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Producing Games

Book Description

Master the secrets behind video game production - from concept to completion - with these comprehensive tips and tricks from two accomplished, working game producers. Discover how to lead a team, communicate effectively, budget, schedule, staff, and design quality next-generation games. Producing Games walks you through every stage of the production process with a focus on the part the producer plays at each phase.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Table of Contents
  6. About the Authors
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. Intro: So You Want to be a Video Game Producer
  9. Section One What is a Video Game Producer?
    1. 1 Producer Primer
      1. What a Producer Manages
      2. Why Become a Game Producer
      3. How to Become a Producer
      4. Publishers and Developers
      5. Internal and External Producer Roles
    2. 2 Producing at a Developer
      1. The Schedule
      2. Dev Budget
      3. Pitching Ideas and Representing the Team
      4. Manage Milestone Submissions
      5. Working With Your Publishing Counterpart
    3. 3 Producing at a Publisher
      1. Managing Schedules
      2. Managing the Budgets
      3. Reviewing Milestones
      4. Managing Approvals
      5. Managing Testing
      6. Support: Sales, Marketing, and PR
      7. Working with Stakeholders
      8. Supervising Audio Production
      9. Voice-Over
      10. Contractors
      11. Prep for First Party Submissions
    4. 4 Producer Roles
      1. Executive Producer
      2. Senior Producer
      3. Producer
      4. Associate Producer
      5. Production Coordinator/Assistant Producer
      6. Other Producer Roles
      7. Localization Producer
      8. Cinematics Producer
      9. Licensor Producer
    5. 5 Size and Scope: Large vs. Small, Licensed vs. Original
      1. Team Sizes
      2. Larger vs. Smaller
      3. Big Budgets
      4. Small Budgets
      5. Long vs. Short Schedules
      6. Licensed vs. Original IPs
      7. Sequels and Expansion Packs and Downloadable Content
    6. 6 Producing Skills
      1. Managing a Game
      2. The Key Skills of a Producer (Hard Skills)
      3. Soft Skills (Or, What You Should Know, but Can Learn on the Curve)
    7. 7 Tools of the Trade
      1. Software Solutions and Recommendations
      2. 3-D Graphics and Modeling Packages
  10. Section Two The Process in a Nutshell
    1. 8 The History of Game Development
      1. Case Study: The History of Game Development Through the Evolution of Sierra
    2. 9 Game Project Lifecycle Overview
      1. Concept Phase
      2. Pre-Production Phase
      3. Production Phase
      4. The Crunch: From Pre-Alpha to Release Candidate
    3. 10 The Development Team
      1. Technical Director
      2. Programmers and Engineers
      3. Creative Director
      4. Designers
      5. Art Director
      6. Artists
      7. Animators
      8. Audio Director and Engineer
      9. Writers
      10. QA/Compliance
    4. 11 The Publishing Team
      1. The Producer
      2. Operations, a.k.a. Ops
      3. Tech Director
      4. Art Director
      5. QA Team
      6. Creative Director
    5. 12 Publishers Selecting Developers
      1. Projects That Start With the Publisher (The Dog Wagging the Tail)
      2. Finding the Developer
      3. Projects That Start With the Publisher (The Tail Wagging the Dog
  11. Section Three Scheduling and Structure
    1. 13 Scheduling and Structure
      1. The Producer’s Role in Scheduling
      2. Why Schedule? Heavy Scheduling vs. No Scheduling
      3. Who Owns the Schedules?
      4. Man-Month Schedule
      5. Milestones: How They Affect Everything
      6. Scrum, Waterfall, Agile, and Cowboy Coding
      7. Elements of a Schedule
      8. Troubleshooting
      9. Other Teams’ Needs and Schedules
      10. Hardware
      11. DLC, Expansion Packs, and Sequels
      12. Marketing, PR, and Sales Needs
      13. Screenshots and PR/Marketing Materials
      14. Holidays and Vacation
    2. 14 Development Plan Management (Scheduling to Production)
      1. Tasking the Project
      2. Delegating Tasks
      3. Monitoring Tasks and Tracking Changes
      4. Task Management Software
    3. 15 Budget Management
      1. Creating a Project Budget: Man Months and the P&L
      2. The P&L
      3. Where to Cut Corners
      4. Quality Check
      5. Ethics
    4. 16 The Milestone Schedule
      1. Creating a Milestone Schedule
      2. Managing the Milestone Schedule
      3. Preparing a Milestone for Submission and Review
      4. Items to Expect in a Milestone Deliverable
      5. What Shouldn’t Be Included as a Milestone Deliverable
    5. 17 Pipelines
      1. An Example of a Pipeline: The Character Model
      2. Pods and Cross-Disciplinary Teams
      3. Creating a Pipeline
