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Why do some people think they don't need producers?

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Hey,

This is something I've come across when dealing with small teams/ projects, and beginners.

production is what I do, and it always boggles my mind when people tell me their team doesn't have/ want a producer/ manager/ coordinator.

Most of us here see the value in the role, but can anyone play devil's advocate?

I'm genuinely trying to understand these people.

Usually in theses teams a senior person does the role, and handles another creative role.

Having a dedicated administrator just seems natural to me.

Is it just something people don't think they can afford to have? I know producers are hard to find for inies, prosecution/ management is work,  where as creative roles can be perceived to be fun, most people don't consider management fun and sexy.

A while ago, a person said I had to learn a creative skill to join their team, even tho he knew I was a good administrator and writer.

What do yall think?

Is this mind set as common as it seems, or is it a minority?

Obviously companies see the value in the role, I'm talking about smaller indies/ projects. (Not to mention the fact that the role of a producer means different things to different people in the industry)

 

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Yup, I agree with jbadams. To add, I generally think that the person who started the project is going to also wear the producer hat, among many other hats. If the number of team members increases to the point where the current producer is spending a large amount of time doing 'producer' things while also trying to juggle many other roles, then it's time to delegate that to someone who can do it part time or full time. The general goal is to always be working yourself out of a job by either eliminating it through increased efficiency or delegating it to a specialist.

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Looking at a few common examples from the Hobby Classifieds forum...

We have hobbyists making a passion project for fun.  The project is probably started by a couple of friends, and the main aim is to make the game, probably because they enjoy the process, or maybe because they just want to play a game that doesn't exist.  It doesn't matter to this team whether they actually make money, but they do have that dream that they might strike it rich, so it's only fair that they split revenue. They're looking for a little help with some tasks they can't do.

This team doesn't want someone enforcing deadlines. They don't need help staying on task.

 

Then we might have a serious indie trying to run a small business. They're trying to keep costs low, so unless management tasks are taking all their time they might be better doing it themselves instead of reducing profits by bringing on another person. They're already losing enough money to marketplace shares, licensing, up front costs, etc.

 

Thirdly, and sadly very commonly, we have the "wanna-bes".  This is usually a large team (or people trying to recruit a large team) trying to take on a large project.  They probably aren't a registered business, and they usually haven't completed previous games (but may have recruited someone with prior credits).  They're very concerned with looking professional and the leader probably has a title like "CEO".  They're not funded or paying up front, but make professional demands of their "staff" such as wanting degrees or prior experience.  Thy often have a fancy corporate looking website with some nice concept art, but not much useful content otherwise.

This team is trying to be like professionals, so they'll copy the above serious indie in trying to save money on "useless roles" without realizing that they would actually benefit from experienced management.  The team leader(s) is personally trying to handle management teams themselves.

 

As you can see, none of these scenarios are likely to value a dedicated producer, and only 1/3 would strongly benefit, but can't afford to pay and isn't likely to be successful so that revenue share is paid in future.

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There are many roles that people think of in negative terms.  Both the titles producer and manager have a negative connotation to some people.

Some people think of "producers" in negative terms. Reasoning might be that "executive producer" is just the CEO of the company who had minimal direct involvement with creating the product. Or they have no idea what the role does and therefore think it is superfluous. If that's the mindset then they may think a producer is a leech who contributes nothing.  In actuality producers are coordinators, schedule shufflers, planners, budget keepers, fixers, and communicators.

And "manager", to some people that's the person who walks around with the whip, tells people to get back to work, and in their view contributes nothing of value. In practice they convert groups of people into teams, they help work through problems, ensure everybody has what they need to do their jobs, and barricade others out so the team can stay focused on their jobs. In the disparaging mindset a manger's only job is to complain and keep people on task. 

Management roles, including roles in production, are essential as projects grow. I think those of us in this audience understand that.

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2 hours ago, frob said:

And "manager", to some people that's the person who walks around with the whip, tells people to get back to work, and in their view contributes nothing of value. In practice they convert groups of people into teams, they help work through problems, ensure everybody has what they need to do their jobs, and barricade others out so the team can stay focused on their jobs. In the disparaging mindset a manger's only job is to complain and keep people on task. 

Management roles, including roles in production, are essential as projects grow. I think those of us in this audience understand that.

Sorry, I read this and my mind immediately went to a small indie startup which I knew. It was started by a bunch of graduate students from a game school. One of the kids had a rich dad who let his son use a few million dollars to start his own company, so he hired on about 15-20 class mates to make... yet another platformer... and it took them about 3 years. I visited their apartment office a few times to hang out and do play testing on their game. I was a bit shocked. They were NOT running a tight ship. At any given time, about 3-5 of the employees were out on the back patio smoking pot. A few others were watching youtube videos of starcraft 2 games. There was a lot of slacking going on. I kept thinking to myself, "If I was running this company and this is what my employees were doing, I would be busting balls, cracking the whip, and firing the unfixables. I'm not paying people to sit around doing nothing!" That's totally what this company needed.

To their credit, they actually finished the game and launched it on Steam. It was well polished, felt good, looked beautiful, etc. But, the game sales flopped completely because nobody thought to do any marketing or market research. The company closed its doors and the rich kid burned a couple million dollars. Whoops!

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11 hours ago, slayemin said:

The company closed its doors and the rich kid burned a couple million dollars. Whoops!

I wish I have a dad like this guy :D.

Joking aside, I think it's fine not to have a dedicated producer. However, if you are working in team environment then eventually someone will take this kind of role (apart from what he/she is already doing).

So yes at certain size of the team, you might not need a (dedicated) producer. However, I think there will be someone who is taking this kind of role.

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On 8/21/2018 at 7:58 PM, Tom Sloper said:

This anathema towards producers occurs in mainstream companies too

Why do you think this is?

Frob covered this a bit, but I'm curious about your opinion.

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All the (non-gaming) software jobs I've worked on, have pretty much done away with dedicated managers at the project level (there are people higher up covering many projects, due to the size of the businesses), instead having team or tech leads to get everyone together to plan stuff semi-collaboratively in addition to their own technical duties and being the first point of contact for anything. We do have dedicated people in marketing (as well as sales due to the nature of the products I've worked on), but they concentrate on that (and again for multiple projects), and while they give input into features, they don't manage other people.

The general thinking being that having one dedicated manager (for one project with say 10 people) costs too much, and they likely don't have an in-depth technical background relevant to that project. For a smaller business Id guess that sentiment is even stronger?

Would the same apply to gaming companies, at least at the smaller even with no more than 10 or so people developing a single product?

 

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