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Control Community Team AMA on the Nintendo Switch Subreddit

In early December 2020, 505Games and Remedy held an AMA with the Control Community Team on the Nintendo Switch subreddit. For the event, Jade Nicole (Brand Community Manager at 505 Games), Vida Starčević (Community Manager at Remedy) and Antonela Pounder (Director of Global Community at 505 Games) answered questions sent in from the community. 


The sessions lasted two hours, during which time developers answered questions about feedback, food, Animal Crossing, working in the games industry, and more. 

You can read the archived questions and answers below, or check out the full interview on the subreddit, HERE


PaperCheesy: 505 Games has received some flack regarding the lack of upgrade options to Control Ultimate Edition or next-gen for early adopters of the game. How much of a challenge is something like this to manage as a community team when you’re not in control (no pun intended) of the actual decision? Is it tough when you can see where fans are coming from?

Antonela: Great question. In short, any situation where fans get heated can be difficult to handle. Naturally, Community Managers have a thick skin but moments like the one you're referring to, can be hard to stomach, especially when people get personal. (It's happened and yeah, it's incredibly upsetting) We have a lot of empathy for our players (we're gamers ourselves) so when we can't give them what they want of course, it's difficult as we know we can't turn frowns upside down. In this instance, we were well supported internally and encouraged to step back, take a breather and switch off where we could. I've been part of the 505 Games family for almost 5 years and I feel so supported and looked after, which helps when it comes to situations like this one.



Gaming_University: How many more Monoliths do we expect to find? One in Utah and another in Romania. I know Remedy is behind this!


Jade:
Maybe one more! (however I should probably state that this isn't anything to do with us haha ) Everyone tagging the Control accounts has been very funny though!

Vida: jade no



CaseAddiction: Was there ever a talk during the initial development for the cloud edition of Control to run natively on Switch?

Vida:
we did some due diligence and explored the possibility with an external partner on what it would take to produce a switch port for control, but unfortunately we made the call that it's not possible to do a native switch port. there's a lot of reasons, mainly when it comes to technology, personnel and money.

obviously, we at remedy and our publishers at 505 games want to get the game to as many players as we feasibly can, but getting games on platforms with very different hardware isn't just about pressing the 'Put It On Switch' button - it's tough and time-consuming work. our in-house northlight engine wasn't built to work on the switch, so even with our best efforts, we'd have to spend a significant amount of time to making it work. we're not a big studio compared to the size of some other AAA studios, and we're working on multiple projects, so it was a matter of making the tough decision that we'd want to get our tools (including the northlight engine, which powers all our games) as ready for the future as possible. if it wasn't for the cloud, there wouldn't be control on switch, so we're super pleased that the cloud is there and we were able to pull it off!



SoManyLess: What are your thoughts on Cloud Gaming, do you think it will replace Local-based gaming such as Consoles, and if so, do you think this is the last generation before cloud gaming becomes the mainstream way to play? Secondly (if that's okay?) If you could pick any game to be on the Switch as a cloud-based game, what game would it be, and why would it be Cyberpunk 2077?

Jade: Such a good question! I have a lot of thoughts on this one - I'm not sure about it being a replacement due to internet infrastructure in many different places. However, Switch compared to other consoles offers a lower price point of entry which can only be a good thing! I would hate to lose physical games, I love my box art and steel cases.

In regards to a Switch Cloud Game - Give me Persona 5, pleaseeeeee! :)


Antonela: It's amazing how far technology has come over the last few years! I'm all for offering gamers new ways to access titles, Cloud Gaming being one of those new points of entry. I'd personally like to see physical still hang on in there, alongside Cloud Gaming. There's something quite nice about going into a video game store and picking up a game from the shelves and taking it to the till. (Maybe that's just nostalgia talking)

Great second question.... Personally, I'd love to see Oblivion come to Nintendo Switch! This was the first open world game I ever played way back when!


Vida: I think cloud gaming is an excellent way for devs to bring demanding games to systems where it would otherwise be impossible to port those games natively. I'm not sure about getting cloud games in the mainstream due to internet connection speeds across the world, I think the infrastructure needs more work first!

oh man if I could pick a cloud-based game... pathologic 2!!!!! I love that game so much (even though I am so bad at it) and I would love to have it on the switch



nightwing0243: Is there any plans to take the time limit off the demo and instead replace it with a system that lets us get to a certain point before we have to buy it to continue? I am legitimately interested in this game for the Switch, but I was unable to get into any combat before time ran out. It seemed to perform well when just walking around, but I want to know if it will perform well when the action picks up.

Vida: the time limit is meant to test your internet connection to see if you can run the game. I get that it's frustrating to not get into any combat and see how it performs - honestly, as much as it pains me to say as someone who loves story, my tip would just be to skip the cutscenes really fast and run to get to the first combat encounter. you should be able to do it!



