FlacMan- Information, Post Your Questions, and Answers

MarcFBR

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Someone not directly involved with Digimon, but he works in the game industry and is willing to answer your questions.

Although I'm sorry to say despite all the times we spoke I'm not quite 100% sure what his job is (I know it's public relations but I don't know what he specifically does....other then deal with crazies like me), but the company he works for up until last week did work for Namco/Bandai, and have done work for alot of other companies.

Questions will be weird or sparse until Flac shows up and gives us a bit more information I think lol....

That'll teach me to post after a day of classes.
 

lost in thought

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To get things rolling, my question is this:
Now, we know you work for a company that worked with Namco Bandai, could you tell us what kind of work your job, whether in general, or in association with the aforementioned company, entailed? As well, along those lines, if this isn't asking too much, did you enjoy working with them?
 

FlacMan

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I'd like to thank GoC for the invitation to join up and share my (admittedly limited) experience with everyone. Hello!

So, here's the deal: I work for a public relations agency in California, whose specialty is PR for video games. I don't think it's completely kosher if I tell you specifically which companies are our clients, but since you already know I got connected to With the Will through Digimon, yes, one of those clients was Namco Bandai (up until about a week ago). And, yes, I enjoyed working with Namco Bandai immensely; they make some of my favorite games, and I have some really good friends there.

In terms of my job, specifically... Public relations is a difficult business to summarize, and I've only been at it for about nine months myself, but I've been a gamer all my life, and it's fantastic to finally have a job in the industry. If your parents try to tell you to cut back on the gaming, you can tell them you know a guy who used it as a career path. To get back to what I do: My job is to take the games that developers and publishers are making, and see to it that folks like you know about them. This can take many forms, of course, and when you think game PR, lots of people usually think of the big (and usually disastrous) events, like buying the rights to a child's name, or sacrificing a goat. Look that last one up--that did actually happen. But, for the most part, what I do is really a lot of the basic grunt work and due diligence behind a lot of what you're already familiar with in terms of game hype and press. When you visit a website like IGN or Gamespot and see previews of a game, somebody like me helped it get there. When you look at the screenshots of a game not yet available in stores, somebody like me gave those shots to the site--in some cases, we even helped do the screen captures. When you read an interview with a developer or a Q&A session between fans and someone on the game team, somebody like me was behind the scenes, arranging schedules, sending invitations, and making sure all the pieces fell into place.

On occasion, yes, this lets me get to work with websites like With the Will. As I mentioned, I'm a lifelong gamer myself, and one of the main reasons I got into this business was to get to work with fans. My last job, in fact, was doing in-store demos of board games and running tournaments at local conventions, and I loved it. Getting to hook up the dedicated fanbase of a game or franchise is always, always enjoyable, because the enthusiasm is already there. In the short time I've had this job, I've gotten to help put together giveaways and contests at anime conventions, I've gotten to demo interactive graphic novels at Comic Con, I've attended big invitation-only game demo parties at fancy clubs, and I've made a lot of friends in several sectors of the game industry--from fans like you to professional journalists to software developers and CEOs. I promise you, though, if given the choice between working with a fansite where a story might reach a few hundred people, and working with a national game site where the story can reach millions... I will pick the fansite every single time. You guys rock far harder than human beings reasonably should. Thank you for that.

As to what I've done specifically with Digimon? Let me see...

- When they were ready to announce that Dawn, Dusk, and Data Squad were going to get a US release, they needed somebody to write that announcement. We did that.
- When the game had enough progress to have a preview version, lots of websites and magazines wanted to check it out. We were in charge of picking who got hooked up.
- When there were new sets of screenshots and videos available, somebody had to let the world know they were out. I wrote the announcement for that.
- Our agency suggested that Digimon had a very dedicated fanbase, and that folks who were really into the Digimon anime and the series as a whole would be very excited about the game, and we ought to make sure those biggest fans got the info they wanted. Guess who put With the Will on the list?

There's a lot more, too, but a lot of it is fairly mundane office work. Still, if you have more specific questions, I'm happy to answer.

I hope that gives you the general idea! I'm happy to tell you what I can about life in the game industry from a rookie's perspective. Thanks again for making me feel so welcome.
 

lost in thought

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"or sacrificing a goat. Look that last one up--that did actually happen."
That one was actually pretty funny.

Anyway, I thank you for replying as quickly as you have and providing a very in depth answer to my question; it really rounds out the picture in my mind quite well.

Now, if you don't mind, I'll ask another question of you in hopes of padding this out until more of our community members decide to drop by and participate. (C'mon guys, lets give FlacMan a warm welcome!)

