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  • Captain Starshot: A Team Lead's Takeaway

    [07.02.19]
    - Nick Guilliams

  • Goal #3: Set a common goal

    Depending on what project stage you start in this may or may not come natural. However having the entire team focused on the same goal is harder than it seems. When you have your team focused on reaching the same goal and vision the ideas and creative effort will be more in line with what the project's needs.

    A couple of tools that helped us establish this:

    • Kick ass concept art

    • Working proof of concept prototype

    • Build reviews (more on this later)

    Help the team see the same thing. There will always be deviations but get them as close to each other as possible. Ideally you would be able to make a cinematic like For Honor.

    Before For Honor, Ubisoft's medieval brawler, actually became a fully playable game they spend millions on creating a cinematic. This was a very simple but high quality video where they followed a knight around the battlefield fighting other dudes with an e-sports sounding narrator talking over it. This establishes:

    • The game goal: Competitive and potential E-sports

    • The gameplay

    • The setting

    • The art style

    • The feeling

    I would say that this is the only way to get people to see nearly the exact same thing. However i not every team has the funds to do this so you can simply stick with the aforementioned points.

    Goal #4: Milestones & Deadlines

    As a producer you will no doubt hear the words milestones and deadlines every day. It's considered to be one of the main responsibilities as a producer. Milestones and deadlines do not mean much to a team until you actually reach them, therefore it is extremely tempting to keep pushing them so that the deliverable will be of higher quality. Even though you are the producer you will not be able to either push or not push one of these without resistance from the team. 

    Instead of having the team work hard to make these deadlines i would advise you to set team events. Build reviews, play time, competitions, art competitions, ... anything that gets the team involved with the project in a non-development way but still has them look at the project and see where it can be improved. This will give the team a moment where they can sit down, take a moment and actually take a look at what the current state of the game versus what you wanted to achieve. Milestones and deadlines do surprisingly little for that, treat them as official deliverables you have to hit because they will not be much more to the team.

    Note #1: Altruism, stress management and scapegoating

    As a producer you will be taking a lot of blame. I am talking about almost every single thing. If you can't take that without becoming emotional and personal you should really consider doing something else. As a producer you will be responsible for everything you are not able to do yourself and if it goes wrong you will take the first blame for it. In many cases even the team will start using you as a scapegoat. 

    If the team starts using you as a scapegoat often this might be a sign of a bigger underlying problem you haven't identified yet so if that's the case, investigate!

    Furthermore, you will be doing a lot of unthankful work. It will happen and you have to be able to deal with that.

    Note #2: Hard skills VS Soft skills

    Your soft skills will be much more important than your hard skills. Read up and learn about how to open constructive dialogue, how to diffuse an emotional discussion and how to negotiate. These are the tools of your trade, planning scheduling and organizing comes second.

    I hope this might help someone out in the future. I tried not to go in depth of the specific issues we had and just stick with the takeaway points.

    Cheers,
    Nick

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