On the first day of class when our Professor spoke to us about past senior production classes and how inevitably some teams end up choosing not to even challenge to move on to next semester because they won’t make it that far in the development process, I turned to my team and whispered that failure was not an option for us and that we were going forward into spring semester no question. I said it in a joking manner, but I also believed it. I had to believe it in order to get this far. To be honest, sometimes I don’t have a lot of confidence and often second guess myself, but this past semester I think I’ve really grown and gained more confidence. I had to believe in myself and in my team or else we may not have made it. Thankfully my team is pretty amazing so it wasn’t hard to believe in them! My presentations would have fallen flat if I didn’t showcase how excited I was about our game and why it is a worthwhile project. My team would not have been as organized or motivated without me. Positive thinking is imperative to being a producer. My belief in our project and vision, coupled with detailed project plans and the commitment of my team will lead to our success next semester as well.
I am anxious and excited for next semester. We’ve essentially doubled the size of our team. We picked up 2 male designers, 1 female and 1 male artists, and 1 programmer at the draft. The draft is the process the passing teams go through to select new members for the team. As the producer, I felt it was primarily my responsibility to ensure we recruited new members who are compatible with our team. Going into the draft, we knew art was our top priority. We want to have corresponding art for each Kanji. For example, when players are prompted to write left, the flower petals on screen fly in the breeze to the left, or when players are prompted to write day, an image of the sun rises on screen. We also want additional animations and character sprites for each sensei the player learns from. One team competed with us for one of the artists we got, claiming they needed her more because our game is only 2d. The thing is, she is one of the only dedicated 2d artists. Thankfully, in the end the opposing team got another talented artist and we got to keep the artist we wanted. I’m really happy it worked out this way because Glynis and I almost gave in.
We got one more designer than intended, which may cause problems only in finding enough work for them all to do since our game is essentially already designed. One of the designers we got specializes in sound and will be working on sound effects and maybe some more musical tracks. We already have music from professionals who gave me permission to use their music, but if our designer makes something super sweet we’ll put it in instead or in addition to what we already have. The other designer will help with new game modes and assist Glynis in finding ways to make the game more accessible to casual gamers; right now the learning curve is insane. The last member we recruited is a female programmer who took Intro to Japanese this semester and is taking Japanese 2 next semester! She wanted to work with us and will truly be a boon because of her skills with Japanese. Her and our current programmer, Eric, seem to have a good dynamic together as well. I want all members on our team to feel valued, so I will definitely find work for them despite our overload of designers. As the producer I want to ensure we are utilizing our members to the best of their abilities.
Looking back over the semester, I think my interpersonal skills were stronger than my organizational skills. Sometimes I was late in filling out the logs for our meetings and keeping the wiki up to date. I was fairly involved in the design of the game, which I probably won’t be to the extent I was next semester because of the additional designers we’ve picked up. However, knowing me I’ll probably be at almost every QA session. I just love hearing player feedback and reviewing the survey with their responses afterwards is just not the same as watching them play the game and seeing their responses in real time. I’m excited to get to review everyone’s documents and proofread as dorky as that sounds. I like to go over everything and feel comforted knowing everything is in order.
Fun fact, we still have a majority of females on our team, the only team of the 10 that went forward to have a majority of females. We really don’t have that many girls in the game majors, but I believe in time that will change. As a freshmen I doubted my capabilities because I wondered if Champlain had only admitted me into the game design major because I was a female and not because of my talent. Now, seeing as how I successfully led my team into second semester and they’ve all told me how much I help them stay on task with the game’s development, I can say with certainty that I do have talent. Sometimes I wonder if my self-doubt tore me down and was the sole reason I changed my major from game design to game production management. I thought I was incapable of learning all the technical skills required like programming. However, I am good at being a manager and in this position I do have some input into the game’s design as well which is all I really wanted in the end.
As I said above, over Holiday break I’m going to create a project plan for next semester. After asking my team what they’d like to work on and discussing the future of our game during our final exam period, I will try and assign tasks accordingly, keeping in mind things may change as we come up with new design ideas and concepts as a team. I’m going to use the traditional Scrum period of two week sprints when I divide up the remaining weeks in the semester. I am enjoying the game development process and am proud of the game we have created and will continue to create!