IMHO there is a Holy Trinity of Leads in Game Development that exists and needs to be respected.
- The Art Director
- The Programming Lead
- The Design Lead
- And the Producer greasing the never ending wheel between the other Leads.
There are other parts to the team to keep the company running: executives, HR, marketing, etc.
Here, I'm on only referring to the core development members that are creating the game.
Each lead have people working under them. ADs have artists, PLs have programmers, DLs have designers. Even Producers could have production assistants. The chains of command.
(If you have a problem with another person on the team talk to your lead first. Ill cover this in another blog post.)
In an established and well functioning dev group this is the ideal scenario. If one of the Leads begins to interfere or do the job of another Lead friction usually happens because the said Lead has an agenda: to get his/her stuff done first AND does not have a foil to double check the work.
Example: If the Art Director suddenly does the job of the Design Lead then there is the possibility of the AD loosing design perspective. A Game Design Lead is there to advocate for the consumer so the consumer will play the game. Maybe reply it. So you can see the potential dilemma.
The Producer has the role of making sure that everyone is getting things done on time. The Producer will also help ease the jobs of the leads by effectively communicating in areas that are not understood by the other. Producers also love problems that can creep up and helps the whole machine keep running as smoothly as possible.
It's important for the Leads to REALLY understand the jobs of the other Leads. Not to know HOW to do their job. Just what they are doing in order to understand their point of view.
Now, there is something to be said for Indies where there are not enough people to do the distinct jobs. Indies may not have a choice but to wear multiple hats. That in itself is a monumental task that can really grind a person down. It can also create a hard core appreciation of the other's job.
I've worked on very small teams and very large teams. Both have their ups and downs:
- On a small team you could feel that you have real ownership of a project. Communication can be fast and loose. Money is tight so you may have hand-me-down equipment. You may have to work extra hard to get things done. You may have to do things that are way beyond your expertise.
- A large team could have a bigger family feel. More people to help solve problems. Productivity could climb. The project might be bigger. More $$$! Communication could be bogged down or outright lost because of the size. Since its a bigger project you might be expected to produce more. It can be an organizational nightmare for the Producer. You may be stuck doing the same thing for years.
Some people like tiny teams. Others like the giant AAA style studios.
My preference is somewhere in between, which can be very difficult to find.
They are out there, though 😁