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Employee Spotlight: Juli Logemann

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The Lucasfilm Games Producer Was Inspired By Early Star Wars Titles

Can you tell us your role and summarize your day to day responsibilities?

I am a producer with the Lucasfilm Games team. I work with our external game developers from start to finish on our titles. In particular, we help them work in the Star Wars galaxy by making sure they have all of the information they need and the necessary feedback from our teams within the company like the Lucasfilm Story Group.

A typical day can be filled with conference calls with our teams located around the world. Navigating time zones can be fun! I’m currently working on two projects, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. I like that variety.

How is the Lucasfilm team organized and how does that relate to your work with external licensee studios?

I work with an assistant producer, and we in turn work with our executive producer, so we have a small group that facilitates the development cycle for a specific game. On the flip side, we work with the producers, directors, and designers from our licensee studios. Together we help craft the story, visuals, and design for our new games.

And considering your professional background, you worked at Lucasfilm’s former video game division, LucasArts, correct?

That’s right! I was a game tester on the quality-assurance (Q.A.) team for Star Wars Republic Commando [2005]. That was the first game I ever worked on. Back when I was 16-years-old, I told my best friend that I wanted to do two things: live in Los Angeles and work on a Star Wars game. And those two things didn’t have to be at the same time! I came to LucasArts in northern California during the last six months of development on the game, and then I got to see it launch. It was really special to start my games career on a Star Wars project. Later on in my career, I was able to get started working in production with some of the same developers I had worked with in Q.A. at LucasArts.

And you mentioned this dream of working on Star Wars games. Could you talk a little more about your love of Star Wars and your history with video games?

I’ve loved games since I was a kid. I had sisters who were significantly older than me, and they had an Atari that was put away in the closet because they were done playing with it. I would get that out when I was young. Arcades were also still a big thing, and I’d go to the mall with friends when I was 15 and 16 and play a lot of Tekken and other games. At home we’d play things like Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. I’d be sitting around with friends and we’d talk about what we wanted to do for our careers, and because we were playing video games, I thought, somebody has to make these, right? Personal computers were really on the rise, and there was a lot of cool software, and you had consoles like the PlayStation coming out. I thought that might be a good direction to take, and I decided to ask people in the games industry about how to get started.

During that time were you aware of the different pathways or disciplines within the games industry? Or did you discover that more as you progressed?

I was not aware of the different paths early on. I’m from a small town in the Midwest, so I didn’t know about production pipelines, or things like that. But I was really fortunate to have early exposure when my cousin ended up marrying someone who worked in the industry. So I asked them a lot of questions – what should I study, what should I read – and was able to be introduced to some new people.

What kind of education did you pursue and how did your career path evolve?

It was kind of an adventure! When I started college, I wanted to pursue games in some capacity. I started in computer science and engineering, but I realized a few years into it that it wasn’t the path for me, so I switched to a Bachelor of Arts degree, which was something that I was interested in at that time. In those days, besides computer science, there weren’t specific degrees in game design or specific engineering or development like you see today. Over time I knew that Q.A. would be my path to enter a studio and start getting experience. From there, working in production felt like a natural way to dovetail from that. I’m not an artist or an engineer, so I figured out how I could find my own place.

There seems to be a lot of value in that perseverance and patience to find your way and explore different paths.

Yes there is. One of the possible outcomes was that I wouldn’t work in games at all! I figured out what I was good at and what I could offer to the creative process. It’s just as valuable to understand what not’s right for you as what is right. You want to make sure you’re happy doing your work! It’s important to have that balance.

You described how you realized that Q.A. became the right entry point for you. How would you compare that opportunity to the situation with the industry today?

Today there are a variety of ways that you can approach how to enter the field. There are internships while you’re studying in school. Q.A. itself remains a great opportunity because you can learn about the distinct processes at different companies while you’re in that role. And as I’d said, now there are various degrees at universities and other post-high school programs. You can get experience that will allow you to start in a junior position. As educational opportunities have expanded, there are many more entry points.

Coming back to your time with LucasArts, could you speak a little more about your impressions of the culture there at that time?

