7 Risks in Indie Games Production

Indie game production contains risks. The size and the odds of risks vary, and as a game producer, your job is to identify the potential risks and plan for the risks.

#1 – You
The most crucial part of the indie game production is you. This risk might have low propability to actually happen, but if this risk comes true then the consequences can be enormous. If you get a burn out, then the production will stop. There are at least three different ways to prepare and avoid the risk. First one is taking care of your health. Exercising and eating healthy food (pizza & coke are for programmers, not for game producers…) can have great impact. Besides getting in good shape it also can improve your motivation to work. One hour break walking outdoors can improve your energy to work inside. Another way to avoid risks is to remember to rest. Taking a day off, having breaks are good ways to charge your batteries. The third option is to take an insurance. If something happens at least you know you can get proper medication for illness.

#2 – Funding
The second risk is money: if you run out of money, then your business will die. Besides trying to sell more there are other ways to prepare for this risk. Part time jobs, or freelance jobs can generate some income. Saving and living frugally (but not in the expense of healthy food) are good ways to get better surviving propabilities. I also recommend checking out what governments can offer. There are programs that can help you to fund your international business. I’ve checked 2-3 programs and some of them can offer several hundreds euros each month while others can be bigger one-time funding opportunities – without need to pay the money back.

#3 – Team member leaves
This risk always exists. Even though the team member might be very trustworthy the external conditions might force him to discontinue working with you. This happened to me in Edoiki production and I managed the risk with good relationship with the programmer and simply adjusting the game time line. Contracts and NDAs can be useful in preparing for this risk.

#4 – Data losses
Data losses can be tremendous problem and making backups is essential to avoid the risk.

#5 – Time
One of the biggest factors in games production is time. What happens if the game comes out after the specified deadline? Will competitors get ahead of you? Preparing to the time risk can be difficult, but scheduling the game properly and planning the project properly can help in defeating the risk. Sometimes you might need to leave away some planned features just to make sure the project gets finished on time.

#6 – Quality
Besides time, the quality of the game is important. If you drop away some features to save time then you might avoid one risk, and get another one instead. Your project must have extra high quality. The game should be the best in its field. If your game is not good enough, then you might need to polish the game more to make it a really top notch product. This might mean balancing the quality with time and costs. Prototyping, internal and external testing and getting player feedback can help you to produce a high quality game.

#7 – Costs
Costs are the third parameter in the time-quality-costs triangle. In games production avoiding one risk might mean problems in some other factor. Plan for what you really need to buy and don’t purchase anyhing if you can survive without it. Of course purchasing equipment that adds yours and team’s productivity can be good a investment, but consider carefully on what to purchase. Project budget can get very high in little time.

There are risks in indie games production. Some of them might require planning, while some can be transferred or ignored without much effort. It’s game producer’s job to manage the risks.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Which one do you find easier and more efficient:

1) To learn everything about everything
2) Ask from people who know

Number 2 sounds right to me.

There’s no need for you, me or others to try to learn everything. Besides being quite a lot wasted time it is impossible. I encourage to do much by yourself. I encourage you to learn programming, marketing, culture, sales, business, design, modding, graphics, team management, product planning, productivity to some extent, but I don’t think it’s best use of your time to try to be the best Java programmer and the best 3D modeler in the world. I believe it’s much more efficient to concentrate on getting professionals near you. Get the best Java programmer and the best 3D modeler to work with you. Concentrate on being the best game producer and focusing the areas which you can handle.

It’s not necessary to know everything, it’s much more efficient to gather around professional developers who can help you with specific questions that are outside of your knowledge.

What Big Game Houses Can Learn From Indie Game Teams?

Before the Battle For Middle Earth 2 was released, there were public complaints about the network code in BFME 1. Especially in the player made maps, the out-of-sync error happens quite often.

There was rumour in the BFME1 forums before the release of BFME2:

The BFME2 network code will be much better than in BFME1

I’m not sure who started the rumour, but I believe it must have been heard by the EA/BFME’s producers.

Now, just about a month after the full game is out, we hear the following story:

In an effort to resolve the desync issues in BFME 2 patch 1.02, EA is asking for help regarding the circumstances that are creating desyncs.

It’s a shame that they still experience network problems. I realize sometimes you just have to ‘cut the corners’ to get the game out as possible, but it’s shame that it causes problems to player. I think that BFME is a great game, and can bear the network code – but there are people who won’t. Same applies for BFME2, I believe.

There’s quite important lesson to be learned from this: If you have an online multiplayer playing option in your game, make sure people can play online. In online multiplayer games it’s more important to get to play the game rather than making sure everybody is at 100% sync all the time. It’s acceptable to have some lag and wrong positions, but it’s not acceptable to end most of games by saying that ‘game has gone out-of-sync’.

