This article is the public posting of the 1st part of a project I conducted while I was at University of California Irvine, under an Industrial organizational psychology course, originally written 1/27/2015. Here is the 2nd half of the project, Part 2, which goes over problems and procedures in my own team.
This project was done under academic purposes, and I now release this report & associated subject matter expert (SME) interviews to help fellow gamedev managers, producers, and others in the field, no matter discipline or experience in game development.
The Subject matter expert interview with Mark Skaggs for this part, was done on 1/30/2015, and can be found under the "interview recording" header.
Sections and minor editorial polish have been clarified and added for this release. Furthermore, keep in mind, this was originally written for a non-game development audience, so I may simplify some things, and make some generalizations that may not be entirely accurate. The target audience was business minded undergraduate psychology students & faculty, introducing them to the management of game development.
Despite the introductory nature of this article, I'd consider the information presented at an advanced level, meaning most managers or producers doing this as a hobby don't do such analysis of what they do, and if properly implemented and understood, can lead to management and production execution on quite high levels.
In the field of HR, and I/O psychology, there is a practice called "Job Analysis", this is a way that businesses determine how and what will be done in a given job, adding formal structures where there were none. This is often the 1st step in determining the function of a position, and its place in the overall organization. The end result typically seen, is a job description by the public, and internally a compensation range is determined for said open position. Of course, modders and Indies usually don't have the time or resources to do this, and usually don't reach the execution standards due to limited manpower.
The following is my effort in quantifying what I do/ have done in business & academic terms. My experience is not representative of most or typical from my knowledge, and is a sample of how things can be done, not an instruction manual on what should be done. This work is meant to open a dialogue on further bringing HR practices into the field of game development, and not a manual on how to be a producer, despite how it may seem.
Although it may look like a checklist, my purpose is not indicating that if you can do & know all the things listed, you'll be a great producer, in fact, it is unlikely a single person can master all the skills, knowledge, abilities, and others (KSAOs) listed, it's better to find your personal balance and specialize, creating your own style.
The following article is research on commonalities, trends and 1st hand experiences, while the 2nd half of this project, a problems analysis, goes over some specific issues I've directly faced in my own project.
I've been acting as a project coordinator PR manager and Lead writer for a modding game development team since Summer 2011, and I think it's about time to systematically examine how what I do as a hobby compares to those who are performing the service in the games industry.
In the games industry, producers are responsible for the overall management of the final product, they're role is to ensure timely effective development cycles, and take on the logistical backend of team, personnel and product management. Roles and responsibilities vary, from company to company, due to the scale and scope of the projects and its respective teams. Despite this, there are key consistencies that I will shed light on, both from my personal experience, as well as from the perspectives of my interviewees.
In the game development sphere, there are effectively three general tiers individuals can fall into:
As an individual responsible for a Skype mediated team, who has grown from 5-15+ people over time, I'd say we are on the cusp between modding and indie. Our project a 3D Real Time Strategy) RTS, is also one of the more complex game types, which requires significantly high investments in skill, time, and planning. An RTS is essentially a problem solving machine, in which you're not just creating problems to be solved, but crating interactions that are meant to lead the player to be able to create problems other players and developers didn't necessarily anticipate, nor plan for.
The reason why I consider project coordinator my preferred title, instead of project lead/ project manager, is because I strive to practice servant leadership techniques. Furthermore, I see my role more as a facilitator than a leader. This is also due to the fact, that back before summer of 2012 I reported to a project lead, who has since become unavailable.
Although I personally don't have an official job description, a lot of it is associated with my job titles. for in the past, I used to struggle with defining what I did, which included organizing files, writing design documentation, writing story/lore, and engaging in community communications.
I used to just call myself a writer & PR manager, but as time went on, I realized just how important accurate job titles could be. In fact, the former project lead used to say I was just a writer, not fully understanding or acknowledging the potential influence I wielded. There was a time I believed him, but once I realized my place and potential, I made sure to actively understand my value.
