Hey everyone, Ramone Russell here, Community Manager for the SCEA San Diego Studios. Last Thursday and Friday marked the first time we here at SCEA opened the doors of the studio to the general public. We decided to do this for a multitude of reasons, some not as obvious as others.
We care a great deal about the people who purchase our games and what they have to say about them, good and bad. We are always striving to take the MLB09 The Show franchise to the next level of realism and authenticity as an MLB simulation. With these and other goals in mind we spent a substantial amount of time over the past several months overhauling the developer/consumer relationship at the studio. The culmination of which is our first Community Day here in San Diego, involving the MLB Development team and members of the “Shows” community.
The purpose of the event was to give fans of the franchise an in-depth look at how the game is made, and who it’s made by. We let the attendees pick the brains of the development team and give feedback on the game for future use. In contrast we picked the brains of the attendees to help give us a feel for what people are expecting from the franchise and how we can make it better moving forward.
The event is just one part of a comprehensive Community Initiative we have adopted this past year. The relationship between a development studio and the consumer base/community is one that can be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. We love making great games and I’m sure everyone out there loves playing great games. Moving forward we look to build upon the relationships we have and create new ones.
I’m sure you are thinking, “How did the event go?”
The attendees were Edwin (a.k.a. Pared), Bryan (a.k.a. Pastapadre), Michael (a.k.a Knight165), Bob (a.k.a. Nemesis), and Jim (a.k.a. Jim416), all of whom are members of various community fan sites across the net.
After the event was over, I asked them this question: Could you sum up your experience at the SCEA San Diego Studios?
“The trip to SCEA San Diego Studios is beyond what I was expecting. Between visiting other companies and Sony’s long-standing closed-door policy, I was surprised to see how inviting and willing to share everyone was with the members of our gaming community. Between long detailed discussions about the most intimate details to the joking around while watching others play, Sony really provided a welcoming atmosphere throughout the entire trip. I think the event left all of us completely impressed.” – Edwin
Edwin enjoying the game
“I guess what impressed me the most is that you guys are businessmen with a passion for your product. The facilities that we visited did not ooze gaming, they oozed people hard at work and dedicated to a game they obviously have a passion for. Your kindness and patience with us was appreciated. It was crunch time for you guys and to set aside time like that was gratefully appreciated.” – Jim
Producer Jody Kelsey left, and Jim right going to head-to-head on MLB09 The Show
“To begin, I know that Sony was a little apprehensive in letting the general public in for such an unprecedented look at the development process and access to the developers themselves. I hope that the results of Community Day allay those fears for the future. To me, I think the Community Day was a great success. It gives the buyers of the game…a much better understanding (through the members who attended) of just how difficult each process actually is and how much time it does take to complete tasks that will eventually turn into an aspect of the game.
As good a time as we had in the studios, I hope it was apparent to the dev team (and in turn the Sony Corp) that we, the Community Leaders took the opportunity seriously. We each tried to come into the event with a plan to get as much information as we were allowed to as many of the members of the community as possible, and it wasn’t just the four of us, but the entire community through us. The Community Question thread was a great example of that…but the Community Answer thread, I think shows just how much buzz it got and what a great success it was. From the comments I read…the community also saw the event as a great success.” – Michael
Community Manager Ramone Russell left and Michael right. I’m enjoying the beating he is taking on the new Legend difficulty level in MLB09 The Show.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to check out the game and take in a greater understanding of everything that goes into their development. The open access to the MLB 09 The Show producers was especially impressive in that so many floated in and out over the two days actively answering questions and considering feedback all while sharing in the enjoyment being had. It was great to have such a significant amount of time dedicated to playing the game and the discussion that came out of that. I definitely would like to thank everyone involved in putting it together and making it such a positive experience that will only pay dividends for the game and the community in the future.” – Brian
Brian far right, your friendly neighborhood CM left and Senior Producer/Designer Kolbe Launchbaugh top left.
“This being my first exposure to a community event, I really did not know what to expect. After spending some time, I immediately saw how valuable these events can be. Anytime you can bring the developers and the consumer together face to face you gain a wealth of information on where each party is coming from. I know how something like this could make certain individuals a little apprehensive because you are exposing the game so to speak. But as community leaders and having time to spend with the developers and the game only strengthens the relationship. The developer gets to see how the customer base is playing the game and we as gamers get to ask questions about the thought process of why things were developed a certain way.” – Bob
From right to left sitting down Lead Animator Chris Clements, Bob holding the controller, Edwin, Brain. Standing up from right to left Producer Jason Villa, Senior Producer Chris Gill, Designer Greg Batalucco, Producer Jody Kelsey, Director of Product Development MLB Chris Cutliff and Designer Lourne Asuncion. Bob is enthralled in a close game on Legend that he eventually lost. The room went nuts when he couldn’t pull it off.
Character Artists from left to right Eric Heim, Joel Benjamin and Michael Jones. We are all heckling Edwin because he’s losing to the Yankees as the Mets ten to zero.
In closing our first Community Preview Event was a huge success and a major step in the right direction as we continue to push the envelope of developer/consumer interaction here in San Diego. Thank you for reading and stay tuned – this is just the beginning.