Name: Kassi O’Connor
Title: Director of Outside Services
Organization: Glu Mobile
1. Please provide some career history. What are the roles you’ve had working in games?
“I started at Griptonite Games (F9E) in 2009 as a Production Coordinator. During my time at Griptonite Games, I worked exclusively with external development (XD). By creating and expanding the XD department, I was promoted to Global Outsourcing Director and helped with other F9E studios as well. In 2011, Glu Mobile acquired Griptonite Games. At the time there was very little XD happening with Glu, so I became a Producer. I worked on 4 titles before eventually starting the XD and Localization department for all of Glu which has led to my role at Glu today. ”
2. Please describe your career experience with respect to external development (XD), and how your knowledge and influence has progressed in different roles.
“The majority of all my roles in the industry have involved XD. I started as an Outsourcing Coordinator creating contracts and contacting vendors. That progressed to creating XD pipelines for multiple studios and managing a complex budget. When I became a Producer, I already understood that XD plays a vital role in development. My XD experience came in handy because I was able to anticipate disruptions and have plans in place to quickly resolve issues.
Overall, working with XD has taught me to be flexible and to plan for almost anything. I usually have a plan B, C, and sometimes D ready to go in case plan A doesn’t quite work out. Working with XD has also taught me that communication is vital. You can have the best artist in the world, but if you don’t have great communication, the overall quality drops quickly. In my daily role, I’m constantly working with multiple groups at once. If you have clear communication channels, the process is an overall better experience for everyone involved.”
3. Please describe your current role and how it relates to XD.
“Currently, my role is the Outside Services Director at Glu Mobile. I handle art outsourcing, independent contractors, external QA, and localization. Any external services that our 9 worldwide studios need, I help set up and manage. This includes choosing the XD vendor, maintaining the relationship between the team and vendor, setting up contracts/invoices, and managing the budget. It keeps me busy ”
4. What is the biggest obstacle XD poses for your team? How are you working to overcome this obstacle?
“One obstacle I come across is inconsistent quality from an XD vendor. 90% of the time the quality is consistent, but every once in a while you’ll get art that isn’t the same quality as others from the same vendor. This is usually due to artist changes with the XD vendor. It’s important to have a great relationship with your XD vendor, so this obstacle can be resolved quickly if it occurs. Also, maintaining a good and long term relationship means they keep dedicated artists for your studio so you won’t have to deal with inconsistency.
Another obstacle is getting studios on board with XD development. The majority of our studios use XD and find it to be a valuable resource. However, newly acquired studios can be skeptical about XD. I usually pair the new studio with an established studio so they can hear firsthand how XD has improved their pipeline. I’ll also do intro calls with the XD vendor and the new studio so they can ask questions and actually get to know the vendor.”
5. How many XDS events have you attended to date?
“Two, soon to be three! I attended the XDS Conference in 2014 and XDS ignite in 2016. I’ll be at the XDS 2016 this September as well. If XDS Chapters count, I started the Inaugural Seattle meetup and look forward to planning more Seattle Chapter events!”
6. How has XDS helped to provide insight into XD?
“XDS has been a fantastic resource. The XDS community is the best in the business and everyone involved is willing to share their wealth of knowledge. I doubt there’s an issue in XD that XDS individuals can’t handle. Most importantly, I love the sense of community it provides. It’s great to know that others deal with the same highs and lows you do …”
7. What is a key insight you hope to share at your XDS 2016 session, “Mobile Localization Made As-Easy-As-Possible“?
“I hope to provide insight on how localization shouldn’t be left to the last minute and the importance of working with a vendor you trust. Having these two points established will make the process easy, and leaves more time to focus on other development needs.”
8. What advice would you give to someone starting in a new localization XD role?
Find a vendor you trust: “Treat them like they are part of your team. They will be your best asset during the XD process.”
Start early: “Get teams thinking about localization early in the development cycle to avoid problems that can occur with a rushed schedule.”
Create communication channels: “Get yourself, your team, and your localization vendor on the same page and make sure it stays that way.”