The following are tasks I perform on a regular as well as an as needed basis. I have ranked them after going through the interviews I've performed and related to expected tasks in the Industry
F2I2 -send emails to team members on important events with the project email
F2I2-Reply to team members on important events with the project email
F3I2-Schedule General Staff meetings through calendars, written and verbal forms
F2I2-Lead General Staff meetings with informal or formal agendas
F3I2-Keep time for General Staff meetings with a watch or other timing method
F3I2-Document/ record weekly meetings with audio recorder on computer
F2I1-Audio record weekly summaries with recorder on computer
F2I1-Upload weekly summaries every Saturday to appropriate Google drive folder
F3I2-Assign tasks to department leaders on skype in a written or verbal form
F3I2-Engage with department leaders on skype discussions in written or verbal form
F2I1-Engage with department members on skype in written or verbal form
F2I2-Check in with department leaders at least once a week on skype in written or verbal form
F1I2-Answer any internal questions on who to report to
F1I2-Answer any questions as to the direction of the project
F1I2-Answer any questions as to how to navigate and find specific files in Google drive
F2I2-Direct team members to appropriate resource or individual to answer questions I don't know
F1I2-Handle any personnel conflicts that I am made aware of
F2I2-Maintain organization of the Google drive
F1I2-Manage permissions of members of the Google drive
F2I2-Add members to the team on skype
F2I2-Add members to the team on Google drive
F1I2-Add members to the team on our website
F1I2-Remove members from the team on skype
F1I2-Remove members from the team on Google drive
F1I1-Remove members from the team on our website
F2I1Add members to Trello
F2I2 Remove members from Trello
F3I2-Ensure all new members have at least 1 week of orientation time, going through standard orientation
F3I2-Remind all members of the big picture and goals when needed
F3I2-Maintain Personnel Records in appropriate documents on Google drive (name, email, time zone, tasks, activity level, profile/ portfolio/ sie)
F2I2-Ensure design documentation has been reviewed by members
F2I2-Maintain the website format with a computer
F2I2-Manage the forum format and threads with a computer
F3I2-Respond to any community messages addressed to the team on our website
F1I2-Post news articles on our website
F1I2-write news articles on our website
F1I2-format news articles on our website
F1I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant individuals
F2I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant sites
F2I2-Disperse news updates to the relevant sources
F1I2-Time all official updates appropriately on our website
Human Resources: (was under PR in original version)
F3I2-Post recruitment ads on relevant websites
F2I2-write recruitment ads
F2I2-format recruitment ads
F2I2-Ensure standardization of recruitment ads
F2I2-Reply to recruitment inquiries
F3I2-Seek out potential recruits on any medium
F1I1 Schedule full department meetings as needed.
F1I2-Check in with the other writers in written or verbal form
F1I2- assign writing department tasks in written or verbal form
F2I2-Manage the design documentation
F1I2-Write the design documentation
F3I2-Ensure the Design documentation is up to date
F3I2-Discuss story on skype in verbal form
F3I2-Maintain consistency across all written documentation
F2I2-Make revisions to written documentation
F3I2-Accurately credit proper inspirational sources for all work
(I've interviewed a producer at Obsidian & a former Intern producer at Blizzard, but the following is the most veteran subject matter expert (SME) Interview)
Mark Skags Director and Board member at Moonfrog Labs, Former SVP of Games at Zynga.
"I'm a believer that the product is a reflection of the team, and when you look at the products like Farmville, or Cityville which came after it, you got a real special team working on those things, guys who are dedicated, guys who know their craft, guys who want to win... now on Empires and Allies, same kind of thing... all very dedicated, dedicated to winning the long game, right, not just doing an assignment, and getting it done, but winning in the market, winning with the players, and making an awesome experience"
"Technology is just a delivery plate for your game to the player, my job 1st off is to how to use that technology, the 1st game I ever made was on a 3DO machine... then it was Play station 1, and then it was PC, and then it was web, and now it is mobile. So having that perspective, and seeing all of those changes, I kind of became agnostic to 'wow this platform is bad because it can't do what the last one did'... instead... with mobile, we say, how are people using this technology? What game do I give them to fit their lifestyle, technology and usage... you got to craft your experience to how players are using that technology"
"Technology effects the people that are on the team... keeping it simple was the most important thing... on mobile, it's almost like you need console experience, download size and memory size.... but now in a much smaller form factor. And that just determines who's on your team, who you hire, you have to learn the skill sets of how to get the app to players."
"I'm on the producer side, sometimes it's creative producer, sometimes it's project manager producer, my goal is to make sure everyone on the team has clarity on where I want us to go with the project, that's step 1, 'can't you just establish that once and your done?' actually what happens is you establish the high level vision, and always continue to refine the details, and once you have a certain set of details and features done, like for soft launch, then you're ready to take on the next set of things, 'how are we going to prepare for worldwide launch' what features need to be in there, what bugs do we have to fix what have we learned from soft launch that we can apply in worldwide launch.' Getting everybody clarity on those things, then helping solve problems... it's like games don't want to be made, right, you line em all up, you get em all planned, and something goes wrong, 'man, if this stuff would just stay on track, we'd be golden'. We solve problems, whether it's people problems, tech problems, or maybe something as simple as, 'Apple submission is taking 3 days longer than planned, how does that work out with the rest of the plan, a third part of my role is connecting with different parts of the organization, that will help us do their part, whether it's QA, finance or marketing, it's 2 steps, making sure they understand the vision of where we're going, so they can do their job, and how the services we use from their groups, how that's all coordinated and fits into the plan."
