A Project Manager is one of the most important roles in the gaming industry, especially in a service based company. Project Managers are responsible for making sure a project is still in line and fulfills the client or partner’s needs.
Elizabeth Galuh Kusumawardhani is currently an Associate Producer at Streamline Studios, one of the biggest AAA game service companies in Asia that has worked on famous titles such as Final Fantasy XV, BioShock Infinite, Street Fighter V and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. She was originally a Project Manager at the same company. Moving her career up from a mobile game company in 2015 to a bigger company, Elizabeth has something to share on being a Project Manager in an AAA game service company.
Talk Us Through a Day as a Project Manager at Streamline Studios
Our Project Managers focus on scheduling, managing, and bridging teams (between the concept artists and the 3D artists, directors, animators and so on) as well as maintaining consistent communication with clients. We try our best to deliver great quality artwork that meets clients’ expectations within our given milestones.
How Many Projects Have You Been Involved in at Streamline Studios? And What Were They?
The first project that I was involved in at Streamline Studios was Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. But I joined the project a bit late. I managed to get involved around the third part of the project. I was quite shocked in the beginning because it was completely a huge leap from a small production team to a big one.
I must say that in Streamline, they really encouraged us to learn and go beyond our own expectations. They nurture learning and are very supportive. I have to say I’m lucky enough to be on that team.
The other project I was involved in was Street Fighter V. I was the Project Manager for those two games, but I wasn’t alone. There were other Project Managers and we worked together to ensure that we shared correct, up-to-date, and sufficient information between the client and the great artists that do the work, and vice versa.
How Many People Did You Manage in Each Project?
It really varies depending on what project that we handle. It also depends on the requirements and resources requested by the client. Roughly, I want to say around 20-30 people in each project. This company has over 200 talented employees right now.
As a Project Manager, You Managed a Multicultural Team. Were There Any Challenges to It?
Challenges? Yes, but I see challenges in a more positive way. Having a multicultural team means you get to learn others’ cultures, personalities, and workflows. That means problem solving in a diverse culture. It’s not always easy delivering messages between a Japanese client to European and South African art directors, South Asian and Middle East artists.
Nonetheless, we find our ways. Also, due to globalization, everyone has easy access to many types of common softwares and other information that can help progress in this industry. With this as well, the team try to get themselves updated with recent technology and ways to improve.
We nurture R&D and self-improvement. So, in the end we can see consistent high-quality assets produced by the team because it’s created by people from different cultural backgrounds.
What is the Main Difference When You Jumped out from a Small Team in the Mobile Game Industry to a Big Team in the AAA Game?
That was very obvious; managing a small team is actually a lot easier. But there are limitations as well in mobile games because it’s a smaller scale and platform, and we need to compress everything.
With AAA games we can create a super high detailed character that looks beautiful. But in mobile games, there are limitations to that. That is one of the major differences out of many others.
In Your Opinion, What Skill Should Developers Have to be a Good Project Managers?
It would be good to know the pipeline in the game industry, creating and maintaining the schedule in excel sheets and some of the basic management tools.
I don’t have a deep understanding in 3DsMax, Maya or Unreal, though it does help to know a few basic rules in every division (concept, sculpting, texturing, rigging, animation) because it helps you gauge the time estimates needed. This information can be gathered via senior artist, or Lead Artist and Art Director.
The longer you spend learning these disciplines the more understanding and knowledge you have in the industry and the better you will be at planning and managing client expectations.
What is the Biggest Lesson That You’ve Learned Working There?
Everybody tries to learn and improve their skills, definitely. I realize that in Indonesia, as far as I know from my circle of friends, people aren’t so bold to dive into an insecure area/industry, they find it “premature” or even “non-existent”, at least if you want to work in it in Indonesia. Maybe a lot of parents and most of the people keep saying things like “Oh you’re making games, where are you going with that kind of career?”
Today, I would challenge that idea or thought because the gaming industry is definitely moving towards something very big, perhaps even more challenging than the movie industry. Imagine where we are right now with VR games; instead of watching someone else (in a movie, for example), you can be that person in the game. I think it is something very different and special. It’s a great experience.
In Southeast Asia, the game industry is fairly new and fresh compared to East Asia, Europe and America. Yet, I see that Malaysia has pioneered the games industry business in SEA. I think Indonesia should also do it. There are so many great talents but they are not nurtured highly enough. People should be encouraged to move out of their comfort zone and venture out into the games industry. Society also needs to be better educated on the vast career prospects in the games industry (it’s not all about playing).
I’m very sure that there is much potential in Indonesia. They’re capable, really. And I want to see more talented artists from Indonesia on the news.
What Do You Think About Gaming Industry’s Ecosystem in the Southeast Asia Right Now?
I think it’s still very new, but there is potential and lots of demands. People are trying to be in the lead to build up this industry’s ecosystem.
In Your Opinion, What is the Main Strength of the Southeast Asia’s Gaming Industry?
I think the main strength is the talents in art and programming. There are a lot of great talents here in Southeast Asia. We just need to provide them with the chance and the platform to grow.
Yoko Taro, the Director and mastermind behind NieR Automata shared his insight on creating a good and effective character design process.
Lastly, Any Tips & Tricks For Developers Who Want to Jump to the AAA Game Development?
Be brave. Venture out into this industry because there’s future in it. And for artists, just keep on practicing and try to promote your works as much as possible. There are many sites to promote yourself like CG Society, and ArtStation. Use them and keep on refining your skills.
Edited by Devi