This week A Conversation with… reaches out to our 11th graduating class, and found Ted Carefoot, CEO of Lemonade Labs.
- Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
Currently consulting with Producer/PM contracts, also CEO of a small game studio, Lemonade Labs (currently based in Kelowna, BC), which focuses on creating casual mobile and PC games inspired by physical designer boardgame concepts primarily targeting emerging markets.
- How has this changed since you graduated?
Before graduating VFS with GD11, my previous industry career experience centered on primarily contributing as part of large teams input and feedback on previously designed features or concepts for triple AAA PC/Console games. Since graduating, my path has led to having responsibilities and opportunities allowing me to create new concepts, steer that vision and business strategy, feature design, and manage/mentor teams for the games I am involved with.
- Can you describe a typical day in your office?
The mornings usually start around 8am, with a quick connect with our offshore partners, catching up on emails, morning scrum (9am), followed by addressing addressing blockers, connecting with stakeholders, publisher partners, and outsource vendors for updates or feedback the remainder of the morning (before breaking for lunch). Afternoons usually consist of meetings or conference calls, followed by end of day reviews/updates in our game bug databases or design documentation (5:30pm). Many days,I would follow this up with some Skype calls to our publishing/marketing partner until 7pm.
- What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
Game designing (and pitching it abroad), and mentoring is always the most enjoyable part for me personally. Still being able to influence the design of our games, and researching our target market or regional options for the games remains the most enjoyable part regardless of the new roles and responsibilities. The most challenging aspect is keeping on top of the essential responsibilities such as tax credit and funding program obligations.
- What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
Games I am playing right now? Being a gamer at heart, not as much time as I would like, but I do try to find time for games I can also enjoy with my sons.
At the moment, it would be Marvel Heroes Online 2015, (as both our boys are on a big Spiderman/Iron Man kick). It has evolved greatly since the original beta with the new ‘re-release’ by including far more engagement and end-game retention value for players. I also dab occasionally with the PC games like the Star Citizen beta, World of Warplanes, and Shadowrun Returns content. On my mobile devices, I mostly fire up CSR, Tiny Realms, Plague Inc., and Quiz!. We still have to pick up a latest gen console, but still find time with my oldest son for the odd Ni-no-Kuni and NHL/FIFA sessions on the PS3.
- What are some trends you see in upcoming games?
There has been a strong trend where game experiences are lending towards people yearning to get back to that ‘face-to-face’ experience at some level. It is really prevalent with the emergence of games now emerging via Chat applications (such as WeChat), and augmented reality offerings interacting with physical brands like the new X-Com tabletop, Golemn Arcana, even Skylanders or Infinity product lines. It will also be interesting to see where Occulus technology game experiences can take our industry over the next few years…
One could already make a case that looking at games and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, recent MMORPGs almost satisfy all levels of our interpersonal needs, only lacking the presence of actual face-to-face connections. There is a trend where society is now finding it appealing to learn to interact properly with one another again, rather than developing those interactions solely behind faceless digital experiences. Very exciting times for game designers, given the depth and reach games aspire to have in today’s world!
- What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
Effective collaboration. Understanding how critical it is to seek, acquire, collate, and understand input from peers to help curate an idea into a solid game experience is essential when seeing a big picture with a good game concept. It also allows you to have a rich working experiences and relationships which you can carry with you throughout your career!
- If you could give a current student in Game Design some advice, what would it be?
Never give up that thirst for learning about your trade! Gaming entertainment evolves rapidly, and remaining open to new ideas, trends, platforms, or methodology, to deliver your visions to the masses is essential! Also, when coming up with new concepts, see if it can stand up to the analog tests. Analog game design flaws cannot hide behind fluff, so it is easy to see core feature holes in a non-digital rendition of the concept when played with others!
Thanks for the update Ted, best of luck on your next project!
Dave Warfield is the Head of Game Design at VFS