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Knick Knax- Producer Musings Part 1

As an artist, a designer, and a teacher the role of producer for a small game project, Knick-Knax, is both familiar and foreign. This is a weekly journal of some of the things I've learned, experienced, and witnessed along the way.

Where do I start?

…The beginning right? Well, not necessarily.

Knick Knax (a kids puzzle game currently being made for both PC and Android mobile) has been in production for a good while now. Only one week ago I accepted the role of a producer on this project. I have never taken on such a role before. I can make pretty art, I can design levels, I can teach, but this? What is this? Well, that’s what we are going to find out together.

Trust no every-one!

First off, I do not doubt my abilities, but more importantly I don’t doubt the abilities of the team I’m working with. Calling them Rock Stars would be an understatement as I have a close relationship with much of the team already and have seen their work first hand. This certainly excites me. Having trust (both directions) is the best way to start. In fact, in my short time with this team and in this role I believe it has become overly obvious that trust is essential for a producer to be successful.

If someone talks and everyone stops to listen it’s either out of fear or it’s out of respect. I suppose one can argue it’s respect in either case but I like to look at respect as a positive word. Respect can’t form if trust isn’t already there. On the first day I observed the state of the team and the roles of each of its members. Looking for potential areas of improvement I offered up several ideas that the teams worked with immediately. Having 14 years of experience in the game making industry has to count for something right? Well, they took to the ideals immediately and thanked me for the suggestions as the results were pretty immediate. Note, however, I didn’t tell them what to do; I merely offered them guidance and let them govern themselves. This will ALWAYS build trust.

Some of the first points I tried to instill was ownership and confidence. I started by going to the art lead. I asked him about certain art style choices and if they had been resolved yet. Like me, he is taking on a new role. I reassured him that he was chosen because of his abilities. He was the subject matter expect and as such he must address the most important issues quickly and confidently. Instead of always waiting for some of the highest members on the project to make a decision, I advised him to make some of these judgments himself (with rational intact) and only then take it to the Design and Programming leads for their approval. The reason, he is the expert he opinion would have the most weight on the entire project. The other leads only need to be involved at the end to ensure cohesion of the game’s overall vision and to access how it will affect there discipline. If it doesn’t cause any real issues they move forward with this choice, if it does they troubleshoot until they have a resolution or draw a conclusion that another option must be developed.

The other two leads were told the very same thing and by the end of the day they admitted to seeing an improvement in the overall pipeline. You read that right, changes in one day! I can’t take credit though. It takes a team of talented (yet humble) and dedicated people to make something work that fast. Go team!

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Official Website: http://rolalas90.wix.com/knickknax

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KnickKnaxGame

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KnickKnaxGame

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