Interview with Darold Higa, ProducerNovember 12, 2013
Over the past few years, Wargaming has grown from a small local company to an industry leader with offices spread all around the world. To mark the occasion of our 15th anniversary, we are talking about the company’s future, past and present with employees who have remained at the roots of the company, and those who have joined the Wargaming family more recently. This week we talked with Darold Higa, Producer at Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore.
Meet Darold Higa
Darold Higa, Producer at Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore in Chicago, joined the team in April, 2013. Darold was born in Hawaii and has lived in Los Angeles and Tokyo. He has always been an avid player, but after studying International Relations and finding a job as a part-time professor, Darold realized that his passion was games.
He started out as a Quality Assurance tester, and eventually took on a position as an Associate Producer. He then went on to work at an independent PC game development studio that created training games for the US Army. After experiencing publishing and development, and PC and console development, he was hooked, and has worked in the games industry ever since. When he joined the Wargaming team he was already a big fan of World of Tanks
Could you tell us what being a Producer means, in your own words?
Producers are the glue that ties all of the different parts of a project together. Producers try to balance art, technology, game design, and business all at the same time. Sometimes that means making difficult or even painful compromises. In the end however, if the producer does his job right, you get a product that lets all of the individual team members contribute. To sum it up, I think the job of a producer is to balance all of the different elements of the game into a single unified experience that the players will enjoy and love.
What’s your connection to games and the games industry and how did that start?
I have always been an avid game player. When I got my first personal computer back in the early 1980s the first thing I did was play games on it. Despite loving games I really never thought about working in the industry, and I went through undergraduate and graduate school focusing on my studies, with games (particularly wargames) being a hobby. Eventually I got my doctorate in International Relations, and became professor. But my love for games led me to get a job at a games company, and the rest is history!
When and where did you first hear about Wargaming?
My first exposure to Wargaming was Massive Assault. However, I have to admit it was World of Tanks that turned me into a big fan. I really felt that the eastern front was not well covered in US games, and I always had a fascination with Soviet tanks, particularly the T-34/76. When I heard about World of Tanks I signed up for the closed beta.
What do you like most about your job?
One of the most amazing things about game development is not knowing what kind of challenges you will be facing from day to day. One day it might be a business related issue, another day it might be a technical challenge, or an artistic problem or a question about music, or historical accuracy or even planning an event. The constantly shifting challenge makes work exciting, and it means constantly learning new things.
How do you think Wargaming West fits into Wargaming’s global big picture?
Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore’s predecessor, Day 1 Studios, had a very solid reputation for producing good games, and after working here I understand why. Because the studio evolved as a work-for-hire studio, it developed very advanced tools and processes for producing very high quality work under very tight schedules. I was impressed with the level of automation that is used in development, from the daily build process all the way to the filing of bugs, there are a set of integrated tools that work together to get the job done.
Technology alone is not really the whole picture, however. What I have been most impressed by are the people who work here. Here the designers, artists, and programmers are passionate about what they want to see in the game, and they work with the producers to make it happen.
I think Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore can bring a lot of that energy and expertise, particularly in dealing with the difficulties of multiplatform development, and in particular console development, to the already formidable capabilities of the rest of the organization.
For you, what makes Wargaming different from other gaming companies?
I’ve worked at other studios, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much care taken to provide the kind of support that Wargaming gives to its employees. I immediately felt like I was part of an international team working towards common goals. I think this spirit is exactly the kind of thing the company needs to succeed in the tricky business of making games. Creating an environment where art, technology and business work in harmony is no easy task. I think Wargaming has met this difficult challenge and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Article by: Amanda Saionz