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Woland

The job of a Producer

11 posts in this topic

Another article I wrote and that might be of some help for aspiring game developers:

 

 

 

Just lately this noob has been promoted to an Associate Producer (yay!). After nine months on the job, doing my best to coordinate the production tasks I think I can fairly certainly say... Damn, I still don't really know what being a producer really is all about. Therefore, I am putting "part 1" in the title, but part 2 won't follow straight after it. I will probably write part 2 in a year or two, just to revise and maybe contradict the statements I will make today.

 

So many producers...

If you look at all the "kinds" of producers, you can find out such names as Producer, Executive Producer, Junior Producer, Associate Producer, Senior Producer, or even such weird thingies as Art Producer, Design Producer or Technical Producer. What is the difference between them? In many cases, it strongly depends on the company, but generally speaking, the main difference is the level of competencies and responsibilities. The core concept of the job stays the same whether you are a Junior Producer or Executive Producer. The only real difference is the number of decissions you will be expected to make and broadness of topics you will have to cover.

producers.jpg

 

A producer in gamedev is kinda like a manager

In this case it means that he's as much everyone's boss as he is everyone's bitch. From all the info I've gathered so far, his role varies greatly throughout the life of the project. Producer needs to know what everyone in the project is doing and why. He manages the priorities of the tasks and is responsible for achieving the milestones within planned deadlines and budget. This part is almost like any other project management in any given company. On the other hand, however, producer can often be the guy that does things others don't have time to do. It can be anything from covering for a sick animator at a motion capture session, through attending meetings that just popped out, running the team's Twitter, helping with the game's slogan or logotype, to all the things people in the trenches don't have time to do while crunching: ordering lunch, helping QA check out the latest build or the most basic and tedious jobs, like renaming files, creating backups or watching the progress bar of the compiling build as the programmer gets his 15 minutes of rest. It is also quite safe to say that if there is a task where nobody knows whose responsibility it is, it is most probably producer's.

 

Continue reading on Games Making Noob Blog...

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Hi, Woland               

 

 

Producer seems the same as Project Manager to me.  Is this correct?

 

 

Clinton

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In theory, yes. In practice... I've been a project manager in a telecommunication company before I got into gamedev and apart from the general idea, everything is completely different - the communication style and means, nature of tasks, even different perception of time or budget :)

 

So I'd say yes, a Producer is the same as Project Manager, but a Project Managers jobs can vary greatly depending on the company and / or industry.

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Congratulations on the promotion Woland!

 

Producer I'd say is the same thing as a project manager - A game essentially is just a large ongoing project. Producers may/may not be involved in the marketing of the project or just on the production side of things.

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So many producers....Actually,the main task of a producer is to find good,profitable game projects,then to manager the making processes,right?

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From what I've seen it is mostly the other way round - game projects are finding good, reliable producers :)

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Tom, I just read the article you are pointing to and you might want to update it a bit. For example:

- showing salaries from 10 years ago doesn't look good. Even though it's not the main element of the article, it is still the first date that a reader comes across and it kinda screams "update me"

- statements like "Overtime - No. You'll get a flat salary. No extra pay for overtime. Testers get overtime because they're hourly. But producers are salaried." are simply not true. It all depends on the company and a definite "no" is just plain untrue. Same goes for company car for instance.

 

I also disagree with the snowball analogy. I mean, sure - it is a snowball, but you are not pushing it. You are trying to catch it and manage the way it takes, making it avoid all the trees and skiing kids. The longer it rolls, the heavier and harder it gets. Preproduction is extremely important, true, but saying that it's the hardest part is just living in an imaginary ideal world. After the preproduction phase, which was already quite challenging, my Executive Producer told me "Wait for it, you haven't seen shit yet."

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1. Tom, I just read the article you are pointing to and you might want to update it a bit.
2. I also disagree with the snowball analogy. I mean, sure - it is a snowball, but you are not pushing it. You are trying to catch it and manage the way it takes

1. Fair enough. I updated it.
2. If the producer doesn't push the ball to get it started, then the person who's pushing it to get it started is the one producing it at that moment, and I don't know what the producer is doing at that moment, if there is one. Maybe you missed the part where I said the ball eventually starts rolling on its own, after which the producer is keeping up with it and working to direct it as it becomes faster and heavier.  The snowball analogy covers several phases of the project. 

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2. I guess what I was trying to say is that the Producer is not above the ball, but below it. He is making it, rolling downhill and everything, but if you ever made a ball big enough, you know that sooner or later it will be much too fast for you to catch up with it. A producer cannot lag behind, cannot even be nudging from the sides. He must be always a few steps ahead and in critical moments clone himself to be all around the ball. What you are presenting is an ideal state, where everything goes as planned and market doesn't change throughout the production of the game. This might be true for small projects, but for anything that takes over a year...

 

I took a liberty of commenting the snowball metaphor a bit more here:

  • Concept Phase - deciding to make a snowball and roll it (and hit a shed down at the bottom) - 100% agreed
  • Pre-production - making a snowball and pushing it until it rolls on its own - it may never be able to roll on its own, even if the pre-production was done by the book
  • Production - running to keep up, nudging the ball to control its direction (but not its speed). - speed is an important factor. The producer needs not only to control the speed, but also be able to deliver additional snow if there isn't enough on the way.
  • Post-production - impossible to exert control over the snowball at this point (producer's legs are tired - s/he is winded - ball is heavy, fast, practically beyond his/her control) - if the producer's legs are tired, he should have chosen another job. This isn't for sprinters, it's for guys who can run the marathon, then remember they left the oven on and run back.
  • After-market phase - the snowball has stopped; people come out of the shed (angry) - why angry? Maybe they wanted a snow delivery ^^
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Once a person actually gets into a company, the combination of terminology and methods at the tactical level are somewhat unique to that company - a corporate culture in effect.  It may take years with such a team to realize the opportunity to become a producer. If a person had the goal to be a producer, I believe that it would be one of the hardest positions to prepare and achieve it.  Reputation would critical.  Heavy emphasis on character traits demonstrated in things such as organizational and communication skills would be paramount, I would think.

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