Wasoney: What's your favourite kind of memes about Jesse Faden and Alan Wake? (not necessarily together) and if you could put them on a mundane or silly situation, what would it be?

Jade: I was brought onto the Control team after release but I have been a huge Alan Wake fan so being even a small part of AWE has been very special!I absolutely love the fan art we receive featuring both. I like to think of them both going for a casual walk on a Sunday evening getting a roast - cool jacket cladded and flashlight ready for a country walk.



rollrit7: What is the development like for a game of such magnitude? Stress and overburdening of developers in gaming industries is quite common. I wonder if you guys were able to meet deadlines without sacrificing a lot from your personal lives.

Antonela: Great question! Speaking from a Community Management standpoint, working on a title of such magnitude is so much fun. I remember the day we announced Control at E3 in 2018 and I was sat in my hotel room filled with nerves as Control was unveiled to the world. The response was overwhelming and it was a really big motivational boost for the entire team.

I'm very, VERY lucky that I work somewhere (505 Games) that doesn't encourage overtime or expect us to work crazy hours. It's a big reason why I love working here and grateful to be part of this incredible team. With regards to deadlines, organisation is key especially in Community Management. I oversee the Community Managers here at 505 so I spend a lot of my day to day planning and prepping content with the team. :)


Vida: real good question, thank you!!

I can only speak from my own point of view, but as far as I've experienced it, the stress has only every been mostly positive - or if it had a negative effect, it was quickly resolved by being able to work with a team of very competent people who know their stuff.

as for my personal life, I've always been very strict about drawing a boundary between how much time of my day is dedicated to work, and how much is dedicated to everything else, aka 'not-work'. I always try to get better where I'm lacking, but you can't be better at your job if you don't give yourself time away and rest. I'm glad that my team at remedy has provided me with support and understanding when it comes to a healthy work/life balance, and that they know that the number one priority in a studio is its people.

sometimes there's things you can't control (ho ho), like being beholden to time zones other than your own, but with careful planning and scheduling, and with experience, you make sure you get enough sleep and don't work outside of regular office hours unless there's a literal fire :D



RobotInMySpareTime: Which mission in Control made you irrationally angry?
Who is your favourite side-character in Control (e.g. not Jesse)?
What is your favourite animal?


Vida: so I like to think that I'm a pretty chill player and I don't get frustrated often but man. I like exploring, right? love a bit of jogging around avoiding the main story as much as I can, that's how I play every game. well, in control that's sometimes not a great idea, as you'll more often than not find enemies that are severely overlevelled.

I went into the pit. there's those mold turrets in there. I couldn't see where they were. I died a lot. I was very mad at myself. I left it and came back after I'd beat the game - almost a cakewalk. the lesson of the day is - use your ability points and be smart about mods and upgrading your service weapon forms!!!

my favourite side-character in control.......... I can't pick a favourite kid, are you kidding me? :D I love pope because she's super relatable to me (I love to know things), I love langston because he's really funny and loves cats, I love arish because he's down to earth and seems like a regular guy who'd be really chill to hang with. I think langston's gotta win though, his lines in AWE were gold. I could listen to him talk to himself for ages. our senior writer at remedy, clay murphy, was in charge of a lot of langston's character, and he did a fabulous job.

and my favourite animal is a cat!! any type of cat.


Jade: I don't even want to admit publicly how much the former frustrated me ( I had to google a few things and died a bunch. Way too proud to admit that to the further team )

I absolutely LOVE the threshold kids!

Hmm, favourite animal is a difficult one, I really like Sloths! But also my cat :) Thank you for the lovely questions!



photoframes: Which is your preferred meme? Tumbleweed; everyday I’m tumble-ing, or Gandalf - where is everyone?

Vida: out of those I love 'gandalf - where is everyone' but my current fav meme is 'I am looking respectfully' skfdnlkjfds


Jade:
It's gotta be Gandalf! I was thinking yesterday about how we need to upgrade all of our LOTR memes to 4k now.



ProbablyMarian75: Since I live in Romania and The Oldest House just moved in the country I live I want to ask: How much is the the salary of an FBC Employee? I wouldn't mind watching some fridges in my free time.

Vida: don't call us, we'll call you.


Antonela: Haha! Let us find out! Good question, mulțumesc foarte mult! :)



Jackathan: Hi! I loved Control (44 hrs in right now), but my question is about being a community managment team member: I'm trying to get hired in the gamedev field for something in the community management area and I haven't had much luck, what are some tips you have? Thank you for such an amazing game!!

