7/30/21 10:49 AM
Welcome Max! Please tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started in the games industry and tell us a little about the journey to Rogue Planet Games.
I am a veteran of the video games industry officially working with Activision back in 1994, then shifting northwards to join up with Electronic Arts in 1995. I helped launch titles such as Knockout Kings, as my first time in Production after many years of being the Studio Operations Manager for all of EA prior.
Following the many various roles across the decades, I eventually landed with the team here at Rogue Planet Games, where I’m helping with the various scheduling and stand-up meetings with the team across our planned release schedule through the years ahead. In the background I help interface with our internal non-Production teams (Operations, Marketing, Legal, etc.) on mini-projects, while focusing mostly on the Release process; getting things to Live.
Can you give us a glimpse at what Project Management duties entailed for the recent _Integration update for PlanetSide 2?
On a very basic level, the plan of attack followed this quick chart below:
Working with the team once the initial concept is scoped and locked on, (The NSO _Integration was firmly targeted and concepted before I arrived, incidentally, with occasional additions slipping in here and there as is always the nature of the work) my role is to be the objective tracker of the always moving product as it moves down and right through the process-- ensuring that all the functioning parts of the team effort are aligned, shored up, and assisted where possible. Kind of similar to how a Medic or Engineer in our game acts, or a good pilot be it a ground vehicle or transport aircraft.
That’s for the full process, which can take a week or less, but for NSO _Integration, it was over the course of many months, many meetings and only a few re-directs, when something popped up that impeded us. The RPG team is full of dedicated, creative and competent developers, so it’s extremely refreshing to be a part of the process and help shore up that process where and when I can. Lots to constantly do, reflect on doing, and reiterating to improve our efforts for the future.
What are some memorable project management assignments you worked on in PlanetSide 2?
Since starting in November of 2020, there has mostly been the steady work of getting products released onto our servers for PC and PS4 as a lot of the year for 2021 was previously planned, or scheduled, but -- memorable, likely the first introduction to how we deploy our PS4 updates through Sony’s web sites.
It’s a bit harrowing, initially, having not done it digitally with Sony since the days of EA and ‘gold master CDs we sent by FedEx (or hand delivered personally many times), so getting through those steps and learning the process still makes me think of being a guy standing in the hallway waiting on news of a newborn and mother’s progress.
And … once it’s Live, the thrill of seeing thoughts turned into reality, seeing where fires (if any-- there’s nearly always a fire or two) are, and adjust directions to either put them out ASAP, or shift the team onto the new next Big Thing. Like, the new player experience for example.
We must know, which faction and class do you play in PlanetSide 2?
All I can say is, I love the color purple-- so Vanu, and I guess life imitates art, and I primarily run around as an Engineer or Medic, depending on the mood. Sure, might not be the rockstars that some Heavies are, or l33tness of a great Infiltrator slaughtering the enemy; but -- when you’re standing behind a MAX or two, and they are being repaired while slaying your foes on a massive push, what’s not to love in that?
I’d likely play a TR person next, because red is awesome too. Rumor has it though, if I went NC, I’d be shot in the back -- purely by mistake, of course?
What advice can you give to the community of players who may be interested in managing projects like PlanetSide 2?
This sort of work, helping projects get through to consumption by players, requires knowing a lot of different disciplines and more importantly, thinking ahead of the current day towards possible roadblocks in the future, to help avoid them. You have to know how artists manage their day-to-day, how engineers structure their efforts, where they don’t speak up and nudge them accordingly. Provide communication where it’s needed, stay out of the way when it’s not. It’s a lot of human interaction, relationship building across the company you’re in, and most of all, a good memory, list making, and patience. You can get this by learning the mechanics of PM-ing, but first-hand experience always pays off.
Get into a company where you can, learn some bits of everything (or do a bit of everything), mingle with folks, learn how they think and express, pay attention to how information is tracked and shared. If you’re not a people person, or if you’re looking for the spotlight, this role is often under-appreciated, but much like a central nervous system, when it works, everything will go great. The hand will reach out, pick up the ball and toss it neatly where you want it to go without even thinking about it. That’s how a good production person contributes to a system, coordinating and communicating.
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