Producers come in many shapes and sizes, with a wide range of abilities and experience, but strong communication skills are essential for any producer who plans to create a top quality game.
The producer is considered the “mouthpiece” of the project and is expected to daily communicate project status to everyone involved in the project (the “stakeholders”). With all the different stakeholders on a project hammering the producer for answers, having some simple proven processes to follow can seriously minimize the number of communication issues that occur.
The producer must also be able to clearly explain the needs of the project to the development team and to the external stakeholders on the project. Knowing how to get the right information, to the right people, in a quick and efficient manner, will minimize miscommunication and insure a fun project.
There are many types of producers, so this article will not try to define what the “perfect” producer is. There is no one size fits all in this industry; with games ranging from GBA ports, to $20 million multi-platform projects there is no typical game project.
This article focuses on the “top producer”: this is the producer who is running the development team and is responsible for the status of the project. This can range from an Assistant producer running a secondary SKU, to an Executive Producer on a Next Gen game; either way, the top producer is the producer directly responsible for communicating the status of the project to all the stakeholders.
A producer must have many skills in order to manage a team of creative people and create a great game on time and budget. Producers should be good communicators, both verbal, and written. Producers should also be gamers and understand how to tell the difference between fun and not-fun. This is such an important skill, and one that is hard to gauge as it is very subjective.
Producers also need to know how to deal with conflict. Games are a passionate endeavor and passion causes drama and conflict even on the smallest issues. A good producer knows how to encourage the team to take the passion out of problems and funnel that passion towards finding solutions.
There are many more skills that a producer must posses, but the focus of this article is on communication and how that impacts the success of the game.