Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jesse Schell

Name: Jesse Schell
Twitter: @jesseschell
Gender: Male
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 13/06/1970
Title: CEO
Company: Schell Games
Some games that you have worked on:

Toontown Online
Pixie Hollow
I Expect You To Die
Water Bears
Orion Trail

1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I've always loved magic, and anything that seems magical. Games are a powerful kind of magic, and so is technology. Putting the two of them together creates all kinds of fascinating new magicks. All this led me to start creating my own games at an early age. You can read about one of the games that influenced me most here:

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Everything. The world is full of magical things. You can read about some of my inspirations here:

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

It would be a VR MMORPG. I love MMO games because of the depth and the social interaction. Combining those things with the deep immersivity of VR is the kind of experience I've been waiting my whole life to make.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge of my career was my decision to leave Disney and go independent. It required quite a bit of bravery from both myself and my family, but we did it, and it has worked out well.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Work with excellent teams, and use best-practice project management techniques. You can hear many of my thoughts about that here:

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

I revel in learning new things, and when I was younger, someone very close to me pointed out my tendency to act like a know-it-all. I had no idea that I was being perceived that way -- it was quite a shock. I have worked to curb that tendency, but most of all, I took away the lesson that when people behave badly, they often have no idea that they are doing so.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

The main advantage to making games is that it is exciting and really fun to make games! You work directly with positive human psychology all the time, and that can be very rewarding. The downside is that it is a very challenging business, and it is easy to get your ego crushed.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Make as many games as you can -- and work with as many people as you can.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Critical thinking about games is very important, and this comes through practice. Teamwork and diplomacy are also important, but *listening* is the most important skill for any game designer... Listening to your team, to your players, to your game, and to your self.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

Play the games that interest you most. Read everything. Don't worry about following the work of others. Focus instead on writing every day, and creating as many games as you can.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

I am hoping that better ways appear for players to pay for games. Right now the business models are very chaotic, and to create great things is a terrible risk. I am hoping business models can stabilize somewhat.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

Once, we made a pitch to a publisher for a certain game, and they liked it, but they wanted us to do it in too short a time, so we said "no thanks." The publisher said, "Well, in that case, are you interested in this other project?" and it seemed more doable, so we took it. Turns out it was much harder than we thought, and the project was in some peril. At GDC, I met the head of another studio who looked glum. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she took on the title we passed on, and that it was way over budget. I told her I sympathized, as my project had similar problems -- she asked what game it was, and when I told her, her eyes got all big -- she had passed on the game, because she was certain it would go over budget! Neither of us could stop laughing... and of course, as is so typical in the game industry, we both found ways to get our projects done. It proves the old saying -- everything looks like a disaster in the middle.

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