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Session Name: Producer Boot Camp
Speaker(s): Matt Allen, Rod Fergusson, Pete Isensee, Richard Lemarchand, Mike McShaffry, Matt Priestley
Company Name(s): Monolith Productions, Epic Games, Microsoft, Naughty Dog, Red Fly Studio, Bungie
Track / Format: Production
Overview: With each new generation of gaming hardware - capabilities are increased, customer expectations are raised, games become more complex and team sizes grow larger. Now more than ever, in the controlled chaos that is game development, the role of the producer is critical to the success of shipping a blockbuster title. Successful producers are much more than just schedule jockeys; they are team managers, communication facilitators, conflict mediators, risk mitigators, work enablers and predictors of the future.

The Producer Boot Camp focuses on some of the key skills required by producers, both new to the role and seasoned veterans, to be successful in this challenging industry.

SCHEDULE
10-10:15am - Intro/Welcome Remarks


10:15-11:15am
So You Want to be a Great Producer
Speaker: Rod Fergusson
As game development has grown more complex, the once undervalued role of Producer has become even more critical to its success. For new Producers, those looking to become Producers or those who just want to understand us better, this presentation will discuss key aspects of the production discipline from both an external and internal perspective, describe common production pitfalls and try to explain why Producers are like meteorologists.


11:30-12:30pm
Communication Scaling: How to Keep People Talking to Each Other
Speaker: Matt Allen
Over the last 5 years team size has expanded exponentially. Large team size requires more layers of management and oversight. The extra management added to the increased team size puts a fair amount of strain on cross team communication, as the older smaller team communication styles breakdown with the new scale. As Monolith has grown we have seen and been through a number of these issues and pitfalls and this talk will walk through those, while identifying best practice in large team and cross discipline communication.


2-3pm
Effective Management: Getting the Best from Your Team
Speaker: Pete Isensee
Getting a group of diverse people in a game studio motivated and moving in the same direction is one of the biggest challenges for producers - and one of the most important. This presentation will cover best practices to help you manage teams effectively. Topics include driving consensus, persuasion, goal-setting, accountability, leadership, morale and team culture.


3:15-4:15pm
Bend MSFT Project to Your Will - Again
Speaker: Mike McShaffry
Almost everyone agrees that scheduling game production with Microsoft Project is somewhere between difficult to impossible. This lecture will show tricks in Microsoft Project learned over twelve years of consistent use. Attendees will see how to organize their schedules, learn the difference between using priorities and links, how to schedule milestones, understand how to use custom working schedules, and see how to enter extra data into their schedules to keep everything in order.


4:30-5pm
By the Seat of Our Pants: How Naughty Dog Produced Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Speaker: Richard Lemarchand
Naughty Dog's latest game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has been an enormous success, attracting effusive critical acclaim and sales figures to match. Billed as 'the ultimate playable summer blockbuster adventure', the game has won fans far and wide and hit the high bar of quality that the studio set for itself.

Storytelling third-person character action games are notoriously difficult to create; yet Sony-owned Naughty Dog is famous for its loosely structured approach to game development. The studio is hierarchically very flat, and does not have any dedicated producers or project managers in-house. Communication takes place on an ad-hoc basis, design accretes through action and anyone can tell anyone that their work sucks - as long as they have a constructive suggestion.

So how has the studio's from-the-hip approach - which seems to some like it could not possibly work - resulted in a long line of on-time, on-budget triple-A games? Lead Game Designer Richard Lemarchand will describe how Naughty Dog's approach can help unlock the latent power of your team.


5-5:30pm
Wrangling Engineers
Speaker: Matt Priestley
Techniques for producing technical yet passionate people. Code, script, and server tech are the bones and blood of triple-A titles, yet engineers work quite differently from the artists and designers who make a game worth playing. At Bungie, engineers relish the chance to help with impromptu requests and they expect producers to make it possible. How can we bridge this gap so architectural work arrives on predictable dates even while prototyping swirls around us? How can we help creative leads with keep-or-cut decisions on code features? This talk reviews helpful techniques for negotiating, budgeting time, and forging trust with your engineering staff.

GDC 2010

Matt Allen

Monolith Productions

Rod Fergusson

Epic Games

Pete Isensee

Microsoft

Richard Lemarchand

Naughty Dog

Mike McShaffry

Red Fly Studio

Matt Priestley

Bungie

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