game? Also, since meeting deadlines and attention to
detail is key to your position, if you get the interview, make sure
you’re on time!
good producer will also have the essential assets at his or her
fingertips to make a solid single-level demo that features how the
product works, controller configuration mapping, the key features, and
a display of graphics and audio.
If you want to
be a game producer, you need to understand the job fundamentals. From
the initial game concept and how you “sell” the idea to management
until the boxed game rolls off the assembly line, the producer is part
of just about every aspect in the development of the game. Don’t panic
at the details in the following; this is just to familiarize you with
what you’ll tackle in your professional life.
The Devil’s In The Details
is important that your project begin with a solid foundation. In the
case of a creative effort such as a development project, a solid
foundation is the essential heart-felt vision or high concept that will
serve as the "spirit" of the project. This vision will be the driving,
motivating force that will spur you and your team on to its
manifestation through the sleepless nights and the real world
a producer, your initial job is twofold: (1) Conceptualizing or
recognizing a concept that you believe in, and (2) Selling the ideas as
a sound business opportunity to the executive staff at your company. Undoubtedly,
you will be asked to present your concept as a business opportunity to
management. This may be necessary, for example, to secure funding for
prototype development of the concept.
The next step is evaluating the development team. Whether you are
looking for a team to develop your concept, or a team has come to you
with an intriguing idea, it is essential that the developer and team
are thoroughly evaluated. Think of this as an interview. The company
and team are, of course, just as important as the vision since they
will bring the vision to life. Find out how the developer is financed.
Is it going to be living paycheck to paycheck, or does it have some
is also important to spend quality time with the team and individual
members of the team. Know each member’s strengths and weaknesses. What
drives them? How do they work together? In getting to know the team,
you can assess potential risks for the project. See that the team is
passionate about the vision and have the skills to execute it.
Technical considerations are significant as well. Will the team be able
to use an existing engine to develop the game? Do they have adequate
key at this point is to define the roles for the team, including that
of you, the producer. Good communication is more than essential. Each
member of the team should have a clear understanding of who is
responsible for each task on the project and who has authority in a
time that a tough decision needs to be made. Discussing this up front
and having this understanding will help to prevent conflicts throughout
the course of development.
Pre-Production: Design, Technical Design & Playable Prototype
budgets for game development have and will likely continue to increase,
it is often best to consider one or two stages of pre-production before
full development. In these stages, the full design, technical design,
and playable prototype on target hardware should be completed and
together define and prove the fundamental game play, character
animation, and underlying technology. Not only does this phase of
development give you -- the producer -- an opportunity to see if the
team "gets" the vision, you will learn how the team works together --
can the team meet milestones, and is your targeted development budget
and schedule realistic? Develop monthly milestones for the prototype
phase to both track development and to get a sense for how the team
interprets and responds to these milestones. This will facilitate the
process of drafting milestones for full development of the project.
full development schedule with detailed milestone descriptions should
be drafted as part of the technical design in pre-production. The
purpose of this document is to provide structure and a method by which
to measure the development effort, not to be a detailed blueprint for
construction. Consider a format that, for each milestone, defines:
objective, design tasks, programming tasks, art tasks, music tasks,
other tasks, completion test, risk assessment, due date, and payment
due upon completion.
development and core engine technology should be accounted for in the
milestone schedule. It is also important that the core gameplay
features and technology (those which may not have been proven in the
prototype phase) be addressed early in the milestone schedule. For
example, in an action/platform game, it is important to prove early on
the basic mechanics and move set parameters of the main character, such
as jump distance, so that levels can be constructed accordingly. It is
best to take time early in the project to determine these details,
rather than backtrack later in development. Once this has been
achieved, development of other levels can be completed with relative
ease. The milestone schedule needs to also account for work from
outside vendors, such as FMV or music production. Signing music artists
often takes a considerable amount of time. Account for this.
of demo versions, tradeshow versions, and marketing materials, as well
as vacations, and the inevitable holiday and flu seasons are often
overlooked but should be accounted for when drafting the milestone
pre-production is complete, and the game has been green-lighted by the
executive staff for full production, the fun can really begin. Though
there still is a mountain to climb, an important plateau has been
Full Production At Last
Your game is now in full development. The spirit of the game is alive,
the framework is in place, and it's now a matter of execution. However,
as we all know, not all goes as planned. It is the role of the producer
though to be the pillar of strength through the inevitable storms.
and frequent communication with your team will be your greatest asset.
It is important that your team knows that you are there for them and
that information is articulated as objectively as possible.
