Words of Wisdom in Indie Dev Publishing!

1: Hello who are you and what are you known for?
Hi! I’m Teressa Wright, I’m a Producer for Square Enix Collective – the indie publishing division of Square Enix Europe. I’m mostly known for hAAIA_wDGAAAAAQAAAAAAAAvIAAAAJDRhNTA1NDUyLTE4NDMtNGNkNS1hN2JiLTEwZjEzMDdiOTQ0Mw.jpgaving a weird accent (it’s a mix of Glaswegian, Kiwi, Californian and Londoner), and also for having a hand (in one form or another) in getting most of Sega’s Alien games out into the world prior to joining Square Enix. I’ve worked on a ridiculous number of games over the years, including Sonic the Hedgehog (pretty much all of them at some ss_09ddf743317853b3b53d4ab4fdab2b7d004893d8.600x338.jpgpoint), several of the Total War titles & Football Manager at Sega, Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves and Minecraft for Microsoft, and now awesome indie games like Tokyo Dark, Oh My Godheads and the upcoming Battalion 1944 and many others for Square Enix Collective!
2: How did you get your break into games and what was the appeal?
Actually, my getting into the games industry was a bit of an accident – Having just received a green card in the USA, a friend suggested I try for a job in SEGA QA – up to that point I’d been playing a LOT of games while I waited for the application to be fully approved, so it seemed like a no-brainer to get paid for doing more of that! So I figured I could do that at least until a Real Job™ came along (spoiler – that never came along.) I quickly found that the testing was a lot more interesting and compelling than ‘playing a lot of games’ all day, and the teams I worked with became like family. It’s the people who really make this industry so amazing to me, I can’t imagine a more loving, interesting, creative and funny group of folks could be found in such high numbers anywhere else.
3: As someone who entered the industry in the QA field, how did you progress into becoming a producer? Are there any tips or things you would have liked to have known when you first started out?
There are a lot of similar elements that lead to success in both QA and Production, but I think the main things are soft skills. Being a good communicator is essential, as is being able to keep a cool head if things go a little haywire (which they do, frequently.) Being organised is a must for both jobs as well – you’ll often have to juggle multiple timelines and conversations, while also looking like you are fully on top of it all! pexels-photo-356043.jpgThe most important skill is being a problem solver – it’s all very well to point out something is wrong, but being able to come up with a plan to ensure that doesn’t happen again, or to present possible solutions that could fix the issue will make you invaluable to everyone you work with.
4: You have relocated a few times, from San Francisco, to London, England. Are there any tips you might have, or things you wish you had done differently?
I guess the only tip I would have for folks who are relocating or even trying to make their first leap into the industry is to put yourself out there and get involved in the community as soon as you can. Attend conferences, talk to dev teams on Twitter and Facebook, go to game jams and industry mixers – whatever you can to start building those connections! As mentioned earlier, the game dev community is amazing and easily become family, you just have to connect with them. As for things I wish I’d done differently, there’s nothing really, I’m pretty happy with how things have gone! I wouldn’t be where I am without the experiences that got me here in the first place 🙂
5: How different have you found the work environments between the disciplines and hub locations? How has the social aspect been?
I wouldn’t say there’s a huge amount of difference in the game industry at large, perhaps the USA seemed a little less procedure heavy and a little more willing to put work before real life, but that was a few years ago. People wise, other than the accents, folks in the industry are much the same in both the USA and the UK – passionate, driven, joyful and funny!
6: Now that you’re primarily working on the publisher side of things dealing with indie games publishing, what advice would you give as a mentor to anyone either entering the industry or as a start up?
Other than the above advice about building your network, I strongly suggest being diverse in your gaming habits. Ideas are sparked by all kinds of things, and if you’re only playing the same style of game over and over then you might come up with different versions of the same idea. This is especially important in the indie space – a lot of the huge success stories are games doing something completely new or surprising.
7: What are your thoughts on project funding? Is crowdsourced funding viable and what makes or breaks an attempt to go that route for funding?
Crowdsourcing isn’t as viable an option as it once was, unfortunately. Double Fine’s Adventure may have started a renaissance for crowdfunded games on games_brutallegend.pngKickstarter back in 2012, but these days the market is MUCH tighter. The main thing we’ve seen that makes or breaks a project going the crowdfunding route is early player engagement – Dev teams NEED to build their community, get involved, & build their presence long before even considering starting a crowdsource round, and that involvement must increase further during and especially after a successful campaign. Gaming press coverage can only take you so far these days, it’s now mostly about social communication and creating fans who will become your ambassadors as early as possible.
8: You have been involved at demoing projects at places like PAX East Boston with Sega and with Lionbridge Games Services. What advice would you give to any indie developer looking to get the best exposure or experience and value for money from one of these shows? Also, what things might not work so well?
  • Don’t bring a demo that needs a LOT of explaining to understand what the player is seeing/doing – some folks will like a lot of discussion, but additionally some people will be scared away if a game looks complicated/doesn’t make sense.
  • Do make sure the game works, test all your equipment, and bring back-ups if possible – far too often I’ve seen people trying to boot a demo they were working on right up until they left for the airport, and when they try to boot it – nothing good happens. This is not helpful for your sanity!
  • Do be present to talk to players if they seem up for a chat – some of these players might be gaming press, or could end up being a future fan ambassador. It doesn’t hurt to try start a chat 🙂
  • Do have easy-to-see prompts for people to follow the game on social media – Facebook page URL, Twitter account name, etc.
  • If possible, do have a sign-up sheet for gathering email addresses from people if they’re interested in following the game’s progress. An iPad or analog pen & paper, either work!
  • Do wear comfortable shoes, and wear a game or company branded t-shirt – it’ll make it easier for players to find you if they have questions. The shoes will just help you to not want to cut your legs off at the end of the show.
  • Try not to go hard at any late night events if you’re at the booth the next day. We all do it, but we all regret it afterwards!
9:  Big picture question: Can you share your thought about your 10yr out look for games?
That’s a really difficult question. The landscape is changing a lot right now and greater minds than mine are reaching for their crystal balls to try and guess what will happen next. There are so many games coming out now that it’s becoming harder and harder to rise above the noise. Things are probably going to get a bit worse before they get better, but what that better might be – I wish I had an answer for that!
10:  Finally……Any advice for your last boss?

pol woDDI’ QaQ ghob. waH che’!

(He speaks fluent Klingon, and is awesome)

Thanks Teressa, for a great insight to being a producer and indie dev publishing!

If you would like to know more or to connect with Teressa, check her profile out on Gamesmith.com.

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