”Today we invite you behind the scenes of Lightbulb Crew to meet Jérôme Smidt, Producer on Othercide. Through this article, we hope you will learn more about our team and especially what role each one plays in the development of our tactical turn-based game.
Jérôme Smidt, Producer on Othercide, enjoying a sunny break
What was your career like before being a Producer on Othercide?
I graduated from Sciences Po Paris and HEC Paris with a master’s degree in Marketing and Management of Cultural Industries. In my professional career, I worked for French public administration as well as UNESCO on cultural diversity related projects.
Then, I moved to the private sector and worked for startup companies working in the cultural industry such as ICONEM which preserves world’s cultural heritage through technology.
After that, I improved my skills in digital marketing and project management in several marketing agencies before working as a Project Manager Consultant at Ubisoft on Ghost Recon Wildlands. Eventually I joined Lightbulb Crew in May 2018 as a Producer on Othercide.
How does your typical day looks like ?
As a Producer, my daily tasks are diversified. However, there are some cornerstones which are the basis of a Producer’s job. Most of the time, my daily tasks involve organising meetings with each team (developers, game designers, artists) I follow up with.
The main goals are to ensure that there are no major issues, pitfalls, blockers, bottlenecks and help the teams fixing issues. After that, a large amount of my time is spent on modifying the production roadmap regarding planning and associated budgets.
Moreover, I am in touch on a daily basis with our publisher’s teams to ensure we are still on track by producing many documents to give them feedback and a proper overview of the project’s progress. Eventually, I end up working on many transversal topics such as setting playtests (usability tests, critical facet playtests, initial experience playtests) and overseeing meetings schedule.
What challenges do you face when working as a producer?
A producer is an essential working piece of a video game production. I won’t be able to give you a proper list of all the challenges I encounter daily. Nevertheless, I can give you the recipe of what I think is a good producer:
- A good producer must be a team player and a strong and reliable collaborator: making games is all about working with several talented people who have different point of views, different skills and every single one of them have their own sensitivity. As a captain of a ship, an efficient producer makes sure the project is going in the right direction and makes people collaborate to get the best product possible. He transcends personal issues and ego for the greater good.
- A good producer must communicate clearly and easily: a game producer must be aware of what is going on with each team and make sure that the teams receive the right information at the right time.
- A good producer must be able to forecast risks and be flexible: he must expect the unexpected and be prepared and organised. He must know adaptability and accept failures as opportunities. He must be able to manage risks, creativity and challenges daily.
- A good producer must know how to handle deadlines and milestones: how much time is left, what needs to be done by that time and what is at stake if the goal is not reached. He also needs to come up with solutions if issues occur.
- A good producer must know how to create and manage a budget: a large part of a producer’s job is financial. The core of a video game production is about organising workforces through time thanks to finances.
- A good producer must be a guide, a leader and an ambassador: a producer is like a mom. He must show solidarity, push forward the team, inspire people, motivate them and get the right people connected. He allows the team to work in the best possible conditions by protecting them from undesirable outside interferences.
- A good producer must be familiar with established project management methodologies (Agile, Waterfall, SCRUM) to make sure the project is going in the right direction. He must also know how to use project management tools such as Jira or Shotgun software.
What is your main motivation about working on Othercide?
I have two main motivations regarding Othercide. The first one is the project. I felt in love with the game the second I saw it in 2018. The lore, the art style, the gameplay, every component is created at a high-quality standard which ensures the best product possible.
The second one is the team. I really love working with all these talented and professional people who foster a great and healthy working environment.
What tips would you give to other producers working for indie studios?
As a producer, you must be « the conductor » of the project which involves that the project will take a large part of your life. I do not count anymore working overtime, holidays removed and working on weekends and holidays.
Yet, I know that my sacrifice for the project ensures my team to be efficient and the project to be created in the right way. One piece of advice is: this job is a bitch, but you cannot fail it so brace yourself and keep going whatever it takes!
Any anecdotes to share regarding the development of the game?
I have lost more hair in 6 months than in my entire life! Here is my burden!