Yeah, I was talking to a producer once who said he would often go take walks with various people in the studio and just say, "Let's go for a walk and talk about stuff." And they would sort of naturally get to talking about the game. And that was how you would find out the things that everybody knew was wrong but nobody was really talking about.
It's just stuff where it's like, "Yeah, this thing is constantly causing problems for us, but, you know, they're going to get to fixing it eventually, so it's going to be fine." Then you realize that five different people in an art team of 15 are talking about how this is a problem they're eventually going to get to. And you're like, "Okay. This is a problem we need to fix now."
OdR: But you need to have your formal reporting and trust your people, because you cannot drop those decisions because it will make a mess. You need also to build a lot of informal relationships with different people and provoke them to get more feedback. Even though you want to go the opposite direction of their own managers, it's good also to have different feedback, and different approaches to getting it. You don't want only the feedback that's filtered out by the one that's reporting to you, even if you trust him -- but you do have to trust him. That's the most important thing.
It must be difficult to be sure that you're getting accurate feedback from people when people speak differently to their managers than they do to their peer-level team members. You're probably always getting a certain version of what they actually feel.
OdR: But that's why you have to know your people. And still, with this size, I know the people quite well. I know who will never say anything, and those who will probably be easier to get feedback from. You have to find your own ways to identify the best points of your team.
It's a bit like a game in itself. You have to understand the tactics of building your team and how they're going to interact.
OdR: I think it's very, very important to keep this contact with the team and take every opportunity to explain to them why you are doing what you are doing, why they are doing what they are doing, and provide the opportunity to talk together. What you want to avoid as much as possible is a disconnect, not understanding where your team is going. That's part of the day-to-day effort.
One thing I liked that you said earlier is that shipping a product kind of builds a team. They weren't really a team until they shipped some early levels on Assassin's Creed II, and got the excitement of them being accepted. Having done something as a team that shipped, you can look at it and be like, "Oh, we did this together." It's a smart idea, because I know some folks who have worked on games for 10 years and shipped maybe two products.
OdR: I think that's key. You need to be able to look at your success, whether you're big or small. I think that also one of the big objectives when we came here, and this was also the objective when we did TMNT, was to be able to ship things regularly that the team is proud of.
"Hey, we shipped it together. We know that together we can reach something and we can deliver a final product together, and I know what you did on the project." That's the best way to build trust, I think, between people, and to build the team. I think if we were able in a few years to build teams that are able to deliver very high quality content, it's also because we could build this trust step by step where, "Okay, we build this AC2 level -- where no one really could believe we could ship all these 10 levels -- and we can be proud, and I know what this guy is bringing to the team."
Step by step, you don't question their ability anymore. As long as you have not shipped anything, you still have that doubt, or maybe not. But here you don't have that. And I think that's what sticks a team together, and that's really, really important. Shipping games regularly and creating success -- it makes everyone believe that it's possible. I think here, that's one of the main achievements. For my team, the sky is the limit because they've been involved with such high quality productions. They've been progressing. Each time they realize a success -- it's the best way to always challenge yourself and to say, "Okay, we can do something big."