Live Ops Tool Development in 2021 by David Molnar

Live Ops Tool Development in 2021

When LiveOps is brought up, the first things that usually come into mind are only the tip of the iceberg: game-events and In-app purchases. 

There is a world that front-end user (I.e., players) do not see!)

There are two main phases in LiveOps Tool Development:

 

  • Deep Foundation building: Back-end live ops systems and tool development  
  • Foundation building: Integration of back-end systems and customization of the tools based on the product needs

 

In this first in a series of LiveOps blog posts, I will focus on the best elements of industry LiveOps infrastructure and LiveOps systems development and integration that run parallel to the preparation of games for LiveOps phase.

Read more on Gamasutra

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Confessions of a Scrum Master Part 2- How to Succeed at Scrum

Confessions of a scrum master part 2- How to Succeed at Scrum by Guylaine Drolet

Don’t you hate it when people put pineapple on a pizza and still dare call it pizza? I’m kidding of course, but unfortunately that’s how sad I feel when people do Scrum without the adequate mindset.  

Grab a coffee and let me explain why they call me an agent of change.

(If you haven't yet read the first post in this series, I invite you to do it now!)

If a team implemented all the Scrum ceremonies, why do they need you?

Harsh but genuine question. It’s not because you organize Plannings, Retrospectives, and Reviews that you are Agile. I think that’s the most important thing to understand. Doing Kanban, Lean, XP, or even Scrum without being agile in the first place gives lieu to… something, but it’s not these frameworks.

These frameworks reside in the agile mindset and without that mindset the frameworks are incomplete.

Don’t get me wrong, Scrum can help. It means you track stuff over 2-3 weeks instead of months. But in the end, you’re still doing the same work you would be doing in a waterfall model.

Amidst all the preparation and ceremonies, I must make sure that the Scrum team and the organization embrace the agile mindset as well. The hurdles will be many, believe my experience.

What is the difference between Agile and Waterfall?

Waterfall attacks every different part consecutively. The point is to do things in a certain order and staying on a predetermined track. 

Agile on the other hand is an iterative process that looks like the graphics on the left

Rinse and repeat for every iteration. Agility is driven by goals rather than scope.

Agile values allow to understand this a bit better:

  • Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

I’m going to go on a tangent here because I think people need to understand that it’s not because I’m a Scrum Master that it’s “agile way or no way”.

I genuinely don’t believe that.

Agile doesn’t fit in all work models and sometimes waterfall is the best choice. So, ask yourselves that question before you start making the transition to agile. Like building a house for example… please don’t Agile that. That would be terrifying.

Why adopt the agile method then? 

A Product owner I used to work with would say that the feature we are currently working on is either:

  • Already delivered by a competitor, or
  • Already late. Waiting is no longer an option.

I’ll say this, I’ve heard a lot of people saying, “Agile lets you deliver faster.” It’s not true. And it’s also not the point.

That’s not what Agile is about

Agile is about delivering the right thing. You don’t deliver more; you deliver exactly what your client wants. You base your value on your client needs: customer centric.

We don’t start with something massive. We start with something that works. A very simple something that works. A VERY simple minimalistic thing that works.

That’s what we call a minimum viable product or MVP.

If we threw the MVP on the market now, it would work, and we’d already be able to collect feedback on what works and what doesn’t. We’re shortening the feedback loop, which is crucial to building the right thing. Then we build over that MVP, refactoring in the process should it be needed. Iteration is key here!

When we fail, we want to do it as soon as possible so we can go back on the right track and learn from our errors. Noticed that I used “when” and not “if”. We will fail and we need to be in an environment that allows it.

Now for a perfectionist like me, this was a very hard notion to grasp when I shifted from being developer to Scrum master. The “what if” started filling my head and I was worried about building something wonky and out of place.

But that is also when I learned to trust.

The Product Owner I used to work with went on to say that it was all a matter of trust. He trusted me to make sure that he was efficient and that he communicated with the DevTeam properly and he trusted the team to make the right decisions on how they would deliver value.

What makes for success in scrum?

