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Asurya's Embers 

Co-Producer | 18-Week Period| 24-Person Team


Asurya's Embers is a Bow & Arrow first-person shooter built in Unreal Engine 5.3. Play as Dawa, an elected protector from a small village in the Himalayas. A vengeful deity has wreaked havoc in the sky, resulting in scalding temperatures that threaten the very ecosystem she calls home. Empowered by a magical bow, Dhawa must dash between the safety of the shadows to avoid the deadly heat and defeat a rogue sun spirit to restore the natural balance and save her village.  

Available now on Steam and Epic Game Store!


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My production duties included ...

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Owning the product backlog and both writing and bulk importing Epics, Stories, and Tasks from Excel into Jira

Creating and enforcing Jira workflows for Agile Kanban and Bug Reporting Kanban

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Taking point on production coordination with external musicians, voice actors, and  cultural sensitivity consultant (You can listen to the game's score here)

Identifying and prioritizing risks and determining mitigation and contingency plans with discipline leads

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Conducting regular one-on-ones with members of my teams and intercept early-stage personnel issues 

Overseeing the performance profiling and improvement effort alongside lead Software Developer in the final stages of development

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Administering and analyzing GUR and competitive analysis surveys (click image to download a sample report)

Maintaining the team's internal Confluence pages and authoring contents for managed teams

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Co-Crafting and participating in the pre-publishing marketing push (Click here to watch clips from our Developer Panel)

Asurya's Embers Post-Mortem


What Went Well:

  • In preproduction, we made defining our team's goals and culture statement a top priority. I emphasized to our leads the importance of defending the team's desires and protecting a game's vision, which I displayed in both dev rooms. With our diverse group of 22 developers from around the world, it was vital that our game reflected the team's multicultural heritage and desires. 

  • The transition from prototyping to full production went smoothly. Our backlog and delivery schedule was well estimated by tracking key initial velocities. As co-producer, I addressed initial frustrations with one-on-one meetings, defending our deliberate approach while respecting and adapting to developers' concerns. 

  • From start to finish, conflict resolution was swift and respectful. Our studio fostered a safe environment for team members to voice concerns openly. We adjusted our open-door policy to address negative feelings promptly and implemented strategies to manage conflicts beyond our immediate control.

  • Our sub-teams did an impressive job responding to expert feedback from stakeholders and our industry partners. Producers and leads distilled observations into actionable developer tasks, leading to iterative refinement and higher-quality combat and animations in the game.

  • As we made the transition from Beta to RTM, I made the decision to migrate our task tracking off the product backlog in Jira and into two living systems: a detailed bug Kanban board in Jira and a high level priorities Kanban board on Monday. The former helped capture and assign the wide breadth of key bugs. The later helped display major progress points to our stakeholders and the entire team through digestible visuals and brief summaries. 

What Went Wrong:

  • In later milestones, we continued to focus on design improvements over quality of life improvements. Last-minute game system changes were approved, diverting focus from internal QA, leaving many significant bugs undiscovered until late stages. This led to a more stressful environment toward the end of the project.

  • We only used a formal Go/No-Go framework once in development, never appropriately using that process again. This would have been beneficial on many occasions for making feature cuts and justifying scope reduction. As production neared the final two milestones, we relied less on actionable data and more on gut feelings, impacting decision-making processes.

  • We did not have enough eyes on our final boss dragon encounter. The dedicated multidisciplinary team performed well within their constraints, however putting more expert playtesters on the final level may have helped with polish and direction. While I don't regret prioritizing the first 5-10 minutes of gameplay, a holistic approach could have significantly improved the final product's quality.

  • We did not promote a culture of performance-mindful design. Given the strong emphasis on lights and shadows in our gameplay and the use of dramatic, realistic foliage in our art style, all our levels suffered from immense performance drain. Collaboration between the performance engineer and designers was limited in the early stages.

Even Better If:

  • We took steps to identify and address our knowledge and talent gaps. We rarely framed the question "Do we have someone who can do this task well?" Ultimately, many devs had to halt progress late in production to learn something new. Front-loading learning outcomes saves time down the road. 

  • We held weekly meetings between the performance team and the world team to avoid and capture simple FPS drains. 

  • We had an in-depth list of console commands that could help with rapid systems testing including noclip (let the player fly through walls), god mode (ensure the player cannot die), an AI "kill all" command, and a jump-to-quest command. Though some of these (e.g., a level loader) were eventually added, an earlier implementation would have helped with faster iterative design and testing. 

  • We held regular and structured co-producer meetings. Even though both producers participated in daily scrums with the other leads, we could have done a better job had we set aside a time and space for a thorough conversation. This would have ensured we were always on the game page. 

  • We removed department leads from the critical development path.  Features would be delayed as the deliverable was tied to a lead rather than a sub-team developer. Though our leads are talented in their own right, their focus was often distracted. I will strive to better alleviate lead overload in future projects.

Prioritizing Transparency to the Stakeholders and to the Development Team 

As a producer, I strive to achieve transparency between my team, the leads, and the stakeholders. A key example of this came during our final stages of preproduction/prototyping (back then the game's working title was "SunSlayer"). At our closing updated, I made sure to give a thorough breakdown on key considerations and next steps. What I presented here help set the stage for the more structured planning in our early production sprints. It also demonstrated to the stakeholders the clear visions held by the leadership team and an understanding of our internal development velocity.

The subsequent video is one I sent out to the entire team prior to our summer break (a one-month break between pre-production and full production). Compared to the tone in the delivery to the stakeholders, here I bring a more warm, impromptu note, exhibiting a video game producer as a cheer-leader. Though I strive to be an encouraging presence in all encounters, I always remain honest and to the point, espeically when delivering bad news.

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