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优秀游戏制作人原则编辑本段回目录

作者声明:虽然我在暴雪娱乐工作,但本文只代表我本人的观点,不代表暴雪的任何形式的政策、行为等。

引言

我经常被问到的一个问题是:成为一名游戏制作人需要什么?答案很简单:什么也不需要。要成为制作人,你真的什么也不需要。任何人都可以成为游戏制作人。任何会看人或正好在某个职位上的人都可以成为游戏制作人。要成为游戏制作人,你不必经过任何正规的培训或获得任何相关的学位。申请游戏制作人的职位,你基本上不会被要求展示有助于游戏制作工作的才能或知识。当然,如果你熟悉那些既定的方法论如敏捷开发或你是计算机科学出身的工程师,那当然是可以加分的;但这些绝对不是必要的。类似地,如果你是一个做事有条理、擅长学习的人,那么也是有帮助的。但是,这些是大多数成年人都已经一定程度上掌握的能力,更别说任何人都可以声称自己具备这两种特质中的一种或两种都有了;毕竟“声称”是没有办法查证的。

game develop team(from voltmagonline)

game develop team(from voltmagonline)

但并不是说成为游戏制作人就是一件轻而易举的事,或者游戏制作人的工作没有挑战和困难。真相是,就像人的性格一样,制作人也是有很多类型的,每一类都有各自的优点和缺点、长项和弱项。比如,不同程度的灵活性对于游戏制作人的工作执行,既可能是幸事也可能是灾难。取决于具体的情况,制作人在任何时候都可以选择承担责任或推卸责任。如果某个项目大获成功,制作人可能是被捧得最高的,也可能默默无闻;如果项目失败,制作人可能是被骂得最惨的,也可能责任撇得最干净的。关键是要记住,游戏制作人的工作其实与游戏制作本身没有直接关系。所以如果他都没做游戏,他怎么可能搞砸游戏?

不同游戏制作人的能力和工作方式有很大的不同。有些制作人为人圆滑、像个汽车推销员;有些制作人性格内向、像个学者;有些制作人一张嘴巴闲不住,总是说个不停;有些制作人交代任何工作都只通过邮件。本文的目的不是解答成为游戏制作人需要什么,而是什么才是优秀的游戏制作人。

本文所说的内容其实是根据我自己应该做得更好的东西和我在同行中看到的、我希望自己有一天能做到的东西,整理而成的。所以大部分是我个人的经验,有些是非制作人的人告诉我他们希望或不希望自己的制作人做的事。

出于本文的目的,我设想的是一个一般的、中等资历的游戏制作人(如果存在这种标准型的话),而不是非常资深的、能拍板决定百万美元预算的制作人,也不是工作包括倒咖啡和送甜甜圈的菜鸟制作人应该怎么做。

我也不希望这文变成关于如何做游戏制作工作的指南手册。不同的公司有不同的游戏制作流程中,有些公司甚至根本没有游戏制作人。所以,本文内容不适用于所有人。

当我说我的“羊群”,我指的是那些认为我是他们的最主要制作人的开发者团队。当我说“团队”时,我指的是整个开发团队,包括其他制作人带领的羊群。当我说产品,我指的是这个团队正在集中注意力制作的一款电子游戏。

为了方便,我把游戏制作人称作“他”;游戏制作人当中也有很多女性制作人,在这个领域,大部分女制作人的表现与男制作人相当或甚至更强。

什么是“优秀”的制作人

我们从最基本的概念说起。为了知道什么才是“优秀”的制作人,显然必须了解制作人要做什么。

我认识的许多游戏制作人都解释不清楚自己到底做什么工作或对游戏开发本身有什么贡献。美术制作人画画吗?不画。程序制作人管理程序员小组吗?不管。制作人能决定什么东西能放进或不能放进游戏吗?一般来说不能。制作人制定和控制开发预算吗?还是那句话,一般来说不能。那么,制作人到底做什么?

