Get Together With 505 Games - Mike Motoda
Hi everyone and welcome back to our ‘Get Together with 505 Games’ blog. Firstly, we want to apologise for the lack of blogs over the last few weeks. We’ve been incredibly busy with other things behind the scenes but we’re keen to bring these back on a more regular basis. This week, we want to introduce you to Mike Motoda, Senior Manager of Production Services here at 505 Games…
Mike Motoda, Senior Manager of Production Services
Q: Hi Mike! So… What is it you do here at 505 Games?
A: I am the Senior Manager of Production Services here in the Los Angeles office, which oversees a number of different groups at 505 Games: Quality Assurance, Localization, Submissions, Ratings, and Customer Support. I started with the company back in May of 2015 as the Customer Support Supervisor, where it was my primary goal to develop and hire a brand-new support team, portal, and best practices for the company. It’s been great being able to bring my QA experience (which dates all the way back to 1995) to my job duties again!
Q: What do you enjoy the most about working at 505 Games?
A: You’ll probably hear this a lot, but it’s truly the people. If I didn’t like the people I work with, I probably wouldn’t be here! 505 Games has grown substantially, and we work on some big projects, but it still feels like a small, tightly knit family here. I enjoy coming into the office every morning, catching up on games, TV shows, and movies we’re all playing and watching, and we thrive on supporting one another where needed. Our small size means that we can be very flexible, and we all wear a number of different hats every day, depending on project needs. Management here is also very supportive of new ideas, initiatives, and suggestions, and they strike the perfect balance of being great leaders without any of the micromanagement. It’s a great culture overall!
Q: Have you always wanted to be a Manager of Production Services?
A: Not at first, no. I think like many folks who start out in this industry, I defaulted to wanting to be some type of producer, helping drive the direction of a title, so that’s what I worked towards. I was able to do that for a few years of my career, but it never felt like the right fit. I always had a soft spot for QA, and while I’ve moved away from the actual testing, it is what I am still the most passionate about.
Why? As someone who loves games as a consumer, it shows almost instantly if a game is buggy and isn’t polished, which can be a huge bummer if it’s a game you’re excited to play. I’ve always said that really effective and well-utilized QA can make the difference between a game getting a 7 and a 9, and I still believe that. Likewise, great customer support can make a huge difference in terms of what players think of you as a company, so it is something I strive to ensure remains a highly performing and friendly team to interact with.
Q: Which title/s are you currently working on?
A: As a service provider within the company, our team enjoys the benefit of being involved with every title that 505 Games is working on, whether it’s an internally produced game, a retail publishing deal, or titles we are evaluating from prospective developers. Projects at the forefront for us at the moment include Bloodstained, Indivisible, Portal Knights, Assetto Corsa, Terraria, and Gems of War.
Q: Have you always wanted to work in the game industry?
A: Absolutely! I’ve loved games for as long as I can remember, even though my young brain (and short height) made it difficult to fully grasp the controls for arcade games like Asteroids and Defender.
When I was maybe 8 years old, I was reading an issue of the computer gaming magazine K-Power. In it, there was an interview with Richard Garriott (Lord British of Origin/Ultima fame), and he talked about how they would have “rubaser” (rubber band laser) gun fights in the office, which kind of blew my mind. At that point, I decided I wanted to make games. I actually developed a rather large “design document” for Archon III with a friend of mine when we were 12. We sent it to the publisher, but never heard back. It was still a fun exercise though!
Fast-forward to 1995 when a friend of mine got me my first job at Interplay testing games in QA, which was fitting since my favorite CRPG series at the time was Interplay’s The Bard’s Tale. It felt like it was truly meant to be.
Q: Do you have a favourite 505 Games title? If so, what is it and why?
A: Years ago, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is the game that cemented 505 Games as a company I should watch. I found it to be so unique when it came to the controls and the effective way that it told its emotional story. I’ve played through it on every platform imaginable, and I still thoroughly enjoy the journey each time! I am a big fan of narrative-focused games in general, so other titles we’ve published such as ABZU, Virginia, and Last Day of June are among my favorites from 505 as well.
Q: Can you tell us something that many won’t know about you?
A: I’m kind of an open book, so there aren’t too many unknowns about me, but back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, I loved to draw. I liked using both traditional materials like pencils and markers (I still have all of my old Trias and Prismacolors), as well as creating digital VGA and ANSI art on PC. I was very meticulous about pixel counts, shading, etc., which I think helped me become very good at spotting graphical issues when I worked in QA.
Perhaps lesser known is that I also enjoy cross-stitching, which in a way is a lot like creating pixel art, so it is all related, I suppose!
Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in games?
A: Don’t wait for what you think is the perfect job. If you are passionate about games, it’s worth getting in where you can for the experience. I’ve taken a number of “steps back” in my career, and they always led to wonderful opportunities.
Also, I think Conan O’Brien said it best:
“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism – it’s my least favorite quality, and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
I 100% believe this to be true, and when I look back on my career, the best things have happened when I have been positive, put in the effort, and treated those around me kindly and with respect. It’s sometimes hard living in the confrontational online world that we do, but it’s worth the effort.