What HR thinks it takes to work with writers

I came across the first job posting I’ve seen that addresses working with outsourced talent.  Of course, this job is for an Art Outsourcing Manager, but it gives us a clue of things to come.  We’ll address each of these responsibilities in the coming weeks.  As you read through, does anything seem missing?  Does anything ring a bell?

Responsibilities

• Establish and maintain healthy, productive and mutually beneficial relationships with external vendors.
• Communicate style requirements to external partners to ensure a consistent project vision.
• Monitor game team and vendor interactions and help mediate potential issues.
• Ensure clear and consistent documentation of art production pipeline for a range of assets for external vendor reference.
• Develop tools to improve communication and efficiency in the internal/external pipeline
• When necessary, visit external studios for training or on-site meetings.
• Establish tests for vetting new outsourcing contacts, and review and rate incoming test assets.
• Collect and maintain metrics on outsourced art to be used by the Art Director and project Leads.
• Work with producer and fellow artists to establish reasonable budgets and costs for outsourced art.
• Work alongside a producer to schedule and track outsourced art.
• Monitor contractor assets submissions for consistent high quality and bring forward any red flags as needed.
• Maintain close communication with outside developers to ensure they meet contractual requirements.

Skills and Experience

• Previous outsourcing experience required.
• Contract negotiation skills preferred.
• Experience in an Art Director or Lead Artist role a strong plus.
• Must possess strong leadership and interpersonal skills in order to effectively delegate tasks and motivate external teams.
• Well versed in game art creation tools such as 3ds Max, Zbrush and Photoshop.
• Receptive to working in collaboration with managers from external companies along with other game team leads.
• Solid understanding of game development processes, limitations, dependencies and trends.
• Excellent communication, time-management and organizational skills.
• Task driven, self-motivated, and proactive.
• Works well under deadline pressure.
• Must possess an enormous passion for games.

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Published in: on April 13, 2007 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  

Preview of next week

Anne went to an event last night where Neal Baer, showrunner of Law & Order: SVU, discussed how the TV side works with writers.  There she was, with a small group of professionals, who each had submitted a mini-bio for a dossier.  Of course, for hers they pulled our most recent blog post, which happened to be about the 300.  Oh well. 

Anne will also be attending NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters, next week for the first time.  With an emphasis on sound and video, allegedly NAB has a strong New Media section as well.  Is there anything you want to know about NAB or want her to find out while there?

Published in: on April 13, 2007 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

RPGs: Writing or gameplay?

RPGs have long been the hallmark of game writers, and today they get their very own rather epic feature on Gamasutra.  If you believe gameplay sells games more than any other aspect of a game, think again.  Just look at the Ultima series.  

Early Ultima games benefitted from improvements in game design and gameplay.  However, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, though with better graphics and realtime gameplay, didn’t reinvent its interface or go 3D. Its popularity instead seems to stem largely from its “gripping plot, well-developed characters, and painstakingly-detailed environments.”  On the other end of the spectrum, Ultima IX: Ascension had all the gameplay fans loved, but without good dialog and characters, sales sagged.

Clearly, innovative gameplay only gets you so far.  If you can’t afford to reinvent the wheel with your game engine or design, a few excellent writers might tip the scales… or, more accurately, tip the sales.  But you knew that already.

Makes me think of a game I played.  Shadow Hearts for PS2 was a pretty standard RPG in terms of gameplay, but I loved the story.  I played it so fast I met the final boss about 5 levels too soon!  Anyone played any game with just okay gameplay, but you loooooved the story? 

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 4:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Requisite Post on 300

Everyone is talking about it, so I suppose it’s time for us to do the same.  Despite (or because of) concerns over whether it’s racist, inaccurate propaganda, 300 has done quite well for itself.  Ron Gilbert wrote quite a biting review of 300, but concluded by saying he had fun, as did just about everyone else who’s seen it.  He likened the story and characters to many games these days.  And all I could think of when watching it was that it’d make a great game.  Sadly for PSP, but a great game.  

Of course, there’s another way to look at 300.  This wasn’t a failure on Hollywood’s part to create a movie following three-act structures with strong character arcs.  Frank Miller, the author of the graphic novel, made a conscious decision to create a main character with no arc and no fatal flaw.  John William Fay, the man behind 300’s Legendary Pictures, knew the story would be a risk for that very reason.  According to Fay, the story comes more from Wagnerian opera than anything else.  The producers feared that a largely American audience wouldn’t get this type of storytelling.  But they took the risk, because they believed in the passion and vision of the director. 

This is how the Writers Cabal approaches games.  We love to work with companies with a vision.  If we’re not passionate about the project, we don’t do it.  A developers’ passion and vision can override many sins.  At the end of the day, for games or film, if it works, it works. 

Legendary now has the script for the WoW movie.  Any bets on how that’ll turn out?

Published in: on April 9, 2007 at 10:52 am  Comments (2)  

All work and no play…

The Writers Cabal has been working very hard the past few days on a couple projects. Late night phone calls inevitably lead to digressions, so we thought we’d let you in our top secret conversations…

Anyone else read that book Son of a Witch? How can a guy in a coma father a child? Enquiring minds want to know…

Published in: on April 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Prediction of future games

I will now put on my magic hat and look deep, deep into the future.  Within three years, we will see many games with the dead as protagonists — either undead like vampires or the dead who have come back to life.  Some of these dead will solve crimes. We will also see battles for people’s souls, with devils and demons.  Oh, and God willing we’ll have another Terminator game. 

Okay, I’m not psychic.  I’m really just reading the trend in this season’s television pilots.  Following the logic that games have a tendency to follow what works in other media, we’ll be seeing games along the same themes within the next several years.  So let us hope these types of pilots and games come to pass, because the alternative is something like this:

Ensemble following the lives of four men who carpool.

Anyone else have predictions?  Or critique of my prediction?

Published in: on April 4, 2007 at 10:51 am  Comments (2)  

The Other N-Word

You’d think we’d have it all figured out by now: Don’t alienate your players with offensive comments.  You could lose more than just their dollars. But sometimes, that message gets lost.  Recently I was working on a project when I came across some offensive dialog.  If it had been the N-word, I’m confident that it never would have made it onto the page.  But it wasn’t… it was directed at another oft-maligned group.  It was the N-word for gay men. 

How does this happen and more importantly, how do we stop it?  The LGBT community has gotten some press of late in the industry.  Gamasutra reported how one gay developer was named “the official guard dog against homophobia.”  The developer said: “It proved useful to the project and very educational for my co-workers.” 

But what if you don’t have a watchdog on your team?  Or your writers don’t have the internal watchdog built in?  Fear not, noble developer!  GLAAD, the gay and lesbian alliance against defamation, specializes in solving just that problem.  Contact GLAAD with any concerns or questions, and who knows, you might get an award for your trouble. 

Oh, yeah, and that offensive dialog?  I changed it to reflect its real purpose and took out all offensive references that ultimately did not further the story. 

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 10:15 am  Comments (2)