In the time that you've worked for the company that you do, have you worked on any projects that became a personal favorite of yours, whether it be because of the project itself, the people you worked with, or the friends you made at that point in time? (I am not looking for glorification of With the Will here, so feel free to answer honestly if you feel you wish to answer at all. Heheh.)

Also, along those same lines, have you worked on any that you had high hopes in but didn't garner the amount of success you had hoped it would in one sense or another?
 

CyberDramon

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Welcome FlacMon!

Thank you for coming to this board (and putting it on the list)!

As for my question(s):

How did you find out about fan sites? Does someone search the web for them, or do people you're working with drop suggestions, or a little bit of both?

As for Digimon, what was the timeframe of develpment for the games, if you know, and at what points were the announcements, preview screenshots, and demos made available throughout the production process (timeline-wise)?

Also, how do you get into the industry to do the job you do?

:] Thanks!
 

Airdra

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No questions from me at the moment, but I'd just like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us like this, FlacMan. ^_^
 

MarcFBR

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Didn't know you were a lifelong gamer...hmm

What are those games that you tend to remember when new games come out and compare against the new games? (or just your favorites)
 

MugenSeiRyuu

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Welcome to the Forum !


[quote author=FlacMan link=topic=4936.msg65119#msg65119 date=1189154444]
- When they were ready to announce that Dawn, Dusk, and Data Squad were going to get a US release, they needed somebody to write that announcement. We did that.
[/quote]

Might be a stupid Question, but how do you get the Infos about the Game Features mentioned in the Announcements ? Are you informed by someone else or do you look them up yourself ?
I always wondered about that for several reasons.
 

FlacMan

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Lots of new questions to answer! Thanks for the warm welcome, folks. Sorry I didn't get to post yesterday, we were pretty slammed at the office. Let's see if I can handle these in the order I got 'em.

Favorite project? Let's see... there's some big ones that come to mind, most of which are the "events" we get to arrange every so often. Like I mentioned before, sometimes this involves going to a convention or throwing an exclusive party, where we get to wine and dine important media folks while we show off the game du jour. We did one of those that involved Digimon, in fact, not too long ago, when we were building hype for Data Squad (and a bunch of other games, too). But, I think the one I personally had the most fun at was one that involved a new online gaming service for playing popular deathmatch-style games. The main event of the evening involved getting all the guests onto PCs to play deathmatches on big monitors, while a big overhead monitor kept a running score tally. At the end of the night, whoever had the highest score walked away with a big cash prize! Now, we were allowed to join the matches very briefly, to help set an example and get everyone else involved, but obviously we weren't supposed to win (it doesn't look very good if the people holding the contest win the prize). Still, we were playing a game I was fairly good at, so I felt like having some fun with it, and I let myself come in second. I gave myself a gamertag (most people had been using their real names so they could claim the prize later), just so it wouldn't look too bad that a company man had been doing so well. It was good fun hearing the announcer say "And, in second... whose name is 'Ow, My Face'?"

Obviously I can't really talk about projects I particularly disliked without badmouthing my clients, so I'm sorry to say I'll have to pass on that question. If I can come up with a way to cite examples without... well, CITING EXAMPLES, then I'll take another crack at it.

How do we find the fansites? It's not as sophisticated as you might think. Usually, we use Google. Since the company knows I like to work with fansites (I come from a background of working one-on-one with game fans), they typically put me in charge of it. For example, like I've mentioned, I was the one who suggested With the Will as a good Digimon site when they were looking for a few of those. Really, it was a simple matter of finding you through a combination of search engines and links from other fansites. Then, I checked you guys out to see how active you were. I usually hit the forums for that; see when the last posts were, and how many new threads are coming up. There's a lot of Digimon sites out there, but some of them hadn't been updated since 2002 or so. Yours was on the top of my list. Naturally, if people give us direct suggestions, that's even easier. Public relations is absolutely one of those businesses where WHO you know is as important as what you know, which brings me to the next question...

I wish I knew how to get into the industry. For me, it was largely luck. I'd been looking for work in web production, and I kind of struck gold. In the middle of a conversation with a potential employer, we were talking about our common interests, and gaming came up, and suddenly the other fellow started saying "Oh, I didn't know you were a *gamer!* Listen, I know a guy who's looking for new people..." A few months later, here I was. The gaming industry has jobs for everyone, it really does. My best advice is to never lose your passion for it as a hobby. I know a lot of people who used to love gaming, but since they started actually working in games, can't stand to do it for recreation anymore. I'm hoping that won't happen to me--that's why I like to work on a personal level with my projects, with people who really have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the games.

