One of the worst things in game development is a team that has lost its motivation to go on. I have worked with teams that show a severe drop in motivation at certain points in the process, especially when the first 80% of the game has been developed. Usually developing 80% of the game goes rather fast, but when you've reached this stage, all the fun stuff has been implemented, chores start looking around the corner. I'm not immune to this 'project illness' either. These days I handle demotivation much better. I remember the time when I still had trouble recognising its patterns. In this article I will describe a few aspects to focus on as a producer when your team is "bathing in the sewers".
Well, it's obvious you have to be motivated yourself, because how else would you 'project' a motivated vibe on your team? It's essential to find ways to get yourself going again. I usually 'zoom out' to see myself and all the problems around me. From a distance everything is much smaller, so that is how I interpret these problems and struggles; as small things. Its like I made room for a better feeling in my "psyche". Then I start imagining how successful this game or project could finally be. When I am full of energy again, I'm ready to radiate this to my team.
Negative to Positive
When team members are demotivated, they tend to stay in a negative mindset. In their eyes all the problems still remain. This is because they only focus on all these negative aspects. Try to shift their focus by constantly exposing them to positive elements. It's like you're giving them a small taste of ice-cream to help them remember what ice-cream tastes like. They get a fraction of positivity that feels a lot better than swallowing those "rotten tomatoes". Within no time they are focusing on the bright side again.
Nearly every human likes to get compliments. Even these team members are somewhat 'human', so give them a compliment once in a while. Especially when they are going through the hardest stages of game development (the last 10%). So give them credit when they do something well, even if it's just a simple change. It will help them generate motivation for the harder and more complex parts.
In my opinion it's essential for a producer to have a fast reaction time. So when team members try to reach you on your phone, WhatsApp, Skype, or email, no matter what the time is, if you notice a message, react immediately. If you can ease your team members with a short reaction, it could do wonders. On top of that, you will earn respect from them.
Lastly, remember you chose this project because it was fun right? Focus on the fun stuff!