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Vi taler alt om Massive Entertainment med administrerende direktør Thomas Andrén

Vi tog chancen på Ubisoft Forward-spillestedet i L.A. for at sætte os ned med administrerende direktør Thomas Andrén og lære meget mere om Massive Entertainment som et virkelig 'massivt' studie i betragtning af den vitale rolle, det Malmø-baserede studie spiller i nutidens Ubisofts globale økosystem. Dette inkluderer udviklingen af Snowdrop-teknologien, deres engagement i Ubisoft Connect-platformen og naturligvis de nye spil, der skabes af deres to udviklingsteams: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora og Star Wars Outlaws, hvilket begge betyder løbende samarbejde med filmskaberne ovre hos henholdsvis Disney, Lightstorm og LucasFilm.

Audio transcriptions

"We are at Ubisoft Space, the day before Ubisoft Forward, the day after Summer Game Fest, but only a few hours after Xbox Showcase.
Let me ask you about this first and foremost. Thank you so much for joining us, Thomas."

"Because you guys just revealed something at that show, and I think you're playing a massive part in how Ubisoft is stealing these summer shows.
In a way, you guys are showing Avatar tomorrow, and just unveiled Star Wars Outlaws.
So, how did it feel? How did it feel with the team? How did it feel in the studio?
Yeah, we're super excited. The feeling in the team, I was watching it with the team when we were preparing Ubisoft Forward, and the overall feeling is just, it's such a pleasure to have the opportunity to show what we're working on to the fans."

"So, we're super happy that we got this out now.
And I'm sure fans are really looking forward to tomorrow, to learning what the game is going to be about, how it's going to be played, and we'll learn more from the developers themselves.
But as a studio, and the way you sort of define your creativity at Massive, what do you think you can add to such a beloved franchise coming from Avatar, now Star Wars?
So, overall, Massive is a studio focusing on quality, so of course that is the core of what we do."

"We also have two amazing teams working with some of the biggest entertainment IPs in the world right now.
And the collaboration we have globally also within Ubisoft, our partners in Ubisoft to create this game, it's a great opportunity for us right now.
And as I said, you're coming from Avatar, you will be releasing the game in December, Star Wars hopefully next year, that's amazing for such a big game."

"So, how would you describe the collaboration that Avatar was, and how you guys collaborated directly with Lightstorm, with the guys doing the movies, and with all the tech they develop and all the art they use, how did you sort of implement that into a video game?
How was that sort of two-ways collaboration?
So, regarding the game, more on the details of the game, it's better to talk to the creative directors and so on, but when it comes to collaboration between the partners, it's been very good and very transparent all the way, and it's really a defined partnership between us."

"So, collaborating on the creative processes, collaborating on production, and it's a very close collaboration, so it's an amazing partnership we have.
And you just said you have two teams doing the games, you of course develop your own technology since many years ago, you also are part of UB Connect as well, and I think this is the main question for you, how do you manage at all to sort of make everything work in such a massive studio?
That's the fun part, because we are end-to-end, so we have our own game engine, Snowdrop, that is now becoming a global game engine for Ubisoft, being developed in many studios, so that is amazing that we have that opportunity to share that now with other games, and I think just on my way here, flying here, I was playing Mario Rabbids, and the first thing that appears is of course the Snowdrop logo, so I think this is a very positive way forward in Ubisoft right now, and then we do the game development, we have our games, and we also have Connect, so we're end-to-end, and that's a unique position also, to be able to draw all the learnings from all these projects, to do the quality we need in our games in the end, and create what the fans are waiting for."

"You just mentioned Mario and Rabbids, which is a game I personally like a lot, and of course technically it's a smaller, or for a different type of device, and then you are developing AAA games for the most recent hardware, so how do you guys work with scalability, and how do you have to be in line with what's being released in terms of hardware, when developing Snowdrop?
So we're collaborating of course with Snowdrop and partners, that's an ongoing process, I think what I related to earlier is that this engine is now becoming a global part, so the mandates in different studios are different, and working in a collaborative approach within Ubisoft, we can make sure that we're on the edge of where the development is going on the game engine, so it's a very positive process right now within Ubisoft."

