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Opinion: Do Indie Developers Need A Producer?

Opinion: Do Indie Developers Need A Producer?

August 29, 2011 | By Amos Laber

[In this reprinted #altdevblogaday-opinion piece, independent game programmer Amos Laber looks at whether indie developers need a producer, examining his own habits for an answer.]

During my career as a game coder, I have worked in large teams, small teams, and also as a sole developer on indie titles.

Working on my own personal projects, or any project small enough brings a challenge -- how to organize time efficiently. This is when I get to feel my own limitations.

Not everyone has the skill for organizing a project, and even a small one requires a decent amount of planning. For myself, I usually don't have a clear task list or a concrete schedule.

Keeping Momentum

For small teams (1-2 developers), or while working on a one-man project, I find myself losing momentum after a while.

Typically when there is no concrete timeline, once the code is halfway through, there are distractions: getting the art, modifying design, etc. These take me out of focus up to a point that the progress grinds to a halt, and the focus is lost.

Specially when working from home, it means the momentum is lost, and this can lead to a long term "writer's block." I find that I am not equipped to deal with this situation by myself. While I can handle any technical issue and code myself almost out of anything, this is completely out of my game.

Am I expected to code full time and handle this as well? It's not even clear what went wrong. We all have our limitations and this is clearly one of mine.

This is the point when I start wishing I had a producer.

Even in small teams, this is valuable. This can be a dedicated person, or one of the developers putting on a producer's hat. The role calls for a responsible, well-organized individual that would be in charge of keeping tabs on progress and creating, as well as maintaining, a momentum.

Getting Things Done

For indie projects where the developers are the stake holders, the most valuable resource is time. Using that time efficiently becomes a priority.

Getting things done is the main concern of a good producer, even if there is no official timeline. Also setting up internal milestones, coordinating between artists, designers and coders and worry about the big picture.

Oh, I am definitely going to want one on my next project.

[This piece was reprinted from #AltDevBlogADay, a shared blog initiative started by @mike_acton devoted to giving game developers of all disciplines a place to motivate each other to write regularly about their personal game development passions.]

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