David Manuel: “A Producer’s 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way”

Reflection on an article by David Manuel: “A Producer’s 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way”.

A lot of the advice in this article is as relevant to a lead designer as it is to a producer. Each of the ten lessons are worth examining, but I’d like to quickly reflect on the high-level concept and the related first lesson: “Implement Previous Recommendations.”

Manuel writes, “We, as an industry, often fail to act on what we learn.” He implies that this could be expanded to “we, as humanity,” pointing to our poor efforts to plan for various natural disasters. He proposes (and I agree) that all projects, especially those that fail, need a postmortem that becomes easily available to the company. This sounds great to me.

I wonder though if articles like Manuel’s, which dilute the postmortems into a set of generalized best practices, aren’t even more valuable than the postmortems themselves. I can’t imagine starting a project and having every team member read ten postmortems, but I could imagine handing every team member a three-page best practices checklist, cross-referenced to examples in the specific project postmortems. This is something I’d love to be involved with down the road, helping to create a literature of game development that discusses what works, what doesn’t, and points to specific supporting examples. There must be several people in the world who are already experts on this – if they blog, I need to add them to my reading list.

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