This has got me thinking a bit, as to what a good producer should do.
Obviously this depends on the size of the teams ( on a smaller team, the producer will probably be involved mouse-on with part of the actual production ).
I’m going to assume a > 5 team here.
A producer should be the link between the business side and the creative side of running a games team.
They should ensure that the development team is meeting targets.
They should ensure the team has all of the resources required to meet these targets.
They should ensure that the targets begin set are feasible, and are not suddenly changed to being infeasible by upper management, accounting, marketing etc.
They should have a previous skill in either the art or technical side of developing a game, and an appreciation of the one they don’t have. This will aid them in knowing if a project is on track.
They should not have more than two of these hats…
– producer ( ie ensure team is meeting, and have the resources to meet, targets ). An obvious one, being a producer, but a lot of producers don’t wear this hat. This hat should be glued to a producer.
OK, onto the other hats.
– head designer
Having too many hats may, from my previous experience…
a) will start to heat up the head of the producer, and as a result swell it beyond recognition
b) will cover their ears, so they don’t listen to what other members of the team are saying
c) will cause the real designers of the game ( the team members, and the real lead designers ) to feel that their views aren’t being taken on board, thus lowering team morale
and worst of all..
d) cause the producer to renage on their primary role as a producer ( see above ), putting the team in a position where they are not confident that they are meeting the targets, or even what the targets are.
I’ve worked on over 6 released PC and console games, and have had quite a few different producers, some of which have been great, and some not-so-great. The team itself always pulls through, irrelevant of the producers skills or lack thereof, but having a good producer can make all the difference at crunch times and right at the end of a project.