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GeneralJist

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

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Confusion around the term is a likely cause for negativity.  What is a "producer"?  We all produce something; that's a meaningless term.  A programmer is a code producer, an artist is an art producer, a musician is an audio producer, so what the hell is a "just a producer"?  They produce...exactly what?  Literally nothing.  The only one who doesn't actually produce anything is the producer.  Which makes it seem to me that the only way to justify the term is if the "producer" gets credit for the entire product (they supposed produced the whole game).  They tend to be listed at the top of credits, which makes the shoe fit, so it's natural that people who actually produce something should be a bit offended that the one person who produces nothing gets top credit for making the game.

These are 2 issues packed into one paragraph so let me clearly separate them.

 

The term "producer" is already confusing to people since it describes absolutely nothing about the job.  I was a producer on a few projects when working with @mr_tawan, and I sucked at it because I literally wasn't even sure what my duties were.

Many years later I finally figured out what they do, and I still have a bitter taste.

  • Executive producers throw money at the project and perhaps own it, so I don't have a beef with these guys taking credit for the whole game as much.  It's at least a product of their money and they usually decide the general direction of the game.
  • But regular producers get listed right under them and haven't actually worked on the game.  They work on the people who work on the game.
    • Their name is misleading.  Call them "Managers" or "Schedule Enforcers" or "People Pushers".
    • As long as they are being called producers, many people will still think of them as some fat slob in a smoke-filled room upstairs doing nothing and taking all the credit.  This was mentioned before.  I agree, because the term doesn't describe anything about what they do, so we are indeed free to let our imaginations run wild when people use such nebulous ambiguous terms.

At one of my previous companies they are informally called "gerbils" or "hamsters" or some kind of pet that the executive producer sends to do his or her bidding.

 

Simply changing the term would go a long way towards getting rid of resentment and confusion.  Generally people and companies value the role (not always as mentioned by others) but it's very difficult for many to get past the branding.


L. Spiro

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This topic reminds me of the principles (or whatever you want to call it) of Facepunch studios (https://wwww.facepunch.com/about/)
One of them being

Quote

We don't have tiers of management. We feel like we can avoid that by hiring people that don't need to be managed.

I haven't worked there. So, I don't have personal experience and I don't know if this would also work for bigger teams, but they seem to do fine.

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1-2 years before I would have agreed that small teams don't need producers at all. I'm working on an indie title along with 3 friends and we also have some other contractors/volunteers from time to time. We all like to do what we are doing, we spend our work time working on the game. We don't need someone to make us work yet sometimes I believe we could definitely profit from someone who can help organizing stuffs. There are just too many works to do and when you are doing a specific part and focus on how to solve that it's not easy to see the full production and not just your current problem.

So if a producer is someone who knows what everyone is doing, knows what we planned what we achieved, what task of A member should be done so that B member can work with it, what deadlines we should keep, what is important and what is not then a producer is needed even for a small team.

On the other hand being a small team and all we couldn't afford to pay many people so we try to do things on our own. The first hard part is to realize that yes, we need management and marketing even if it doesn't look like game development at all.

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16 hours ago, L. Spiro said:

Confusion around the term is a likely cause for negativity.  What is a "producer"?  We all produce something; that's a meaningless term.  A programmer is a code producer, an artist is an art producer, a musician is an audio producer, so what the hell is a "just a producer"?  They produce...exactly what?  Literally nothing.  The only one who doesn't actually produce anything is the producer.  Which makes it seem to me that the only way to justify the term is if the "producer" gets credit for the entire product (they supposed produced the whole game).  They tend to be listed at the top of credits, which makes the shoe fit, so it's natural that people who actually produce something should be a bit offended that the one person who produces nothing gets top credit for making the game.

I'm pretty sure this term comes from film and music industry. In the early days, music producers might not able to play an instrument, let alone playing music. The producer's duties was to find players and recording engineer to make a record. He also manage schedule, budget, studio time, and stuffs. He is basically a manager who was assigned to an artist (a project, in a way) with some budget from the recording company.

In music industry, this was changed drastically over time. Producers used to hire people to work for him as can't do nothing related to music. Nowadays producers does almost everything. He directs the artist, he do recording, he plays instruments, he might sing, he can even be the artist himself. This is especially true in the indie level, but some of them still hold in the mainstream (depends on the scale of the production).

I think, the producer in game would be more on the former than the latter. Basically because the scale of the production is much larger than music recordings. Well if we use the same idea as the latter then I think producer would be someone who takes assets and put it in the game engine, and make it playable I guess....

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On 8/21/2018 at 7:49 PM, GeneralJist said:

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)

 

So I think there are two issues here.

The easy answer is: because they don't need one.

The more complex answer is: some people don't actually need a producer (a bit more on that later) and because this can be true, a lot of people may erroneously assyme this applied to them (oh, we're a small team, we can talk and keep on top of everything) which, unfortunately, is often a mistake. It's not the only mistake a small startup team may make though, and most likely, not the most damaging, so in asking why rookies and making rookie mistakes, there's hardly any answer worth proposing: they just didn't know better, and they'll need to figure things out on their own because they understand the value of someone handling management, scheduling, budgeting, etc.

 

Now, I said some people genuinely don't need a producer, and I mean it. When we started this team here, we knew what we wanted to do. We were a bunch of senior level pros with many a title to their name. We knew we wanted to keep a tight-knit team, and embraced the 'jack of all trades' nature of our overlapping skillset. In essence, at any given point, any one of us can make a call that would feel 'Producer'-like, but we're also all fully apt when it comes to self-management. It would be hard to add a Producer to this team without that person running out of work, and feeling out of place very quickly.

There is also added value in foregoing the centralization of these processes, as each individual then acquires a more holistic vision of the whole, making autonomy all the easier to foster.

Does that work in all team? Absolutely not!

Are there strings attached? Definitely!

Is it worth it? You BET it is.

 

So I can only assume that it is common for new startups to see the upsides, ignore the downsides, and fail to see the constraints, and think that paying for one fewer person (who's not contributing value directly) is 'lean'.

Obviously, meet any business above 10 (or 20) and you'll soon come across someone who does these things fulltime, 'Producer title or not'...

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As long as the "Producer" is competent in what they do, then its important to have people in specific roles, when... and only when its affordable to the business.

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