Success is everything I’ve just described. Being a Scrum Master doesn’t stop at Scrum ceremonies, it goes way beyond that.

Being a Scrum Master means that you try to present a culture that some people will adore, some will be unaffected by, and some will hate.

As a Scrum Master you must learn, deal, and juggle all of this.

But the success of Scrum does not come from one individual or one mindset. It comes from a highly cross-functional team with a safe space to just be their best.

Develop the mobile games of tomorrow, today!

At My Desk by Noémi Rouleau, Associate Producer

At My Desk by Noémi Rouleau, Associate Producer

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT SQUARE ENIX MONTRÉAL? 

In a nutshell, my role is to plan how the team can achieve our project deliverables and to make sure we hit them on time and on target, while also ensuring that the team is happyhealthy and have everything they need to ship amazing games 

It is a lot of talking, planning, tracking, process building, with a good dash of risk assessment and mitigation! 

HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU WORKED IN THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY?

Almost 10 years, but before that, I spent 4 years on the fringes of it, as a French teacher in a game company.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE 9?

A paleontologist.

(Cue Jurassic Park theme song!) 

WHAT IS PEOPLE’S BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR ROLE? 

That we don’t play games! 

 

WHAT IS THE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK YOU COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY? 

Pretty things: a cute notebook, a pretty mug, a cute porcelain cup, flowers… it’s essential for me to work in a pleasant environment to keep my motivation high.  

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL DAY OF ANASSOCIATE PRODUCER AT Square Enix Montréal? 

It always starts with a team stand-up where everyone shares what they’re up to that day and raise issues or blockers they might have.  

Then, I usually have quite a few meetings on varied topics, from one on ones to Customer support sync. In between meetings, I will follow up on Slack threads to get an idea of where we are on our current milestone. Sometimes a bit of firefighting is neededto address urgent topics or issues that arise.

And I try to keep a bit of time every day to work on more long-term topics, to improve how we work or to plan our next milestone.  

 

 

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO IN THE MORNING BEFORE TURNING ON YOUR COMPUTER? 

Give my cat a few belly rubs.  

WHAT TOP 3 SKILLS DOES IT TAKE TO BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB? 

I believe there are many ways to be a good manager or leader but for me these are key, no matter what shape they take: 

  • Being highly organized – This is especially important for GAAS games, as juggling production and live operations mean going from macro to micro topics regularly. 
  • Good communications – Being able to vary your communication style based on your audience is very important. Frequent and efficient communications are key, especially in WFH!  
  • Strong emotional intelligence Empathy, humility and kindness are essential. 

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR COFFEE MAKING SKILLS? 

Pretty decent, but I use a French press, so I don’t really have any merit, really! 

 

SWEATPANTS WHILE WORKING REMOTE. YAY OR NAY? 

A resounding yay! We are living, working and, for some, raising kids during a global pandemic: if dressing in cozy clothes is a way for you to show yourself kindness, go for it. Big fan of the sweater dress too (aka secret pajamas) 

Want amazing colleagues like Noémi?

Multiple in-development projects unveiled during SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS

Multiple in-development projects unveiled during SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS

We're back! 

Since the releases of Hitman GO®, Lara Croft GO®, Deux Ex GO® and Hitman Sniper®, the teams have been incredibly busy coming up with the next projects that will captivate and excite fans all over again. 

We’ve read over and taken in all the feedback from the over 130 million players across 175 countries that have played the games that our team at Square Enix Montréal has lovingly crafted. All our fans have shaped the studio into what it is today, and have helped define this chapter in our history. 

We've been expanding and developing talent on our teams with some of the best talent in mobile development. Our team now counts 171 employees, a more than to 200% increase over the past 3 years, and we're still growing.

After all this preparation, today we’re finally ready to embark on a new journey together with our fans as we unveil the next projects from our studio. 

During the SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS event, we announced not one, but TWO new projects. While we're not going into tons of details on each of these games right now, we couldn't be more excited to finally unveil both of them to the world.  

Our collaboration with TAITO Corporation will have our team reinventing Space Invaders, one of gaming’s most beloved IPs, in exciting ways with innovative proprietary augmented reality technology.  

