Producer is one of the most difficult roles to describe accurately,
because there are at least as many definitions of "Producer"
as there are game companies. At the core, the Producer simultaneously
leads and supports the project. It's a difficult role with some big challenges
and even bigger rewards, if you're prepared to lead. Along with producers,
game testers ensure the quality of the games, and are vital to getting
the product shipped.
(producer with 1-2 years experience)
High: $84,000 (executive producer with 6+ years experience)
Producers lead project teams not only on the sheer practical
level of budgeting and scheduling, but also as a day-to-day manager and
servant of the people on the team. Your responsibility for the scope and
schedule means that you play a big part in the design process, to make
sure the game can be achieved on time and on budget. Then, you'll have
the incredibly important job of "managing" the publisher and/or
upper management, protecting the team so that they can get their work
done. You're the torchbearer and vision-keeper for the game as a whole,
maintaining documents of record. You'll need to know how to communicate
with all the members of the team, and smooth out the inevitable struggles
and miscommunications between sub-teams. If a top-level decision needs
to be made, you'll have to gather all the relevant information, because
you're responsible for weighing the risks and contingencies of the decision,
and making the call for better or for worse. Often, you're a primary mouthpiece
for the game, representing the entire team and the product to the media.
And not to forget, the Producer is responsible for the team's well being,
both physical and mental. You will make coffee and buy a lot of team dinners.
You'll stay around the office to watch over the team during crunch, and
pitch in wherever you're needed. If you haven't gathered as much already,
it's a difficult job requiring a wide variety of skills, and entailing
a huge amount of responsibility.
While the title "project manager" can be synonymous with Producer,
sometimes it refers to a role encompassing a major subset of the Producer's
job as described above -- the complicated process of budgeting and scheduling.
As it does for the Producer or AP, this process includes making sure that
the team follows that budget and schedule, by assigning tasks and deadlines,
and following up with individual team members on a regular basis.
Logically enough, assistant (or associate) producers assist the producer,
and are generally considered producers-in-training. The amount of authority
you're given will vary depending upon the company you're with and team
you're on. In some companies, APs are given direct responsibility over
a particular segment of the production, like localization, asset management,
or the team intranet site. For games with large and vocal fan bases, it's
often the AP who is maintaining and populating the chat rooms, posting
on the message boards, refreshing the site content, and getting input
and feedback from the public. And yes, the AP's job can sometimes include
the secretarial tasks such as note-taking at meetings.
Your primary responsibilities as a tester will include bug testing and
reporting, game balance and game feature testing. Game testing is fun,
but it can be demanding. You'll perform traditional feature testing using
testing methodologies that you'll learn on the job, and you'll assist
the design team in identifying imbalances in game play. You will be an
expert on the game and be able to notice any deviation from the correct
design and functionality, no matter how small. You'll be expected to work
hard, often focusing on very specific, detailed problems. Excellent written
and spoken communication skills are crucial to relay what you found to
the rest of the team. Patience and tenacity are important traits to demonstrate,
as the job requires you to "isolate" every bug and figure out
how to replicate it so that it can be fixed.
Building on your experience as a game tester, you'll take leadership of
organizing and guiding the rest of the test team. You'll work with the
producer and designers to create and implement test plans - checklists
of all the features in the game that need to be tested with each successive
version of the game. You may be responsible for hiring and training the
beginning testers. You may also take care of the bug database organization
and format, and help the team clarify any issues related to the database
and its contents. You'll serve as a liaison between the test department
and the rest of the team, the publisher, and company management.