I was assigned a project for my English class, which entailed interviewing a person in the profession that we would be entering after high school/college. Mine was game development, so I emailed Quantic Dream, the creators of Indigo Prophecy (AKA Fahrenheit) and I was stunned when I got the response back from Guillaume de Fondaumiere, the executive producer of the whole project!
Well I received my email response from Mr. de Fondaumiere today, and he was kind enough to answer each of the questions that I sent him.
Here they are:
1. You’ve had quite a bit of experience in both founding companies and working for existing development studios. What are the benefits of each?
First of all, I would like to say how fortunate I am to have spent my entire career so far in small companies I either created myself or, as is the case with Quantic Dream, joined at a rather early stage to help develop it.
The obvious benefit is, I have always been in charge and most of the time, I was capable to lead the company in a very precise direction. I do not see a big difference between my earlier functions with structures I founded (C de C, Arxel Tribe and later The Arxel Guild) and my current job at Quantic Dream where David Cage and I work closely together, each of us having his own competences that complement each other smoothly.
What is very important for me is to work with people I trust, who are good at what they are doing and with whom I can share the same objectives.
2.In your own words, what does it mean to YOU to be a game developer/producer?
Developing games is a difficult enterprise and every new project is a new challenge. Starting a new project nearly always means to reinvent yourself and your team. Of course, you and your team build on what you created in the past, but the fact that our industry is so technologically driven and still so young means you constantly need to look for different ways to do things.
For me, being a game developer/producer means to be a pioneer in entertainment and I only went into games because I thought this is The future of entertainment.
3. If you could give someone a piece of advice who is pursuing a career in the game development and design field, what would it be?
Video games are about inventing a new, interactive form of entertainment, and this is still a young and vibrant industry.
Don’t fit into the mould, create your own thing. Be different and stick to your vision. Don’t let others, especially those who are well “established” in this business, tell you what your game should be. The good people to follow in this industry, and they are still a good few, are those who understand and cherish true innovation.
4. What does your normal work day look like from start to finish?
I drive approx. 40 minutes to the office and I usually use this time to give phone calls to fellow developer’s (I am the President of the French video game developer association APOM and an active member of the EGDF – Europe’s organization - and therefore I am very regularly in contact with a number of studio heads) or to call up some contacts we have in Asia.
When I arrive, at around 9 am, I take a first coffee and read entertainment related news on Internet or news magazines. When David arrives, we discuss for approx.15 to 30 minutes.
After the meeting I like to wander around the studio for 15 to 20 minutes and discuss the latest developments with department leads of our studio. If there is something I have to see in more details, this can last up to 1 hour, usually not more. I then return to my desk I read through my emails for the first time in the day and respond to the most urgent ones. I then turn to my administrative tasks, go over planning, budget, accounting and finance, all the “boring tasks” that are necessary to run a business efficiently.
David and I usually go to lunch at around 1 pm followed by his assistant, our VP production and our associate producer. We discuss the latest games we played, films we have seen and usually end up discussing the current stage of our production.
In the afternoon, I share my time between the reading of production documents created by the leads on our intranet, meetings with different people on particular subjects on the strategy of the company or the production, phone calls to our publisher(s) and other people in the business and the creation of my own production/marketing/strategic planning related documents. I also pursue a “diversification plan” that is still confidential and that has taken me quite some time in the past months.
I usually spend my late afternoon and evening reading and responding a second time to emails and any legal documents I either have to produce or read and amend. I like to work alone in our big office on complicated matters and contracts are certainly a complicated matter in our industryJ.
When I drive back home, it is usually the good time to call some folks up in the US…
It is very diverse and I like it very much like this.
5.Your current position in Quantic Dream is obviously a very important one that comes with a lot of responsibilities. What would you say is the most vital responsibility?
The most vital one is probably to make sure we have the financial means to create our games. That means hitting deadlines on time and getting paid on time in return, as well as planning our expenditures and finding sometimes financing solutions, including subsidies.
Another vital aspect I believe is to make sure everyone in the team understands what our objectives are and what the expectations of the outside world are. I am the main interface between Quantic and this outside world – in particular the publishers and the “market” – and as such I must make sure the communication, both ways, is accurate and fluid.
6.What inspired/motivated you to become a game developer/producer?
Creating games is the magical alchemy between creativity and highly complex technology. It means working with highly skilled professionals and making sure they surpass themselves individually and move forward as a team. Video games offer me a unique opportunity to express myself in different fields, be it finances, management, business and creativity.
7.Projects are full of deadlines and organized timetables, and missing these deadlines can potentially lead to the scrapping of an entire game. What do you do to motivate and keep the developers on track and on time?
The most important thing is to make sure people understand what they are working on and why a deadline is important. People can only give their best is they have the global picture…
8.Indigo Prophecy was a game that took an approach that the industry was not used to. According to the director David Cage, he wanted to make a “contribution to the transformation of video games into a true form of expression that conveys emotion.” It’s a very bold and interesting move that seemed to turn out very well. What was your favorite part of this aspect of the project?
I think the best aspect is when you release a game that has taken thousands of men/month to be created and suddenly the press, the industry and gamers write to you and say: “well done, I really enjoyed this one, please produce another game like this”. On Indigo Prophecy, we have received an astonishing amount of “fan” letters and, for a game in a genre that most predicted some time ago was “dead” a strong signal from the specialized press with a great number of awards and high marks. David is a remarkable person in our industry, the reason why I joined Quantic Dream, and I believe with our next project, the whole industry will understand how important his contribution is to games. We want games to be more than just Toys for Kids. It is the most vibrant entertainment form and has the capacity to really become a massive culture.
9.What would you say is the best part of being involved in the game industry?
Being able to redefine with each project certain paradigms or concepts that everyone thought are written in hard stone and reinvent yourself.
10.The Quantic team must spend a lot of time together during the development of game projects, as does a lot of other dev. teams. But looking at your team in particular, what would you say is the relationships between everyone at Quantic?
I believe the relationship between people in a game’s team has evolved dramatically in the past 15 years. “In the old days” you would create games with a few friends, usually a small group of 4/5 people that have no problem sharing the same vision and communicating with each other. Today, with teams that are in average 80+ that has become much more difficult. However at Quantic Dream, we have organized our studio into smaller teams of people that closely work together on specific tasks. On top of these teams, we have a very compact group that is essentially here to oversee the project and make sure all the smaller teams are working in harmony on the same project. Sharing regularly the vision during complete studio meetings ensures that everyone is perfectly aware of what is going on and where we are aiming at. Again, communication is key in game development, and you need to have the proper organization and communication tools in place. The way we are organised works very well and the relationship is therefore excellent.
You can check out the latest project of Quantic Dream at their website: Quantic Dream
Source: PlayStation Lounge
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