game, game. repeat.

Chat With Ofer Estline

Wed 19 November 2003

Ofer and I met at EALA after work (well, not really, Ofer planned to stay until midnight) to talk about EA and Development Directors (DDs). First a quick tour of EALA which is presently packed with three studios. Its nice and cozy until January when the new offices come online.

I asked Ofer to tell me more about DD vs Producers at EA. I’ve heard the story from a couple Producers, but Ofer is the first DD I’ve had a chance to sit down with. He explained that the DD role is reserved for those proficient in the art of management–of people and projects. The DDs does stuff like write up the reviews, assign the tasks, manage the schedules, assign office space, and resolve disputes. They take the vision for the game from the Producer and make it happen. The DD role was split off from the producer and developer roles in order to allow these roles to be focused on design and programming respectively. That way, if you are a whiz programmer you can advance on a career track where you become a guru (technical director) without needing to become a manager and deal with all the new skill areas that such a move requires. Brilliant idea if you ask me.

Ofer suggested that EA might benefit from having someone like me focused on what I’ve been doing before joining EA–automation and process optimization through software. He pointed out that someone with a knowledge management background like mine could probably have a big impact at a place like EA which does not yet manage and take advantage of its information resources as well is it might. I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jordon–I had asked about how EA manages code reuse and licensing its code to 3rd parties. It didnt sound like there was any particular team managing EA’s code assets, it was all sort of random sharing whenever sharing happened at all.

Ofer said the road to producer may be long and suggested I look into building a KM-styled role at EA, perhaps starting with a production title or attached to a studio, but with a KM mission. It’s an intriguing ideamaybe I’ll ask Bing about it when I meet him.

I asked what he thought of EAP and Ofer pointed out that EAP is more business and deal focused than Studio-side, as it’s focused on performing through 3rd parties rather than through game production alone. With that it was time for me to head out and let Ofer continue his work–and I’ve got some interviews with EAP to prep for myself.