当我对朋友和家人解释制作人的工作时,我通常会作个比喻;我觉得这个比喻准确地形容了制作人的作用,虽然不是详细的工作描述。

一方面,制作人就相当于牧羊人(shepherd)。我指的不是拿圣经布道、作为道德楷模的牧师(游戏邦注:“shepherd”有牧羊人和牧师两个意思)。我指的就是字面意思上的牧羊人,和赶鸡放牛的那种人一样。这就是为什么我有时候会把我的团队称作我的“羊群”(尽管我仍然不知道我的小伙伴们能不能体会到我称他们为“羊群”时满怀的深情。)

对于牧羊人和羊,真正的价值不在于牧羊人自己,而在于他的羊。羊群才是提供最终产品的家伙,所以应该被精心照顾和养育、有舒适的居所和充足的食物。牧羊人可以吃发霉的老面包皮,而羊群却必须吃新鲜的优质牧草。

此外,羊群不是归牧羊人所有,所以牧羊人也不是最终对羊群负责的人。他不能决定羊群的命运,要不要剃毛,要不要挤奶做奶酪,能不能杀了做羊肉串。

最后,任何人都可以成为牧羊人;只要他会拿着大棒走上一整天。如果牧羊人不干了或死了,很容易就能找到其他人顶上空缺。

我要用的第二个比喻是,制作人相当于父母。还是跟牧羊人一样,我指的父母没有什么浪漫色彩;跟美丽的母亲或伟大的父亲无关。我指的父母是比较“含辛茹苦”的那一种。我来解释一下。作为父母,无论发生什么事,无论你有多累多忙多生气,你都要养育、关照和保护你的孩子。你必须做出艰难、无耐的决定,你想好你自己要什么……呃,好吧,在这出希腊悲剧里是没有“你自己”这个词的。你别无选择,只能无条件地对你的孩子播洒爱和为他们奉献。

对于制作人和他的小伙伴们,这种感情也许不是真实的,也不可能是相互的,但为了共同的目标,执行起来当然要以假乱真。还是以你的开发团队就是你的孩子为例,有时候你撞见他们,他们也假装没看到你。有时候他们会在你背后笑话你。有时候他们会当面说你无聊或不开窍。而你可以做什么?你必须做什么?你可以并且只能低声下气,继续对他们表示关爱,无论这种感情会不会得到他们的回报。这就是制作人/父母的悲哀。

游戏制作人的原则

既然我们已经了解制作人在游戏开发这个微观世界中的地位,我们就可以看看游戏制作人的目标了。正如我前面提到的,游戏制作人有各种各样的类型。有一类制作人就是电子表格狂人;这种人喜欢作报告、图表和总结,通常极力避免不必要的人际交往。对他而言,他的羊群是一帮他不得不时时打交道、不幸但必需的人组成的。另一类制作人像个高中生;这种人追求人气,渴望别人的认可和重视。他的羊群是一帮可以一起玩的朋友。还有一类制作人是任务机器人;他的世界就是任务管理、资源分配和工作日程表。他的羊群就是工厂的流水线上的工人,以或多或少固定的速度大量生产产品。

我们来看看一般的游戏制作人是怎么样的。我不打算从既定的项目管理系统如敏捷开发,而是从游戏制作人的一般原则入手,看看他的羊群对他的期待。

灵活性和适应性

我前面提到“流水线”,但如果说有一个属性绝对不能用来形容游戏开发,那么它就是流水线。游戏行业仍然处于它的幼年期,事态几乎不会按照你的希望发生,每前进两步就要后退一步。这对某些学科的影响更大,而这些学科又有各自的应对方式。对于游戏制作人,应对开发中的变幻莫测,你的应对办法只有:预料到会发生变化;知道某事一定会发生所以你要尽可能做好准备。正如有这么一句话:“居安思危,未雨绸缪。”制作人必须有这样的素质。