"It's an efficiency equation, once you know the people you're working with, then short emails can work, but when your establishing that relationship, of who they are, what their goals are, it's always best if you can do that face to face. And then you wing it, wing it from there. But if there's a problem, obviously go face to face, is the better answer always."
"We have key performance indicators, what we call KPIs, how long will people play it, how many times a week they'll play it, how much money they're going to spend, that's company and product level, on the teams... we have 'what's the crash count we're going to have at launch, as low as possible... 'what's acceptable, what's not acceptable?'
" The #1 determiner of success is 'Grit'... it's the ability to go set your plans, set your goals, understand it's going to be harder than you expect, keep at it, punch through the resistance or friction or whatever else is getting in your way. And the ability to bounce back when you get hit with something that's not fun, and keep going... the flip side of that coin is to also have the perspective to listen to other people who can tell you 'hey, you got a blind spot here, you're going to keep banging your head against that wall, why don't you step up and go around it... I'm going to call this drive- the internal desire to make stuff happen, make good things happen, make a mark... show some things that others don't expect is possible, and the reason I say that is because as a producer, it's one of the hardest to define jobs in the game industry, because, it basically means do everything necessary to get this project done. One day you might be talking to legal about an outsourcing agreement, the next day you might be looking at how we pull all this art and coordinate art getting into the game, inside of the memory footprint/ download footprint you have and the next day could be working on a schedule with the engineering manager to try and coordinate the engineering work with the design work, so you got to have this drive to make things happen, not just manage the stuff... the idea of the producer, is not just the manager, making sure all the ducks are in a row but as a leader who can say 'here's where we want to go, you got a great designer, let's go with this, here's how we're going to make this happen and kind of busting through that friction"
"Probably the one thing that makes a great producer, is understanding the psychological factors, understanding things at a human level, because your job is to often go to someone and say 'hey by the way, how are you coming along with that, we really need it tomorrow. And the way you approach him, and talk to him, respect them, respect their craft, respect their expertise, great producers know that, they work and develop that skill."
Interview Recording- 30 minutes:
Rev 3: 2/16/2015
Rev 1: 1/27/2015
o Standard questions adjust for duration
(may or may not need to be said)
audio recording checks
can decline to answer any question at any time
date and time stamp
b. Education level/ field of study
c. other occupations? past, present, future?
d. time in position & related positions in the Industry?
2. Can you please describe your current responsibilities?
a. How does it contrast to your roles & responsibilities in other companies?
b. What kind of typical challenges arise on a regular basis?
3. Any specific projects/ titles/ teams you're particularly proud of?
a. complements? (overall or specific)
b. critiques? (anything could have been done better? Retrospect?
c. highlights? (moments or situations that were particularly memorable)
4. Goals? / expectations?
a. for yourself
b. for others / your organization
5. how have you done business differently due to technological limitations in the past?
a. How it has changed your job throughout your time.
b. view on the online social aspects, ( face book, Forums, twitter, skype, etc.) & its potential?
6. What qualities would you say are key for someone to have to get to where you are now?
7. Is there any adversity that you had to overcome and has it helped you better fulfill your roles?
8. What do you hope to see evolve in your Industry in the next 10 years?
Thanks for your time and Insights
Onet Search Results:
When looking up video games design producer on the site, they lump all game designer roles into one category, yet neglect to specifically mention the producer, yet the details are still relevant.
"Summary Report for:
15-1199.11 - Video Game Designers
Design core features of video games. Specify innovative game and role-play mechanics, story lines, and character biographies. Create and maintain design documentation. Guide and collaborate with production staff to produce games as designed.