The Q.A. teams worked in this space called “the pit,” and there were a bunch of us working down there. Republic Commando and the original Star Wars Battlefront were some of the games being made at that time. On my team there were 16 of us in Q.A. with our lead. It was a real family, and we were all in it together. A lot of us still talk now almost two decades later. We were all just starting off in our careers.

And how did you make your way into production?

The connections I’d made while game-testing at LucasArts helped lead me into production. After Republic Commando was finished, some of the designers had gone to a company called Crystal Dynamics. They needed a production assistant there, so I interviewed and was able to work on some of the Tomb Raider games. I worked my way up into the associate producer role, and then into other producer roles at different companies.

How did you make your return here to Lucasfilm?

I was in Los Angeles for quite a while, and eventually I had transitioned into a sort of hybrid role between production and business development while at a studio there. I was looking to get back into production more, and that’s when I found the opportunity at Lucasfilm. That was just over two years ago, and the first project I worked on was Star Wars: Squadrons, which was in full development. I was able to help with Star Wars Battlefront II. Those were two great projects to return with and learn how production was now structured at the company. A number of my colleagues who I joined also went back to the LucasArts days.

You mentioned early on that part of what your role involves is helping guide external studios as they develop games in the Star Wars galaxy. Could you speak more about that process?

One of the interesting things is that I am by no means an expert in Star Wars, and part of the joy is that I get to learn a lot about it myself. A key element of what I do is take the questions that we receive from our licensee studios and help determine the best Star Wars experts within the company to take them to. Day to day it’s very rewarding because I’m not only checking the boxes of what needs to be accomplished, but I’m also learning along the way. That keeps things interesting and it helps make you better at your job!

That’s wonderful as a reminder that Lucasfilm potentially has a place for everyone, not just super fans. You may have touched a little on this already, but do you have a favorite component of your role?

It’s really about the whole process. There’s an exciting part at every stage. During pre-production we have to figure out what the game is going to be and how we’re going to make it. There are all kinds of challenges and big questions to ask while you’re working through the production cycle. It’s always special when we first start seeing things appear onscreen and that first time you get a controller in your hand for the first playable build. It’s always a rush to meet deadlines as we get closer to launch, but you’re also seeing it all come together into something that is really cool that will get fans excited. After launch, we love to hear what the fans are saying.

Is there an important characteristic or skill that you think is important to your job, but may be sometimes overlooked in the standard qualifications or prerequisites?

Listening is always really important. You need to be tuned in and hearing what the developers are saying. You have to make sure they get everything they need. With external development, we’re not in the studio with our collaboration studios on a day to day basis, so we talk with their leads and management to help figure out what we can do for them. That can involve even going beyond the questions they’re asking and determine what else they might need. There’s diplomacy involved and making sure that our needs and goals are explicitly communicated so that we’re in alignment.

Since you’ve returned to the company, have you had any standout memories so far, either personally or professionally?

On the personal side, early on I was able to attend a screening of The Empire Strikes Back that was being held for employees and guests. I was able to bring my best friend with me, the same one who I’d played games with on the sofa when I was 16. To watch that film in the Premier Theater at Letterman Digital Arts Center was amazing. It felt like, welcome back!

And then in 2020 as we all adjusted to the new working conditions and the pandemic, our team was able to accomplish so much and release a significant amount of new content. That was really difficult with all the changes involved, but we were able to get new games into the hands of fans, and that meant a lot to all of us at Lucasfilm Games.

Do you have a personal favorite Lucasfilm or LucasArts game?

It may seem cliché, but Republic Commando is still one of my favorite games. It’s not just because I was a tester on it, but it combined a lot of the things that I love in games. It was a first person shooter, it was squad-based, and it was an action-adventure in the Star Wars galaxy. The story was really great. It was just rereleased on the Nintendo Switch, and to see it have a life on a new platform is wonderful.

A final question, do you have any advice for those aspiring to enter the games industry or work at Lucasfilm in general?

Figure out how to be your best champion. Whether you go through a university, get an internship, or follow a non-traditional path, you’re in charge of finding your own way there. There are all sorts of things that you can do to get experience and develop your skills ahead of making it to a place like Lucasfilm. Expose yourself to lots of different types of games. Reach out to people in the industry who’ve made themselves available and ask them questions. I’m a big believer in mentorship.

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