Our second project takes us back to our roots with a new game in the Hitman Sniper universe; building on what makes the franchise so popular with players. Our team has significantly expanded the feature and characters set within the game, but we'll leave those details for another date. 

These two newly announced projects, Project Hitman Sniper Assassins (working title) and the Space Invaders augmented reality project, will be the first games to come to market under the previously announced Free-to-Play development model for all Square Enix Montréal games moving forward. 

At Square Enix Montreal, providing our fans with innovative experiences of the highest quality has always been and continues to be our priority. 

Monetization and engagement are developed in a way that always respects our players and their enjoyment of our games. We sincerely hope this means that millions more people will be able to experience the games that our studio creates. 

We’ll have tons more details to share in the coming months. So, stay tuned to our blog and social channels for the latest updates and be the first to know when the games and their early access beta tests are available in your region.  

Thank you for supporting our studio for the past 7 years, and we can't wait to deliver more unforgettable experiences for you in the years to come. 

 

-Patrick Naud, Studio Head, Square Enix Montréal  

Want to work on the mobile games of tomorrow, today?

Confessions of a scrum master part 1 – A Key Role in Collaboration

Confessions of a scrum master part 1 – A key role in collaboration by Guylaine Drolet

Ever wonder what a Scrum Master eats in the afternoon or sing in the shower?

Well, we might not touch these exact subjects, but I have no problem sharing what my job is all about.

Hello, Certified Scrum Master here!

I know you’ve got a lot of questions, so take a seat and ask away. As long as we have a common understanding about what I do and what is my added value to a team, then I think we can consider the mission accomplished.

Scrum Master? You’re a project manager!

Why must you make me cry? Project managers are awesome but no, I’m not one of them. Guaranteed, I’d have a lot to learn to do what they do. (And so would they if they decided to become Scrum Masters!)

I neither manage people, nor products or projects. I’m there to teach and coach the team to be more efficient and goal-oriented rather than scope driven.

Ok… Then what do you do?

I’m one of a Triad! In Scrum, a Triad is composed of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and a Development Team.

Ok… Then, the product owner drives the product. They talk to stakeholders to get a clear vision of the product and what it should do. They are the business guru.

The Scrum Master facilitates the Scrum processes and teaches about Agility. They remove impediments for the team and helps the product owner maximize value based on their team’s capacity.

The Development team is composed of 7±2 people with all the skills necessary to bring the product to completion. What that means is that the team is not necessarily only composed of programmers. The team can include marketing pros, programmers, designers… As long as they collectively have the skills necessary to bring value to the client with every sprint.

Any other role would find itself outside of this Triad and would have to deal with the Scrum Master who protects the team from outside disturbances.

How does the triad work?

The triad needs a LOT of collaboration and a LOT of preparation, which I am there to facilitate.

I make sure that the development team plans their sprints based on their capabilities and the goal communicated by the product owner. I plan retrospectives by giving the Scrum Team a safe space to speak their minds. And lastly, I organize reviews so that the team members can show off how great they are! These ceremonies do take quite a long time to prepare to be quite honest.

Being a Scrum Master means toning down the product owner and their dreams, sitting with them for hours on end hoping that we can get that last feature in the roadmap without breaking everything.

It also means pumping up the DevTeam to take ownership of their product and let their creativity take center stage. I mean… we hired smart people we trust, didn’t we? Let’s leave them the space they need to grow.

It especially means guiding the entire Scrum Team to be self-sufficient in every way.

I also organize workshops about small things like estimation and about the big things like the fact that Scrum doesn’t recognizes their work titles.

What’s the one word you say too often?

I don’t know if my teams noticed, but it’s two words actually: Common Understanding. I repeat this often and I also use them in my day-to-day life.

I’d rather a user story take 3 hours to discuss and that we leave knowing exactly what we are building and what needs we are trying to fulfill rather than just “leave it at that” and go our separate ways.

Most of the workshops that I prepare emphasize this notion of common understanding. Going back and forth to understand what we are doing or not doing is what I’ll generally be looking for in every meeting or ceremony that I host.

