A Charming Lot - Gregory Pellechi

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This is part of a series of interviews with the team behind Critical Charm and those who helped us getting our game together. Here’s Gregory Pellechi, our Game & Narrative Designer as well as Marketer!

You've got a lot on your plate with A Giant Problem - marketing, design and narrative. How do you manage all of these hats together in your day to day work?

Honestly I don’t see the roles as separate, there’s simply tasks that are more appropriate to a particular title.

Marketing for example is not always a well understood discipline for a lot of people who haven’t done it. In part because it touches on sales, narrative, even how a company runs and more. Plus when you’re in a small team like Critical Charm, those things are even more entwined. For some teams it’s about how a particular game is positioned, but for us it’s that and more.

In our case there really isn’t any difference between the game and the team, because we’re new. People don’t know us or our work. And while we want people to buy and play our game, we want them to be interested in who we are and what we do. All with the hopes that they’ll stay interested and enable us to do what we love, which is make things.

The fact is I don’t want to be a salesperson. I don’t want to get on Twitter and say “hey buy our game!” every day. That turns people off. It turns me off. And so I approach marketing in the way I want to be marketed to - humanely.

That of course sounds like utter bullshit now that I’ve said it out loud. And that’s the thing, it’s easy to put out some bullshit. I should know - I just did, and have done in previous jobs. But for Critical Charm it’s about being transparent and personal.

What also helps is that I understand what’s going with the game. So I know what to talk about, because I’m involved in making it. And if you think about a Creative Director’s role, they’re meant to sell the vision of the game to others, which isn’t that far off of what marketing does. And so if an image, a mechanic or a feature is great for convincing the team of what we’re doing, then why wouldn’t it also be great for our audience?

As for managing or balancing these things, that’s simple - I’m lazy. By that I mean I constantly think about processes and how to improve them so I and others don’t have to do a lot of work. Or at least extra work, since game development is itself a lot of work. But I’m not afraid to show what we’re working on because I believe in it, even if things are going to change. And for a small team like us, that’s the perfect way to be since it gives us stuff to share, keeps us human, personable and ideally humble. And the process of creation can’t really be separated from the product or how it’s sold. Though that’s probably a deeper and more philosophical conversation than you want to have.

Knowing you in that day to day working relationship, you definately come across as a more of an creative person, not to mention that you are an narrator/writer. Do you consider creativity important when doing PR. Either on smaller up-and-coming teams like with Critical Charm or on more larger teams you might have worked with?

Without a doubt, but like in all things there needs to be constraints to keep you focused. You don’t want to get so focused on a single event, or post, or production at the cost of what you’re actually making. Or the ability to keep doing the PR. It’s finding that balance between hitting the expected such as a website, logos, press releases and doing other things.

What those things are… well that’s not always easy to say. Things like podcasts, streams, videos have become almost the norm. So you have to do them because they’re what’s expected. Again it’s not just a press release anymore.

But that’s where the creativity comes in. It’s knowing you need to do a podcast and considering the time and resources you have available. The constraints are the time, resources and people available. But you get to be creative in the format, the topic, etc. If all you’re going to do is read out the very same press release, while that may be a good use of your time, it’s not necessarily going to be a good podcast. So it’s back to that balance. Of course you could make a game out of it with your team where you try to turn it into a song or act like it’s a press conference the President is giving and your guests are the audience asking questions.

Okay maybe a more succinct but less appropriate metaphor for game developers is a sports metaphor. In any sport you have the basic movies be they passing, hitting, dribbling, shooting etc. And even beginners can do the basics. But what shows some one as being great at playing, is how they mix those skills together. That’s where the creativity is.

Which or what kinds of mediums/franchises do you find most inspiring or applicable when approaching design? Either in terms of this project or overall.

Everything. Not the game Everything, but I guess in saying everything that’s included. Haven’t played it, but I should.

There is no reason not to draw inspiration from a particular piece of media. Everything has something to teach you, even if you don’t like it or you think it’s bad. It just takes some consideration.

For example, I don’t care for soap operas but I’ve watched a fair few in different languages throughout the years. And they’re brilliant storytelling vehicles, because of their ability to keep things going. Everything from the X-Men to Star Wars to our game aspires to be them. Because they offer so many opportunities. To make use of those chances you have to know what soap operas do right. Which brings us back to analysis.

Video games and their creators can’t be picky about where their inspirations come from given how video games are a confluence of all other mediums. Poetry, graphic design, dance, theatre, films, soap operas, comic books - it’s all there. Which is partly why I like working in this medium, it puts me at a nexus for branching into the others.

Pick a medium and I can go on and on about it. Architecture, sculpture, spoken word, typography, you name it and I draw some inspiration from it and want to utilize it in our work.