EA executive on how pandemic has changed development: “I don’t think we’ll ever go back”



Today, Electronic Arts announced a handful of new projects, including a remake of Dead space and a story driven runner with Hollywood flair. This is part of what seems like a busy time for the publisher; Last year, EA announced that it launched 13 new games and over 400 updates for existing titles. This productivity is particularly noticeable given that, like most businesses around the world, EA’s studios have been forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Laura Miele, director of EA studios, says the publisher is always learning how to best create games from a distance. And while it’s unclear what the future of EA studios will look like, there will be some change going forward. “I don’t think we’ll ever go back to where we were before the pandemic,” Miele said The edge.

Miele oversees 25 different studios – including recent additions like Codemasters, Glu, and Playdemic – and initially, she says, the biggest obstacle to remote working was “pure production,” which is the inner workings. Development of a game. It is also the place where, according to her, the publisher has made the most progress. “At the start of the pandemic, we had a certain level of production that we’re actually progressing on over the last year,†she says, noting that teams have developed internal tools, as well as techniques as always- on. Zoom warrooms, to bypass part of the logistics.

“We learned about production mechanisms and some technological solutions. I think we are still learning about the human factor and how people are impacted on an emotional and human level, â€she adds. This is an issue that came to light last year when Apex Legends Developer Respawn has responded to complaints about its pandemic work schedule, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy work / life balance while dealing with the demanding nature of a live service game.

The treatment of these problems seems to have been helped in part by the EA scale. Modern hit games are usually built by multiple teams, and the next Battlefield 2042 is no exception. While DICE is leading development from Stockholm, Los Angeles-based Ripple Effect is handling the new Battlefield Portal mode. Meanwhile, Criterion Games – a studio previously best known for the Burnout series, which has since become something of a stringer for EA – came later in development to help. “Criterion joined the project earlier this year,†says Miele. “They know [the Frostbite game engine] well, they’re incredibly seasoned production talent, and so they came over and really helped the team work from home and handle the logistics of that.

Arguably more difficult than production problems ignited the creative spark of artists and designers. It was less difficult for games that were already well under way when the pandemic hit, but developing whole new ideas from a distance proved tricky. “You lose creative energy and connection when you start a new project, that initial phase of incubation / creativity,†says Miele. “We’re losing some connection there. “

It is not yet clear what the long-term effects will be on EA and its many studios. Miele says she is particularly interested in seeing how things develop over the next few months as many countries ease restrictions and offices begin to open with limited capacity – although she does not say of any specific changes. regarding remote working in the future. “We’re going to learn in this next phase, and that will really shed some light on how we maybe think of a more hybrid model as we go back,†she says. “I think it’s too premature to make a big statement on ‘We’re going to do this. ‘ I want us to keep learning.



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