How would you define yourself?

Switzerland. I take no decisions and I’m on no one’s “side”. I just ask a lot of questions until someone raises a flag.  

I also generally make sure that everyone gets to speak. Everyone’s point of view is different and if we want… Yeah, I’m gonna say it again… If we want common understanding, then we need everyone to speak up about what they think we are or aren’t building. 

Scrum teams are composed of many specialities: business, quality assurance, front end, backend…. Name it! It is very interesting to see the results of all these people talking together and sharing their opinions. A solution that might have seemed unreachable alone becomes achievable with someone else’s input. 

And I think I might have to buy shares in Post-it… 

Very vague job you’ve got there… When do you know you did your job properly?

If you need constant recognition or someone to tell you that you’re doing good… I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the job for you.

In truth, with time, I’ll be less and less there for them because they’ll learn the processes and no longer need someone to teach. It’ll be a part of them. I’ll fade out until I barely have anything to say.

I’ll be proud and I’ll know I did my job well when I say to my boss: “You can let me go now. They don’t need me anymore.”

Do you want to create the mobile games of tomorrow, today?

One Year Working from Home: How we’ve helped our team, connect, unwind, and recharge

One Year Working from Home: How we’ve helped our team, connect, unwind, and recharge

Exactly a year ago today, we FIRED UP our home workstationS for what we thought would be 2 weeks, a month tops.

How little we knew about that lied ahead. Time flies when you’re adjusting to a whole new world.

Over the past 12 months we’ve had to rethink and reinvent what it means to be a team and how we would continue to deliver an exceptional work environment.

You’ll never hear us say that we don’t miss Friday happy hour at the Studio (that would be a bold face lie!), but we’re pretty proud of everything we’ve put in place to keep the Square Enix Montréal team connected and feeling supported while we work from home.

You had me at onboarding

Starting a new job can be nerve-frazzling. Going through the process alone and remotely adds to the pressure.

To help new arrivals feel like part of the team from day one (because they are!), we make sure to plan a remote lunch with their closest collaborators (lunch coupon is on the house), and send a box filled with swag directly to their doorstep!

Flexibility doesn’t mean touching your toes

If there’s one thing we learned this year is that we needed to be more sensitive than ever to the individual needs our people. Now that home life and work life are completely intertwined, we need to support our staff in an entirely different way,

From the get-go, we instituted a flexible work time policy. This policy allows everyone who needs it to work atypical hours and fulfill their personal and family obligations.

Stay connected, on the house

We’ve never been more dependent on our internet connections. A 10-second lag feels like a lifetime of eternities when youre only connections to your colleagues are happening online.

To make internet cost one less thing to worry about, we refund a portion of monthly bills or the total cost for employees who choose to use the Square Enix Montréal internet account. A win-win either way!

Mental health support

After « you’re on mute », « these are challenging times” are probably the most oft-repeated words of the past 12 months.

It’s become a cliché because it’s true.

To help those among us who are having a hard time or just need a safe space to talk, we’ve doubled the reimbursable amount for mental health expenses.

We also give every employee free access to an online assistance program and telemedicine service. Free. 24/7.

Did I hear you say activity?

Virtual reality parties. Bingo nights. Movie clubs. Remote Christmas lunch. You name it, we’ve organized it!

To keep our team inspired, connected, and motivated during lockdown, we’re constantly planning activities.

Only in the past month, we’ve filled their calendars with a Lunch & Learn on systemic racism, a crepe making workshop (yumm!) and a personal finance webinar.

And 1 and 2 and 3!

Let’s be honest, being in lockdown hasn’t done wonders for our physical health (desk, fridge, couch. Rinse, repeat.)

To get everyone moving between conference calls, we give them access to a full virtual program including Hiit, stretching, pilates, and yoga classes.

For those yearning for a little Zen, we also include guided mediation lessons. Namaste!

Just another magic Monday

Living through lockdown is tough. Every little task can feel insurmountable. Family pressures add up (homeschooling FTW!)

