For those that listened to this week’s episode of the Frost Front Games Podcast. My opinion on God of War pretty much lines up with the general expectations of the gaming community; the game is awesome. One of my friends who has a senior role at a game studio thinks this is the pinnacle of AAA production. He cites the gameplay, the polish and overall presentation to be something stellar, and quite frankly I agree (for the most part). Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about Kratos.
There are varying opinions of this character in this iteration of God of War. Kratos went from being a vengeance driven warrior to a fatherly figure trying to understand parenthood, teaching his son the ways of the world and fighting off hordes of enemies. All at once. I would say he’s doing okay so far (at least where I am in the game). People view him as a strict father, one who doesn’t tolerate insubordination and it’s either his way or the highway. But then who would not be surprised, he is the God of War after all.
However, my interpretation of Kratos is different. I see him as a motivator, an inspiration and most importantly; a point of focus. I am someone who loves to chat about games, but not much anything else. I tend to focus my energy on the things I am both comfortable and good at; and this is it! I use Kratos to motivate me to sharpen those skills. It is quite easy for me to deviate from a particular topic in conversation and meander around various discussions when engaged with a person or persons. I think Kratos is someone who helps remind me that being short, to the point and finite at times can benefit me, especially in professional scenarios.
During my time in game development, and as a producer, I noticed people tend to look to us as folks that are strict, follow the book and adhere to a plan. It is probably why I call myself an anti-producer. I know the rules, they have been driven into my mind time and time again by senior staff members, I am aware of the risks, expectations and implications on decisions, but where is the fun in that? Focusing on the topic at hand however is always important, and Kratos as a character helps me tune into that aspect that I need to be at times.
I always walk the floor and chat with the team when they have a moment, I always visit QA, I always let those around me know what is happening on the aspect of the project. It isn’t to really win favor, it’s because I think folks just like to chat at times; after all people we make games, we do not work in a bank; it is okay to shoot the breeze now and then. I genuinely like doing these things and in turn it earns the respect and understanding of the team. But there are times where some of the earned respect from the team must be spent.
Sometimes we need to push a feature that we are having trouble wrapping our head around, sometimes it may be an oversight on both production and the team where we bite off more than we can chew and have to hit a deadline with some extra hours. Lesson learned there. In both cases, however, being focused, motivated and inspiring to others is something that can help develop a team and move them toward the goal envisioned.. Keeping that focus allows everyone to stay on the overall goal and task that we are trying to achieve as a team. It means steering folks back onto the track that the team agreed on taking, and in some cases pushing yourselfthe extra mile to do what is necessary to achieve that.
Being someone in game development involves versatility. There are times where you must know when to enjoy the time with the team, when to batten down the hatches and when to celebrate a hard earned milestone. The “Kratos formula” helps me focus on the “batten down the hatches” part. It allows me to focus specifically on the problems we are trying to solve, to understand what the needs of the team are and why they are struggling or achieving with their tasks and what can be done to move those obstacles out of the way so they can get to their goal.
If it means filling the gaps regarding missing tasks, if it means being the “dinner guy” for the food orders, if it means having a sit down with a team member about their attitude under pressure, the formula seems to help me get into that focused zone a lot faster and solve the problems and issues in a better way while using some of that hard earned team respect and hopefully building some back in the process. It is always about the team. If you have a focused team you have an awesome game.
Images: via 9GAG