Tomorrow, the second of April, will see the beginning of Forbes’ Under 30 Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is a convention that celebrates the achievements of the entrepreneurs and “game-changers” around the world, as long as they’re under the age of 30. There are speakers and attendees from a wide variety of different professions and lifestyles, including from the world of video games. Some of the attendees were even kind enough to sit down with me for a short period to have a chat!
Liam Wong – Art Director at Ubisoft
What game are you most proud of?
Far Cry 4.
Not only was it my directorial debut and the first project I worked on at Ubisoft – it also happens to be my favourite series. It was a dream to work on it.
I was hired as a director at age 25, two years after graduating and so I was very inexperienced but keen to make an impact. Working on the game was such a huge learning experience and I was fortunate to be surrounded by so many members of the team who were able to share their knowledge with me. I am immensely proud to have been a part of the team making that game.
Watch_Dogs 2 was a great game, but so different from the original in terms of mood and theme. Why was this?
I did not work on Watch Dogs but I just returned from an event in San Francisco (where Watch Dogs 2 is set) and I stumbled upon many of the locations inside the game. I was really impressed by the level of accuracy that the team managed to fit into the world.
Are there any projects in the pipeline that you’re excited to see released?
Absolutely, there are many projects here in Montreal that are currently being worked on and we are always excited to put them out there. The studio recently released For Honor and so a lot of us in the studio have been playing it over lunch.
UBISOFT is known for hyper-realistic games like the Tom Clancy games and Assassins Creed, but also have Rayman on the books which is a much more cartoony art style. Which style is your favorite?
As a game developer, I try to play as many types of games as I can so that I can improve my own work. Whilst I tend to work mostly on the more realistic games my favourite style from a Ubisoft game is definitely Rayman. It is just gorgeous and everything about the game is just so fun but also incredibly well executed.
How much cross-continental work goes on between the different offices in UBISOFT? Are there many challenges with it?
In the four years that I have been at Ubisoft I have had the pleasure of working alongside many of the other studios on our games and the experience has been hugely positive. The main challenge would be the timezone. For example when you’re working with people in Shanghai or Malmö – but the best part is coming into work in the morning and seeing all of the great work they have produced. It keeps us moving forward.
Lisy Kane, Producer at League of Geeks & Co-founder at Girl Geek Academy
What would you say is the League of Geeks biggest success?
The ongoing growth of Armello, our debut title, post launch while also growing our studio!
How would an indie developer become part of your collective?
Well, we’re actually currently hiring a build engineer and mobile developer so send us your details! We are actually now, post launch of Armello moving away from our collective roots to a more traditional indie game development studio. We had the amazing opportunities to work with talented folk all throughout the world in order to get Armello released. Now we’re working on growing our studio locally.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
We’re continuing to support and release updates and DLC for Armello on our multiple platform.
We’re currently working on the mobile platform with a lead on iPad with Android to follow.
Our studio will be looking to move into pre-production on an unannounced title sometime this year, but no secrets yet to announce.
How hard was it to set yourselves up as your studio?
I personally wasn’t part of the founding team, Forbes 30 Under 30 Alumni Trent Kusters would be able to speak more to that. However I can say I’ve seen the results of the early years where the founders / directors built the company from the ground and they’ve truly created something very unique. I’ve heard tales of the risks and sacrifices taken by the founders to create League of Geeks and I’m totally in awe of what they’ve done!
I was the first female full-time permanent developer on the team and I can speak to the fact how much we’ve grown and continue to grow in terms of diversity and resources.
Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk, founder of Tempo Storm
What games do you think are ones to watch in the eSports arena, perhaps even outside of your team’s specialities?
I think that some of the more underground esports to watch out for in 2017 are Heroes of the Storm, H1Z1, Rocket League, and Vainglory.
Have you any advice for a person looking to get into an eSports team?
For players looking to get into an esports team, there are two main things organizations look for: Results and Marketability. In order to get good results, a player has to have the right mentality and work ethic over a long period of time. Talent doesn’t hurt either. To become more marketable, it’s all about building good habits for social media and content creation. Much like improving as a player, building a following through content creation on Twitch or YouTube is mostly done through good work ethic.
Are there any games you are looking to get involved in? Rocket League being an example
Tempo Storm always has an eye on new titles as well as established ones. Some of the games currently on our radar are CS:GO, Dota, H1Z1, Smash 4, Street Fighter, Call of Duty, Halo, and Rocket League.
How much effort have you had to put in to making the team?
I’ve been working 12-16 hours a day over the past 3 years. It has been a herculean task, but I’m very proud of where the franchise is at now and how quickly we’re continuing to grow. This is just the beginning of Tempo Storm.
You’ve got a lot of teams in North America and Asia, are you looking to expand into Europe as well?
We already have a lot of European players signed, some of which compete in North American leagues and some that compete internationally. We will always consider strong European rosters capable of competing on the international stage. Esports is fundamentally more global than traditional sports. Most competitions happen online, and as a result the defining “regions” of esports are entire continents. Having a European, Asian, or Oceanic roster signed to a North American franchise is not too much of a stretch. With that said, I believe it’s important to have the franchise’s overall brand identity tied to North America for a number of reasons. The sponsors marketing to North America have much larger marketing budgets and the audience has more disposable income than other regions, so it’s just good business. It’s also important not to fragment the fan base too much, as we look to have our teams competing locally in more traditional sporting venues.