To give everyone a well-deserved breather, we are offering all employees every second Monday off from January 25 to March 22 (the warm -well warmish, we are in Montreal after all- days of Spring will raise everyone’s spirits!)

Oh, you shouldn’t have!

If there was an Olympic medal for box packing, wrapping, and shipping, we’re pretty sure we’d at least get silver (and we’re just saying that because we’re humble.)

Over the past 12 months we’ve shipped to our employees’ homes more boxes that we care to count.

We’ve delivered Halloween candy for safe at-home trick-or-treating, local delicacies to support local businesses (maple syrup and fresh coffee, yes please!), Christmas gifts, and branded goodies galore.

(And that’s not counting birthday presents and baby shower surprises!)

It’s not because we are not working under the same roof that we can’t make everyone feel special from afar.

Going forward, we will benefit from what the past year has taught us: we don’t need to work at the Studio to work as a team and we will never go wrong by (over)caring for each other.

AT MY DESK by Kim Derome, Composer and Sound Designer

AT MY DESK by Kim Derome, Composer and Sound Designer

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT SQUARE ENIX MONTRÉAL? 

My role is to create the soundscape of games, especially the music. 

HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU WORKED IN THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY 

8 years

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE 9? 

I told my parents that I wanted to put music on pictures. I was already composing a few things inspired by my dog ​​(I had created a whole universe around him) and I was a fan of soundtracks from Disney movies and Final Fantasy games. 

 

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO IN THE MORNING BEFORE TURNING ON YOUR COMPUTER? 

I go for a walk in the park and when I get back home, I prepare my traditional fruit yogurt and granola. 

WHAT TOP 3 SKILLS DOES IT TAKE TO BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB? 

  • Leave your ego at the doorWhile every artist has an ego, the priority must be the game and connecting with as many people as possible, not your personal preferences 
  • Be adaptable: ​​A game’s production is rarely linear. You have to continually adapt to change and anticipate what might happen next. Since audio is often the last link in the chain, you must be able to adapt quickly.  
  • Have the talent: This is often the first thing you review to evaluate a person's potential. We listen to the portfolio and judge if it sounds professional and if the style matches the needs. 

 

WHAT IS THE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK YOU COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY? 

My cats! Even if they hide my screen and walk around on my piano (clearly thinking that they have every right), their presence embellishes my day and makes working from home a thousand times more pleasant. 

WHAT IS PEOPLE’S BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR ROLE? 

The concept of virtual instruments. Many people think that I only work with real instruments, which is rather rare, or that I limit myself to the piano since I am a pianist. 

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY OF A COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER SQUARE ENIX MONTRÉAL?

Every morning my coworkers and I discuss the day’s agenda (after a good chat), then I either start song writing, integrating audio, or playing games to check out some details.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR COFFEE MAKING SKILLS?

At the risk of sounding like an alien, I’m not into coffee. I make my girlfriend's coffee on occasion and I've never seen her throw it in the sink, so maybe it's worth 3/10! 

SWEATPANTS WHILE WORKING REMOTE. YAY OR NAY? 

Definitely YAY. I take care to wear a suitable top (because Zoom meetings!), but otherwise it's sweatpants all the way! 

Want amazing colleagues like Kim?

Virtual but Not Distant Building Strong Relationships Remotely with Derrick Aynaga

Virtual but Not Distant: Building Strong Relationships Remotely

With Derrick Aynaga , Producer

Managing a team remotely is hard, right? 

Not if you ask Producer Derrick Aynaga who is not only remotely managing team of 55 but is doing it from a different time zone!  

With over 20 years of experience in the video game industry, Derrick has learned a thing or two (or three) about building strong relationships with employees, colleagues, and collaborators sometimes half a world away.

Derrick shared with PocketGamer.biz his top ticks and tricks to succeed at remote management.

Read the Full Story

Join the team where people come before products

AT MY DESK by Jorge Chaparro, Community Manager

AT MY DESK by Jorge Chaparro, Community Manager

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT Square Enix montréal? 

will manage the online presence of one of our unannounced games, which makes me a community manager without a community! That said, because the department and position was relatively new to the studio (and project)my role for the last year has been more about setting the tracks before we put a train (in this case, our community) on it.  