It’s wonderful to hear stories from indies who can delay their game launch for couple of weeks just to go the extra mile and fix the problems. Delaying the launch is something that big game houses cannot do due deadlines and huge marketing process. They aren’t agile enough – at least not always. Small indie companies are simply more flexible, and that’s our competitive advantage. It’s something that big game houses would need to learn from us.

How To Be A Successful Game Producer?

SOrange presented a tricky question:


How To Be A Successful Game Producer?

First you must define success. For someone… a successful game producer can mean producing a game. For others it can be several produced games. Somebody could think that they would need to get a game producer job at some big company in order to be successful. Others might think that producing a hit game would be considered success.

The second part of being successful is very easy to remember: there’s only one thing you need to possess in order to be successful game producer. Brian Tracy has presented the universal rule on being successful: You must never quit. You cannot lose if you don’t quit. And if you don’t quit, you will eventually go through any obstacle that you might encounter. If you won’t give up you will eventually be successful. You can rest for a while if necessary, but don’t quit.

In order to be a successful game producer you must first define success, and secondly – never quit while reaching that success.

Can I Be a Game Producer?

Yes you can.

Especially you recognize any of these in you:
- You have a dream of creating your own game (good, good – every goal begins with a vision)
- You might have tried to develop some games (even a better sign)
- You are interested in games (chances are that you enjoy games, and can build a career around them)
- You are jealous to successful game developers, or feel at least little bit jealous sometimes when you see success (this is a good sign, we humans are jealous to something what we want)
- You have developed a game demo (a very, very good sign – this means you got what it takes to developer games!)
- You are interested in both programming and business of game development (being a producer means you have to take responsibility not only about programming)

Sounded familiar to you?

21 Differences Between Bad and Good Game Producer

What are differences between bad game producers and professional game producers?

There certainly are something that makes people hate others, and praise others – and in this article I will display some factors from my experience.

Here are 21 differences which I’ve read, seen, heard and experienced coming true among poor or good game producers.

Check out the list – poor versus good:

  1. Doesn’t play video games at all (or all the time) – is not interested.
  2. Is so “busy” that is never around when needed.
  3. Is the Dictator – the one who commands.
  4. Can’t remember team member names. Doesn’t care. Treats everybody the way he wants. Ignores everybody.
  5. Escapes problems – blames for “bad conditions”.
  6. Is totally clueless about the future.
  7. Tries to lead the team – fails miserably.
  8. Takes, never giving anything or contributing in an efficient way.
  9. Misses meetings, doesn’t respect other people’s time or schedules.
  10. Postpones decision making.
  11. Focuses only on profit.
  12. Foggy goals: vague objectives, never uses any deadlines. Cannot tell when goal is achieved.
  13. Has a great game idea – but no any skills to produce it. Thinks he can be the master-mind with the game idea.
  14. Hides things deliberately or accidentally. Loses documents. Is unorganized.
  15. Expects others to perform well all the time.
  16. Over promises, under delivers.
  17. Has never finished a title. No Pong nor Tetris clone yet wants to create the next revolutionary MMORPG.
  18. Has heard about ‘project management’.
  19. Poor communication skills. Thinks negotiations are something where you say, and the other agrees.
  20. Stays in the pool of other whiners. Thinks the project is going to fail. Has lots of negative energy.
  21. Changes plans all the time. Doesn’t listen to others in decision-making.
  1. Plays different games for ideas, motivation and learns from playing.
  2. Is available anytime – or almost at anytime.
  3. Is the Leader – the one who leads by example.
  4. Knows all team members, including their style of working – their habits and treats them accordingly.
  5. Owns problems, even when they aren’t his mistakes.
  6. Has clear and focused vision.
  7. Has the respect of other team members.
  8. Gives, contributes and works harder than anyone in the team.
  9. Is reliable – is never late, informs early about possible delays.
  10. Is good at making decisions.
  11. Has passion for games.
  12. Absolutely clear goals: goals that are either DONE or NOT DONE. Nothing in the between.
  13. Wears different hats when needed: artist’s, designer’s, programmer’s, manager’s, marketer’s, leader’s – you name it.
  14. Keeps the project visible, makes sure all know what’s happening in the project.
  15. Performs well – and helps others to do the same.
  16. Under promises, over delivers.
  17. Has industry experience. Has participated in game productions – small or big. Is eager to get more experience.
  18. Excellent project and time management skills.
  19. Communicates well with programmers, artists, publishers, marketing team and others.
  20. Thinks big – knows that reaching the top is a matter of time and dedication.
  21. Makes proper planning – sticks with the plans, but is ready to be flexible.

