Serellan Executive Assistant / Senior Producer Q&A

Serellan Executive Assistant / Senior Producer Q&A

As our team continues to expand, we sat down with Terry Hammer (Executive Assistant) and James Mayo (Senior Producer) to answer a few questions about their role at Serellan and TAKEDOWN.

1. What’s your professional background? How long have you been in the game industry?

James: I’ve been in the game industry for about 18 years (though i did take a detour to work in the medical software field and another one to start my own company doing fun things with location based services for a bit). Wait a second…Holy cannolies! Did I just say 18 years in the game industry? Well, I guess it’s true – so there we have it.

Terry: I have about 10 years of experience working at .com start-up companies that are still in business today. Serellan is actually my first stab at the gaming industry, and what an amazing opportunity to stumble upon. Thank you Craigslist! It’s actually a small world because I follow Notch on twitter and caught wind of the TAKEDOWN Kickstarter page from him prior to knowing about the job. Who would have thought a very basic (no mention of gaming company) Craigslist ad would turn into this? Not me. This would make my 3rd successful Craigslist job find!

2. Can you tell us what your roles were at your previous employers?

James: For the first chunk of my career I cut my teeth in QA in larger publisher-type companies (Nintendo/Microsoft) as I worked up into lead and management positions. The second half of my career was spent at smaller companies in the Producer-ly roles (LBS Systems, Day 1 Studios, Motiga, and now Serellan).

Terry: In past start-up companies I have been involved with almost all aspects of the business growth and day to day operations. With each company, I put a lot of focus on systems so that the business can run smoothly. My roles had slight variations per the type of company I worked for. In e-commerce I was involved with customer care/quality assurance, shipping orders, returns, updating & launching websites, online marketing (SEO), etc. In service .com’s the focus was more on maintaining the systems, improving the services of the website, SEO, and much more that would turn this answer into an essay.

3. What is your role at Serellan, and what will a typical day be like?

James: I am a Sr. Producer here and a typical day is anything but typical – which is exactly how I like ’em served up! Generally speaking though, my day is spent focusing on making sure four things happen:

 

That we’re building a great team

 

That we’re building a great game

 

That we’re building a great company

 

That I’m doing whatever Team Serellan needs me to do make sure points 1 – 3 happen

 
Terry: I was hired as an executive assistant to Christian Allen, I help him focus on the game development by taking a lot off his plate. My job description is very open and undefined which is preferable because I get to find new and interesting things to work on every day.

I usually work a 6-3p schedule to beat the Seattle traffic on my 20 mile journey to the office each day (it’s worth it). When I wake, I check my phone for any pressing emails and the calendar to see what everyone is committed to for the day. I then head into the office and jump right in.

Currently I am scheduling all of Christian’s E3 2012 meetings, so drop me a line if you will be there! terryh@serellan.com

4. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

James: The best part of my job is working and interacting with super smart, unbelievably dedicated, and phenomenally talented people – this goes from folks in our outstanding community to the people I sit next to in our small office on a day to day basis.

The worst part of my job is having to wait for Project TAKEDOWN to be finished – I’m ridiculously excited to see the magic appear on screen. I’m even more excited to get it into everyone’s hands!

Terry: The best part of my job is working with an amazing community and staff. There is never a dull moment at the Serellan office, which you will soon see as I snap weekly photos. It’s also very exciting to be part of the company development and watch the making of an amazing game. I don’t have any negative experiences to share.. yet! Maybe we will do an interview session with our neighboring businesses to show you how much noise emits from our office. Poor neighbors.

5. What’s the biggest misconception people have about (your job / the game business

James: Well, for my job, I seem to encounter folks who think Producers tell people what to do all day. In my experience, I feel as though I’m at my most effective when I’m listening to people, then doing what I can to make their jobs easier, better, or more successful. It took me a long time to learn that though…just ask the people who had to work for and with me early in my career. Oof! However, now I just do my best to get out of everyone’s way and let the experts do their thing.

As for the game business I think a big misconception is that it’s not a business (mainly from non-executive/non-industry folks). It definitely is a business. Games take many forms – and not all of them make good business endeavors or investments. I think as a producer you live in the world where you have an understanding that you’re in a business, but you’re also trying to encourage the artistic/creative process for teams and individuals to give players the best experience possible. It’s frequently a challenge to straddle both viewpoints to get a game completed on time, on budget, and at a high enough quality bar, but doing so is actually one of my favorite parts about the job.

Terry: I’m not sure yet. I imagine some people may think working in the gaming industry means playing games all day. There’s actually a lot of work to be done, especially with launching a brand new company. I’m just one of the lucky ones to get in the door and interested to see where it leads in the future.

6. What made you want to work on video games?
James: Probably like most of us, playing video games sparked the desire to create and share that same experience for and with others – and then do it for a living.

That and the groupies. Wait…there aren’t any groupies?

Terry: This question didn’t really apply to me 3 weeks ago, but now hired on at Serellan my eyes are open and I would like to grow with this company in the industry. Indies rock!

7. What’s got you most excited about this project?
James: I’d say it’s a tie between the opportunity to work with the team at Serellan and working on a title that is so heavily supported by a stellar and engaged community.

Terry: A couple reasons. I used to play the Rainbow 6 and Swat games, and I am ready to play a fresh new tactical shooter built in one of the latest game engines. I quickly realized that Christian is the man to do it! Also working with experienced staffers is awesome, I have a lot to learn from them.

8. What’s it like working for Christian?
James: Working for Christian is like you’re not working for Christian. A paradox right? While we’re obviously a small team, and it makes it easy to have a flat organization, it was clear from the outset that everyone is an equal, and respected as such. Christian makes the calls at the end of the day but he really is genuinely passionate about everyone getting an opportunity to express their ideas and have them seriously considered – as well as giving everyone the space to take the initiative when they feel they can do their best work. I think that’s just who he is as a person. In a very real way, I feel like we’re really working for each other, our community, and the future players of our games more than we’re working for Christian.

Terry: It’s a lot like waltzing with bears. (yes there’s already a meme stirring in the company). It’s really great working for Christian, I can’t really say it any better than how James the producer puts it. Christian’s management style is different than any other company I worked for. Just read his company values! He likes to see fake TPS reports attached to his memo’s too.

9. What’s the last game you played?
James: Battlefield 3. Though, I don’t know if I would call it “playing” so much as I would call it getting my “fix.”

Terry: I loaded up RB6-3 Raven Shield on my pc the other day to get pumped for TAKEDOWN. How did it go? Let’s just say I’m out of practice and need to work on my tactics, A LOT! I should change my name to EasyFrag.

Before that, I played Minecraft into the ground. What’s next? Maybe Diabo III, I’ll wait until Blizzard get’s their servers solid.

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