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Building the Ship as it Sails: The Creation of Ubisoft Singapore
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Building the Ship as it Sails: The Creation of Ubisoft Singapore


June 18, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next
 

In a country that is very regulated, I don't want to necessarily say, "Will they be able to innovate?" but does the quality of that creativity change? 

OdR: I think it's changing very quickly here, and people are more and more exposed to old media and old games and such. So, I think there's not much restriction there, and people are introduced to the same things that you are introduced to in the U.S., et cetera. 

So, I think they are growing well on that side, and also I think that it's not so much about the creativity of Singapore. I think when you see it around you, you can feel those people -- they know what they're doing, and they can be innovative in their approach, and how people want to lead. They have a big imagination, and I think they can build on it.

But I think the challenge may be that this [is a country of] five million, and in a five million person country, you can probably innovate, but you cannot have so many innovations. But we're trying to create this environment where people want to come, because they are in a strategic area in Asia that is amenable to build a city that will attract people because the quality of living is good, because it's got good infrastructure, and so forth. 

They know that they need to attract talent from abroad to innovate and to fill in some gaps that they might have because of the size of the population, and I think they've been very, very clever in building this up. We see that already here with the work we've done here. We were able to bring the right people that work well with Singapore and people from the region. 

The reason I brought up is that my Singaporean friends talk about feeling a lack of creative culture here. They go abroad and see interesting art, and people just being creative because they can -- that vibe of, "I want to do this, and so I'm gonna do this." 

Leaving that alone for a moment, how have you found communication in the studio, where almost everyone's common language, English, is also often their second language?

My friend in Korea, he sometimes finds that has a difficult time getting his idea across the language barrier, even if it's fairly basic. So, he's found that drawing things and making quick prototypes is an easier way to share things with people, sometimes. Because, obviously, talking about nuance of game design and mechanics, you really need to understand what the other person is trying to communicate. How have you found that?

OdR: I think in general, even being in France with other French people, one of the very, very complicated things in video games is being able to convey a strong idea. I insist a lot with my team here: You have to use different media to bring across your ideas. So, you have meetings, you have presentations, you have emails, but you also have videos. You must be able to illustrate your ideas. 

I don't think it's a problem with anyone's character, I think it's a big challenge in the game industry in general. You have to convey your idea to many kinds of people from different job functions, and they give you feedback. That's one of the big challenges: Communicating efficiently and coming across the idea, it's a big big challenge. It's something we discuss a lot here: "Okay, you sent your email, that's good, but it's not enough." You have to build a video. So, we have some dedicated people for handling video all the time. 

You have people who help create videos to present an idea? 

OdR: Exactly. When you start a sprint, show a video. What's the intention? And show a video, send an email, do a meeting presentation, get feedback, bounce off people's feedback because it shows how they understand your idea. So it's -- I don't see that as a language challenge. I see that as a creative challenge to be able to come across with your idea. 


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