Antonela: Awesome question! So here's the thing, there are multiple paths you can go down to become a Community Manager and something I’ve realised over the years is that every CM role is different. Highly recommend being able to demonstrate a solid understanding for social trends and platforms is super important, as well as copyright skills. Building up experience in consumer facing roles will also prove highly advantageous if you want to become a Community Manager. While at the moment attending events isn't possible, when the time is right and it's safe to do so, I highly encourage you to network with people. It's how I got my first break in the industry.

In addition to this, look for opportunities online where you can get involved in beta testing, moderation etc. Utilise these opportunities, they will help you more than you think!



giulioandrea_masi: How many hours did you spend playing the game?
As part of team, at some point did you get tired of it cause its also part of your work (like a nonsense refuse) or you felt totally excited? (or both ahaha) Also, if you know, what's the origin behind the name SHUM??? I'm so curious about that! P. S. Love you so much, Control is a spectacular game, and sorry if the english is not the best but i tried :p

Vida: I'm a playstation player so I don't get logged hours, but whew. a lot! haha!

I played the game during development, I played all our public hands on/off demos that we showed to press and to consumers, multiple times, over and over again, because you gotta do that in order to present the best that you can. then I played the game on my own time when it was released, I played the expansions when THOSE came out, and then I play game on remedy's twitch streams whenever we do those.

I was totally excited and I still am! honestly it's never something that tires me. it's sort of like getting into bed after a long day, it feels lovely and comforting because I'm so familiar with the controls, the areas and the whole game. I try to go in as blind as possible when it comes to some content, but it's hard to balance that with, you know, needing to know the game in order to be able to talk about it well.

the origin of shüm - it's just a really nice sounding, nonsense word. :D



jadeseaweed: Personal Q time! My dream job is to be a community manager or social media coordinator for a game company. I've been working as a social media manager for companies that are nowhere near the game industry, but I want to change that! How do you suggest getting more into the game side? How did you get started?

Jade: Hey there! It sounds like you started really similar to myself :)

I was freelance social media for a while and decided to join a game studio as Player Support. I regularly went to gaming events whenever I could and ( when it's safe to do so ) would always recommend people do the same.

As you're already a social media manager it sounds like you already have an awesome skillset in place! There are lots of routes to go down though so don't ever be discouraged :) For now, if you're not already I'd look into Twitter/discord/ social media groups that focus on Games Industry. Introduce yourself and apply apply apply! Good luck! All our social media handles are also linked in the asset above so please feel free to reach out :)


Vida: genuinely don't mean this to sound flippant but honestly - just apply!

I started out as a journalist, first in daily newspapers and stuff like that, and then moving onto video games. so I worked both volunteer and paid gigs, and slowly my interests crystallized to being skewed more to pop culture, and then video games more specifically. I was lucky that I had a contact for the editor of the top gaming magazine in croatia (where I'm from) because the journalism scene is very small as it's a small country. from there I moved on to working in mobile games, and then to remedy. I've had experience in content writing for games, in journalism, in event coordination and management, and in podcasting.

this is really the tl;dr version but like, you're already more than halfway there - you work in social media management. community/social media management really differs depending on the studio/game you're working for, but it all shares a baseline when it comes to skills, and if you already have some of those skills, you have a headstart. I think figuring out where the people you want to talk to are is a good start. trying to get into those circles and see how they work, how social media management in games does (or doesn't) differ from what you're doing. this is always such a tough question because our job is so versatile and we all come from different paths, but my main advice is look to people who do the kind of job you want to be doing, and learn from them. I'm hugely inspired by everything victoria tran does, for example. she's so cool. also try to find communities that gather around the kind of job you're looking for - good and healthy and non-toxic communities, and join them and try to be active. learn and listen.


Antonela: Really good question! I highly recommend looking out for opportunities with companies that would give you experience game side. Get involved in beta testing, moderation etc. Utilise these opportunities, they will really, really help :)




Ganrokh: Hey, thanks for doing this AMA! What's for dinner today?

Antonela: As much as I would LOVE to order a takeaway in, I did that over the weekend so twice in the space of a few days might be a bit OTT. Pasta for me this evening! :)

Jade: Thank you for tuning in! Imma get some pizza after this I think! :D

Vida: hi! thank you for coming :D it was gonna be dandanmian but I didn't have time and I am too hungry right now to cook, so it's general tso's chicken that I'm ordering in just now



MangoGuile: When will we see Jesse Faden on Smash? lol But seriously my question is can you describe what it felt like when you first knew about Control being IGN's (and some other publications') GOTY last year? I really loved playing Control and I'm so happy that more people are now able to play this wonderful game because of its launch on Switch. Thank you!!!

