I’m a terrible Producer.
To be more specific, I’m a terrible example of a Producer. Which is amusing, as I currently find myself in the role of an Executive Producer.
I’ve spent the last seven and a half years working exclusively on open world survival games, the last six of which continuously in the Creative Director/Design Director role.
Early Whiteboard Designs for Initial DayZ Base Building
I find myself back in a producer role, likely entirely based on my friend and coworkers perception of me – obviously influenced by what he knows me to be, what he has seen the most positive success working directly with me from. From my joining the DayZ team in 2013 through to early 2014 when he left to begin work on his next project, this is what his experiences with me were colored by. Which isn’t to say this perception of me is false by any means. The decisions I make in a production role are entirely influenced by amazing Producers I have worked with in the past, those of which who specialize in Production and have years and in some cases decades of experience. Their names, and the actions they took on projects I worked with them with stick with me to this day.
Names like Dennis, Nathan, Kevin, Dax, Ray, Maja, Kirby, and Derek. (Come to think of it, there is definitely a trend towards names starting with the letter D)
Having found myself in this role with the lion’s share of my experience in design direction, I often reflect on a quip I heard from one of those aforementioned Producers (Kirby, specifically) – the same point that drove me to leave Redmond and move out to Prague for a lower paying role. The longer people know you for a specific thing, be it a role, task, accomplishment, or even failure – the harder it is for them to look at you as anything else. This is as much true for how my coworkers viewed me then, as it is for how my coworkers (or the industry as a whole) may see me now.
What complicates that even more is how different people, or audiences often view you completely differently. The friend and coworker who offered me my current role as an Executive Producer only ever had a chance to know me in that Production sense, despite my design work before and after that specific role. Just as the people working under me at Bohemia, or inXile would specifically know me for my Creative or Design Direction. People might know me specifically for DayZ, or in some cases not know at all about other experiences or projects I’ve worked on that either were personal side projects, games that didn’t ship, or projects that pivoted their design to reach an immovable ship date.
Initial Design Flow for Player Death/Wounding in another open world survival title (PC-VR)
All of this rambling comes from my own personal frustration at my own perception of myself as a developer, often contrasting with varying perspectives on me. I’ve done a lot of introspection on this subject over the last few months – but really, who is to blame but myself?
How often do I stop to share my unique perspective on things with my industry peers as a whole? If I don’t talk about my almost 8 years of continuous work in open world survival games how can I expect anyone to view me from that perspective?
Dynamic Economy Control (During service uptime)
I’ve tried to understand why I don’t find myself talking about these things more often. Did I just recede into a cave after 3 years or so of constant trade shows and dev blogs?
I can’t expect anyone to know about my experiences after DayZ, of my work in VR, my continuing passion towards virtual worlds, or even the years I’ve spent focused on design and UX implications in open world roleplaying mods if I don’t -speak- about them.
Survivor GameZ III Gets Frontpaged by Twitch!
If the trend continues over the next few years I’ll hit a decade of continuous uninterrupted work on open world games. If I want people’s perception of me to reflect that, I can’t just rely on E3 interviews, or occasional mentions in the press. I need to evangelize my passions and experience as much as I evangelized products I’ve worked on in the past.