状态意识和报告

我认为,游戏制作人起码应该能意识到团队和产品发生了什么事,确保他的羊群或至少领头羊知道这个信息。他应该不仅应该知道目前的耽误之急是什么,还要知道下一个耽误之急是什么。任何程序员、设计师或美工都应该能够从制作人口中得知团队的大方向、当天的重要事宜和团队的首要目标。当然,有些事制作人可能不知道,通常是因为那些事与其他部门有关。然而,制作人不知道应该是那些事的细节,整体情况仍然应该说得出一二。制作人的沟通交流能力是关键。

交工代表

游戏制作人的很大一部分工作是赶截止日期。这是与日期、日程表、计划、起始点、重大变化之类有关的工作。首先,制作人必须知道什么是重要的时间点、还有多少剩余时间、截止日以前必须做什么、什么最可能赶不上截止日,等等。制作人还要大致了解他的羊群要达到目标面临着什么主要困难,了解至少要达到能描述给第三方、回答基本问题的程度。他可能不必亲自做开发工作,但他正是他的羊群的代表。

润滑剂

游戏制作人也是搭桥工人、调解人和引导者。制作人经常会遇到他自己解决不了的问题,这时他的工作就是找到能解决问题的人。这也许要求他开会、发邮件,或甚至亲自出门找人,直到找到答案。

这种事经历多了,他就会发现自己已经积累了大量人脉资源。进一步拓展,这些资源就会成为整个羊群的人际网络。对于团队,制作人是沟通外界的桥梁;对于外界,制作人是通向团队的窗口。

不应该要求程序员认识IT部门或QA部门的所有成员,但是制作人应该做到。反之也一样,QA部门的成员不必认识团队中的所有设计师、程序员或美工,他们只需要知道一个人就行了—-那就是团队的制作人。

多面手

在本文开头,我说成为制作人不必精通任何事。那是因为他要负担的事太多了。制作人是个多面手,什么事都逃不出他的法眼和职责范围,只要这件事对他的羊群、团队或最终产品有好处,他就要承担起来。正如我之前说的,虽然其他人可以专注于自己学科范围内的任务,但制作人应该应付所有他能力范围之内的事,无论是做电子表格、订会议室、写会议提要、打任务报告或保证会议室的视频会议系统修好了。

外交大使

制作人是个外交大使,无论是对于他的羊群而言,还是对于团队和产品而言。真正的外交大使要了解自己国家的历史、现状、骄傲、耻辱、斗争等等,制作人也是如此。精通这些事务会使他更容易做出正确的判断、在协商时占据有利位置。与外交大使一样,制作人要走到外面的世界,收集信息,反馈给内部的团队。这样,他的羊群才能与时俱进,走在前沿。

但最重要的是,与外交大使一样,他必须坚定不移地为他的羊群谋福祉。对外,制作人必须成为团队的拥护者;对内,制作人必须成为他的专业的拥护者。虽然做实际工作的人必须担忧能否完成任务,如写代码、补漏洞、录声音、译文本、做关卡、画图像,制作人是稳定性和一致性的警示灯,把个人的兴趣丢到一边,把团队的最大利益放在前面。

避雷针

制作人的另一个重要而偶尔被忽略的角色是绝缘体。与高楼大厦上面的避雷针一样,制作人要为他的羊群挡掉外部力量的不良干扰和影响。第三方会不断地来挖你的羊群中有才华的游戏开发者,无论这个第三方是外部的团队还是内部的其他团队。美工可能会被叫去做特别营销广告的海报,而不是设计新资料片的装备;程序员可能被叫去帮忙修复网站支付系统的漏洞而不是编写新特征的代码。当然还有永远存在的威胁,如羊群因为懒惰而把漏洞丢给其他人解决,而不是自己动手。如果制作人能有效地发挥自己的职能,那么他的羊群就能更加专注于他们的核心工作,也就是他们最擅长的、最喜欢的工作。

以上只是本文的第一部分。在第二部分,我将更加详细地讨论游戏制作人应该如何发挥他的作用,以及游戏制作人应该做什么和不该做什么。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Ernst ten Bosch)

What Makes a Good Game Producer?

by Ernst ten Bosch

Note from the author

Although I work for Blizzard Entertainment, the opinions expressed here are my own and not representative of Blizzard’s policy or conduct in any way, shape or form.

