|FIRST & 10 WITH JOE HIGHT
by Jessica Poorée
May 25, 2001
Joe Hight is the Line Producer for NCAA® Football 2002. He joined Electronic Arts in July of 2000 after previously working with Verant, 989 Studios, and divisions of SONY Computer Entertainment.
Q: Describe a typical day for you.
A: In crunch mode, I usually work 16-17 hour days on the weekdays and a little less on Saturdays and Sundays. As a Producer, a day consists of design, legal, budget, art, development, programming, audio, and scheduling issues -- and that's before I even check e-mail. During slower times, I like to take the weekend to spend the day with my wife and three sons -- who are very good baseball, basketball, and soccer players. I watch professional sports but I'm a San Diego Padres and Chargers fan so I have learned how to root for the underdogs.
Q: What's the best part about working for Electronic Arts? The hardest part?
A: Hands down the best part about working for Electronic Arts is the professionalism and passion that the employees and management have towards our titles. That also plays into the hardest part because there is so much that gets put into these games year in and year out. Even though it is demanding, it's very fulfilling to see each person take ownership and bring the product to life. No one on our team expects anything but greatness, but when that high bar tends to creep up, it gets very, very challenging. Of course, that being said when you hit that high bar and the product comes together that's a great feeling that cannot be matched.
Q: What is your favorite moment/best story while working for Electronic Arts?
A: That day will come pretty soon so I will describe it for you. It is the day when NCAA Football 2002 hits the shelves and becomes the top college football game that it deserves to be. That day I will go buy a $15 cigar and sit on my computer and send an email to a couple of my buddies at SONY to rub it in -- all in fun of course.
Q: What's the biggest myth or misconception that people have about EA SPORTS?
A: I love when you tell people that you work on games and they have this preconceived idea that we sit around and play games all day without really thinking about the work that goes into the games to get them to a playable state. The coolest technology in the software industry is led by the game industry.
Q: Do football players play video games?
A: Absolutely. These guys know the game and they only want the best. We are working with Kirk Herbstreit (from ESPN College Gameday and former college Quarterback) and this guy is an old-school gamer. Kirk told me that on campus, in dorms and in frat houses, they held competitions playing NCAA Football. That point was reiterated when EA SPORTS sponsored a tournament at the Shrine Bowl for the players who were leaving college and entering the NFL Draft. These guys were simply amazing. What impressed me was that they knew every nook and cranny that our game had to offer -- from which second string player had the better attributes down to each team's specific intricacies. Our best ideas come from brainstorming with these athletes and coaches in addition to the many consumers.
Q: What is your favorite game besides your title?
A: That's a hard one. You are going to make me pick just one? When playing with my boys we love to play Madden NFL Football, FIFA, NBA Live, and NHL. They absolutely love playing SSX and beating me soundly. I just picked up Triple Play Baseball and love the pitching game interface. I am not much of a racing fanatic but have seen the latest NASCAR in development and have made a note to put that on my list. In a single player mode, I like Knockout Kings or Triple Play. I just created my own boxer in Knockout Kings and am looking forward to moving up to the heavyweight title. How is that for one favorite?
Q: Describe how the Production team works together.
A: The Production team has to know the game inside and out. The first thing a team does is set the goals for the title and create a vision for the product. It may seem weird, but we know what the product is going to look, play, and feel like nine months before its produced. Then the Production team works with the entire team to determine if this project is feasible. Once in development, the Production team is responsible for the resources and assets as well as the direction of the game.