Tackling large-scale projects can be incredibly daunting...but as an Associate Producer at Filament Games, that’s literally my job. I’m currently working on one of Filament’s biggest projects yet, and with it has emerged an entirely new set of challenges for both myself and my colleagues. When balancing large teams, long timelines, and multiple stakeholders, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To help keep you afloat, I’ve compiled a short list of reminders that I like to keep in mind when coordinating large-scale game projects:
Communicate! A producer’s greatest tool is undoubtedly their ability to facilitate communication. On a larger project, communication becomes particularly critical for success. My first suggestion to anyone taking on a larger project is to establish the methods and avenues of communication on a project as early as possible. At Filament, our teams primarily use Slack channels to correspond internally, as it allows us to document our discussions while minimizing potential in-person disruptions. On the other hand, it’s also important that we establish in-person meetings as well. This often takes the form of quick daily stand-ups, sprint planning and reviews, and build reviews. All of these meetings achieve different goals when it comes to the production pipeline, but ultimately they serve to keep all members of the team on the same page. As producers on custom game projects, we also manage channels of communication with our client. These channels look different for each project, but for larger projects we often try to communicate with the the client beyond a typical weekly check in. This can include creating separate build reviews for our clients to see our weekly progress or having them call in during our sprint planning meetings, which help keep all parties informed regarding the status of our work.
Allocate! When running a big project it’s also incredibly important to be aware of your available resources. In our case, “resources” refers to the team; namely, how many people are on the team and how much work they have assigned (allocation) versus how much work they can do at one time. At Filament, we review everyone's allocation on a weekly basis, but for larger projects, individual producers and project leads check regularly to make sure the developers aren’t overworked. In the case we find that someone has too much work on their plate, we have several options to choose from. We may choose to revise the design and reduce the scope of the project, or we see if we can adjust the timeline to accommodate for the extra work. There’s often a misconception that adding another body to a project can make the work go twice as fast, but the reality is that this isn’t the case. Bringing on someone requires time from our team to onboard the newest member and get them up to speed on our tech, code, and art, which can slow down the efficiency of a team. At Filament, we have team composition down to an art and only add new developers if that is the best fit for our project and client.
Organize! Lastly, when managing a large project, it is vital for producers to stay organized. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you simultaneously have developers approaching you with questions, managers requesting contracts, and important documentation to...document, it can be a challenge to stay on top of it all. Filament’s production team uses a variety of different strategies and services to organize their daily schedules. Some of my colleagues like Google Keep's helpful email reminders, whereas others prefer a more conventional ‘sticky note on desk’-approach. I personally like using Asana to organize my tasks. It’s up to us to document our work in a way that is both thorough and up-to-date, but also allows us the proper time to review deliverables, remain open to our team’s needs, and balance all the other forces constantly demanding our attention.