PART 1

Intro

A question I often get asked is: what does it take to become a Game Producer? The answer is simple: Nothing. You don’t really need anything to become a Producer. Anyone can become a producer on a video game. Anybody who knows the right people or happens to be in the right place at the right time can become a game producer. There is no formal training you need to have undergone or diploma you need to have in your possession. In applying for a position as a game producer, you will rarely be asked to demonstrate a specific skill or any knowledge solely attributable to game production work. Sure, in some cases it helps to be familiar with established methodologies like SCRUM or for an engineering producer to have studied computer science, but it’s rarely an absolute must. Similarly it helps to be organized and a ‘fast leaner’, but these are qualities most adults already possess in some measure, not to mention the fact that anyone can claim to possess either or both; there is no way to verify such claims.

But all of this is not to say it’s easy to become a game producer, or that the work of a game producer is free from difficulties and challenges. The truth is, there are as many kinds of producers as there are human personalities, each with pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. The flexibility, for which this broad spectrum of variety allows in executing the job of a game producer, is both a blessing and a curse. In any given situation, a producer can either claim responsibility or distance himself, depending on the circumstances. If a project reaches a successful conclusion, the producer might receive all the credit, or none at all, while the opposite is also true; if a project fails miserably, the producer is either to blame, or completely blameless. The key thing to keep in mind is that a game producer doesn’t actually create anything that goes into the game. So if he didn’t make it, how could he break it?

And yet, there are large differences in the quality of producers and in the ways different producers execute their jobs. Some are the flashy, car-salesmen type, while others are more of the introvert, academic sort. Some like to walk and talk all day, while others do all of their work solely through email. The purpose of this article is not to find out what it takes to become a game producer, but rather, what it means to be a good game producer.

Most of what I am about to write is based off of what I think I ought to do better and what I see in fellow game producers that I hope to one day emulate. So the majority is from my own experience, and some is from talks I’ve had with non-producers about what they like or dislike most about the producer they work most closely with.

For the purpose of this article, I am envisioning a more or less generic game producer (if such a thing exists), neither very senior nor very junior, just mid-level and therefore neither in charge of getting coffee and donuts, nor of deciding what to do with a multi-million dollar budget.

I also don’t want this article to be an instruction manual on how to do game production. Game production is done differently from company to company, several of which don’t even have producers. This is just to say that what I state here my not apply to everyone.

When I talk about my ‘flock’, I mean the specific team of developers that consider me their primary producer. When I talk about the ‘team’, I mean the entire development team, including perhaps several producers. When I talk about the product, I mean the single videogame the team is collectively focused on.

I will refer to producers as ‘he’ solely for convenience purposes; there are plenty of female producers, most of which are equally if not more capable than us men in this field.

Generally Speaking

But let’s start at the beginning. To know what makes a ‘good’ producer, one obviously need to know a little bit about what a producer is supposed to do. Many game producers I know have trouble explaining what they do or how they contribute to the greater scheme of developing video games. Does an Art producer make art? No. Does an Engineering producer manage a team of programmers? No. Do producers decide what goes in the game and what doesn’t? Generally no. Do producers set and control the development budget. Again, generally no. So what then?

The way I’ve learned to explain it, both to friends and family, is by using one of two metaphors that I feel paint a reasonably accurate picture of a producer’s role, if not a detailed job description.

On one hand, a producer is a shepherd. I don’t mean shepherd in the biblical sense, as some kind of role model or moral guide. No I mean literally a shepherd, like a goat herder; like someone who herds a flock of goats, which is why I sometimes refer to the team I produce for as my “flock”, and shall henceforth do so in this article (although it is still unclear to me if this term of endearment is appreciated or not by said herd).

