Leading to some improvement in Japanese developers

At the last entry, I wrote about unclear job descriptions in Japanese developer and said it’s a fatal problem on the productivity and a cause of working overtime. But I understood it’s not easy to reform Japanese system quickly and drastically. So I’m going to focus attention on a couple of big problems.

  • Too slow iteration for game/level design.
  • There is engineer shortage, but engineers are the responsible for not engineering matters.
  • Development process is mess up.

These problems are bigger than others, but not difficult to solve. Some Japanese developers may have already solve the problems. Anyway if the problems are solved, the productivity and the labor environment will be fairly improved.

Here is a small idea to do that. The idea is to add just 4 disciplines with clear job description. I know job descriptions might conflict with Japanese system, but just 4 disciplines, not 40 like Western developers.

Level Designer

Japanese developers might not need to have as many kinds of disciplines as Western developers, but a level designer job is exception. It is a vital job to keep a rapid iteration.

Perhaps planning department can’t evaluate level designers, because a half of their responsibility is technical. Therefore, in Japan, they should belong to engineering department.


Technical Artist

Some Japanese developers have not defined this job yet. In such developers, who is responsible for materials? It’s an engineer or an artist, who is good at shader technique. It looks no problem? I don’t think so, there are two problems.

At first, it’s not best that engineers are assigned to material tasks, because almost all of them haven’t been trained as an artist. Next, when the artist quits, the developers don’t hire a new technical artist for the lack of him/her. Because the developers don’t recognize Technical Artist as a job. Plus, the developers don’t have the rule to pay enough/competitive salary for such an artist.

Game Scripter

A game scripter is responsible to write game play code in script language on some game engine. (e.g. C# or JavaScript on Unity, Lua/Python/Lisp on the internal engine and so on.) The reason why I recommend that Japanese developers define this job is that almost all game designers in Japan can’t use script language for their iteration work and always needs engineers’ help, but such a task is not so difficult. Higher salary engineers should not assigned to supply lack of game designers’ study. They should be assigned to game engine (or middleware) development, enhancement, optimization, integration and  something new research & development.

A game scripter will help game designers, learn game design from them and then become a professional game designer. It’s good carrier.

Assistant Producer (or Assistant)

Producers in Japanese developers may be responsible for managing project progress of their project, but they don’t know how to do that. Some producers think the only way to proceed with their project is asking team members for working overtime.

To improve this, I recommend that Japanese developers hire assistants who are responsible for smooth project progress.

  • They host meetings, write down a summary and share it.
  • They are assigned to the tasks which don’t require any specialties. (e.g. stationery order, cleaning up Wiki, paperwork and so on.)
  • They should be able to use a computer, business software, Wiki, bug trackers and other office equipment like copier. Plus, they should be able to teach other persons how to use them.

This makes specialists in the team possible to focus on their specialty. I think Assistant Producer is the appreciate job title, but the department producers belonging to doesn’t like to hire such persons. If so, engineering department should hire them, or the above tasks will be engineer’s responsibility.

Because an assistant learn overview of game development, so will be able to get a chance to become a producer.

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