FOCUS : PRODUCT ION
Nicolas Schoener is production coordination director for the editorial department and in charge of the line producers and production support team.
“I need people who have a large variety of skills,” he says. “Line producers usually come in from being a producer on site, or from quality control and testing. I have one or two from a game design background and one from a licensing background. It’s very diverse, but usually they’re coming from production.”
A producer for 16 years himself, Schoener is inclined to refer to Ubisoft’s games as “products”, and stresses the importance of its processes. “We have a strong organisation, which is used through the whole studios. We all speak the same language, [work to] the same milestones, [deal in] the same terminology.
“The advantage of making games in the past [when they were smaller] was agility – the ability to react very fast – and that’s the one advantage we’ve tried to keep, even though today we have a very strong structure and a solid process that we apply to every production, whatever the format, genre and style. Basically, our process is simple from the beginning until the end. We have ‘gates’ – milestones during which a development team shows top management the result of their work – and they’re crucial in the life of the project. We have a dozen rendezvous like this between management and the development team to decide how the product is evolving, and we can adjust the content, the business plan, the production, the staffing – every aspect.”
While line producers and designers are involved in a game’s production from the very beginning, it is, Schoener acknowledges, a role that receives less credit and glory than the in-house producers and designers. “It’s a very different job being a line producer, or being a producer on site, of course,” he says. “On site you lead a team and you produce something. Here we overview, prepare, we plan, [and] we structure everything. It’s not just a matter of skills, because they basically all have the same job and the same skills. [The important part] after that is the sensibility of the person. Are they a hardcore gamer, a PC gamer, a casual gamer, a mobile gamer? You have personal interests and I try to take that into account, because I’m convinced that it works better when the personal affinity or taste of the person goes with the product they work on. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Black Flag,
Your Shape, Rayman or whatever, we need the same skills, but the people are very different.”