The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Game Producers

I believe there are several mistakes game producers can do – and here’s the seven poor examples.

1 – Find only faults, ignore job done well
This is probably a habit we all make – whether it’s our kids, pets, or our spouse. We tend to focus on the negative aspects. It’s easy to find faults, but when everything goes well – we say nothing. It’s same in game production: when team does a lousy job, they get blamed. When somebody is late, he gets blamed. When art comes late, somebody gets the blame. When everything runs smoothly, what the game producer does? He says nothing!

Get rid of this habit. Start seeing the full half of the glass. And I mean really start seeing and looking for it. When the whole team does a meeting properly, thank them. When the programmer does something extraordinary that wasn’t asked, thank him. When you have had a good day – thank for that. Change your attitude. Focus on positive elements.

2 – Ask opinions, then ignore them
This is another poor habit from game producers. First they might have massive plans, where they want everybody to contribute (and of course state that it’s crucially important that everybody gets involved) and finally they gather opinions. After hours and hours of work and brainstorming the game producer sits down with management team and ignores what everybody else said. People don’t (always) mind if their opinions is not asked. But if you ask some one’s opinion, be sure to hear it as well.

3 – Set unrealistic schedules, and expect people to work overtime
This must be very common in big corporations – not so much in indie teams – where big goals are set, milestones are established, and plan seems to go well. When the deadlines approach… producer notices that they are late on schedule and as they cannot reduce features, increase costs or delay the deadline – the obvious answer is: get people to work overtime, without extra payment.

That’s poor, poor habit. It will ruin motivation, ruin your reputation and eventually ruin the whole project. Manage risks before they occur! Make sure to set realistic plans and negotiate deadlines also in the beginning, not only when they are about to be missed.

4 – Get people to work on something urgent, and then ignore and never use the outcome
This is probably one of the best ways to ruin motivation (believe me, I’ve done this several times…) and people’s trust. If you continuously give people tasks (such as ‘new 3D model’ or ‘new user interface library’) and then ignore the task and not implement in the main game, you are sure to run into problems. It’s waste of time, money and patience to do work that’s never used. There’s the old management saying that’s very true: failing to plan is planning to fail.

5 – Be always right, don’t ever make mistakes
It isn’t always necessary to be right. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes. Trying something that doesn’t work and then trying something else is okay. But, for some reason some game producers just won’t get this. They get into fight about anything in order to ‘save their face’ or to ‘show negotiation skills’ or to just simply in need to be right. What they don’t realize is that being right is dangerous. Being right can get people against you, and kill team morale.

For example, a producer might get into fight about how something should be done. Maybe they say they have experience about what game platforms should be used and they won’t give a second thought for any other possibility. If they are possessed by the idea of having ‘windows only’ then they might die before admit that it might be reasonable idea to consider Xbox or Mac as well. Whatever facts you present doesn’t matter – their pride demands them to defend their position. Even if it costs them money, time, respect, or friends.

One good way to deal with this habit, is to ask yourself: “Do I want to be right, or do I want to keep my respect (or job or friend or whatever issue it is)”

6 – Manage, for the sake of management
Please, if you have this habit: get rid of immediately. There are producers who care more about how something is done rather than the outcome. If you want to have a high quality 3D model in .3DS format in 4 days, is it really necessary you to tell your modeler whether he should use Lightwave or 3D Studio Max? Isn’t it much more important to focus on results rather than how the work is done? Even then, there are managers who love to micromanage everything.

Another poor example is scheduling meetings for the sake of meetings. Is it really necessary to keep meetings, if nobody even listens (or remembers) what was agreed (if any) when they could be working on something important? Don’t get me wrong – daily reports can be good, but if your meeting has stuff only for 15 minutes, then don’t make it 1 hour for the sake of having “one hour meeting each day”.

7 – Lead by poor example
This is the poorest habit that sums everything: if you lead by poor example, then you can expect your team to work poorly. If you always come late to meetings, how can you expect other team members to finish their tasks on time? If you come late to work, how can you expect team members to work overtime? If you cannot deal with the work load you have, how can you expect team members to finish their tasks on time? If you take the glory, and ignore everybody else in the team – do you really expect team members to respect you?

Get rid of your bad habits. Be professional. And act like one.

Juuso Hietalahti

One Comment

  1. Get rid of your bad habits. Be professional. And act like one.

    Why do I feel like I’ve just been told off?!


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