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Chapter 7.1 Game Production & Management. Overview. Mainstream Video games and computer games are made by large teams of people. Big Expensive Time-consuming projects Chapter 7 is from point of view of the Producer (a.k.a. director or project manager) Producers can work for game developers

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overview
Overview
  • Mainstream Video games and computer games are made by large teams of people.
    • Big
    • Expensive
    • Time-consuming projects
  • Chapter 7 is from point of view of the Producer (a.k.a. director or project manager)
    • Producers can work for game developers
    • Manage the developer’s team in fulfilling a game development contract
five phases of making a game
Five Phases of Making a Game
  • Concept Phase
  • Preproduction
  • Production
  • Postproduction
  • AfterMarket
concept phase
Concept Phase
  • Publisher has decided to pursue a game concept.
    • Producer usually first person assigned to work on new project
  • Game concepts usually not brainchild of game designer
  • Usually based on past successes or business deals
  • Where concepts come from
    • Sequels based on previous successful games
    • Film licenses
    • Technology re-use (characters, add new features inherent in other games that are gaining wide consumer acceptance)
    • Occasionally, original concepts get greenlit
concept phase cont
Concept Phase – cont.
  • Producing the conceptual design
    • Written by Producer or Game Designer
    • Producer can hire internal or external game designer (sworn to secrecy)
  • Requires several meetings
  • Describes story and character developments to occur
  • Outline improvements
    • Game
    • UI
    • Level design
  • Address ways game will reclaim users
  • If the game was a licensed concept…
    • Producer would have to discuss concept with the licensor.
  • Working Title (Important Marketing Tool)
  • For Sequels you just need a subtitle
  • Producer creates executive summary (just highlights)
    • Concept Document needs to be brief, yet provide satisfactory answers to big questions
concept phase cont6
Concept Phase – cont.

Green Light Committee

  • Producer supplies
    • Printed copies of conceptual design
    • PowerPoint presentation
    • Games are installed in meeting room
  • Folks Present
    • Executives of Publisher’s studio, distribution, licensing, sales, marketing, financial and international divisions (by teleconference or video conference)
  • The meeting could go smoothly  or not .
  • If all goes well the Producer will get approve the Green Light to proceed and use the Publishing company’s resources:
    • Money, personnel, equipment, office space, and internal network
pre production phase
Pre-Production Phase
  • Producer needs GDD written by internal or freelance designer and and selects development team
  • GDD (Game Design Document)
  • Team Selection
  • Internal staffing plan (management challenge)
    • Existing employees (same roles)
    • Promotions, transfers (new roles)
    • Hire new employees
external development
External Development
  • Selecting an external developer
    • Previously used developers
      • Other sources (e.g. IGDA and Gamasutra.com)
    • Referrals (producers, developers)
    • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • Bid package
    • Treatment or GDD to date
    • Publisher’s expectations for product
      • Developer needs to know
      • Genre, Platform, Target Audience and Competition
    • Bid format and due date
      • Triple-A or budget title?
      • How many levels, characters, or missions game entails?
      • Special technology or features
      • Demo? Specs? Demo Due date?
      • Some developers ask for royalties on the game’s sales. Producer will want lower upfront cost (advance) if royalties are a part of the picture.
the development agreement
The Development Agreement
  • Developer’s obligations
  • Publisher’s obligations
  • IP ownership
  • Warranties
  • Termination
  • Milestones
milestones
Milestones
  • Highly detailed, specific
  • Quantifiable, measurable
  • Due dates
  • Payment amounts (upon acceptance)
  • Avoid terms like “alpha” and “beta” unless clearly defined
  • Milestone approval cycles
the technical design document
The TechnicalDesign Document
  • GDD is a statement of the problem; TDD is a statement of the solution
  • Foundation for the programming work
  • Identify technical challenges
  • Plan for technical solutions
  • Set forth asset format guidelines
scheduling
Scheduling
  • Generate task lists from GDD & TDD
  • Plan everything
    • Programming
    • Assets
    • Demos
    • Approvals
    • Green lights
    • Vacations, holidays
    • QA
  • Work backwards from completion
the golden spike
The Golden Spike
  • May 10, 1869 – Promontory, Utah
  • Start at both ends, work towards the middle (alpha and/or beta)
  • The back end cannot be compressed
  • Determine target beta date to achieve desired ship date
  • Can game achieve beta by target date?
adjusting the schedule
Adjusting the Schedule
  • Add people to reduce development time?
  • Deliver assets on time
    • Don’t make programmers wait for assets
  • Prioritize feature set
    • Lower priority features to be done later if possible
  • Look for bottlenecks
    • (feature-technology interdependencies)
budgeting
Budgeting
  • Personnel costs
    • Salary x time x involvement %
  • Developer/Contractor payments
  • Equipment & software
  • Supplies
  • Travel & meals
  • Shipments
profit loss analysis p l
Profit & Loss Analysis (P&L)
  • Costs
    • Production budget
    • Cost of goods (COGs)
    • Marketing
    • Licensor royalties
    • Developer royalties
  • Revenues
    • Projected Sales
    • Wholesale price
    • Ancillary sales (OEM, strategy guides)
kickoff green light
Kickoff Green Light
  • Producer’s plan for the project
    • GDD
    • TDD
    • Schedule
    • Budget
  • Green light
    • Executives
    • IP owner (licensor)
    • Platform holder
production phase
Production Phase
  • Programming now underway
  • Kicking off tasks – art creation
    • Art lists
    • Art asset file naming conventions
    • Art asset tracking
    • Art asset approval cycles
    • Art asset delivery formats
red flag spotting
Red Flag Spotting
  • The usual causes of red flags:
    • Team conflicts
    • Personnel issues
    • Design problems
    • Money troubles
    • Technical glitches
    • Change requests
    • Schedule delays
  • Take immediate action
kicking off tasks audio
Kicking Off Tasks - Audio
  • Sound list
  • Music specification
  • Story text
  • Voice-over script
  • Creation of sounds
  • Creation or licensing of music
  • Recording of voice-overs
first playable proof of concept
First Playable – Proof of Concept
  • Keeping everyone on board
    • Licensor(s)
    • Platform holder(s)
    • Executives
    • The Team
  • The Cerny method
  • Keeping the momentum going
phases within phases
Phases Within Phases
  • Pre-production
  • Production
    • Early production
    • Mid-production
      • Alpha
    • Late production
      • Beta
  • Post-production
the multitasking producer
The Multitasking Producer
  • Time management
  • Managing mid-production
  • Expecting the unexpected
  • Red flags in mid-production
  • Design by committee = consensus?
  • Late production
working with marketing
Working with Marketing
  • Working title  final title
  • Screen shots
  • E3 demo
  • Magazine demo
  • Platform holder promo
post production
Post-Production
  • Personnel transfers
  • Localizations
  • ESRB rating
  • Box & docs
  • Strategy guide
quality assurance
Quality Assurance
  • Test plan
  • The QA database
  • QA – the view from inside
  • The QA-producer relationship
the light at the end of the tunnel
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Operations
  • OEM & bundled versions
  • Post mortem