As with a goat herder and his goats, the true value lies not with the herder himself, but rather with the goats. They are the ones that provide the final product, so they are the ones that, above all, need the proper care and nurturing, shelter and adequate food. The goat herder can eat old, moldy bread crusts for all anyone cares; the goats on the other hand, need fine, green pastures.

Furthermore, the goat herder doesn’t own the goats, and therefore is not the one ultimately responsible for them. He has no final say in what is supposed to happen to the goats, whether they will be skinned for their hide, milked to make cheese or slaughtered for the meat.

Lastly, anyone can become a goat herder; one merely requires the constitution to walk around all day and the ownership of a large stick. And if a goat herder quits or dies, it won’t be too difficult to find a new guy to take his place.

The second metaphor I use is that a producer is like a parent. And again, like with the goat herder, I don’t mean in the romantic sense; the “beauty” of motherhood or being a “proud father”. I mean in the “cursed” sense. Let me explain. As a parent, no matter what happens, no matter how tired you are, agitated or outright angry, you always have to be there for your children, care for them and protect them. You have to make the tough, unpopular decisions, and what you want for yourself….well, there is no “yourself” in this Greek tragedy. You have no other option but to unconditionally express love and devotion to your kids.

Now, for a producer and his flock, the feeling may not be genuine and is unlikely to be mutual, but for all intents and purposes, the implementation should certainly feel like it is. Just as with kids, there will be times when you walk in on them and they’ll barely acknowledge your presence. There will be moments when they’re laughing at you behind your back, or when they openly proclaim how uncool or boring you are, how you don’t “get it”. But all you can do, all you must do, is swallow your pride and keep caring for them, whether the feeling is reciprocated or not. That is the producer/parent curse.

Game Production Tenets

So now that we understand the place a producer occupies in the social microcosm of game development, let us take a look at the goals of a game producer. As I mentioned before, game producers come in all shapes and sizes. On one end of the spectrum you have your Excel junky; the kind of person who loves making reports, graphs and summaries, and who generally prefers to avoid unnecessary interpersonal contact. To him, his flock represents an unfortunate but necessary group of people he knows he has to deal with regularly. On the other end of the spectrum you have your high-school cool kid; the kind of person who strives for popularity and thrives on public acknowledgement and recognition. His flock is a group of friends who have fun and hang out together. And then there’s your tasking robot, whose entire world is in task management, resource allocation and milestones. His flock is just an assembly line that churns out produce at a more or less fixed rate, like a factory.

Armed with this insight, let’s look a little closer at the role a generic game producer is expected to fill. Instead of looking through the lens of established systems of project management, like SCRUM, I’m instead going to talk about the general tenets of a game producer, regardless of the specific methodology his organization expects him to adopt.

Flexibilty and Adaptability

I mentioned the term ‘assembly line’ earlier, but if there’s one thing that game development certainly is not, it’s an assembly line. With so many moving pieces in an industry that is still in its infancy, things rarely happen as you’d hope and every two steps forward are followed by one step back. This impacts some disciplines more than others, each dealing with it in their own way. For game producers, the way to deal with it is to expect it to happen; know that things are going to change along the way and be prepared for them as best you can. Consider Vegetius: “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum” (He who desires peace, should prepare for war). A producer needs to adapt so others don’t.

Status awareness and reporting

I feel that at the very least, a game producer should be aware of what’s going on with the team and the product, and make sure that his flock, or at least the Leads, have this information to the degree that it is beneficial. He should not only know what the priorities for the immediate future are, but also what is supposed to happen after that. Any engineer, designer or artist ought to be able to ask any producer about the general direction the team is taking, the important issues of the day and the team’s primary goals. Of course there are going to be things that a producer may not know, usually because it concerns someone else’s discipline. However, those things should generally be limited to the details, not the big picture. Good communication from the producers to the team and from one producer to the next, is key.