Over-communicating is better than not communicating enough. Remember
that the world is not as it is, but as one sees it. The way you see the
world will undoubtedly be different from that of the members of your
team, especially given that you are dealing with both extreme left- and
right-brained people. As the producer, you need to always be aware and
understanding of this.
payable milestones are generally due on a monthly basis, it is best to
track progress regularly on a weekly basis. If you are working with an
external development group, consider asking for weekly objectives on
Monday and then reviewing progress on Friday. If the team is slipping,
get to the source of the problem immediately. Encourage the team to
work that extra weekend now to make up for a slip in the weekly
schedule rather than to cram at the end of the month to make the
milestone delivery. This will help to keep the development process
consistent rather than one with peaks and valleys that ultimately
contribute to fatigue and burnout.
necessary, update the design and development schedule. Make it known to
the developer that this is an important task and a practice that is to
be maintained regularly from the beginning of the project.
development, respond to the needs of your developer with a sense of
urgency. Whether it be a piece of equipment that your developer needs,
or feedback to a payable milestone, regard it as a hot potato. Your
developer is awaiting your leadership and feedback, often nervously, so
better to relieve this stress to your team sooner than later to keep
the team motivated and happy.
Keeping The Team Happy Through Good, Bad & Ugly
In running the project, you will need to keep the team, this living,
breathing, organism that is realizing the vision, happy. Here are a few
can go a long way, if given sincerely and when deserved, especially
when the team or an individual has gone beyond the call of duty. This
positive feedback lets the team or individual know what you like, and
the team will generally respond with more of the same.
Resolve conflict through open communication.
Conflict is usually a symptom of miscommunication, or lack of
communication. It could be that the lead programmer is irritated with a
design decision that was made, for example, and as he is especially
tired near the end of the project, he is not holding his feelings back.
It is important to get to the root of the conflict quickly, without
getting sucked into the conflict itself, so that matters do not
escalate. You, as the producer, need to find creative ways to resolve
conflict. This often requires some psychology on your part. Get into
the heads of those in conflict. It may be that you need to give the
programmer a day off to get some rest and regain perspective. Or it may
be best to bring the designer and programmer together to openly discuss
Bringing in marketing, public relations, and sales. It
is important to see these three groups as your allies throughout the
development of the project. It is best to educate them from your
perspective on all aspects of the game. It is just as important to
consider their input on the product. Marketing, for example, can help
in defining the main character for the target market. They should also
be consulted to determine when demos and marketing materials will be
needed from the developer. Marketing can also assist in providing
market research and gathering data through focus testing. Sales can
provide valuable feedback from retailers. The more educated and
familiar these parties are about the product, and the more you consider
their input, the better the chance for the success of the product.
Final Production: Alpha, Beta & Gold Master Milestones
you will need to let go of some of those great ideas you had at the
beginning of the project. Ideally, the milestones have been prioritized
such that the ideas to be left on the shelf are not core elements of
the game. At the alpha stage of development, it is time to reassess the
remaining work to be done, give consideration to new ideas that have
germinated over the course of the project, and incorporate them into
the schedule if they are viable. This may help to motivate the team
through to the end.
before or as your game reaches beta is also an excellent time to
conduct focus/play testing. It’s best to present your game and gather
feedback from both game professionals (such as other gamers and testers
in your company) as well as newbies in your target audience, from
outside your company. Many excellent ideas and fine tuning is
frequently provided by people completely outside of the game
is especially important that you nurture the team through the final
phases of development. Final testing can be an especially difficult
time. The bugs seem to never end and some are seemingly impossible to
fix. The programmer may have some anxiety as to the integrity of a
piece of code. As the producer, this is yet another storm to weather.
Do so by facilitating in anyway possible. Consult with technical
support, for example, to help solve technical problems. Send a care
package to your development team, or better yet, to the families from
which they have been absent of late. "Whatever it takes" should be your
motto at this stage of development.
Passing The Test
It is important that the producer define a method with the developer for bug reporting.
Developers often like to receive bugs as soon as they are found versus
waiting a day or more for full testing of a version. With a proper
procedure in place, this can be accommodated. Consider a live database
that includes open, fixed, and waived bugs.
producer should review the bug report and filter bugs before they are
sent to the developer. The bug report should be well structured and
easy to read. Descriptions of the bugs should be clear and concise.
Avoid submitting redundant bugs to the developer. If there is any
question as to the nature of a bug, try to recreate it yourself to
understand it more fully so that you can convey it clearly to the
developer. Know what bugs are important to fix and those that can be
let go for the sake of time and sanity. Resist your temptation for
perfection and accept excellence.
A Time To Rejoice!
its all over, remember to celebrate! Allow yourself and the team time
to acknowledge the hard work and long hours, and appreciate the
opportunity you have been given to do what you love to do.