Sep 25, 2018 IN Production
How to approach challenges of f2p game production? | Talks with experts
Welcome to our third episode of Talks with Experts. In the previous episodes, we already covered the importance of social media in free-to-play games and free-to-play game design topic. Today we will focus on the production process with Filip, one of the producers of our most popular game, Diggy’s Adventure.
Filip, what the producer of a free-to-play game does and what are your main responsibilities?
The most important thing is to get the stuff done - which means to plan the schedule for all team members and to look out for possible obstacles that might arise and block our task flow. The second but equally important thing for me is to keep my team members motivated, to care about their personal growth and ideally to combine their need to get challenging tasks and the need to move the project itself forward. Also, good and effective communication is a must, as you need to communicate not only with your team but even cross-company, with other projects, with management, and the board.
What do you find the most challenging within production process?
For me, it’s optimizing the schedule, as it can quickly change for reasons that are out of our control, anything from the release of a new version of a operating system for mobile devices to the sudden illness of a co-worker. My second challenge is to keep the team motivated. You need to know them very well, pay attention to details and try to combine the needs of the projects and needs of the people in terms of their personal growth. Both of these challenges require good decision making, which we in Pixel Federation prefer to make via data-driven decision process. Unfortunately, this option is only available when you have enough time to collect and process data, such as in cases of planned AB tests of game tutorials, special in-game offers or when we were trying new video rewards. Let's say you are running A/B test for a tutorial in order to find the point where players might turn and give up and thus where we might lose potential players. Then we sit down with the game designers and based on the data results we try to find a solution and avoid this kind of behavior of our players. On the other hand, when you have a sudden problem that is affecting your players in a negative way, you need to make a decision very fast in order to minimize damage. In that case, it's not possible to wait weeks for data to pour in and you need to make your decision fast based on your previous experience and the information you have.
What do you like the most about being a producer in the free-to-play industry?
I like the diversity, the producing role is a combination of various jobs and smaller tasks that are different every time. For the one and a half year that I’m at Pixel Federation, I do not think I've had two same tasks at hand, and that makes me grow and learn new things constantly. It’s basically because of two main reasons, the industry itself is moving forward very fast and at the same time the project is evolving so the new obstacles we have to tackle and problems we have to solve are always some kind different. We can learn from our experience and from previous problems but there is always some new aspect for us.
We are three producers on the project Diggy’s Adventure and since the team is quite big, every one of us focuses on one craft and that brings more time for us to care about our team members. For me the job has two layers, one is project itself and all the decisions that are made within the project and the second one is cross-company one, where we talk with producers and teams of our other game projects, we discuss the problems we have come across while working on our game but that might arise in their projects as well. We always try to knowledge share our experience and ways how we solved the problem, so none of us have to come up with the solution to a problem that someone else already tackled.
So what's your advice for other producers?
My advice is to be tough but fair and most of all to be a human. Because we are all people and we all do make mistakes, it is necessary to learn from them and to not repeat them. If you are loyal to your co-workers, they will be loyal to you. And it goes hand in hand with situations when you need them to work extra hours or to make some extra mile, they will gladly do it, even if they might not want to. Because they know that when a situation will come up and they will need you, you will have their backs. In Pixel Federation we believe everyone should have the freedom to fail because sometimes the only possible way is to learn from your own mistake. As I said before, don't repeat them but don't be afraid of them.
And now it's your turn. Don't hesitate to ask further questions and discuss this week’s topic in the Facebook group called Free to play game developers. Join our knowledge-sharing community and feel free to invite your fellow game developers as well :)