Be­fore join­ing ed­i­to­rial, Elis­a­beth Pellen spent 12 years at Ubisoft as a scriptwriter, level de­signer and cre­ative di­rec­tor. To­day she shapes the de­sign di­rec­tion of Ubisoft’s games along­side CCO Serge Has­coet, man­ag­ing ed­i­to­rial’s line de­sign­ers as on­line con­tent di­rec­tor.

“Now that I work on the dark side of the Moon, I just try to help the dev team to reach the high­est level of qual­ity pos­si­ble,” she says. “When I joined ed­i­to­rial, be­fore I be­came on­line con­tent di­rec­tor, I started to work as a line de­signer, and I think line de­sign­ers need to per­ceive the videogame in­dus­try with some dis­tance.”

The types of de­sign­ers in Pellen’s team range from old hands to grad­u­ates, and the lat­ter’s fresh eyes are con­sid­ered valu­able. Se­nior line de­sign­ers bring more ex­pe­ri­ence to the ta­ble, but mov­ing to Paris’s ed­i­to­rial team isn’t con­sid­ered a pro­mo­tion for a de­signer or pro­ducer. “It’s not a grad­u­a­tion,” Pellen says. “When you work as a line de­signer, you don’t re­ceive the spot­light, and if the game achieves great suc­cess, it’s never of­fi­cially thanks to you. It’s not so easy and it re­quires a very ma­ture per­son. You need to fix your own ob­jec­tives but you also need to find your own re­wards. It re­quires a lot of au­ton­omy and hu­mil­ity, and you need to re­spect the own­er­ship. You can’t [tell some­body to] de­sign the level this way. You can’t do the job in­stead of the guys mak­ing the game. When you come from pro­duc­tion like me, it re­quires some adap­ta­tion.

“It re­quires some psy­chol­ogy and some com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills to in­spire those guys, but when I was in pro­duc­tion, it was some­thing that was re­ally help­ful. When you’re lead level de­signer and you de­sign 35 lev­els and you need to in­te­grate more than 200 scripted events, [plus] you’re a per­fec­tion­ist and you care about the small­est de­tails, some­times you can for­get why you’re do­ing it. It’s cool to have a line de­signer who tells you [where to fo­cus your en­ergy]. When it works that way, it’s re­ally cool.”

Ubisoft’s de­sign di­rec­tives in­clude a push to­wards re­al­ity and mul­ti­player that’s al­ready ev­i­dent in its big­gest games, but in the fu­ture Pellen fore­sees a new ded­i­ca­tion to pure cre­ativ­ity. “User-gen­er­ated con­tent will be more and more at the cen­tre of the ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “I don’t mean that we’ll give play­ers a level edi­tor, but we’ll let them ex­press parts of their per­son­al­ity.

Might & Magic: Duel Of

Cham­pi­ons [was a suc­cess] thanks to Twitch more than to clas­sic mar­ket­ing… PC gam­ing is an in­spi­ra­tion for us, be­cause PC is where the avant-garde is. But the new con­soles have in­cor­po­rated a lot of PC fea­tures, and it will be eas­ier for play­ers to com­mu­ni­cate their per­son­al­ity through the games.”

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