I had the unexpected opportunity to chat with Dorian Richard, Atari’s external producer for Neverwinter Nights 2, the anticipated RPG from Obsidian Entertainment. We ended up having a long conversation about publisher/developer relations and the pitfalls of production, which I transcribed:
What do you feel distinguishes publisher (external) producers from developer (internal) producers?
As a publisher, you have a broader perspective; you work on a lot more titles than any given developer over a five year time span. The average developer has two teams, and it takes two years to make a game, so you’re looking at approximately five titles over five years. I’ve worked on nine titles over the past five years.
What are the most common challenges you face when interacting with developers?
There’s inexperienced developers, and there’s experienced developers. Inexperienced developers tend to lack staff with sufficient scheduling and managing experience. They might be good at certain development tasks, but they don’t know how to read warning signs and manage people, so they frequently fail to recognize when a big slip is looming. They don’t plan for likely emergencies, like a key team member getting sick or having a family emergency.