Damien Kieken and Roman Campos are game director and creative director at Ubisoft and will be at GDC 2018 to present the talk ‘For Honor’: From a Great Launch to a Challenging Live Period, which will discuss the story of their game as it travels from its betas, through its launch, to its first post-launch year.
Here, Kieken and Campos give us information about themselves and what they do.
Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Damien and Roman’s. For more visit the show’s official website.
Tell us about yourself and what you do in the games industry.
Roman: I’m currently Creative Director on For Honor and was previously the Game Director on the project (before launch) and before that on Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
Damien: I’m the Game Director on For Honor, previously was the Online Game Director on it. Regarding past projects, I worked on the multiplayer of all Assassin’s Creed Games as the Game Director as well.
What inspired you to pursue your career?
Roman: I started playing on Apple II when I was a kid, and I never stopped since. Originally I started working in the music industry. But when given the opportunity I became a videogame dev.
Damien: I always loved playing games, especially with my older brother, from the venerable Atari 2600 through the whole gamut of Nintendo platforms. But I never really considered video games as a career choice before leaving high school. It’s only during my academic education that I considered moving in that industry and then it became more and more obvious. Since then, I’m loving this industry and can’t see how things could be different.
Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at GDC.
Roman & Damien: For Honor is a multiplayer, online melee game with innovative combat gameplay that has always been envisioned as a game-as-a-service since day one.
Now that the game launched, it’s constantly evolving and growing. We’re living a very interesting adventure with the team, made of ups and downs, successes and challenges to overcome. During that journey we’ve learned so much that we think is worth sharing. The topics will include: the production challenge of being live VS constantly developing new content. And also all the new tools and innovative approach we’ve had to discover and put in place for balancing, technical improvements (stability, matchmaking, etc.) and community management.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Roman & Damien: Being live! It’s a new way of working for the whole team. How do we prioritize content creation VS game improvements based on community feedback VS the daily emergencies? That’s only one of the example of the impact of working on a live game. Everything is more challenging.
When you get feedback from the community, how do you decide what criticisms get incorporated into the game after launch?
Roman & Damien: It’s a process we started to put in place during our first live periods before launching the game and something we will talk about in detail during the talk. To assess the feedback, we’re looking at a mix between data analysis, community feedback and a direct relationship with key players of the game. If validated, then the feedback becomes a project improvement that is put into the timeline of the project.
What kind of information are you looking for during Beta testing? What usually happens after testing closes?
Roman & Damien: Doing a live period is a tool and as a team your need to define what are the objectives. We did many live periods before launching the game and each of them had different roles (and it’s something we’ll go through our talk as well). Some of them were to validate the game’s architecture, design parts like balancing/progression or even for marketing purpose (and get the game known). Depending on the objective, before the test, we define the KPIs relevant to the test to validate our assumptions. So after the test, of course we look at the performance of those KPIs but often we learn new things that helps us improve the game and this one of the learning of our talk (you don’t know what you don’t know before you discover it).
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Roman & Damien: We can both say that in the past, it was shipping the game and seeing everyone enjoying it. Sharing that accomplishment with the team who poured love into making that game a reality during years. This sense of collective accomplishment is still true. But now we get great joy of keeping the community happy and entertained. Witnessing daily their passion, love about our game and also immense creativity.
Do you have any advice for those aspiring to join your field someday?
Roman & Damien: Now it’s easier than ever to create games on your own. There are great engines accessible for free. You have also more schools, and of course, internet brings an infinite amount of knowledge. Create games, go to game jams, participate in playtest, watch online conferences, read post-mortems or studies or books, go to video game shows and interact with people from the industry.
They are so many ways to become more and more involved in the industry. It just take dedication and you’ll find a job. Don’t look for the shiniest one at the beginning, fail, learn and then you’ll grow up and achieve more easily your goals.