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Matthew Birdzell

Production in the AAA scene

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Not sure if this goes into business or here, and if mods need to move it by all means please do.

Is there a standard practice to how AAA production works? I'm wanting to work my way to AAA someday to see how it actually plays out, or stick to other career paths as an aspiring writer. I feel I know...hmm...a little? of how this works, but not really enough. Or maybe I already know details and processes and I've not thought about them to write this post. That means you can jog my memory and understanding haha.

To clear up confusion, I'm asking about day to day, or week to week practices, how collaboration goes, methodologies. How bigger studios handle schedules, perhaps, compared to smaller ones. Not tiny indie teams, but "bigger" ones from a few dozen to a few hundred.

Edited by Matthew Birdzell

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I think you need to be more specific in what you're asking.

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Are you asking about production methodologies? "A typical day in AAA"? The various specializations and how they collaborate?

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1 hour ago, Tom Sloper said:

Are you asking about production methodologies? "A typical day in AAA"? The various specializations and how they collaborate?

Hmm methodologies, a typical day, yeah...that kind of thing. I know quite a few of the individual specializations. Perhaps how they collaborate. I know a little about that, just not enough.

Sorry for the lack of specificity. I'll edit my post.

Edited by Matthew Birdzell

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Also note that you are talking about massive projects.  AAA games these days are hitting 9-figure costs. "Big" games are hitting $50M and more. It is sometimes easier to forget about that. Today's AAA project's total cost is becoming more easily measured as a fraction of billions rather than millions of dollars.

 

While there are many steps that are common, there is much that is unique and different about each project.  Much like other enormous projects there are similarities between projects but none are identical.  Creating enormous skyscrapers or airports or major buildings have many steps in common, but each has unique building schedules and procedures.  Building a large road network or rail infrastructure has many steps in common with similar projects, but each is quite unique. 

Individual teams have common elements that they do every day, as described.  Many of those are common between everything; teams who create code, teams who create models, teams who create animations, teams who create object designs. But the questions regarding broad schedules and executive tasks over the entire projects, those elements are quite unique to each.  The biggest publishers have somewhat refined their processes, but they mostly only bear superficial similarities at that level.

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On 1/15/2018 at 8:32 PM, Matthew Birdzell said:

Is there a standard practice to how AAA production works?

In my experience, no. Every studio has its 'way' and many studios even have more than one process, and these processes may change over time.

There are some common concepts, but most of them you'd acquire running your way up through other lower-entry positions.

I'm afraid there's just no dumbing down the work a studio of 200-500 heads working for years does. Some work agile, others don't, and in both ends of the spectrum, there are quite a few different ways to make things work, starting with spreadsheet lists of tasks in cubicles to cardboard boards on the wall (and everything in-between and more!)

 

Edit: And I believe 'knowing how a studio operates' may be much less relevant to landing a job there than having an open mind about how to operate, and being able to adapt to change on a whim.

Edited by Orymus3

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14 hours ago, Orymus3 said:

In my experience, no. Every studio has its 'way' and many studios even have more than one process, and these processes may change over time.

There are some common concepts, but most of them you'd acquire running your way up through other lower-entry positions.

I'm afraid there's just no dumbing down the work a studio of 200-500 heads working for years does. Some work agile, others don't, and in both ends of the spectrum, there are quite a few different ways to make things work, starting with spreadsheet lists of tasks in cubicles to cardboard boards on the wall (and everything in-between and more!)

 

Edit: And I believe 'knowing how a studio operates' may be much less relevant to landing a job there than having an open mind about how to operate, and being able to adapt to change on a whim.

Definitely. All good points. Thanks.

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Exactly, every team is different, and the person who runs the team might want it done a certain way, and that's how many games have been made.

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While I do agree that every team is different, at a high level you can find enough similarities to be able to describe production cycles and functions.

 

I explained the production cycle on a post in my blog, check it out http://leonardperez.net/game-production-cycle/

 

If you are interested, I also desbcribe the producer role in detail in this post: http://leonardperez.net/what-exactly-is-a-producer/

Hope it helps!

Leonard

 

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