ProducersFebruary 18, 2015
Microcosmographia iv: Producers
Microcosmographia is a newsletter thing about honestly trying to understand design and humanity.
Do you like the band RUSH? I have been super into them since I was like 12. Lately I have been thinking about the documentary that came with the limited edition of their 2007 album Snakes and Arrows. It introduces their producer Nick Raskulinecz, who they liked quite a lot for bringing his own vision and ideas to the project, and for pushing them to make each song idea into the best possible actual song. RUSH were still the creative minds making the music, but Nick was the one who focused on shipping a coherent final product rather than on the fun of getting there.
Well, I am working on a second book right now. The first one, which went through a traditional publisher, had quite a lot of editors and reviewers on it. But that role of trying to keep the creative vision on track was up to me. For this next book, I want a producer.
It is strange to me that a role like this does not seem to exist for most books out there, from what I can tell. The role I have in mind is very involved in the writing process, to the degree that the person’s name should be on the cover and they should get a big cut of the profits. This is someone who has knowledge of the subject and opinions about how it should be conveyed. Someone who is involved in every part of the project except the actual writing.
The first person I thought of was my friend Nikki, an all-around lovely person with very well-formed opinions of what it means to be a good PM — very similar to my own thoughts on producers. We talked this evening and she agreed to take the job! Yeahhh!! My confidence in this project has doubled with her involvement.
Now I am wondering why so many creative people flail about on their own when they could be employing producers, PMs, people whose job it is to care about the product.
A Video Game Series For Your Consideration
Right now I am 72 hours into Nihon Falcom’s Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, which is part of Trails in the Sky, which is a subseries of Trails, which is a subseries of The Legend of Heroes, which is a subseries of Dragon Slayer, which is one of the first JRPGs. This is an utterly orthodox, very deliberately paced JRPG, and I just love it.
Key features include:
- Estelle Bright. A character it’s truly fun to be for hundreds of hours. A female protagonist in a JRPG! And she’s not even sexualized for straight male players’ gratification! She just is, and she is just great. Not to mention all the other charming types you’ll meet — soft-hearted tough guy, girl genius, badass woman general, crossdresser, queer folks… Everyone is welcome, and everyone is a pleasure to be on an adventure with.
- Benevolent Bureaucracy. The world of Trails is very orderly, and that is portrayed as a good thing. The story involves navigating the interests of the national government, the crown, the military, local government, business, and your own guild. There is quite a bit of paperwork and talking to the person behind the right desk. It is kind of hartwarming to play a fantasy story where success is found not in undermining the evil systems of the world, but putting the just systems of the world to good use.
- Hugs. So many crucial moments in the storyline are illustrated with a cathartic hug between characters who really care about each other, which is like wow, how many modern stories have the heart to do that with a straight face?
The English version of the first game is top-notch. I have an old friend at Xseed who I always knew would make a fantastic localizer for Falcom games, and that is exactly what he became. The loc for the second game has been quite the ordeal, but I trust Carpe Fulgur’s efforts will be well worth the wait. (I’ve been playing in Japanese, but I’ll happily rebuy it just to support excellent English localization work of a legendarily huge game!)
Thank You And Be Well
Heh, I was not going to send one today! But the weekly schedule is too satisfying. This was written on an iPhone and an iPad while thinking about how I should really instead play some Trails and go to bed.