I realise from time to time that most things in the world - inside and outside of game development - can be solved if you just talk to eachother. Maybe not toothache or bad weather, but most other human related issues.
An executive producer who spoke at GDC said something that really got stuck in my mind, that a producer shouldn’t just sit behind their desk, they need to do the walk and talk. Just go around, saying hi, checking how things are going. A lot of problems can be avoided if they’re caught in time. And a lot of times you manage to get there “in time” if you just ask questions. Talk… It sounds easy, right?
During my first six months or so working here I rarely spoke to people without feeling either guilty or stupid. Guilty for disturbing their peace of coding mind. Stupid because I had to ask so many question. It was a rather frustrating time. In order to be a good producer I needed to understand what they were doing and in order to understand I had to ask. But how could they respect me if it became obvious how little I knew? And what if they couldn’t do their job properly cause I constantly pulled them out of their natural work flow by asking [stupid] questions?
I know, no question is stupid if it’s an honest one. But still. Here I am, trying to be “boss” and running the project - but I don’t know what a poolserver is? Great… Apache who? Demons? Are they evil? Extrapol…what?
Time went by and I learned a lot, from constantly listening to the developers discussions and sitting in on their meetings. Occasionly I still asked questions, but with the basic knowledge in place the process was dramatically shortened.
What I’m trying to say is that communication IS the sh*t (pardon my French). It’s the coolest thing ever and a very nice way to get well-read and educated. You get to talk to people who know stuff that you don’t and you can even drink coffe in the meantime.
I rarely, or never, feel stupid anymore. Not just because I’ve actually learned a lot of the basic stuff and keep up with the shop-talk at the office. I’ve also come to realise that not knowing everything doesn’t necessarily make me a worse producer. It’s just hard getting used to when you’re a control freak like me
I suppose it’s a lot to do with feeling comfortable with the people around you. My team knows how much I appreciate them and hopefully they notice how much I enjoy working with them, so I think they’re pretty comfortable with me being their producer ( I also bribe them with candy, cake and ice cream from time to time). And they are so generous with straightening out all the tech questions I might have and keeping me updated with what they’re up to, that I couldn’t be more comfortable with being in charge of this project.
So, don’t stay in your seat all day sending out e-mails that might be misinterpreted. Don’t wait for that scheduled meeting before you speak to your team members. Get up, do the walk and talk. Listen and learn. (and when you meet your friends and family next time, dazzle them with your extended vocabulary…)
// Linda - Certified Annoyer