My list of favorite games would require its own thread. Perhaps its own forum. I've been playing every system known to mankind since 1983.

How do we get the info that we put in all the announcements and such? The game company gives us that directly. They say, "Hey, we're making a new game that comes out in the spring, it's got features X, Y, and Z. Go make some announcements!" Sometimes, too, we get in-progress versions of the game and we get to check them out ourselves. That way, we can say "Hey, I think this feature I saw in the game would be really exciting for people to hear," and we may include that, too.

Keep those questions coming!
 

CyberDramon

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Just our of curiosity, are you a Digimon fan?

Did you get to play the new Digimon games, and if so, which one was your favourite? (and why?)
 

FlacMan

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I confess I am something of a Digimon fan, which is one reason why they put me on the game here at the company. I didn't get a chance to play many of the games, unfortunately, though working here did get me a free copy of Digimon World DS! I realize it's not much of an answer to your question, and I apologize, but I guess I have to say Digimon World DS is my favorite, since that's the one that I *have.*

I'm still going to likely wind up with a copy of Digimon World: Data Squad even though we don't work with Namco Bandai anymore; I think it looks pretty fun.
 

SabreWulf

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I'd assume a college level education was required, so what courses did you need to take in order to get where you are at now?
 

CyberDramon

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Just out of curisoity, were you into any of the card games?

And are you excited about the possibility of the Japanese version of Digimon subtitled on iTunes? ;p

But for a more game-realted question: Digital Data Squad premiers on October 1st. Now the video games with characters from that show come out *before* the series premiers. Any idea why that is? Maybe to generate hype?
 

Vande

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Good to hear you are somewhat of a Digimon fan ^^

Did you per-chance hear anything about outside of USA releases? As i run a UK Digimon site we are somewhat desperate in Europe for news on releases outside of USA. If there isn't it isn't the end of the world thanks to importing for at least the DS Games. Just a nice thing to know if there is.

[quote author=FlacMan]Our agency suggested that Digimon had a very dedicated fanbase, and that folks who were really into the Digimon anime and the series as a whole would be very excited about the game, and we ought to make sure those biggest fans got the info they wanted. [/quote]

Did i mention we appreciate that...i didn't...well we do. Digimon does have an insanely at times dedicated fan base in just about everything we get, major digimon card fans, major digimon manga fans and the top class anime.

Thanks
 

gerjomarty

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Hi! Thanks for coming on, answering questions, and generally making us fans feel really loved. As Vande said, it's much appreciated.

I know it's your job and you'll be slightly biased and all, but in general, how important do you think generating hype around a game or show is in the eventual success of said game or show. Do you think the quality of the gaming experience is more important than the publicity of it?
 

lost in thought

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@Gerjomarty:
"how important do you think generating hype around a game or show is in the eventual success of said game or show. Do you think the quality of the gaming experience is more important than the publicity of it?"
I know this was pointed to FlacMan, but I find it necessary to give you some perspective. Considering we live in a material world with people who like to follow a crowd of like-minded individuals, we only need to look so far as to the success of Halo or Pokemon, compared to the success of such games as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Okami, to find our important answer.
 

CyberDramon

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Okay, here's a good question:

Gaming quality is important, but so is hype (if you want the game to sell and the gaming quality to be discovered), but *how* important is the hype? Is there a special mix somewhere between hype and quality? What about the factor of an already-established fanbase, or a game being based on an already-established property?
 

Bikutaa Honno

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I know it's kind of late, but I'd also like to thank FlacMan for coming here to chat with a large portion of the Digimon fandom. Unfortunately, I can't think of a good question that wasn't asked already. I'm so ashamed!
 

Clogon

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Thank you for spending the time here at WtW to answer our questions. Since you mentioned that you were some what a digimon fan, I was wondering which seasons did you watch? And do you think, you will have time to see the new one?
 

gerjomarty

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[quote author=lost in thought link=topic=4936.msg65896#msg65896 date=1189801615]
I know this was pointed to FlacMan, but I find it necessary to give you some perspective. Considering we live in a material world with people who like to follow a crowd of like-minded individuals, we only need to look so far as to the success of Halo or Pokemon, compared to the success of such games as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Okami, to find our important answer.
[/quote]
That is quite true, but with communities and forums like this one, which evidently now are important enough to receive attention from public relations companies, word about a less advertised game or show can spread very quickly, and a significant amount of interest can be generated. Not interest on the scale of using traditional methods like in the examples you said, but interest nonetheless.
 
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