Vida: I wish I had the power to put jesse in smash :(

oh my gosh it was overwhelming to learn we were IGN's game of the year! I honestly can't remember the exact moment, because it's one of those things where your brain sort of gets reduced to white noise when you hear it. I remember that IGN asked us to film a reaction video to the news (it's this one), and only myself (I'm in the video - girl with the purple hair. not my best day as I was bare faced and tired haha), the person filming it and sam lake, who had to do the talking, knew what the video was for. so what you're watching is everyone's genuine reactions. nobody had any idea what they were in the room for. it was absolutely wonderful to see the genuine joy and surprise on everyone's faces - I can't believe I didn't cry as I'm a quite weepy person by nature, but I guess professionalism won over.

the same goes for all the other awards, really - it never gets any less amazing to hear, and we never take it for granted. control is a result of a lot of people's hard work, and while the biggest reward, in my opinion, is to see players like you enjoying it and sharing their love, awards from our peers and press feel lovely, too <3 back when it was possible, we'd have watchalongs of award shows at the office. we had one for the golden joysticks last year - we were nominated for a bunch of categories, and at the end they awarded us with the critics' choice award. that's the one that we had no idea we were in the running for, and when it was announced we all screamed. awards are just added perks but honestly the serotonin boost can be incredible



TheLastGunslinger: How's the Xbox Series X/PS5 patch coming along? I'm super excited to play the game again with it looking even better than it already did.

Vida: it's coming along nicely!! game looks better every day. it's super cool to be able to fire up a next-gen console and see our game on it, I'm amazed every time by what the team's been able to achieve.



xtcivsy: Hey so Control is so good that I've played it 8 times. The season of giving is coming up and I was wondering when the Control book will be released? Thank you and I hope that y'all have an amazing holiday season!

Jade: Thank you so much for popping by and I hope you have an amazing holiday season too! The team are working very hard on getting the book released for holiday 2020 as soon as we have a date we will of course update everyone on our main social channels :)




Tired_Aiden: Who is your favourite villager in animal crossing?


Jade: it's all about raymond

Vida:
lily!!!!! I love frogs

Antonela: Cheri <3



sendblink23: What is your spirit animal? :)

Antonela: Maybe a hedgehog? (I've no idea why... I just like hedgehogs)



Raidy_moon: I get a lot of Max Payne vibe from Control, is she Max’s daughter? Was Max Payne a source of inspiration for this game?

Vida: aren't all remedy games technically max's kids, because they came after him? don't answer that. that's a joke.

there's no relation between jesse faden and max payne, jesse is badass on her own :D and yeah, actually max payne 2: the fall of max payne was an inspiration for control! we felt that we got a lot of stuff right with that game - we really love the gameplay of that game and how it connects to the story, and the overall feel of it. we definitely looked at max payne 2 and thought about what we learned from making that game while we were making control.



simymonna: When Photomode was released last year, did you guys ever expect the amount of support for that? Or the arts that came from it?

Antonela: Personally, I think Photo Mode is one of the best features to ever come to games. It adds a great incentive to jump back in and adds longevity to a title. The amount of support we received for Control's Photo Mode was CRAZY! It was so overwhelming to see so much love and it was eye-opening to see Control in this whole new light. We continue even now to highlight / acknowledge photo mode shots submitted by our players whenever we can. It blows our mind!


Vida: I was for sure hoping for it - photo mode is one of my favourite features in games and I've been pushing to make control's photo mode as good as it could possibly be from day one. it was the first time we'd done a photo mode in a remedy game and I'm so, so proud of the whole (small and brave!!) team that made that happen.

it's been wonderful to see such a consistently creative and gorgeous output of photo mode shots across social media! you are all hugely talented, thank you so much for appreciating the beauty in our game



shawnweaver23: Hey guys! Long time Remedy fan here. Favorite game is Alan Wake and I was super happy to see him RETURN in this game. Was CONTROL developed from the ground up to be kind of like the glue that binds the Remedy-verse or did that idea come later in development? Thanks again for all you do!

Vida: hiya!! I love alan wake a lot too, working at remedy has been great because it's so cool to get to work with some of the people who worked on that amazing game every day.

we've always had an ambition and an idea to somehow connect the games we make, through little nods and easter eggs. but whenever we start developing a game, it's important that it has a strong story, cool and engaging gameplay, that it looks good, and perhaps most crucially - that it stands strong on its own.

we're super glad we managed to make the strings of the remedy connected universe a bit more visible in AWE, the last expansion for control, but when we were developing it we knew we had to make it accessible enough for people who've never played alan wake to be able to know what's going on, and care enough about it to proceed with the story. do you think we succeeded? I hope so!

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-- CURRENT PROJECTS --

The Crossfire Series

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The Control Series

The Quantum Break Series

The Alan Wake Series

The Max Payne Series

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