“The final version of the game is the sum of the work and the spirit of many passionate people.” An exchange with our Creative Director, Eric Couzian.

14/04/2016 06:00 PM

Following last week’s interview, we’re thrilled to share more intel from the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands team.

Read the testimony from our Creative Director Eric Couzian to learn more about the key role of the game vision and its impact on our development process.


Could you please describe your job as a creative director for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands?

Working along with the core team of the project, the role of the creative director is first of all to set up the vision of the game. I imagine a consistent experience for the players by defining the gameplay pillars, world, context, and message.

The second side of my job is to guide, to convince, to filter, and to unite the team about this vision. The main challenge is to stick to the original target and not to compromise so that this dream can come true. And I can tell you that you need to have an undefeatable faith for this and maybe a little bit of craziness too :)

The biggest lie would be to claim that a creative director makes everything by himself. It’s first and foremost a collective work. In the end, the final vision of the game is the sum of the work and the spirit of many passionate people who share the same ambitious dream at start. Passion and unity are the pillars of an exciting game experience!

How did you join Ubisoft and especially the Ghost Recon team? How long have you been working on this project?

It’s been more than 16 years since I started at Ubisoft. After my studies, I worked in an advertising agency before I let the indomitable call for a more artistic and creative job lead my career into the video game industry. I’m still very thankful to Ubisoft to have given me my chance at this time. I started as level designer on Rayman 3 before getting lead positions on projects such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier. I also spent several years at the Ubisoft worldwide editorial HQ supporting many projects in development. It’s now been three and a half years since I started working on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. We started as a small and cohesive team before growing along the life of the project.

How would you describe a typical day of work?

It would be hard to describe a typical day of work since almost each one is different. Meetings, discussions, hot debates, formalization of high level definition, or micro details that will all count in the end to make sure everyone is autonomous and understands why we are making things. It’s also a lot of time spent listening to feedback. It’s a creative process, so managing human relationships is also a big part of the everyday job. But what’s maybe the most important task in a typical day of work is playing the game over and over to improve the experience.

What are the main challenges that you have faced during development of the new game?

The very first one was maybe the most exciting one: making the game a massive, dangerous, and responsive open world that you can play entirely in four-player co-op or solo. We had the opportunity to be supported in our ambition despite the difficulties ahead, and we knew we had to push the boundaries to make the experience complete and unique. Our goal was to bring something fresh to the genre because it’s written in the DNA of Ghost Recon.

How does it feel to know that many players will be able to dive into the universe you’ve created?

I can’t deny that we are really excited! We can’t wait to share this experience with everyone. For many years we have been working with passion (and some sweat!) to develop a game for our fans and for the gamers. We’re looking forward to the moment when you’ll be able to take control of the game and make it your own. This is the reason why we are all making this job. It’s the thrill of sharing our creation, immersing players in the authentic living world we have crafted for them, and putting them in the shoes of the best of the best elite soldiers – then the experience becomes yours. It’s no longer ours. It’s yours.

What games influenced your experience as a gamer?

What I really appreciate are the games that generate a lot of unexpected situations. It’s perhaps very personal, but to me, this is where video games shine the most: providing a total immersion through freedom of choice. Even if the world is based on logic and solid rules, I find the game exhilarating when nothing is predetermined. I love when I can sense the game lives by itself, and all my actions will influence it. It’s a real journey. I love shooters, but I noticed the rarity of military shooters that take place in massive and responsive open worlds in which I can feel myself be creative in tense and authentic situations: a total freedom of choice in a military context. So, in the end, we in the team all have various influences from diverse games. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is not only a mix of influences but also a mix of personal gaming obsessions commonly shared in the core team.

Do you have any passions or hobbies outside gaming?

My passions are mainly related to art and creation. It helps to remain curious and open to other creative approaches. Among all of them, the most dominant passion I have is music. I’ve played music since I was 13 – it’s like making, composing, and playing music has always been a part of me. Even if working on the game takes much of my time and my creative energy, I just can’t help but keep playing music during my personal time. I’ve been part of a desert rock band for more than 10 years and also have a solo project in a more electronic/indie rock style. In many aspects, there are similarities in the creative process between making music in a band and making a video game in a team.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the video game industry?

Living through your passion is a luxury. It could even sound like a bit derisory when you read the news. But once you live and earn your living thanks to video games, you realize that you have the best job you could ever dream about. So, if creation is a primary need for you, if you are ready to be tenacious, and if you love video games, then fight for it. You have to be humble and patient. I personally think this is the best way to reach your goal. I am a positive guy and I think good things always happen with hard work, humility, patience, and an open mind.

Any words for the Ghost Recon community?

We can’t wait for you to put your hands on the game. We’re all very excited. I must admit, the team is talking about you every day! We’ve been crafting this game for you with a sincere belief that if we love the game we are making, then the gamers and the fans of Ghost Recon will love it just as much. That’s why we’re waiting for you. See you soon in the most beautiful and dangerous place on Earth: in the Wildlands.

Many thanks, Eric, for answering these questions!

Let us know what you think about the interview on our official forums and subreddit. Also, make sure to keep your eyes on GhostRecon.com for upcoming announcements and news!

The Ghost Recon dev team


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