Monday, November 03, 2008

FuturePlay 2008

What I'm mostly doing at the Future Play confernce is going thru the 3 day game producer's workshop. Today we covered preproduction and got an intro to production. Lots of notes, we did a couple of group exercises. I got lots of ideas for things we need to do in the 4 year curriculum to give everyone exposure at different levels to these preproduction ideas. The game producer's workshop is led by Heather Chandler who was the producer for the Ghost Recon franchise at Ubisoft up to 2005 when she started her own company Media Sunshine, inc. to provide producer and creative services as a contractor. Here are a couple of ideas from today's class.

  • I think i would like to be a game producer - they do the budgeting, the scheduling, the relations with the team and with the "suits". They have the big picture in mind at all times.
  • independent stuios/developers have to prove that they can deliver on time and on budget and they can quickly get a bad reputation if they mess up a project
  • preproduction should take up from 10 to 25% of time alloted to the game development - more ya do up front, the smoother hte production will go
  • brainstorm often with people from the team - game concept, character names, character appearance, gameplay, look and feel - - get lots of ideas and you get buy in from the people on the team good for morale and good for game quality
  • SWOT analysis diagram in English language.Image via Wikipediaproducer has to do competitive, SWOT, and risk analyses - for competitive analysis look at past games that set the standard for the genre, present games that are selling well, announced but not yet released games to see key features, how you can position your game against hte competition - she says to write down for each competing game - title developer, publisher, platform, release date, game summary, key features, sales estimates, game reviews on things like metacritic, - can do in a spreadsheet
  • prototypes are good - show people your idea, play test early on, can be paper or digital, good for iterative design, can prototype parts of the game like new game play mechanisms - - gets people from all parts of the team talking about the game since they will all be able to see how it looks and plays
  • milestones - deliverables on key dates key events to track game progress, goals for designers & programmers - have to make sure everyone agrees wiht the definitions of hte milestone deliverables, break down what each part of hte team should have ready for each milestone so each part of the team knows what to expect to be getting from other parts of the team
  • she talked about very detailed schedules i project management software that has dependencies and resources assigned, break down tasks to that subtasks might take just a day or two, get a list from everyone of al the tasks that they think they need to do, organize and prioritize it
  • hard to plan 2 years in advance so producer has to be flexible and be willing to update schedule as you move thru development phases
  • as ya get people to play the prototype - need them to say what htey like/dislike about the game and why - why is the most important and the toughest to actually get, have to tease out what they don't like specifically and what they'd like to see instead

during production - focus on finishing the game - no new features without compelling reasons, stick to the plan, easier to do if there's buy in earlier from the preproduction phase

gamasutra has salary reviews that you could use for initial budgeting
share schedule with the team - again gets buy in, lets them see what happens if they fall behind on their tasks - they can see all the other tasks that will be put off schedule

I ahve a copy of the slides and we're getting a copy of her book with a lot more detail.

I think we have to give students a chance to practice these preproductin skills - developing budgets and schedules, doing QA being the producer, being lead designer/artist/programmer
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