Sample of reported job titles: Design Director, Designer/Writer, Game Designer, Game Designer/Creative Director, Lead Designer, Lead Game Designer, Lead Level Designer, Mid-Level Game Designer, Senior Game Designer, World Designer"
Below are selected relevant details from this profile that may be included in a producers' job:
o Create and manage documentation, production schedules, prototyping goals, and communication plans in collaboration with production staff.
o Conduct regular design reviews throughout the game development process.
o Provide feedback to designers and other colleagues regarding game design features.
o Guide design discussions between development teams.
o Develop and maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines, and mission outlines.
o Present new game design concepts to management and technical colleagues, including artists, animators, and programmers.
o Solicit, obtain, and integrate feedback from design and technical staff into original game design."
o Communications and Media -- Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
o Psychology -- Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders."
o Design -- Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principals involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
o English Language -- Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
o Active Listening -- Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
o Critical Thinking -- Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
o Judgment and Decision Making -- Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
o Time Management -- Managing one's own time and the time of others.
o Coordination -- Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
o Complex Problem Solving -- Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
o Reading Comprehension -- Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
o Active Learning -- Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
o Active Learning -- Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
o Originality -- The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
o Fluency of Ideas -- The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
o Near Vision -- The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
o Oral Comprehension -- The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
o Oral Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
o Problem Sensitivity -- The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
o Deductive Reasoning -- The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
o Inductive Reasoning -- The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
o Information Ordering -- The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
o Selective Attention -- The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
o Visualization -- The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
o Category Flexibility -- The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
o Finger Dexterity -- The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
o Visual Color Discrimination -- The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
A games producer's job is to facilitate the coordination of these aforementioned individuals and details on the overall production side. The description on that is closer to their role is just categorized under producer. (they can be thought of as talent managers similar to those in other industries, yet they are so much more.)
"Summary Report for:
27-2012.01 - Producers
Plan and coordinate various aspects of radio, television, stage, or motion picture production, such as selecting script, coordinating writing, directing and editing, and arranging financing.
Sample of reported job titles: Producer, News Producer, Television News Producer, Promotions Producer, Television Producer (TV Producer), Animation Producer, Executive Producer, Newscast Producer, Radio Producer, Associate Producer"
The following are additional details that have not been mentioned in the last profile:
o Resolve personnel problems that arise during the production process by acting as liaisons between dissenting parties when necessary.
o Coordinate the activities of writers, directors, managers, and other personnel throughout the production process.
o Conduct meetings with staff to discuss production progress and to ensure production objectives are attained.
o Research production topics using the internet, video archives, and other informational sources.
o Review film, recordings, or rehearsals to ensure conformance to production and broadcast standards.
o Monitor postproduction processes to ensure accurate completion of details.
o Perform administrative duties, such as preparing operational reports, distributing rehearsal call sheets and script copies, and arranging for rehearsal quarters.
o Administration and Management -- Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership techniques, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
o Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
o Customer and Personal Service -- Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
o Law and Government -- Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
o Clerical -- Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology."
o "Monitoring -- Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
o Writing -- Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience."Abilities excerpt:
o Speech Recognition -- The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
o Written Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
o Speech Clarity -- The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Work Activities Excerpt:
o Communicating with Persons Outside Organization -- Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail. Other: The following are additional qualities that my interview subjects highlighted as important to the position of producer:
o Learning from mistakes
o Being humble
o Seeing another's perspective
o Fostering trust
o Handle diverse people in age, backgrounds and abilities
Sample Job Description:
"Associate Producer / Coordinator at Blizzard Entertainment
This cinematic associate producer (AP) staff position role will support & report directly to the senior production manager and will be assigned to a variety of production-related tasks within cinematics. In this position, the AP will help facilitate communication and information sharing across the studio. This role may later become department-specific or project-specific.
o Supports the senior production manager with all production-related tasks as needed.
o May help support the project producer, CG supervisor, and / or production department manager (PDM) with production priorities, delivery targets, and task deadlines necessary to keep the project/s on track.
o Maintains thorough knowledge of all shots in progress and communicates updates from the production management team to the leads and PDMs.
o Tracks the publishing of assets through the cinematic pipeline and works with the PDMs to understand the status of assets within their departments.
o Oversees and as needed, prepares submissions for dailies and reviews.
o Organizes and schedules meetings related to the project/s, including arranging OT meals if necessary.
o Takes detailed notes during meetings and dailies and ensures timely delivery of notes via Shotgun or email to the crew and show management.
o Acts as a conduit for day-to-day information between project management and crew as needed or directed.
o Inputs shot and asset information into Shotgun as needed, including element breakdowns, asset / shot descriptions and status / delivery updates.
o Helps maintain confluence / wiki pages for the project/s.
o Helps maintain schedules, seating, and other production-related documentation.
o Takes and distributes notes from review sessions and production meetings.
