Senior Live Producer

Ellen Clarke

I’m proud of my role in every single milestone the studio has hit while I’ve been here. I went from someone brand new who only knew how to play video games to someone called upon for knowledge and guidance when others needed help, and I eventually became someone overseeing every single live deploy.

What is your role at ZOS and what, simply speaking, do you do?

I’m the Senior Live Producer at ZOS. When asked what “Live Production” means, I usually say we’re the semi-permeable barrier between developers and the live game or the gatekeepers of live. We’re at the end of the assembly line when a new update or patch is about to be released, sorting through the known bugs and features to ensure the updates are clean, polished, and launch on time. We’re also the team collecting issues and feedback from players and coordinating fixes with developers. If something goes live to players, whether it’s a Chapter, DLC, incremental, hotfix, or update to a tool or website, we’re watching over it.

How did you first come to work for the studio?

I originally joined the team in 2010 with the very first batch of QA testers hired for ESO. At that point, the game was in early development, and the knowledge I gained in my first year at ZOS was invaluable, shaping the rest of my career. I’m very grateful to the QA team for giving me that opportunity.

Have you always wanted to be a producer in the games industry?

When I originally joined ZOS, I knew that I wanted to make games. I had a degree in graphic design and was midway through a computer science degree, so my interests straddled the art and tech sides of game development. Tech won out quickly, because my curiosity drove me towards embedded QA for teams working on infrastructure, graphics, systems, and tools, and I moved from there into production for some of the technical teams.

As we neared ESO’s launch, it became apparent that many of the teams I was working with would be responsible for support of the live product, and my role became more live-focused. Eventually, it matured into the unique role it is today, where I get to work with literally every single department in the studio and many outside the studio as well. It’s truly the best role to have if you want to learn absolutely everything about AAA game development.

What is your average day as a senior live producer at ZOS?

Every day starts with a conversation between all of the live support teams where we discuss player changes/events and coordinate all of those moving pieces. After that, I meet with account and web teams, sync up with the rest of game production, and go over player-facing issues with customer service and community. Depending on the day, I might then work with developers to get necessary changes and bug fixes into a new update, incremental, hotfix, or (on a very fun day) all three at the same time across multiple platforms and regions. It can get a bit wild, but the team has a great sense of humor, so even the crazy days are fun.

What kind of skills did you develop during your time in QA that help you in your role today?

Production is, at its core, a support class. We are neither above nor below any department, instead working alongside all departments to help them succeed. Working in QA as an embedded tester for the game engine, infrastructure, and tools teams in the early days of ESO, I learned not only the basic building blocks of game development across all departments (pipelines, terminology, functionality etc.), but also the custom-built features that make ESO different from any other game.

When I think about these features now in the context of a live issue, I can make informed decisions very quickly without a lot of stress, because I can break down the proposed solution into the core elements that determine how quickly and safely it can be delivered to players. More importantly, I can explain that reasoning to developers so they understand why their issue can’t be fixed today, but maybe next week or next month. Often, they’ll go back to their desks with this information and return later asking, “What if I do this instead?” and I’ll reply “Yes! That might work! You’re a genius! Let’s try it! (but of course, only after QA approves it.)”

What is your proudest Elder Scrolls Online achievement?

I don’t have a single achievement that I’d consider my proudest. I’m proud of my role in every single milestone the studio has hit while I’ve been here. I went from someone brand new who only knew how to play video games, to someone called upon for knowledge and guidance when others needed help, and eventually someone overseeing every single live deploy.

How do you like working at ZOS?

ZOS is an amazing place to work. I’ve been here nearly a decade and I can’t remember a single day where I woke up thinking, “I don’t want to go to work today.” The company takes care of its employees, and the employees are all very passionate about the work they produce. It’s a friendly, professional, fun environment. I’m very proud of ZOS and the entire ZeniMax family.

What hobbies and games do you enjoy outside of work?

I love games that are immersive, intelligent, and maybe a bit gritty. I attend hacker conferences and use my graphic design knowledge to make tee shirts/stickers/badge designs for them. I solve pen and paper ciphers (cryptography) and pick locks for fun. Last year, I wrote a full-length fantasy novel and learned to sculpt and cold-cast a resin bust. This year I’m studying Japanese. Anything to keep my mind busy.

Ellen Clarke's Department


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