Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Production Values: The Value of Project Management
View All     RSS
November 24, 2020
arrowPress Releases
November 24, 2020
Games Press
View All     RSS







If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 

Production Values: The Value of Project Management


September 18, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

Educate People On How Using A Formal Process Can Help Them

I’ve found that taking time during pre-production to briefly explain basic principles of project management gets the team excited about the possibilities of spending less time working and enthusiastic about trying something that will help them do this. This also allows the team to get a better idea of what a producer does on a daily basis, and may help the team to overcome the attitude that producers are “suits” in disguise.

Because most game developers are suspicious of formal processes it is natural for them to be wary of any procedures the “suits” want to impose on them. So if the team views the producer as a vital part of the of the development team, the more willing they are to listen to the producer’s ideas how to improve the working conditions through project management techniques.

The producer has to be flexible and willing to educate people on the why certain processes are necessary and demonstrate the benefit it will have for the overall production cycle. The producer must also listen to people’s complaints (and praises) about project management. For example, if devs have to fill in a change request form (CRF) to add a new feature, they are less likely to do so, and it’s possible the suggestion would have been easy to implement and provide a huge benefit to the game. That’s not to say that CRFs shouldn’t be used, but the producer must also be flexible as to when a change request form gets used.

For example, during the prototyping and early production phases, the game goes through so many changes that using a CRF is counter-productive. However, during the last month of game development, when everything is locked down – it may be prudent fill in a CRF depending on what change is requested (new color scheme for the UI) and who makes the request (senior management).

Focus On Basic Project Management Techniques That Have The Biggest Impact

When trying to select which project management methods to employ, select ones that will be easy to implement and have a big (and positive) impact for the team. For example, one thing that can be applied immediately and doesn’t require a lot of extra work is the way meetings are run.

Everyone has spent time in meetings where no one knows what the meeting is really about, and afterwards no action is taken on anything discussed, which negates the purpose of having a meeting in the first place.

If the producer establishes an agenda beforehand, takes notes, defines and assigns action items (with deadlines), and follows up on the action items, people are very surprised at how useful meetings suddenly become. It only takes a few extra minutes and is well worth the overall working time saved on a project.

Because of the chaotic nature of game development, techniques focusing on project definition can also be easily implemented. For example, work breakdown structures (WBS) are useful in educating the team on how each individual’s tasks affects the work of others. An engineer might not realize that completing the lighting tool one week later than planned will negatively impact the art schedule, or a designer may not understand why taking an extra day to script a level impacts the QA work flow.

The producer can use the WBS as another educational opportunity, by selecting a game feature, gathering everyone who works to this feature, and creating the WBS structure with their input. People will see first hand how their work impacts others, and will have a better appreciation for how everyone is truly working together to get the game finished on time.

The same type of technique can also be used for defining people’s roles on the team. How many times have you walked by someone’s desk and wondered what they really did all day? In cases like this, it is helpful for each team member to take a few minutes to define what they do on the project and share this with the rest of the team. Something like this can be very simple, such as “I am coding the vehicle AI,” or “I am creating the UI art,” or “I am prototyping new game types,” but be extremely beneficial to building team rapport.


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Related Jobs

Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States
[11.23.20]

Senior Camera Programmer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States
[11.23.20]

Programmer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States
[11.23.20]

Producer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States
[11.23.20]

Narrative Writer





Loading Comments

loader image