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Interview With Cara Ely   2007-03-13


Dream Day Wedding

Dream Day Wedding is the game to hit all the records recently. Since the day of its appearance at GameMile, it has become the most frequently rated game in a very short period of time. Our visitors are constantly posting their comments, and writing to us with a single question: how to play the game over again once  you have already completed it for the first time? Meet Cara Ely, a game producer with Oberon Games, who is going to uncover a secret of Dream Day Wedding


GM: Dear Cara, please tell us more about yourself and how you became a game producer.

Cara Ely: I was born in Germany and my family moved every three years or so - we lived in New York, Hawaii, North Carolina, Washington... After graduating from college, I worked as a talent agent and casting director; I was hired at Sierra Online in 2000 as an Associate Producer, primarily for my background with scripts, hiring talent, and voice direction. I worked on projects such as "The 100,000 Pyramid" and "You Don't Know Jack," before being asked to join the Hoyle Games team. I was eventually promoted to Producer, working on Hoyle Casino, Card, Board, and Puzzle Games (among others!). The Sierra studio was closed in 2004, and I was hired by Oberon Games soon afterwards.


GM: What are your favorite things to do when you are not working?

Cara Ely: Cooking, eating out, boxing classes (to balance out all the cooking and eating out), traveling, reading.


GM: What skills and characteristics should a game producer have?

Cara Ely: Every game and every team are different, of course...for me, I think it's crucial to have a sense of humor, passion for what you're doing, respect for your teammates, and the ability to be calm under pressure.


GM: What do you love and dislike most about your work?

Cara Ely: I love working on a team of talented, creative people. I love the madness and excitement of "crunch time," at the end of the development cycle...but that can also be a drawback - there's a lot of stress and too much take-out food!


GM: What are your favorite games to play?   

Cara Ely: Backgammon, Gin, Galaga, Samarost, and Magic Match.


GM: Please tell us more about Dream Day Wedding. How long did it take you to develop the game? Why did you choose the wedding settings for the game? How many people were involved in the game development?

Cara Ely: After a six-week prototype period, Dream Day Wedding was developed in approximately 12 weeks, which is the shortest development cycle I personally have ever worked with. The core team consisted of about ten people, but many others in the game studio, marketing, and deployment were crucial to helping this game become a reality. Your next interview should be with Dave Quinn, our lead engineer, and Jeremiah Whitaker, our Art Director - they both deserve a medal for their hard work! We were very lucky to have such a talented team on this project -- I could go on for several more paragraphs on that subject. But back to the other part of your question -- I proposed the wedding theme because I knew the locations and settings could be very beautiful, and that's something I don't think we see enough of in casual games. Also, weddings are an important milestone, and they touch many different kinds of people; women planning their weddings, attending other weddings as bridesmaids or guests, even parents planning a son or daughter's wedding. The theme excited me, and I had a hunch it would appeal to other casual gamers as well.


GM: What kind of games are you working on now?:)

Cara Ely: I can't say too much about that, but I think the Dream Day fans will have something to look forward to.


GM: Why "seek-and-find" puzzles have been so popular lately?

Cara Ely: The seek-and-find games are challenging, but they don't require non-stop reflex action - instead, the player is asked to slow down and focus, be strategic about using hints and changing locations, yet still be mindful of the clock. This type of gameplay is incredibly satisfying, in my opinion. And I love the way it exercises my visual memory muscles!


GM: What kind of casual games in your opinion will be the most popular in the future?

Cara Ely: The question everyone is hoping to answer! In general, I think casual game players should not be underestimated. They will continue to demand games that challenge them as well as entertain them, and let them play and replay for hours.


GM: What place the game take in your life?

Cara Ely: Well I am surrounded by games all day... I test games in development, try new games, and play "classics" for fun or to clear my mind. Dream Day Wedding took up a big part of my life - in a good way! I found myself thinking about it all the time - at work, at home, in my car - wondering what else we could do to make the game more fun for our players.


GM: Your wishes for casual game players.

Cara Ely: I'd love to see more people playing casual games like Dream Day Wedding. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles -- they used to think "video games" were only for children, or were too violent, or just "a waste of time" - now they've discovered casual games that are relaxing, pretty, challenging, and exciting...I'd like more non-gamers to make that discovery as well. Sites like GameMile are helping with that!

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