The Cutting Edge: Interviews with Ubisoft Employees

 

The Cutting Edge: Interviews with Ubisoft Employees 

By Simon Kidd, Edited by Amanda Barnard

 

If you are a video game enthusiast you may have heard of Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, created by “Ubisoft” whose name is synonymous with top-tier franchises. This renowned game development company founded its studio in Montreal in 1997. With more than 3,000 employees, it is recognized as the largest of its kind in the world!

This article would not be possible without the Horizons Imaginaires team, who worked extensively with the PaperCut to make these interviews a reality. Ioana Popescu and I had the rare opportunity to interview some developers and creators who currently work for Ubisoft Montreal. These exclusive interviews allowed us to learn about the vision of these employees, and to see what they think about Montreal! Our readers will also be able to learn more about Ubisoft’s Montreal subsidiary, as well as video games in general.

Ubisoft 2

Interview #1: QUALITY ASSURANCE OPERATIONS ANALYST

What’s your name, and what do you do here at Ubisoft Montreal?

My name is James Wikan and I’m a Quality Assurance Operations Analyst. My team ensures that all online aspects of the game work the way they are supposed to. My role primarily is focused on the user experience point of view, but our team still interacts directly with all elements of game production.

How does the culture of Montreal impact game development? Does it affect the work environment here at the studio?

I would say that it plays a significant role within the studio environment. Since Ubisoft is primarily a French studio, the Montreal culture heavily influences day to day life within the studio. It plays a part in art, design, politics, and the education system. Ubisoft’s large footprint in Montreal creates a symbiotic relationship between the firm and the city.

From what you are allowed to tell us, what projects are you working on right now? What projects have you worked on in the past?

· At Ubisoft, the only production I have worked on is For Honor. Aside from that, I have worked on internal tools that are used within the company. Outside of Ubisoft, I have worked on a number of mobile titles; Monopoly, Tetris, The Simpsons Tapped Out, Game Of Life, Tetris Blitz, and others.

What are your favorite games within the Ubisoft catalog? What are your favorite sci-fi or fantasy games, including retro games from any platform?

· Of the Ubisoft library, the game I play the most is For Honor. I really enjoy the fight mechanics of it and the competition is steep! I also really enjoy Trackmania Turbo–I am always amazed at how polished that game is. Outside of Ubisoft titles, well… I’m late to the game, but I recently started playing Second Son, which is sort of sci-fi-ish. Then there’s Rocket League. I love me some Rocket League!

What inspired you to work in a game studio? Do you have advice for hopeful CEGEP students who want to get into your industry?

· I fell into the industry completely by accident. A friend was working as a game tester and I needed a job, so I asked him to get me an interview. Nearly eight years of hard work later (and being in the right place at the right time) I can say that I have a career in the industry.

My one bit of advice that I offer is this: People will tell you to follow your passion, and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the few that knows what that is, by ALL MEANS follow it to glory, but for the rest of us, find something that you enjoy 80% of the time. I can only speak for myself, but if I can enjoy what I do 80% of the time and that job allows me the opportunity to follow my passions on my own time, then I consider that a good life.

Above all else, PUT THE WORK IN. No matter what aspect of the industry you are interested in, live, breathe and eat it. Learn it inside and out. Know what the current trends and skill sets are and do your best to learn them. Work on your own projects. Get a killer portfolio going and ask for and listen to feedback. This industry is not a solitary one. You’ll be working with countless people with countless different opinions and knowing how to navigate through them and take feedback in a constructive way is absolutely VITAL. The saying “perception trumps performance” is something you should always keep in mind, and interaction with your peers is where that starts.

What do you see in the future of Ubisoft Montreal and the local video game industry?

· I see it only growing. With the recent announcement of Ubisoft’s expansion here in Quebec, there is no sign of the growth slowing down. Montreal is world-renowned for its gaming and film industries and even more so for its quality of talent. It’s a great place to make yourself known and grow as a professional.

 

Interview #2: ONLINE PROGRAMMER

What’s your name, and what do you do here at Ubisoft Montreal?

My name is Julien Pellet. I’m an online programmer, and currently work on Rainbow Six here at Ubisoft Montreal.

How does the culture of Montreal impact game development? Does it affect the work environment here at the studio?

Montreal is a large melting pot. You can find everything you would expect in any large city and at the same time, the neighborhood life is very active and can feel like that of smaller towns. This diversity is really necessary for a game studio as large as Ubisoft Montreal.

From what you are allowed to tell us, what projects are you working on right now? What projects have you worked on in the past?

