Developer Spotlight - Toby Ellis - Producer
Could you explain a bit about who you are and what you do at Antimatter Games?
I'm Toby - I'm a Producer at AMG and on ‘83. I’ve been here for a little over four years now. It’s
What does a typical day at the AMG office look like for a Producer?
Production is all about making sure the thing happens. As such, a typical day for me is all about maintaining structure and fostering communications between key stakeholders and the team. It starts usually pretty much from the moment I wake up, check my emails, log into Slack and Discord and start talking to the team, who are spread all over the world. Then, I go to work - run standup meetings, facilitate anything that needs to happen and update my million spreadsheets as to what state things are in and how far along we are, and see how that affects scope, capacity, budget, and general planning. Then there's running anything else that needs running, keeping an eye on recruitment, morale, staff issues and anything that needs to be cleared out of the way for the project to happen in-time, and on-budget. I also do a lot of administration of systems like JIRA, which has made me maybe the most boring man on Earth to talk to at parties.
What skills do you think makes a good Producer?
I think there's a bunch of stuff that goes into making a good Producer. The ability to wear a lot of hats is certainly one. Resilience is another, both psychologically and physically. Making a game with a scope this big is a marathon, not a sprint (which is ironic as it's a marathon made up of hundreds of sprints. That's a joke about Agile software development. I swear, I used to be funny before I became John Q. Spreadsheets) so you need to be able to roll with the punches and make sure that you remain meticulous and process-oriented even if a project becomes challenging. The most important thing though is to realise that, no matter what, you will never know more about an area of development than the developer in charge of that area of development, so you have to be able to trust the people around you.
How did you get started in the games industry?
I got a journalism degree. Then I worked as a bartender. And as a door to door salesman. And as a labourer. And on a factory production line. And as a games journalist. And I made an RPG in my spare time in RPG maker to try to learn how to manage projects and to learn what it actually takes to get something from nothing to something. From there, I saw an opening and just... applied. I started at AMG as Trainee Assistant Producer. From there I went to Assistant, then Associate Producer, and now I'm the Producer driving the ‘83 project. Right place, right time, and a ton of hard work.
What’s your favourite part of working on ‘83?
Not working in UE3 any more'd be one part of it. Getting to lay the foundation of all the pipelines we're going to be using throughout development is certainly another. I think my favourite part of working on '83 though is getting to talk to the community and actually be a voice within that community alongside my Production responsibilities. The response to '83 has been overwhelming, and I'm really incredibly proud of everything we've done.
Favourite ‘80s tune?
Nena - 99 Red Balloons
Best film of the 80’s?
Any parting words of wisdom?
Log your work.