As part of an in-depth feature posted on Gamasutra today, producers from Stainless Games, EALA and Gas Powered Games have been discussing coder/artist interaction, suggesting that "building your team with chemistry in mind" is vital to successful game teams.
Stainless Games producer Ben Gunstone points out that a producer's role is to ensure that art-versus-code issues are seamlessly navigated. He advises:
"If the operational stuff is done and issues still arise, then it leaves personnel issues and that's a whole different can of worms.
Your job as a producer is to make sure [communication] does happen. Regular team meetings, physical team layout is conducive to communications, (but not idle chit-chat). It's identifying a unifying team member, and if one doesn't exist, stepping up to the plate yourself (or hiring one in!) Don't rely on email; get the team talking to each other."
Gas Powered Games' Frank Rogan says that this line of questioning -- defining the producer's role as communication arbiter -- is age old. Nonetheless, it's not unique to the games industry, as he explains:
"I'm sure you could walk into any working situation and find that the guys in charge of sorting the widgets think the guys in charge of counting the widgets are a bunch of morons, and vice versa. I had a rather nomadic working career in college. In every restaurant I ever worked, the cooks hated the servers. At every newspaper I ever worked, the journalists despised the ad sales guys, and the editors thought all the writers were drunks. Heck, I even worked at Disneyland, and the guys from Adventureland knew, just knew, that all the guys from Tomorrowland were idiots.
However, Rogan explains, it's important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics. According to Rogan, strategy involves identifying the breakdown at the source, dealing with the nature of the people involved, and how their work is measured and rewarded. He advises:
"Build your team with chemistry in mind. Have cross-disciplinary interviews and annual reviews. Recognize good communication when it happens and reward the hell out of it. Recognize bad communication when it happens and confront the hell out of it. If a coder hates the artists and would rather go sit in a cave, make it clear to him that you'll be happy to find cave work for him, but that he will never, ever get to leave the cave. (Now, some people might be happy with that, but at least you'll know.)
You can now read the full feature
, which contains more in-depth discussion on this often complicated issue from these experienced producers (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).