I used to work for a platform facilitating the deployments of multiple games. This deployment system was established primarily to help production of online games by accelerating deployment processes, hence iterations.

I just moved to Rainbow Six, my new role is to be working on technical operations and the stability of our infrastructure.

What are your favorite games within the Ubisoft catalog? What are your favorite sci-fi or fantasy games, including retro games from any platform?

Rainbow Six Siege is definitely my favorite Ubisoft game. The highly technical close quarter combat in a destructive environment is an easy way to get an adrenaline rush, especially if you start playing ranked.

What inspired you to work in a game studio? Do you have advice for the hopeful CEGEP students who want to get into your industry?

Working in the game industry means that you need to work with creative people in a very challenging environment. The player base is more and more demanding so we need to raise the bar all the time. My advice would be to work hard, do Technology Scouting and a lot of experimentation.

What do you see in the future of Ubisoft Montreal and the local video game industry?

Ubisoft Montreal is currently the biggest game studio worldwide and there is a lot to do on our current and future games. The future of the game industry is what the future of the movie industry was 50 years ago, and Montreal game companies will be influencing trends.

 

Interview #3: GAME DESIGNER 

What’s your name, and what do you do here at Ubisoft Montreal?

My name is Phillip Conte and I’m a Game Designer here at Ubisoft.

How does the culture of Montreal impact game development? Does it affect the work environment here at the studio?

Montreal’s no nonsense “chill” culture really tends to show with the amount of good games that come out of the city, both on the triple “A” scene as well as the indie scene. Here at Ubisoft Montreal we have a lot of social events and support.

From what you are allowed to tell us, what projects are you working on right now? What projects have you worked on in the past?

I worked on Watch Dogs, Rainbow Six Siege and Watch Dogs 2 as a Development Tester. I currently work on For Honor as a Game Designer.

What are your favorite games within the Ubisoft catalog? What are your favorite sci-fi or fantasy games, including retro games from any platform?

My favorite Ubisoft game is Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Outside Ubisoft, my favorite game is Chronotrigger.

What inspired you to work in a game studio? Do you have advice for the hopeful CEGEP students who want to get into your industry?

Playing games as a kid and teenager, I always wanted people to be able to escape like I did, whether from simple life problems or big life problems. As for advice, know what you are getting into. Working in games is hard and demanding, with long hours and few rewards up front.

 

Interview #4: ACCOUNT MANAGER

Ubisoft 3

 

What is your name, and what do you do here at Ubisoft Montreal?

My name is Jean Snow, and I am an Accounts Manager for the products that my team develops for the rest of Ubisoft. That means dealing with all of our internal clients and partners.

 

How does the culture of Montreal impact game development? Does it blah blah blah here at the studio?

I’m fairly new to the city of Montreal, since I have only been here a bit over two years, and I probably haven’t experienced it enough to really realize how much I can get out of it, but I think that in general it is a good place to be in, due to the relatively low cost of living compared to that of other big cities in North America. On the cultural front, it is a city with a lot of art-related events and festivals throughout the year, so I’m sure that anyone working in the creatives industry finds it a good place to be..

From what you are allowed to tell us, what projects are you working on right now? What projects have you worked on in the past?

I’ve only been working at Ubisoft for about a year and a half, and the first project I worked on was For Honor, a new game that was released by the studio earlier this year. At the time I was working as Production Coordinator. Currently, I work in one of the studio’s service teams that offers support for our online games.

What are your favorite games within the Ubisoft catalog? What are your favorite sic-fi or fantasy games, including retro games from any platform?

My favorite Ubisoft game is in fact the latest one we’ve released: Mario+Rabbids: Battle Kingdom. I’m a huge Nintendo fan, so it made me so happy to see us produce a proper Mario game (and one that’s really fun). I’m also a big fan of the Rayman games —I quite like platformers. My all-time favorite games series is The Legend of Zelda, with my two favorite games being A Link to the Past and Breath of the Wild.

 

EN: Two more developers are interviewed in the following exclusive from Horizons Imaginaires. The first interview focuses on Jean-Yves Thiboutot, a quality control developer who worked on Eagle Flight, Child of Light, Shape up, Splinter cell: Blacklist, Watch Dogs, the Just Dance series, Assassin’s Creed series, Far Cry series, and Prince of Persia series. The second is Samya Khemri, a web developer in Ubisoft Montreal. She talks about the difference between the European and North American offices. Be sure to check this exclusive out!

Link to Horizons Imaginaires Exclusive: https://goo.gl/MUxqFo

Advertisements