CONSULTING

Every executive wants to improve the overall efficiency of his/her studio.  

As a consulting Executive Producer/Studio Art Director/Creative Director, I have helped a range of companies to solve a wide variety of problems.  My process involves working closely with you and your staff so I can help you reach your goals.  I have experience developing AAA Console, VR, Social, Casual, Mobile & Casino games.

I offer the following areas of expertise:

Production

Are you missing deadlines?  Is the quality not there to be competitive?  Do you feel communication could be improved inside your studio?  I am a certified Scrum Master and Product Owner (CollabNet), and can help your organization across a variety of production related axis.  I can help you transition to an Agile processes, or if your already using Agile, I can help optimize it for your companies unique culture.  I have extensive experience with traditional (waterfall) schedules and an existing solution that embraces a hybrid approach.  Solid process is the first step to making quality content.

The "Vision" Thing

Often companies have adequate staff but have trouble formulating a solid vision for their product. Developing a great game requires buy-in from all stakeholders which can be difficult. In my experience, an outsider can sometimes offer a more neutral and objective voice to the conversation.  Whether your working on brand-new IP or struggling to 'reboot' an older franchise, there are best-of-breed techniques for generating, defining and broadcasting a solid product vision.

Art Direction / Visual Quality Audit  

I provide a comprehensive visual quality review and competitive analysis of your studio's titles. My recommendations are based on current industry trends and targeted to help differentiate a product within a genre or category.  I provide both written and visual direction for improvements including priority-ranked actionable tasks.  Suggestions are cross-discipline (character, animation, environments, vfx etc.) and can also include quality issues that arise from Art / Design / Tech interactions.  

Staffing Plan

Evaluate your studio's staff size, hiring needs and help w/ talent searches.  Determine team size relative to project requirements and overall studio growth plans.  Compare internal strengths to industry standards and your competitors.  I can help you navigate the phases of production to avoid expensive 'ship and shoot' traps, determine multi-project logistics to maximize existing human capital or perform an honest audit on your current headcount with an eye towards reducing burn-rate.

Pre-production

I have a comprehensive ‘pre-production battle plan’ that can be customized for your team's next title.  Avoid having ‘down time’ for staff twiddling thumbs between product cycles. A great pre-pro process saves money throughout development.  Make mistakes "early and often" at virtually no cost and begin production on solid footing.

Pipeline & Tools

Determine any cost-saving opportunities through both workflow improvements and Tools (buy, build, borrow decisions).  I have often been asked to design proprietary tools w/ engineering staff to solve complicated issues unique to particular dev. environments.  Whether your building the next AAA for Gen 8 consoles, or struggling w/ HTML5 on mobile, i can help.  I am fluent in both the strengths and the limitations of popular middle-ware like Flash, Unity, Crytek and Unreal.

Outsourcing

I can help you determine a  plan and offer guidance specific to a particular developer’s goals (usually related to cost savings and increased productivity).  Review existing in-sourcing relationships (if any) with artists/designers and discuss areas for improvement.  Offer decision-matrix for outsourcing determinations.  I have a network of preferred outsource providers with specific strengths/experience.

Moral & job satisfaction

Provide executive staff with a unique non-biased (and non-political) written report of top issues and potential solutions.  Build rapport w/ staff and get to any real dysfunction that may be causing inefficiencies.  I interview your whole staff and get to the 'water-cooler talk'.  This can be especially valuable in larger organizations where management feels out-of-touch. 

Organizational Development

Work with your HR department to help develop company-wide initiatives like Training, Leadership Development, cross-discipline communications & talent retention strategies.  Help structure (or review) a the company's annual review process.

Story-based Game Design

While at Midway and working on multi-million dollar console games, I developed a process of integrating storytelling with gameplay called "Overboards" that has been used successfully in a number of development studios.  The process provides a novel approach to the traditional problem of how narrative and interactivity can blend seamlessly into a single entertainment experience.  The process also introduces numerous advantages over traditional methods including rapid prototyping, creative transparency (facilitating good ideas can come from anywhere), surfacing scope and technical issues, and stakeholder buy-in.

Startup Guidance

Starting a new studio?  I've been through it a few times and have a ton of advice.  My first company Xatrix had a successful exit and sold to Activision.  I'll work closely with you to help define your goals, burn rate, business plan, product definition/scope etc.  Short consultations at the beginning will pay dividends once the studio is up and running. 

M&A Evaluation

Are you considering purchasing a studio or possibly doing a merger?  I have experience in evaluating companies for a variety of strategic options.  I can lead a due diligence effort (or support yourteam) to determine value, opportunity, strategic benefits and risk.  

 

Why hire an outsider / contractor / consultant?

This role has many advantages over a traditional FTE.  Some of the most important are:

* complete honesty and transparency - I try to get to the REAL dysfunction that may be happening within teams.  I build rapport with individuals and find the patterns / issues they may not be comfortable telling their managers.  My final deliverable (usually a comprehensive document) will pull no punches.

* temporary cost - you can engage for any duration necessary.  Depending on the scope of your needs you can calibrate the process along the way.

* fresh set-of-eyes from outside the organization - the problem of "groupthink" is well documented.  Having someone who has tons of experience elsewhere offer opinions/suggestions/solutions to your company can have immense value.

Together we can improve quality, save money and minimize risk.  Lets discuss how I can help your organization.   

  

contact: j.kaehler@asylumlabsinc.com


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