Reaching deadlines

A large chunk of the work of any game producer anywhere, deals with reaching deadlines. This is the realm of dates and milestones; moments of time in the future, at which point something starts, finishes or undergoes an impactful change of some sort. First and foremost, a producer needs to be aware of what these moments are; how much time is left, what needs to be done by that time and what is at stake if the deadline is not reached. The producer also needs to have a rudimentary idea of the main challenges his flock faces in achieving the goals, at least enough that he can describe it to third parties and answer basic questions. He may not need to do the work, but he is nonetheless a representative of his flock.

Greasing the wheels

Game producer is also a bridge builder, accommodator and facilitator. A common thing that happens is that a producer is confronted with a problem that he himself cannot fix. It then becomes his job to find the person who can fix the problem. This may require him to attend meetings, email his contacts or literally get out of his chair and walk around in person until he finds his answer.

By doing this over and over again, in time, he will realize he has accumulated a sizeable network of key contacts that he can call upon to help him out. And by extension, this network becomes the network of contacts for his entire flock. And it works both ways; for his team, a producer is the connection to the outside world and for the outside world, the producer is the connection to the team.

An engineer shouldn’t have to worry about getting to know everyone in IT or in the QA department; that’s what he has his producer for. And vice versa, not every member of a QA department needs to know every single designer, engineer or artist on a development team; the only thing that person needs to know is who the producers are.

Jack-of-all-trades

I started this article by saying that there is not just one single thing that a producer needs to be able to do. That is because he should be able to be burdened with a myriad of things. A producer is a jack-of-all-trades and no task should be outside his scope or potential responsibility, as long as it benefits either his flock, the greater team at large or the final product. As I said before, while others are expected to focus solely on their tasks within their discipline, the producer should manage all else in so far as he is able to, whether it’s working on scheduling spreadsheets, booking meeting rooms, writing meeting notes, entering tasks or makings sure the videoconferencing system gets fixed in the conference room.

Ambassador

Which brings me to the next tenet; a producer is an ambassador, both for his flock, the team and the product as a whole.  Just like an actual ambassador, who knows the history of his country, the current state of affairs, the things to be proud of, the things to be ashamed of, the things to fight hard for and the things to back down from, so too does a game producer need to be aware of these things with regards to his team. Knowing these things will help him make good judgment calls and establish good position of negotiation when the time comes for calls to be made, pros and cons to be weighed and plans to be lade. And it works both ways. Like an ambassador, he is expected to go out into the world, gather what information and insight he can, and report back to the home front. That way his flock can be kept up to date on the goings-on outside of their own comfort zone.

But above all, like an ambassador, he needs to display an unflinching devotion to the general wellbeing of his flock. A producer needs to be a champion for his team, and within it, he needs to be a champion for his discipline. While the people doing the actual work need to worry about completing the tasks; write code, fix bugs, record sound, translate text, design levels and create art, the producer is the beacon of stability and consistency, ever keeping the greater good at the forefront of his thoughts while putting his own, personal interests aside.

Lightning Rod

Another important and sometimes overlooked role of the producer is to be the insulator. Like a lightning rod on top of a tall building, a producer is there to run interference and, in doing so, shield his flock from undesirable outside forces. A team of talented game developers is constantly besieged by third parties that require its services, both within and outside of the development team. An artist might be called upon to work on a one-off item for a special marketing promo rather than design more armor sets for the next patch; an engineer may be asked to help fix a bug on the website payment system rather than work on the next big in-game feature. And of course there is the ever-present threat, born of laziness, of teams passing their bugs off to someone else rather than deal with it themselves. If the producer effectively executes his role as conduit, his flock will in turn be better able to focus on their core job, which is generally what they are best at and in which they find most enjoyment.

This is the end of the first half of my article. Next week I will post Part 2, in which I look more closely at the different ways in which a game producer can go about executing his role and what a game producer should, above all, not do.(source:gamasutra)


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