How many YEARS have your worked IN THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY? 

Oof, hmm... about 8 years?  

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE 9? 

That was right around when I realized that being Batman was probably not a super-fun way to live, so I think firefighter? 

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO IN THE MORNING BEFORE TURNING ON YOUR COMPUTER? 

Well after I get ready for work – shower, get dressed, etc. - I make a coffee and give myself a nice 10–15-minute buffer to check the news and last night’s scores (praise all things high and mighty, the NHL is back!) 

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT SEM (WHAT DO YOU DO)? 

will manage the online presence of one of our unannounced games, which makes me a community manager without a community!

That said, because the department and position was relatively new to the studio (and project)my role for the last year has been more about setting the tracks before we put a train (in this case, our community) on it.  

WHAT TOP 3 SKILLS DOES IT TAKE TO BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB? 

Community management can be a lot of things, it’s super malleable position because it’s about people and engaging with them. 

What that looks like will depend on the community, the manager, and the thing the community is built around - in our case, a game. So, the 3 skills I identify as crucial to my job might not be so for another community manager.  

With that being said, here are my top three, which mind you are subject to change if you were to ask me another day! 

  • Organized: with lots of moving parts it’s easy to lose track of things if you aren’t organized! Pro tip: get familiar with Google Sheets & Excel, these tools are your friends. 
  • Sociableworking with people is critically underrated, and as an introvert (according to the Myers-Briggs) I can empathise with social anxieties. However, my job is all about people, and so it was critical for me to transition into being a loud introvert. 
  • Empathy: My job description could be boiled down to being a representative of the players to the game team, and a representative of the game team to the players. I need to be able to empathize with each side to adequately do my job. 

WHAT IS THE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK YOU COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY? 

Coffee and it’s not even close. 

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR COFFEE MAKING SKILLS? 

They’ve gotten better since I got a pour over. I had to actually look up water/coffee ratios and the brew has gotten much smoother. Although, a pour over is hardly rocket science, so I guess they’ve gotten better for me. 

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL DAY OF A COMMUNITY MANAGER AT SQUARE ENIX MONTRÉAL? 

Lots of meetings with different departments and partners. Lots of PowerPoints to convey strategies (and eventually reports). Lots of excel-ing to detail said strategies, build calendars, commission assets. 

Once our project is live there will be a lot of engaging with our players, which is going to eat into my time for all the other things (see “Organized”). 

Oh, and keeping a constant presence online – I need to be aware of all the current trends and real-world events. 

 

WHAT IS PEOPLE’S BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR ROLE? 

That I’m chilling on Facebook all day. Come on people, that's so 2015, today I’m clearly chilling on TikTok.

SWEATPANTS WHILE WORKING REMOTE. YAY OR NAY? 

Nay! If you’ve crossed that line then god-speed, but if you haven’t, save it for evenings and the weekend. With WFH, making work and home distinctly different is so important for our mental health. Make sweatpants a treat, it’s an easy win. 

 

Want to work with awesome people like Jorge?

Square Jam 2020: Behind-the-Scenes of a Virtual Game Jam

Square Jam 2020: Behind-the-Scenes of a Virtual Game Jam

Every studio has its traditions. One of ours is the end-of-year game jam. Would working from home mean that we would break with tradition? Absolutely not! 

On December 21-22 during work hours, 54 participants broken up in 10 teams focused solely on building a game from scratch. This year’s theme: Contact (particularly appropriate in a year where we’ve had to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent how we build and develop relationships.) 

The game jam provides our team the opportunity to flex their creative muscles, use their skills in new ways, and work in small teams with colleagues from other departments. 

"Game Jam is often synonymous with stress, or even competition. With Square Jam, we want above all to invite everyone to take a break, to meet new colleagues and to try new things! Given the year we've just been through, it was even more important to stay focused on our values ​​and end the year having fun!

Every year, I am amazed by what the teams are able to do together. It's the culmination of so much enthusiasm, talent and effort. ”- Francis, senior gameplay programmer and Square Jam organizer.