o A minimum of 3 years' experience in an animation studio, or equivalent production environment in a production role
o Extensive CG / Animation pipeline knowledge
o Excellent oral and written communication skills
o Experience with production tracking / database software and industry best practice standards
o Understands production schedules, timelines, and bids
o Able to effectively communicate with artistic and technical personnel, as well as, show management and upper management
o Self-motivated and able to take the initiative as the need arises
o Approachable, relaxed, and friendly demeanor
o Able to interact and contribute as part of a team
o Builds strong team relationships with senior management, PDMs, supervisors, directors, and project producers
o Excellent problem solving skills
o Able to plan ahead, think outside the box, identify issues / roadblocks, and develop plans to prevent or minimize their impact on production
o Well-versed in MS Office Suite
o Working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop
o Working knowledge of Visio
o Working knowledge of Shotgun
o Love of movies, especially animation
o Love of Blizzard games"
As a producer of a team you may deal with the following situations:
(I've had to deal with! & 2 in my respective contexts)
A New highly skilled programmer of a department is causing a disruption within the team by strongly favoring and championing the use of a specific engine or technology that he/she is extremely proficient in. However, everyone else in the department is focused on using the existing technology and platform to continue the project.
This individual is very skilled, and potentially more skilled then some of the veterans in the department, however he/she is new to the project, and new to the company.
This person is distracting the rest of the department, and delaying the schedule by redirecting the focus of key members of the team. Furthermore, those he/she are distracting, know little of using this new technology, thus are very impressed with what is able to be accomplished, if the switch is made.
How do you deal with said situation? Excellent:
1st Engage in a dialogue with the influenced members and hear what they have to say about the new individual and new technology, separate from the individual in question.
Next, reassure and remind them of the end goal of the project, describe the pros and cons of how if they changed engines what potential delays could ensue, as well as who among the team would need to be retrained or reassigned to different projects to accommodate the shift.
Engage with the individual, and discuss his influence. Be firm in your manner, and treat him/ her with respect. However, explain how morale, the department and by enlarge the project is threatened by his/her actions. Strive to communicate this effectively and encourage him/her to join the others in the department by getting familiar with the current engine, and being part of the team.
If this is unsuccessful, finally put in a request to reassign the individual to a new project, where his/her skills will be exercised fully.
Engage the effected members and the individual as a group, allowing them to voice their concerns in the same space.
Then, talk to other members of the department who are less impressed, and seek their advice on how you should handle the situation.
Finally get your supervisor involved and ask him/her how you should handle the situation, hoping he or she will solve the issue for you.
Act oblivious to the effects the new individual is having on the rest of the department, and allow them to sort it out themselves, hoping the problems will just go away over time.
A former core programmer of a project your responsible for, who left/ got reassigned on bad terms approaches you to ask you to be allowed to return.
When He/she left the project, he/she didn't leave proper documentation of any of his past work, and did not act in a professional manner toward his/ her then fellow team members.
However, due to the gap, you can clearly see how he/she would be an invaluable resource to getting the project back on track, and moving at its former pace.
Unfortunately, you and a select few remember and were involved with the project back then, most of the programmers who are involved currently are unable to fill his/her shoes, and are really struggling to understand the source code.
How do you handle this situation? Excellent:
You express your concerns in an individual setting, and treat him/her with discretion. You sit down and explain the state he/she had left the project in, and strive to understand what happened back then, to make sure the behavior doesn't repeat if he/she is let back on.
You treat him/her professionally, and like any applicant that would have applied to the position.
If he/she passes your process, then confer with any past members that were there during his/her term.
Allow for a supportive dialogue, and ask the individual why he/she is wanting to return.
Discuss any potential conflicts you foresee, and above all seek to discuss how the individual's strengths and weaknesses can be addressed.
You give him/her preferential treatment, and try to butter him/her up, to increase the chance that he/she will work on the project again to the former level of commitment.
You accept him back onto the project, and consider requesting him/her become programming lead, since he/she is the most knowledgeable programmer at your disposal.
You deny his/her request outright, and treat him/her with the disrespect and frustration you've been having since he/she left. Blaming him/her for incalculable delays and any other negative results that have ensued due to his/her former actions.
During a development team meeting on Friday you are made aware of a question that you don't know the answer to. Nor does anyone in the room seem to know.
This question, and its answer, is critical to the next step in development, the meeting turns into a brainstorming session on how to potentially address this issue.
Unfortunately, the network goes down so you can't just look it up, and even if it was up, the technicality of the details is too specific to the project to be found online.
