Naive Game Designing Roles Question

If the designer is like the musician-songwriter and the coder is the studio engineer - who fills the role of producer? Someone like a coach, who really understands gameplay dynamics, that gets into the head of the designer and helps him make what he’s trying to do not only work but work better? Maybe sits over the shoulder of the coder as well and helps tweak the design’s implimentation? Is there anyone like that out there or is it just a role that a designer or an coder might take on in addition to whatever else they’re doing?

Anyone who gives good shoulder massages and has good breath.

Maybe a better analogy, still musically related, is that you have the composer/designer; musicians/developers; and the conductor/producer. One group envisions, another executes, and another ensures that the execution matches a combination of the original vision while adding nuances of their own.

Ah, very good. Thanks. So a producer in game design is more like a producer in the recording business rather than, say, the movie business where I believe their role is funding the picture and bringing their friends onto the set to show off?

Movie producers seldom fund the pictures they produce - it’s a cardinal rule of producing. Usually, movie producers are responsible for finding initial outside backing for the picture, and then they are responsible for managing the production of the picture to some kind of schedule and budget. Game producers do the same thing, except that they are more often assigned a project by the studio.

At least, that’s the way it was when I worked in the games industry almost ten years ago.

A producer in game design is a very poorly defined job. At some places they’re basically miniature HR/operations people, responsible for everything to do with personnel and equipment but not involved with actual design. They’ll hire, fire, reprimand, decide pay, handle personality issues, deal with scheduling, etc. but won’t get involved in coding, art, or design.

At other places they’re the lead designer responsible for making the entire product but don’t deal with personnel issues – instead someone else like a “project manager” or a “program manager” deals with that.

It’s tough to say. Out of all positions it’s the least well defined.