  12. Section Four Managing Your Project, Your Team, Your Time, and Yourself
    1. 18 Being an Organized Producer
      1. How to Be Organized
      2. Tools of Organization
      3. Don’t Procrastinate
      4. Take a Class in Organization and Time Management
      5. Communication
      6. Communicating Outside of the Team and Back Again
      7. Managing Information Flow
    2. 19 Reviews and Approvals
      1. Approval Pipeline
      2. Approval Forms
      3. Managing Feedback
    3. 20 Meetings
      1. Running Meetings: Short and Sweet
      2. Planning Meetings
        1. How Many and How Often
        2. Software and Tools
      3. Location, Location, Location
      4. The Meeting Agenda
      5. Structuring a Meeting
      6. Keep Your Meeting Moving
      7. Notes and Reports
      8. Some Meeting Etiquette
      9. Regularly Scheduled Meetings
    4. 21 Managing and Supporting Multiple Projects
      1. Juggling: How to Keep Your Balls in the Air
      2. Scheduling and Resource Allocation
    5. 22 Staffing
      1. The Producer’s Role in Staffing
      2. Start with the Core and Expand
      3. Conducting Interviews
      4. Cutting the Fat
      5. Hiring Outside the Team
      6. Where to Find Candidates
    6. 23 Technology: What Every Producer Should Know
      1. How Game Builds Are Created
      2. The Game Engine
      3. A Little About Licensed vs. Proprietary Engines
      4. Middleware
      5. Console Systems
      6. Requirements and Compliance or TRC/TCR/LotCheck
    7. 24 External Management (Publisher)
      1. Managing Management
      2. Presenting the Vision
      3. Managing Other Departments: PR, Marketing, and Sales
      4. Managing Licensors
  13. Section Five Concept Phase
    1. 25 What You Hope to Achieve at Concept
      1. Vision Statement and Game Overview
      2. Project Design Requirements
      3. Design Feature Checklist
    2. 26 The Producer’s Role at the Concept Stage
      1. Process
      2. Meetings at Concept
      3. Where You Are in the Schedule, Budget, and Team
    3. 27 The Creative at the Concept Stage: The Evolution
      1. Brainstorming and Collaboration
    4. 28 Concept Risk Management
      1. Look Ahead
      2. Stakeholder Approvals
      3. Looping in the Tech Director
  14. Section Six Pre-Production
    1. 29 Looking Ahead
      1. The Planning Stages
      2. The Design Phase
      3. Prototype Phase
    2. 30 What You Hope to Achieve at Pre-Production
      1. The Production Plan
      2. Finalizing the Budget and Headcount
      3. Building the Team
      4. Proof of Concept/Vertical Slice
    3. 31 The Producer’s Role at Pre-Production
      1. The Team
      2. Scheduling Best Practices for Pre-Production
      3. Creating the Task Inventory
      4. Organize Dependencies
      5. Expanding in Pre-P
    4. 32 The Game Design Doc
      1. The Various Formats of the GDD
      2. Not Just What, but How!
      3. The Elements of a GDD
    5. 33 Tech, Art, and Sound Design Docs
      1. The Art Design Doc (ADD)
      2. The Sound Design Doc (SDD)
      3. The Tech Design Doc (TDD)
    6. 34 The Tech Side at Pre-Production
      1. Evaluating Tech Needs
      2. The Tech Design Docs (TDD)
      3. Proving the Tech Works
      4. Automated Build Process
      5. Dev and Test Kits
    7. 35 Proof of Concepts, Target Renders, and Prototypes
      1. Proof of Concept or Tech Demo
      2. Target Renders (Tone Video)
      3. Prototypes
      4. Types of Game Prototypes
      5. Building the Prototype into a Demo
      6. Transitioning from Prototype to Full Production
    8. 36 Risk Management: What Can Go Wrong at Pre-Production
      1. Technology
      2. Approvals
      3. Vision
      4. Schedule Locked
      5. Pipelines Established
      6. Be Fully Staffed
      7. Outsourcing
  15. Section Seven The Production Phase
    1. 37 What Are Your Goals for the Production Phase
    2. 38 Builds and the Build Process
    3. 39 The Quality Assurance (QA) Process
    4. 40 Localization
      1. Steps in Localization
    5. 41 Risk Management During Production
      1. Time
      2. Scheduling Issues
      3. Unexpected Delays
      4. Date Changes
      5. Technology
      6. Changes in Direction
      7. Critical Stage Analysis
  16. Section Eight Crunch Mode
    1. 42 What Is the Goal at the End of Production?
      1. Pre-Alpha
      2. Alpha
      3. Beta
      4. A Word on Zero Bugs
      5. GMC and Release Candidate
    2. 43 Game Ratings: The ESRB and You
      1. ESRB Rating Guide
      2. Submitting for Approval
      3. How Can Your Game Get Rejected?
      4. Resubmitting
    3. 44 First-Party Submissions
      1. First Submission
      2. Second Submission
      3. Gold Master Candidate Certification (Third Submission
  17. Section Nine Post-Production
    1. 45 Producer Role During Post-Production Phase
    2. 46 Archiving
    3. 47 Postmortem
  18. Index