Of course these 21 qualities are only rough guidelines and examples, not rules written in stone. Not every producer have these qualities, and it’s not a necessary depending on the producer’s role. Generally speaking producers are expected to possess qualities from the right side of this list – the more the better.

Who Is The Game Producer?

Who is the game producer?

- The one who works with the programmers.
- The one who works with the marketers.
- The one who works with the artists.
- The one who who works with anyone else.
- The one who gets blamed when failure comes.
- The one who will confront the blame.
- The one who is prepared to deal with any possible problem.
- The one who gives space to others to work their way.
- The one who understands how important all team members are.
-The one who makes sure team gets the credit it deserves.

That’s the one.

Words From EA’s Game Producer

Lord of The Rings: Battle for Middle Earth (BFME) is one of the games I enjoy playing (I play using name “cogitogamer” in case you are interest). It’s been long time since the version 1.02 update was released – even though it was announced to come much sooner. There have been lots of rumours, delays, excuses, explanations – but finally it seems that the update is coming.

EA did make a mistake by announcing the patch much earlier than they should have done. It’s always a bad thing to promise something that you can’t keep. But, I also think they did a great job by informing the community. I find it admirable that a big corporation like EA – and especially the game producer of BFME – can find time to actually make communicate with the players so directly – and listen to them.

Lo and behold, a miracle is arising and I tempt you not. Patch 1.03 is officially in LT, which stands for “Language Translation” for our international territories. This basically means the 150+ tool tip changes, among other changes, need to be translated to 11 different languages so everyone around the world can understand and enjoy the patch. We just went in today.

As i’ve said, we have been working on this patch non-stop for the past month in between finaling BFME 2. The unfortunate consequence of this timing, as has been the case all along is the amount of resources we we have physically been able to dedicate to the patch within QA. There are protocols the patch must go thru that we have no choice but to follow, such as the LT phase.

So what next?

Well, according to plan, we are aiming for LT approval by the end of this week, and then from there we go in to the final stages of CQC and ECG who give us the final sign off. Once they approve, we put the patch live. Once that happens, I am going to reset the GameSpy ladders and get everyone back on a fresh clean slate.

Once the patch is live, I am going to work with GameSpy to further anihiliate cheaters. We can get the community off to a fresh start.

So, I do not have a release date for the patch, but the good news is, we are in the finaling stages. I will let you know as soon as we enter CQC. From there, we can start to asses a release day.

I would also like to apologize for the process this patch has been thru and the unintentional neglect you have felt. It’s hard for you to see from the inside what we go thru here, but I fully understand that we can’t expect you to. In the future, I am going to work hard to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the same nature. Patch support is as vital to you as it is to me, and when it’s not delivered, I loose my own credibility as a community manger to help build the community, and it makes it extremely tough to build upon other ideals.

That’s your update for today.


Their game producer approached this problem in the following way:
- First he informs what’s happening (the patch is in LT)
- Then he tells what they are going to do (clean the ranks, handle cheaters)
- Gives a brief explanation about the delay (protocols, BFME2)
- Explains that there is no release day yet but it’s coming – and that they will keep community informed
- Apologizes the delay

The only (tiny) problem I see here is the “explanation” I think they should own the problem, not blame the “process”. Hiding behind a process, techonology, rules, corporation or anything will do more bad than good. If there has been release date announcements (or even rumours from players) earlier – then they should have said clearly what’s going on. Anyway – I appreciate the way their game producer participates and builds the community. That is something you don’t see happening too often. Thumbs up.

Game Producer Qualifications

An example of qualifications for a game producer:

- At least 3-5 years experience in managing teams of creative people, and managing creative projects from concept to release. A technical background is preferred.
- A willingness to do whatever it takes to get the highest quality games shipped, including the occasional unpleasant task (making installers or wrappers).
- A passion for game development, and the ability to manage equally passionate people in a rapidly changing marketplace.
- Ability to balance the needs of a business with the talent of a creative team.
- Independence and initiative – a proven track record of seeking out tasks, finding new ways to enhance productivity both personally and for the team.
- Extreme attention to detail without compromising the ability to do many things at once with ongoing interruptions.
- Ability to create top-quality products with a limited budget and resources in a highly competitive market, all in 40 hour weeks.
- Highly developed written and verbal communication skills. Must communicate ideas easily to the entire team including artists, designers, and offsite contacts.

I think many indies who have taken their own route carry these qualifications with them. Some skills might be weaker, some stronger, but you can see similarities between an indie game developer and a “generic” game producer.