"That about games, but I don't know if this could happen in the future, you've been working with movie labels, you've been working with Disney of course, in both Avatar and Star Wars, and this sort of happened to Epic Games, could it be that in the future we could see Snowdrop, or the technology you guys are developing, used in movies, to make movies better?
I can't really talk about the future, but the engine today is a great tool for our developers, and it's a tool for the creative part also, with our directors and creative directors to use, for improving our games in the future as well, so it's an ongoing development and I can't really give you any details about anything else at this moment in time."

"Can I say a pattern with Disney?
Of course we just had Avatar, Star Wars, two franchises that weren't part of Disney in the past, but perhaps this is, I know you just said you can't talk about the future, but are you super close to Disney in terms of can we expect something more in the future, something more Disney, some other of those franchises that they already own?
I think for us as Ubisoft Massive right now we're focusing on delivering one game in 23 and one game in 24, so that is our total focus right now, and what the future will bring I can't give you any details right now."

"And going back to the showcase and how people reacted to Star Wars, passion is of course important everywhere in gaming, so how would you say passion of your team members, of your employees, plays into that?
I think passion all comes from our talent in the studio, everything we do comes from the ground up so to say, that's where the creativity happens, and I think the overall I would say passion comes from our talent."

"Tell us about the present, we sort of know about the culture in the studio from this sort of live at Massive documentary that for some reason it's close to us and we know how you guys do, but perhaps other viewers don't, so with such a big structure, different teams, as you just said it's global now, you're sort of out of the studio, you have to be in constant communication with others, so what can you tell us about the sort of approach in terms of life, in terms of employees, in terms of time zones, how to deal with all this in a more human way?
So first of all it starts with transparency and it starts with me as the MD at Massive of course, to being transparent down in the organizations, we work very close with our employees and having a good collaboration, finding ways to communicate what we're doing, cross-project in the studio, on technology and so on and so on, so it's an ongoing process and I think we're developing it all the time and improving it, but I think the Massive culture is a little bit unique in itself because it's very transparent, so it's a very creative culture."

"In terms of the culture, getting back to the games, which would you say is your trademark?
Because you guys have done different genres, different scales, different sizes from the Division games in the past that you did, now we sort of understand that the new games are open world, but in all those genres and ranges of colors and flavors, which would you say is your trademark in terms of creativity for games?
I think it comes back to what we talked about earlier, so having technology within Massive and also being a very qualitative focused studio, I think those are the two aspects, we're driven by technology and technology innovation and then using quality and creativity mixed up with technology where you find the Massive uniqueness."

"And with art, of course, we talked about Snowdrop before and how you guys have to deal with new platforms, different hardware, etc.
But what about artists? To some extent, are they part of the development of the technology in terms of we need to do this, we need to create this sort of shadows, textures, scale, streaming of data, how do you sort of listen to them?
So when it comes to Snowdrop, Snowdrop is there for the games, so everything we're doing in Snowdrop is there to improve the games that we're doing now and future games, of course, and now becoming global with the Snowdrop engine, it gives us a bigger opportunity to work with our artists and everyone to see what we need in the future and it's an ongoing process that we have all the time between the projects and the engine."

"Is the expansion of the studio an ongoing process as well?
You became like Massive for real in the past decade, let's say, more or less, so can we expect this to keep going and to see Massive to be like double the size in 10 years' time?
I think we're very happy where we are right now, I think we have a good size of the studio, we can do what we want to do and right now we want to focus on getting these two games out to our fans."

"So you feel like you reached a milestone that you now are in a position that is comfortable in terms of how to approach the business, of course, how you work with Ubisoft, the other studios and the employees?
Yeah, I would say so. Right now we're stable, we like where we are right now and to continue focusing on what we're doing best and that's creating great games."

"Fantastic, looking forward to learning more about those games tomorrow and thank you so much for your time.
Thank you very much."

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