Battle Battalions Dev Blog Entry #2 – George Chastain, Producer

Here’s the second entry in the Battle Battalions Developers Blog series, which features a Q&A session with a prominent member of the Battle Battalions development team.  Below we’ve pinned down George Chastain and grilled him on what it means to be Producer for Battle Battalions.   Be sure to check back here often as we add new Dev Blog entries covering topics like programming, design, artwork and more!  

What is the producer’s role in general in the videogame development process?

In general, I work with department leads to determine what features need to be done in order to make the product envisioned by our Game Visionary.  We determine how long each task will take.  Once this is done, I prioritize these tasks and determine what order they will be done.  I create the development schedule, which determines when a particular feature or task needs to be completed.  It is my job to make sure these tasks are completed on time, based on this schedule.  I also evangelize for the team in terms of fighting for company resources and budget, ensuring that we are adequately staffed for the project.  I manage all necessary third-party agreements for things like localization, video production, quality assurance, licenses, and third party customer support.  I make sure that all departments and individuals have what they need to accomplish their assigned work.  I work with the  Executive Producer and Company Owners, at different steps in the process, to ensure that they are on board with the project’s direction. 

What are the most important attributes and skills for a videogame producer to possess?

The number one skill is communication, making sure everybody has the information they need to move forward.  Attention to detail is also important.  It helps to know or understand Agile Production methodologies.  Knowing how to delegate is critical, or the job of Producer will bury you.

What do you tell people when they say your job must be so fun and relaxing just playing videogames all day?

Well, it can be fun, but mostly it’s hard work.  We are never really playing a video game.  We are always playing a broken video game or, at best, an incomplete video game.  All we are focused on are the imperfections because we know what should be there and isn’t.  It’s rare that we get to “play” the game we are making.  Usually, we are too busy making it – creating art, sitting in meetings discussing implementation methods, coding, design UI layouts – it’s work.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being the producer for Battle Battalions?

Seeing a game we wanted to make come to fruition.  For the most part, in terms of vision, Battle Battalions is exactly the game we set out to build.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as the producer on Battle Battalions?

Dealing with outside forces that were not Petroglyph.

What is your favorite Battalion in the game and why?

Hornets.  Because I hate recon vehicles and love to destroy them.  Also, the Hornets have the Paradrop ability.  It’s a blast to add some Dreadfires to the Battalion and paradrop on top of a bunch of infantry.

Can you share an amusing or interesting anecdote that happened during the development of Battle Battalions?

So, during development of the game, we would obviously have to thoroughly test out the current version.  We had a Production Assistant team who was able to play the game far more often than any of the other departments, particularly me.  So during these play tests, the Production Assistants, whether they were on my team or not, would do whatever they could to eliminate me.  I use the term eliminate, but it was more like utterly destroy me, leaving me in tears (well, almost).  In fact, I eventually discovered that a couple of the Production Assistants were cheating, using some debug code to figure out what Battalion I was going to play before the match started.  They would then queue up with my direct counter.  They had been doing this for weeks before I caught on. 

In your own words, why should gamers give Battle Battalions a try?

Simply put, it’s fun.  It’s a fast-action tactical game where positioning, good use of terrain, and smart use of your abilities and perks makes all difference.  No two games are alike, and, if you lose, you can jump back into a new match in an instant.  Also, matches are short.  You can get home and play 3 or 4 matches before  you have to help the kids with their homework or finish the chores your mother told you to do.