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Associate Producer tips?

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Generally, I have a new role as an associate producer coming up at a casual game developing company and would like some general tips on how to excel at it. Specifically, my first project is to work with an outside vendor to produce a game. I have worked with offsite contractors to produce assets for a game and 3rd party vendors to deliver items for a marketing project. In both instances, the worst problem is when they say they'll do something and don't. When there is no time constraint, I have the option to dump them and find a better one. However, when I'm stuck with a bad one, it'll be good to hear some tips on how to get through the project despite the handicap. Thanks ahead.

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Although I'm not a Producer myself (yet), I work daily with Producers and Associate Producers. I have a few suggestions:

* Make sure you know the game inside and out. This may seem obvious, but is a great place to start.

* Be very well organized and keep track of all milestones (dates when they arrived, status).

* Also, you should know the contract, game design document, and technical design document very well. The contract and GDD will document what exactly is expected of the developer so everyone is on the same page.

* In a situation such as you are suggesting (getting stuck with a poor developer), there are a few things you can do:

(1) Make sure everyone understands what exactly is expected of them and by when. (2) Don't authorize a milestone payment until you've received what both parties have agreed upon for said milestone.
(3) Prioritize features so the most important/critical ones are implemented first.
(4) It may help to have a worst-case-scenario list of which features will be the first to be cut (if necessary).
(5) If the developer promises X by a certain date and doesn't deliver, make a note of it. If it keeps happening, point out when and where they failed to deliver on time. Shifting priorities can sometimes prevent or minimize future delays.

* Make sure the developer has logins to your companies required tools (bug tracking database, FTP, etc) from the get-go so there are no delays.

Perhaps most importantly, make sure to have open communication. Check in with your developer regularly to check on the status. If the Alpha milestone is due in two weeks, don't just wait two weeks and then ask for the Alpha. Instead, check in with them a couple times a week to see where they're at.

I know most of this may seem obvious, but I hope at least a little bit helped.

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Unfortunately there is not allot you can do if your stuck with a lemon of a company and they are not working well with your time constraints.

With that said i would recommend getting to know the groups you are going to work with, or might work with, before you sign anything. Of course return to the people who get the job done and you will form better circles of confidence in the work place.

I encounter this problem allot with any project i do and so Ive learned to devise treatments for the projects. I will create a typed document that describes, in full, the task that needs to be done by the particular company or group and make sure to include milestones so both they and yourself can keep track of the process. Then if you have a legal department or consultant inquire them to how you can make it official, so that the signing company must complete specific tasks or it could mean losing money or the busyness entirely.

It may sound like a tough guy approach but over time they will respect you for demanding quality and they who get it done will be your best friends.

Hope that helps.

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So you want tips for "when they say they'll do something and don't."

1. Don't hire them in the first place - a careful vetting process should weed those losers out.
2. If you're a new junior producer, don't even bother trying to prove to them that you're good - just BE good at what you do. Work to get them what they need, and insist they give you what you need.
3. Don't be afraid to escalate. Get your boss to talk to the president of the vendor company when you aren't getting satisfactory results.
4. When they're bad and aren't delivering, and there's no time to replace them, recommend to your boss that the entire project be cancelled.
5. Never pretend you know an answer, when you don't. Say "I'll get back to you on that."

I wrote an article about being a producer.
FAQ 42 -- http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson42.htm
And I wrote the chapter on producing in INTRODUCTION TO GAME DEVELOPMENT - that chapter is much better than what I wrote above.

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Quote:

I encounter this problem allot with any project i do and so Ive learned to devise treatments for the projects. I will create a typed document that describes, in full, the task that needs to be done by the particular company or group and make sure to include milestones so both they and yourself can keep track of the process. Then if you have a legal department or consultant inquire them to how you can make it official, so that the signing company must complete specific tasks or it could mean losing money or the busyness entirely.

It may sound like a tough guy approach but over time they will respect you for demanding quality and they who get it done will be your best friends.

Hope that helps.


I've been reading the Game Producer's Handbook and it seems that being crystal clear about the milestones are the fundamental contracts for the developer-producer relationship. Thanks.

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Quote:
Original post by tsloper

3. Don't be afraid to escalate. Get your boss to talk to the president of the vendor company when you aren't getting satisfactory results.
4. When they're bad and aren't delivering, and there's no time to replace them, recommend to your boss that the entire project be cancelled.

I wrote an article about being a producer.
FAQ 42 -- http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson42.htm
And I wrote the chapter on producing in INTRODUCTION TO GAME DEVELOPMENT - that chapter is much better than what I wrote above.


Great tips.

As far as 3 and 4, is there a tipping point? like after 3 failed major deliverables? Naturally it's a new role for me and I don't mind admitting my ignorance but I would not want it to ever to escalate to my boss.

The article is interesting. In addition to the producer's handbook, I have the game production handbook and the art of producing games. Are there other books you would recommend? Classes or professional organizations I can look in to? Producers are such a nebulous term, I haven't found a large repository dedicated to producing games.

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>As far as 3 and 4, is there a tipping point?

Yes.

>like after 3 failed major deliverables?

Holy cow, no. After the first. When they've screwed up majorly once, raise a huge stinky red flag and bring in the generals - like I wrote in that book I mentioned.

>I would not want it to ever to escalate to my boss.

Hmm, well, which is worse - for you to tell your boss your developer is screwing up? Or for you to let things go on and screw up the entire project?

>Are there other books you would recommend?

The one I mentioned. And Secrets of the Game Business.

>Classes ... I can look in to?

The class I'm teaching at USC starting the last week of the month.

>or professional organizations

IGDA's production SIG. The IGDA Leadership Forum (http://www.igda.org/leadership/).

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You have a point about catching failures earlier on.

I found your class: Designing and Producing games. There is a prerequisite for it. Since I'm already in a producer role and have familiarity with the production process already, is it possible for me to take your class without the prerequisite?

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tsloper,

Just noticed your Fall class cuts in the to the work day. Probably won't take your class till the Spring. Do you know enough about the Video Game Production class to recommend it for somebody who's already working in the industry?

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Anonymous poster,
I don't know anything about that prerequisite, who it applies to, or who teaches that other class, or anything about it. Others created the program and the course, and set up all those details - I just teach the one class there. Email me (do not PM me) and I'll put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions. It's easy to find my email address.

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