Moving on Up

Please allow me a bit of flag waving. First off, I was very pleased to see the following list by Forbes of the best employers in Canada, with Ubisoft Montreal (where I work) coming in at #6, and then #1 for the province of Quebec. I find it to be a pretty great work environment, and so it’s nice to see it recognized as such.

Also, this week marks my first official title change since I started working in the games industry in 2015 (following my move from Japan). After working as a production coordinator at both Eidos Montreal (on the Shinra Technologies project) and Ubisoft Montreal (first as part of the For Honor team, and then on the studio’s Game Operations Online team), I’ve now taken on the role of project manager. I actually did the transition back at the end of the summer, but it took a while for all of it to become official (it accompanied a level change, which I’m also very happy about).

Pictured above is the meeting room I book every week to watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at lunch time with a couple of colleagues — we started with episode 1 of season 1, and are now in the middle of season 2.

Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and Yves Guillemot

The moment I saw Shigeru Miyamoto walk out on stage at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, I was ecstatic. It’s no secret that I have quite a bit of fondness for Nintendo, and so to not only see the company I work for collaborate with them, but then to also see Miyamoto himself help with the promotion, it was awesome. The game itself, Mario + Rabbids Battle Kingdom, looks super fun and I can’t wait to play it. Here’s a Eurogamer interview with both Miyamoto and Yves Guillemot talking about the collaboration.

Yesterday was Ubisoft Montréal’s annual assembly, and not only did Yves show up to talk at the assembly, but I also had a chance to take a photo with him (below), and at the same time tell him how happy I was that we were collaborating with Nintendo like that, and how excited I was when I saw Miyamoto on stage at our press conference.

The Dream of Working in Games

Shortly after the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there was a story that came out about a non-Japanese programmer appearing in the game’s credits, Corey Bunnell (pictured), who it was later discovered had a long time ago written in a forum about his dream of working for Nintendo — read this Kotaku piece. I find this to be such an inspiring story, and it reminded me of how lucky I find myself to have been able to also follow a dream of working in games, and making it happen.

Yesterday (March 31) marked exactly 2 years since we left Tokyo, heading to Canada to spend time with my parents in my hometown, with still no job in sight (or any idea of what city I would end up in). It was a scary move to make, but I had faith that I could make something happen eventually. Just over a month later we were moving to Montreal, and on May 11 I started work at Eidos Montreal as a Production Coordinator for the Shinra Technologies team there (under the Square Enix umbrella). Two years later, and I’ve continued my games journey by moving to Ubisoft and experiencing the launch of a new franchise for the company (For Honor), and now I get to work with yet another terrific team of people as part of the studio’s “Game Operations Online” team.

Without wanting to sound too cheesy, if you have a dream of doing something, sometimes you just gotta have faith that you can make it happen if you try hard enough (and being surrounded by awesome people who can support you in different ways doesn’t hurt either). I decided to do this at a point in my life (i.e. age) when most people are content to simply continue to coast on the path they’re already on. I still have other goals I’d like to achieve, but I can say that what I did was well worth all the effort — and yes, all the stress too.

For Honor Alpha in Japan

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It’s been incredibly exciting for me this week to see our game, For Honor, get a live debut in Japan through our Alpha event that kicked off yesterday — following a similar event in North America and Europe last month.

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To all my friends in Japan, if you’d like to play the game, it’s available now as a download on the Japanese PSN Store, and the event runs until Monday. You’ll need a credit card for the download, due to the game being rated “Z” (for age verification).

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It’s been pretty neat seeing the game featured on the front page of the Japanese PSN Store on the web, as well as on the console (see images in this post).

Excellent E3 Experience

The Ubisoft conference is being streamed in our studio’s largest room, on two giant screens. I’m sitting with a few of my colleagues – about 300 of them – waiting for the segment for our game to start. We’ve all been cheering and celebrating all of the announcements so far, but the most exciting moment for our team is of course going to be when For Honor makes an appearance, first in the form of a new cinematic trailer, then with our creative director Jason VandenBerghe setting the stage for the world of For Honor, followed by game director Roman Campos-Oriola playing through a level.

I’ve excitedly watched E3 – the game industry’s biggest show – from afar for years and years, but this year was special in that it was my first time taking in E3 while having a personal investment in what was going on.

I’m working on a game that was taking part.

As I say each year, I always hope that this will be the one where I actually get to go to E3, but despite not going, it was definitely the most exciting one I’ve experienced so far. I had a great time as always watching all of the keynotes, while getting excited for the big game reveals, but following it all while you have something “in the ring” just makes it that much more special.

And even better, people seem to really like our game. As I write this, the 3rd and final day is coming to an end, and already we’ve received a “Best of E3″ award from GameSpot. I’ve also watched a few videos and read some hands-on write-ups that seem to be really pumped by the gameplay that was experienced. 

So what next? As the fantastically funny Aisha Tyler announced at the end of our segment during the Ubisoft conference, you can go to the For Honor website to register for upcoming Alpha and Beta access. 

The game’s release date was also announced: February 14, 2017 – Valentine’s Day!

For Honor

It’s with great pleasure that I can announce that from next week, I’ll be taking on the role of production coordinator at Ubisoft here in Montreal.

Following the defeat of Shinra, it’s been an interesting month of exploration, and I’m incredibly excited for this new challenge. Although it’s technically the same role that I had at Shinra, it will be within a much bigger team, which I look forward to joining.

I’m also quite excited that I’ll be working on a game this time (as opposed to a platform, which is what we were building at Shinra), and a new IP at that – I’ll be joining the For Honor team.

It’s also going to be quite interesting for me to have a new studio experience, to compare with my previous one (as an employee of Eidos Montréal, but working out of the Square Enix Montréal studio), and I’m already happy that I’ll be seeing a few familiar faces once I get there – and also working in what is quite possibly the biggest game studio in the world (current employee count here in Montreal is apparently 2750). 

Michel Ancel is one of my favorite game creators, and I’m incredibly excited to join the company that gave birth to games like Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil – and of course also the ridiculous number of other Ubisoft games that I’ve played over the years.

New year, new company, new game!

Child of Light

I was so incredibly excited to play this, based on all the media I had been seeing, and now that I’ve played it, I can’t help but feel like I’m not enjoying it as much as I should. I’ve admittedly only played a few hours (it’s apparently close to 12 hours long, which is pretty impressive for a $15 downloadable game), but I love the visuals, and also dig the combat – nothing too complex, turn-based, with a small real-time element that adds a bit of spice – but there’s just something missing, and I can’t quite place it. I’d say the story hasn’t really grabbed me, and maybe that’s because I haven’t put enough time in the game. I’m still really glad that a game like this got made – especially from a big company like Ubisoft – and do plan on playing more.