The job of a producer has always mystified me a little, since the thing they're producing is more abstract than code or art. Producers oversee the development process and act as a go-between for development teams and publishers. The role of a producer can change depending on the studio, but generally they have to work with all aspects of development to help get the game done.
Tristan Donovan at Gamasutra interviewed various producers to get their opinions on what makes them effective. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a different approach to problem-solving.
There are always other ways of solving problems, says RedBedlam's Finn. "Sometimes a programmer might want to think of a programmatic way of getting themselves out of a cul-de-sac they're in, and sometimes you need an idiot like me who doesn't understand half of these programmatical problems to come along and just say 'Well, we'll drop it then.'"
One example of this was during the on-going development of a new HTML5 version of dPals, the virtual social world for eight- to 13-year-old girls RedBedlam created for History & Heraldy. "The characters in the current version have dance moves that are all done in Flash. In order to animate those again in HTML5, we would have to do all the animations again, and it becomes really ugly from an expense point of view, because it uses up a lot of hours doing something that once the kids have seen the animation once is a bit 'meh,'" says Finn.
"We spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to convert the old assets, and then I had the sudden realization that we don't need this. What we needed to do was talk to the client and tell them that we can spend ages trying to do this, but what we really want to do is have a dancing mechanic where friends can put together a dance routine -- so why don't we do that and bin this? When I spoke to the client they said: 'Oh yeah. That's a good idea. We've been thinking the same thing.'"