We sat down with lead studio Red Storm Entertainment and collaborating studio Ubisoft RedLynx* to ask a bit more about the title and how these diverse teams from the opposite sides of the world joined hands and expertise in building this exciting experience.
A New Experience in a Familiar Universe – Discussing Heartland with the Team
Tony Sturtzel, Director of Product Development for Red Storm Entertainment and Producer for The Division® Heartland, is surely one of the most excited to see all the hard work behind the game come to life in the closed beta.
“For me, having worked with the brand for almost ten years now, the most exciting thing about Heartland is the opportunity to tell new stories in the Division universe and broaden the narrative a little bit. We’re going to step out of the metropolitan areas we know from the Division 1 and 2 and tell the story of what happens outside the major cities, through a different lens. There’s going to be a little more exploration and uncovering of mysteries than what we’re used to,” Tony tells us.
“And the fact that Heartland is free-to-play means we’re going to bring these stories to a much wider audience of players new to The Division universe as well. We can’t wait to hear what the people participating in the closed beta think about the game, that feedback is going to be so valuable in helping us prepare for the launch and beyond.”
As the producer, Tony has had a key role in ensuring the co-development model works as intended. In addition to being adaptable and paying special attention to communication, he highlights the importance of empowerment and inclusion, embedding team members directly into the lead studio’s teams.
“The collaboration model at Ubisoft is a huge advantage for us, it requires buy-in and trust from everyone involved,” Tony says.
Anastasia Blokhina, Senior Associate Producer from the collaborating studio Ubisoft RedLynx, understands this topic more than most. She believes the most important part of any collaboration project – and the glue of keeping it all together – is people.
“It takes the mindset of a collective challenge to develop a game this size. We can talk about deadlines, priorities, and tasks all we want, but the secret in the formula is people, and how we work together for our shared vision,” Anastasia says.
“Ensuring that conditions for good collaboration are met at all stages of development, is key in my role.”
When discussing the closed beta, Anastasia is quick to highlight the human element once more.
“That’s the thing I’m most excited in this closed beta, the people’s reaction. When you’ve been developing a game for a long time, it’s easy to see things in a certain way. It’s always so thrilling go through the player feedback and see aspects of the game in a completely new way!”
Keith Evans, Creative Director of The Division® Heartland, is just as excited to get to hear what the players think of the new take on the Division universe, as it hits especially close to home for him.
“I live in the heartland,” he tells us.
“The town I live in is very much like Silver Creek, and I’ve definitely drawn a lot of inspiration from that. It’s been a really cool opportunity to be able to tell a story that shows what happened to the rest of America than what we’re used to from the past two games.”
“This has to be the most of myself I’ve ever been able to put into a game, and I’m really excited for people to get to explore all we’ve created for them and get to dive into that player feedback from the closed beta,” Keith says.
For a Creative Director, collaborating on a project spread across the world poses a challenge that’s especially interesting: how to communicate creative vision and nurture creativity across borders? In Keith’s experience, it comes down to fostering a sense of camaraderie, the feeling of one single team, no matter how spread out in the world.
“It’s about giving responsibility and ownership, creating opportunities for sharing and spaces to put ideas in,” he explains.
All three, Tony, Keith, and Anastasia, are excited to get to celebrate the important milestone this week, as the game enters its closed beta.
Learn more about collaboration excellence from Red Storm and RedLynx: Tom Clancy’s The Division® Heartland: Combining Expertise Across Studios to Build an Ambitious Free-To-Play Title (Published September 2022)
*Collaborating studios include Ubisoft Bucharest, Ubisoft Kyiv, Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Stockholm