“Each day is different, and I like it that way”: Production in Total War: ELYSIUM

Elysium

James High
September 16 2020

We all know that producers are an essential part of getting a game finished and out the door ready to be played – but what does a producer actually do?

We spoke to ELYSIUM’s senior development manager Iain Angus to find out! Here’s what he had to say:

CA: First of all, who are you?

Iain Angus: Hi, I’m Iain, and I’m the senior development manager on ELYSIUM. I’ve been in the games industry for over 18 years and have worked as a programmer and designer on previous projects. Right now, I’m trying to use that experience to help ELYSIUM thrive.

CA: And what do you do?

Iain Angus: Good question – it is a tricky one to explain. My role was usually called a producer on other game teams, and the question of “what does a producer actually do?” comes up a lot. A good summary is that I make sure that everything that needs to get done… is done. Games are made up of a long list of different components, from tangible things like computer code and art assets to intangible ones like design ideas. Each one of these components needs to be created by a member of the team. Often, they are interdependent – for example, the design for a new feature needs to be finished before the code that implements it can be started.

A large part of a producer’s job is therefore to identify the long list of all work that needs to be done to create all the components of the game and then tell the game team members what they need to do next. When things go well, everyone on the team knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing and has all the information and resources necessary in order to do it. If things have gone wrong then people can have nothing to do or they work on the wrong things, both of which waste time. Producers need to know what everyone is working on at all times and plan for what they will work on next so they can anticipate when things are likely to go wrong in time to prevent it.

CA: What is your favourite part of the job?

Iain Angus: My favourite part is the variety. Producers get to be involved in all parts of the project, so from one minute to the next you could be doing something completely different. In the morning you could be discussing game ideas with the designers and tech solutions with the programmers, then in the afternoon you might find yourself talking with the finance department about budgeting and the community team about how well the latest release has been received. Each day is different, and I like it that way.

CA: What is the most challenging part of your role?

Iain Angus: Producers are responsible for games shipping on time, so we are often the bad guys who put a stop to exciting new features being put into the game in time for release. Game developers are extremely passionate about their work, particularly here at CA, which means it can be difficult for them to stop making improvements and polishing each build. Production has to make the call for when the polish stops and the game gets released to the eager fans.

CA: And finally (and most importantly): which General is your go-to?

Iain Angus: Cao Cao is the General I end up playing most. His signature card is to draw another card, which means there is always hope in any situation and keeps battles exciting all the way to the end. The Mandate keyword that is available to the THREE KINGDOMS faction is flexible, so in most situations there is some strategy or manoeuvre available to get you out of it. My current deck combines this with lots of cavalry units so I can always attack both enemy lines in the mid to late game.

Check back next week for a special announcement!

Keep your eyes peeled for our next ELYSIUM blog post where we’ll be sharing some exciting news! And, if you missed it, check out our most recent blog on the great Priam of Troy here. And if you haven’t already, sign up for the PC closed beta here.