Here are the hot takes and outtakes of the 2020 Square Jam.  

 

team Paruline

by Laetitia, Data Analyst

We developed a number of concepts around the theme of Contact:

  • The lack of contact in our current situation 
  • Eye contact 
  • Full-contact sport 
  • Contact lenses 
  • Keeping a 2-foot distance from each other 
  • Etc.

 

 

The Game

From there, we started developing game concepts:

  • A game in the grocery where you need to avoid people and keep 2-feet away from others  
  • A game where you go to a walk with your friend trying to keep 2-feet of distance, if you are too close you lose points but if you are too far away and you cannot listen to your friend, you lose too  
  • We also thought of a game where you wear contact lenses and put your finger in the eye.  

We settled on a concept where you create an avatar with funny features and then export your creation as a 1st picture contact. 

the biggest challenges

Our biggest challenge was learning to work cooperatively while not in the same room. 

the greatest achievements

We are the proudest of developing so many art assets in 2 days, creating new music, and building a simple game that works 

Participating in Square Jam is a great way to remind ourselves why we wanted to be in this industry in the first place. Also, we could never create weird games like these otherwise! 

 

team Bernache

by Andrew, Senior Game Designer

With this being my first Square Jam, I didn't really know what to expect, but after working with the team it was super enjoyable. I want to thank all of them for what they brought to the table. Everyone was a master of their craft and did their own thing 

the game

There were a few pitches along the way to come up with the final project, everything from a collection of Micro Games emphasizing Contact, which then turned into a game where you slingshot people through a chain of other people.  

We settled on a pinball-style game about a UFO contacting mankind through Crop Circles.  

the biggest challenges

Honestly, no challenges to speak of! Everyone worked really well together, and the team was real receptive to feedback. 

the greatest achievements

Personally, I am really proud of the design for the game and coming up with 54 pieces of lore. 

can't wait for the next game jam! 

team Épervier

by Pauline, Level Designer

the game 

In the context of 2020, we wanted to create a game filled with joy. Each member of the team worked to deliver that dose of joy through the content they produced. 

the biggest challenges

Not all of the team members were familiar with the game creation tools. Obviously, as always, working remotely makes communication a bit more difficult. 

the greatest achievements

I am particularly proud to have created in 2 days a funny game that out smiles on faces and of the capacity to improvise that the team showed until the end. 

The Square Jam is a very beautiful tradition that reflects our values ​​of collaboration and innovation. A  game jam is a great exercise in introspection and creation. 

 

Team Chouette

by Alexandre, Development Director

Each team member was able to tackle things that they wouldn't normally do during their day-to-day, which was a great challenge for most of us.

For instance, we had programmers creating artwork, managers doing programming, and testers doing modelling & texturing while others were creating and mixing sounds.

The Game

Our brainstorming lasted around 1 or 2 h. At first, we had so many different ideas that it quickly became a challenge to reach a consensus. Each team member had different ideas.

One member pitched the concept of a puzzle game using a phone. Another pitched a top-down game where your character needs to avoid any contact with others. We even pitched a satellite game where the player needs to aim at other satellites to ensure the communication isn't cut off.

Overall, the ideas were flowing and we wanted to ensure each idea was taken into consideration in the most respectful way. We finally came up with a mix of a puzzle game with some 3D shooting capabilities.

The idea is simple: you are a pigeon courier service. You need to decipher to whom the letters are meant for and aim your pigeon to the right destination. It requires the player to understand its mission, take actions and deliver as many letters as possible in 60 seconds.

The Biggest Challenges

There were a few challenges:

  • Agreeing on a game concept in a short amount of time.
  • Making a full game in 16 hours! That is a challenge by itself!
  • Of course, working from home!

The Greatest Achievements

  • We made a full game in 16 hours!
  • Creating pigeon sounds from scratch.

We proved that where there is a will, there is a way!

The teamwork and synergy make it a great overall experience. It's impressive how quickly a snowball can evolve into a snowman. And, seeing the result of each team is something fun as we are always curious of how other teams understood the game jam theme. 😉