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    Working on Star Wars Battlefront II

    It’s been more than a year than I’m working on the next Star Wars game. It’s a very big game – set across all trilogies, with single-player campaign, split screen co-op, multiplayer battles and space battles! My goal is to lead the Criterion Design team in collaboration with DICE, Motive and Lucasfilm. This involves: Craft and […]

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    1 mechanic, 1 prototype (Unreal 4)

    You may have the best idea on paper, but software will show you if it is fun or not. So I started a simple challenge a while ago: write one idea of a small game mechanic every day and prototype it. The goal was to push me to learn blueprint in Unreal 4, but this […]

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    How I ended up on stage at the EADC to talk about rapid prototyping

    Back in April 2014, I went to the EA Developper Conferences in Redwood shores and did a talk about how rapid prototpying using my horrible romantic french accent. The thing is that it mostly happened by accident! A few weeks before going there, we received an email asking if we wanted to share quickly an idea or opinion for […]

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    Be creative to test your ideas

    Being creative is about being wrong: how many times you had a great idea and it didn’t work out? This is just part of the creative process – a big mess that you just need to embrace. The problem is that is is tiring and expensive. Designers shouldn’t just throw ideas – everyone can do […]

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The internet can’t keep any secrets

As you might know, it’s quiet common in the games industry that some projects don’t worked as you would have expected. And despite many hours of non-stop, and all the energy you put in it, some projects just never made it to the shelves.

While I was at Climax, I was working on an undisclosed Triple A Game. This project was cancelled in 2012 and the team could not talk about it or show anything. But someone on NeoGaff really wanted to find out and somehow managed to get some concept arts about this game. Then, Square Enix confirmed the project : Legacy Of Kain Dead Sun.

More infos here : http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-06-19-square-enix-acknowledges-cancelled-legacy-of-kain-game-dead-sun

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San Francisco

After GDC, I took couple days to visit San Francisco and I had a great time there. It was the first time I was visited the US, so I was very suprised by the scale – just felt small all the time. And SF is just a wonderful city and I’ve visited many fascinating places : the Golden Bridge (walked all the way to the other side – that was long!), the Golden Parc (had a blast in the botanic garden), Alcatraz (that is a must if you go to SF – just fascinating), the walk on the Pier …

I also really enjoyed visiting the Walt Disney Museum : it takes you on the journey of the life of Walt, from when he was born to when he died. Not only you discover many inside on the construction of his empire, but I was fascinated on how the museum shows how “human” he was : he was “worried all the time, but always fought back to find a solution”, had several times money issues, issues with his family… Things like these made you realise that even very successful person had to go through a journey of fear and doubt before achieving their goals. Very inspiring.

I will definitely try to go back to SF later, GDC or not !

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GDC is over !

I had a great time at GDC this year, met loads of cool people, went to great conferences and enjoyed all the parties !

But I must admit that my favourite talk at GDC wasn’t really about games : it was the Nasa Talk “We are the Space invaders!”. Not only it was well presented, but also very interesting to learn how the NASA learn from video games making and how we can learn from them.

Anyway, check it out on the GDC vault:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/192134/Video_What_game_developers_can_do_for_NASA.php

Promoting your game : what I’ve learnt on Most Wanted

Last November, I was asked to promote Need For Speed Most Wanted in France at the Paris Games Week (a consumer video games show in Paris) : I had never done that before and didn’t really get any training. What I learnt is that press interviews are like job interviews : officially, it’s a discussion between two people who don’t know each other; actually; it’s you trying to sneak your key points in the conversation.

There are two reasons why I was sent there : I’m French and I knew the game very well. That’s it. Speaking the same language helps a lot (no kidding !) as it helps to create a connection with journalists. For example, journalists really like the fact that I was “a french in an international studio” and some journalists can’t really speak well english. So you have someone in your staff speaking a different language, you should send them to those countries to speak about you game.

It’s very important that you know the game as a whole and just one thing in particular : this is the reason why, most of the time, producers or designers go to those events – because they can really talk about what matters, the key points of the game, and not talk about specific features. For example, Most Wanted is all about “being the Most Wanted among your friends”; I had to repeat that all the time – for every single interview. It’s really about hammering those key points and that’s what marketing is all about.

And get ready to talk loud : the Paris Game Week was very noisy, sometimes I felt like I had to scream during an interview. If you can, try to bring the journalists in more quiet zone (they are some press zones, make sure you use them). Also check that they can record you well: some interviews got screw about because the sound wasn’t working.

During an interview, you will have to repeat those key points but don’t be a robot : try to put a little bit of yourself in it. Talking about multiplayer, I was explaining that I was mostly taking down other players, and most of the time tracking those producers. This is the way players will talk about your game : they don’t repeat the “key points” but telling each others stories of what they did. So you should show that you are playing and enjoying your game like they will.

It’s all about adapting yourself to your audience : if you’re talk to your mom about a game, you are not going to explain the asynchronous multiplayer. Do the same with journalists : talk simple with general journalists, details with specialists … For example, I was talking more about the cars in Most Wanted and the fact that they are all available from the start with car magazines – because that’s what people who read want to know. Always remember to adapt yourself. It can be difficult so try to connect with journalists before the interview starts : ask them what they are playing, if they play the game, what they like about it …. I wish I had a business card during the event : if they need to ask more details about something, at least they know how to contact you directly.

So you understand that your job will be then to say those key points over and over. But it’s not only for journalists, as you will have to talk to “demoers” or “speakers” and the staff on the showfloor : those guys don’t know the game (most of them don’t really play games), so you have to make sure that your staff know what they need to know. For example, speakers need to know the global keypoints, but a staff member might need to know how to reset a race or help a player. So you really need to know everything and communicate it to the right people.

And trust your staff : don’t try to come on stage and talk about your game – most of players want to play it, not a commentary. So let the staff do their job : they know how to sell those games – they do it all over the year – and you don’t. My advice on this is to come on stage if you can show our deep your game is. I will always remember the face of some players when I beat their time by 10 seconds !

This experience really helps me to understand how difficult promoting a game can be. It looks nice when your producer says it has been to a cool city and stay in a nice hotel, but actually it’s a lot of work, especially if you are finishing your game or that the design of the game keeps changing at the same time. That’s why I think everyone should do it at least one time : you will understand why games need to be simple to communicate to survive in this strong competitive market. And it’s not worth doing it for showing off or fame . if you want to be famous, there are better and easier ways than making video games !

I was very lucky I had the chance to go to France for Most Wanted : it was going back to your home town to show something you work hard on. My best moment was when I had to do a TV interview I had to do with my friends behind the camera, trying to make me laugh, and they almost did !