Game Producing Effectively

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I want to take a look at the chapters I had intended to read together separately as well.  In this post, I will be looking at “Habits of Highly Effective Producers” from “The Game Producer’s Handbook.”

The chapter starts off with an alphabetical list of good habits.  Admittedly, this list reads very generically, and is really good advice to anyone in any role (is there a job position where one should not “Demonstrate Professionalism” or “Meet Commitments”?).  For someone new to producing or looking at it from the outside, this advice doesn’t translate well into a tangible to do list.  However, as someone who’s produced for a little over a year now, I see what people say about producing being a very individual practice.  For myself, some of these suggestions translate into past anecdotes and specific practices I’ve adopted, but I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve figured out the “right” way to go about everything.

Nonetheless, the latter half of the chapter does get in to more specific practices.

The first one is “Daily Delta Reporting” or what we refer to as “Dailies” at the ETC.  It is the practice of every team member reporting (either to the whole team or to management) about what specifically they worked on that day and what states those things are in, whether it be done or in trouble.  This is a staple of producing and I couldn’t imagine ending a day without knowing what happened.  It is very similar to “Dailies” in film where the crew looks at what was recorded that day.  However, film dailies are specifically a look at the collective product and how individual contributions appear in it, while game development dailies are just individual reports (there may not always be a collective product at the end of the day).

The second one is about asking clarifying questions.  This sections seems the most oddly specific, especially since being a producer in an academic setting means I’ve never had to deal with questions like “when a team member is unhappy with a raise.”  However, I really appreciate this section for giving very specific examples of how to frame questions about sensitive issues – usually in logical or resolution-oriented ways.

Further along, “Always Follow Up in Writing” is a good one.  It turns out that it isn’t just in legal situations where having exact events and responsible parties in writing is useful.  Law involves the practice of communicating very specifically, and producing also requires that – albeit probably to a not-as-exacting standard.

In “Scheduling and Rescheduling,” Dan Irish mentions specifically that he uses MS Project and Excel for schedule, a nice specific fact.

“Knowing What You Don’t Know” was a nice section to see near the end as well.  This is a fundamental problem that plagues my mind:  As the producer, I both want to defer to the expertise of those who know better than I, but I also want to know what they are talking about in detail.  I think one of the core things about being a producer is about being in control enough to know who better to put in control.

Overall, I found this chapter very relate-able since my primary experience at the ETC is also in game-production.  Maybe I’ll find out that production is not much different across industries other than the industry knowledge.

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