It's after hours so most of the other departments in the company you call, are unavailable.
The brainstorming stalls, and devolves into socialization of what weekend plans everyone has.
How would you regain control of the meeting, and limit the chance this doesn't turn into a 3-day delay of the production cycle? Excellent:
You stay until a work around is found, using the process of synergy. You engage the relevant department leaders with critical questions, and start them engaging their fellow department members in dialogue. You allow intermittent socialization, which keeps the conversation stimulating, knowing the more they know each other, the better they are able to identify a workable solution. You hybridize the conversation, and actively listen to everyone. You have a focused yet free flowing discussion, taking their minds off how long it's taking, focusing om related issues, and the big picture. The solution may present itself in unexpected ways, allow for tangents, but make sure you re-center the discussion periodically. Summarize and benchmark progress, and use an impact wheel to determine just how far the problem can perpetuate, if left unchecked, noting critical intersections.
If after a set amount of time passed, notify everyone we have to move on to the next item on the agenda, so we could all get out on a reasonable time. I'd respectfully request who would be up to reconvening tomorrow morning to take a stab at the issue. And I'd volunteer to be here at that time, getting all the logistics ready, including food arrangements.
Pulling out the agenda, you go down the list, calling on individuals to speak in front of everyone, in turn, to see if they had any thoughts on the situation.
If we got no workable ideas after that process, then I'd dismiss the meeting, and have everyone consider the issue over the weekend.
Since a three-day delay isn't a big deal, I'll just handle the issue 1st thing on Monday.
Structured Interview questions:
Well, I've not been through a structured interview for my position, however, upon reviewing structured interview questions I've managed to find a few, and came up with some others:
(Some of the following are taken from the specified links from Gamasutra)
-"What games are you playing?" (clarifier)
-" What do you do on your own time to extend your skills?" (Clarifier)
-" Why would you want to work here?" (organizational fit)
-" What will you bring to the team? Why do we need you?" (organizational fit)
-" Tell me about an accomplishment/ achievement your particularly proud of?" (Past focused behavioral)
-" How do you feel about crunching?" (Organizational fit)
-How as gaming the same as game design? (Disqualifier)
-" Highlight key features a GDD vs. TDD, " (skill level determiner)
-Tell me about a time in which you've successfully handled a personnel conflict effectively (Past focused behavioral)
-Describe Agile, Scrum and waterfall development practices, which one you prefer and why? (Skill level determiner)
Future focused/ situational:
-The project your working on is nearing soft release, and the schedule seems to be on track. However, upon reviewing past performance benchmarks for the purposes of maximizing efficiency you notice significant irregularities in the performance speed of the art department.
It seems that the pattern of performance speed increased over time, (meaning it's taking longer to complete), despite the variety of tasks assigned being of similar size and scope.
You rerun the schedule calculations with this new data, and you're significantly dismayed at the expected delay in release.
What could be the cause of this? Excellent:
Sometimes, people under report the duration it takes for them to complete a task, wanting to look more effective to their coworkers, managers and producers. Due to this, as a product reaches release, the underreported times end up backfiring, resulting in increased overtime to try and make it up, or delaying deadlines.
In order to try and alleviate this, review your task tracking methods/ procedures with your staff, ethicize how important it is for accurate reporting. And consider hiring some contractors/ freelancers to increase the likelihood that you can still make it on schedule.
People are more energetic towards the beginning of a project, and work faster as a result, and their just getting tired as the project continues. work to increase team morale, and take some time to carefully discuss the issue with eacj member of the art department privately, seeking to find ways to get them working faster.
Key issues Approach:
_problem solve the issue from a personnel perspective
_problem solve the issue from a production perspective
_Identify/ acknowledge the issue of overtime
Future focused question:
-What would you do if you were made aware of an individual who didn't follow your task assignments, and instead made tasks for him/herself to do, based on the specific needs he/she saw?
Talk directly with the individual on an one on basis. I'd highlight although I do respect his/her initiative, it does make my job more difficult, because then I'm doing a catch up. Furthermore, I wouldn't be aware of all the completed or in progress tasks, making my tracking of progress all the more difficult.
Furthermore, this would make progress reports skewed, since I'd have to account for a potentially unknown variable.
Let the individual continue doing so uncheck.
Key issues approach:
_talk to the department lead
_talked to individual directly
_Acknowledge the skills of the individual
_Focus on how the individual may not see the big picture
_Highlight the place of teamwork vs. autonomy
_Emphasize how task tracking would be difficult if not centralized