Original write-up by Elizabeth G Kusumawardhani
As a Producer/Associate Producer or Project Manager, when one steps into a new project, the first thing that comes to mind is,
‘What’s the best method to work on this?’
‘How do I plan this?’
‘What’s our goal?’
‘Where’s the GDD?’
‘How many people do we have?’
’WHAT DO THEY (client, stakeholder, directors) WANT? AND BY WHEN?’
et cetera questions that will come up and hope you can get all the answers to all the questions from people (but most of the time you’ll need to come up with your own answers). The Workflow is a Producers/Managers ultimate mission.
There are a number of workflows that I’ve experienced working with throughout the times of working in a small team of mobile games to AAA game outsource service to AAA game internal and external development. What we (or me) want for sure is to find ONE workflow that is:
1. EASILY ADAPTABLE (and hopefully can be Streamlined throughout the company)
2. REUSABLE system or method that can be used again
3. COLLABORATIVE this is unavoidable. A mistake made once upon a time by many is segregating Art team, Tech Team and from Programmer. We must work together.
4. AUTOMATED which gives more independence to developers and less ass-wiping from producers.
All the above criteria sound very basic, yet not easy to find the right approach which also depends on many factors (SCALE of game and team, DIVERSITY of team).
Now, it truly is best to know:
1. KNOW THE GOAL/SET THE GOAL
what does the Stakeholders/director/the team wants in the first place:
Multiplayer PvP Holy Mothers Roller derbies, Barbie Doll: Shoptillyoudrop Time Attack, Single Player AlienZebra: “Help, I’m Lost in Space,” etc… Once you know that end goal, then you can start laying down the brick road.
2. KNOW YOUR TOOL
So, speaking of laying down the brick road you also would like to know what are the tools we have to take this action (No, we can’t go all ‘Minecraft’ where you can just chop hills and mountains with your bare hands, no. No.)
Here’s a question that is best to be discussed and agreed upon with the team. KanbanStyle, Agile and Scrum? So, Trello? Taiga? JIRA? How about Art? So Streamframe then, right?
3. LAYING DOWN THE PIPELINE
“What goes to where and to who? By when again? Also… how?”
That’s right. Before you start going apes make the whole team know of the basic pipeline and a method you guys are approaching. Here’s one below. (Note that this is also quite fluid, but it keeps the foundation there)
4. DO YOUR PLANNINGS, SCHEDULES, and MEETINGS
So, you know your goals; you got your tools, time to break up the major goals into a small task that are well-defined, prioritized, accessible and organized. To ensure this happens, the team will then break the task into simplified/focused goals. The good thing about Scrum and Agile is, if these small tasks are proven to not work, then shutting down the feature task/ticket would be less painful since it’s timeboxed.
Think of it this way, there’s an alien mole growing on your pinky-toe, and your team says they’ll allocate 3 man-days to find the cure before it takes up the entire foot... Time’s up; mole is growing, amputate the little toe. CHOP! It will hurt a little, but it won’t cripple you and the team.
Imagine if they keep iterating and trying to find the cure until 20 days, you might probably have lost your whole leg.
That’s why. SCRUM & AGILE.
I’m not very fussy (anymore) about how the team approaches their feature tasks, nor do I understand the technicalities of tackling some programming feature. But what does matter (personally) is for the team to have a clear aim and result that is set during every planning, and how long does it take. Because time is money and seeing is believing.
If you got all the above laid down, plans and ground rules, everything should work automatically. Then a Producer/Manager would just need to monitor and follow-up.
As a Producer/Manager, sometimes the team might not suit a certain approach, it’s time to embrace change, iterate until you find the most optimized and efficient workflow for the team. Then maybe MAYBE you can rest a bit better.
Much to talk about, much to improve.
Keep the windows open, Producers are the Madoguchi まどぐち – the window person.
Until the next blog.