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15 Oct 2013

Best Practices as an Indie Game Producer

Last week, I discussed a few ways indie game producers actually hurt their projects in the long run by detailing a few mistakes many indie producers make – even if they realize it or not. Yet, I didn’t go too in-depth about proper practices that indie producers need to abide by. So what can you do to ensure that you are leading your team to victory instead of keeping them from realizing their ultimate potential? Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will ensure that you are able to be the best indie game producer you can be!

 

Be a leader – a builder of functional teams

Sure, many people can lead a team to greatness, but it takes a truly gifted indie game producer to actually take the team, make them functional, and lead them to developing the best game possible. In short, the best indie game producers bring out the very best in their team, and by doing so, teams are able to overcome obstacles and challenges that would have otherwise seemed impossible. Being a successful, effective, and top-quality indie game producer is about leading your team to victory rather than project management – knowing the difference between the two is vital to your success in your role as a producer.

 

Adaptation

Because there is not a sole piece of advice that will allow you to be an outstanding indie game producer, it is imperative that you are able to adapt to nearly any situation that is thrown your way. Flexibility is key, and you need to be able to analyze any situation and discover the best way to react to certain situations in an instant. While it’s a tired phrase, the ability to constantly ‘think outside the box,’ is a must as well, as it will allow you to use your kills to discover exactly what you need to do in order to react to a situation properly.

 

Listen to your team

We all know project leaders, bosses, supervisors, and so on that rarely ever listen to others. They constantly display their message for everyone to hear, all the while failing to listen to anyone else. This hurts the project in two ways:

  1. It lowers the morale of your team. If they feel as if you will not listen, they are going to find it extremely difficult to care about the game being developed.
  1. You do not learn anything from them. As in life, producers (i.e. leaders) learn from those they are leading on a regular basis and vice-versa. If you close yourself to hearing everyone else’s’ opinions, you are not only harming the project as a whole, but your career and your ability to grow as a human being.

Moreover, in order for your team members to accept your role in leading them, they need to feel as if you are listening. Make them feel as if you value their opinion; in addition, genuinely value their opinion. Listen, discuss, and talk to them on a regular basis, which leads me to another point.

Ask for their help regularly

A great indie game producer has enough humility to ask for help whenever they need it. Ask the members of your team to tell you what they believe needs to be adjusted during the development process, what could be improved in-game, and so on. In short, allow them to know that you value their input on a regular basis. Discuss how the project is going along at various times throughout the week, and essentially…

 

Trust your team

  • Trust them by showing that you know the game is in good hands with them.
  • Trust their judgment.
  • Trust them to make good decisions in the long run, even when they have self-doubt in their ability to make a deadline, accomplish a certain task, etc.

The third point is vital to being a great indie game producer: trust your team, even when they do not trust themselves. How many times have you felt as if you could not accomplish a certain task, yet because someone believed that you could accomplish it, it gave you the confidence to try and ultimately succeed? Most of us have experience this type of trust in our lives at one point or another, whether it is from a mentor, teacher, parent and/or family member, friend, etc. If your team knows that you trust – genuinely trust – that they will accomplish the tasks you have laid before them, you are going to find that they have the confidence to succeed, all because you believed in them.

 

Never ‘band-aid’ a situation

With every challenge you face, you need to apply a long-term solution rather than a short-term, or, ‘band-aiding’ a situation. You never want to solely fix a situation – rather, you want to ‘permanently fix’ a situation. Let’s be honest here: a temporary fix of any situation isn’t a fix at all. Instead, it’s only delaying the actual fix to a problem.

‘Fixing’ a problem could relate to anything, from fixing a glitch in a game to improve the in-game currency of your F2P game to fixing a small, annoying control mishap that is affecting the overall fun of your game. To fix a problem, again, never feel as if you cannot ask for help from your team. Allow them to discuss how you should fix the problem, and from there, both you and your entire team will be able to put your minds’ together and come up with a permanent solution.

 

Act as if you are a part of the team

This seems like a no-brainer, but we see individuals in leadership positions all the time that feel as if they are not part of the team, but rather feel as if they are above them. As an indie game producer, you are as much of a part of the team as every other team member that is working on the game. If everyone has to begin working on the game at 8am, you need to be ready to work at 7:30am. If everyone has to work overtime, only then can you stop working after the last individual has finished. Nobody respects the indie game producer that states everyone has to work late only to leave an hour before everyone else, and of course, you want your team to respect you. Thus, be there alongside them every moment they are working.

Joke with them, eat lunch with them, talk with them after-hours, grab a few drinks with them – let them know you are part of their team! However, also let them know that if they have any problems and need direction during any part of the development process, that you will guide them in the proper direction, to which they will learn and become better at their craft.

And that’s really the first few ingredients for being a great indie game producer: lead your team, teach them, and not only guide them, but allow them to empower themselves and become better at what they do best. By doing so, once they leave the team and go onto their next indie game to develop, they will be better at what they live for than they were when they initially began working with you.

Lead your team properly as an indie game producer, and your team is going to develop the best game they possibly can!

1 Response

  1. Thank you so much! this was a very great article to read – I am a somewhat retired indie film director who aims to lead his first team to game development process. I agree and adopt a lot of these principles and as I am writing my GDD – it is great to read this as a companion! Thank you for your hard work and your words- they truly have inspired me. Please let me know if I can repay the favor in anyway. I believe in passing on the good juju =D

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