How Supercell structures their company culture to be highly effective at making hit games.
The best teams make the best games. Culture needs to enable them to do this.
I’m constantly thinking (and talking) about game team processes and company culture. A colleague brought up a talk (link at the bottom of this article) from Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, and how he’s structured his company into ‘cells’ under the larger ‘supercell.’
In my first studio, I managed around 20 people to work on upwards of 10 projects at a time. For the most part, they all made their…
Get as much feedback as you can from people, and analyze the trends of that feedback as a whole to make decisions.
In 2015, I was awarded a National Science Foundation grant within an accelerator with my colleague, and we made a small business. It was a platform to craft location-based experiences and games in theme parks, museums, and public places using bluetooth iBeacons.
The accelerator asked us to create a business model using the Business Model Canvas, and we had to get 100 people to give us feedback on our concept and prepare a deck each week on our…
I took a 75x75km plot of virtual land and turned my dreams into virtual reality. Was it worth it?
I had a blank three-dimensional canvas where I could make anything happen, just as long as I could figure out how to build it. It was a giant void that you could fly through without encountering any edges. Despite being able to create something outside the bounds of reality, I envisioned something simple: a big, open warehouse where I could keep my creations and be able to toil away without distraction. …
Here’s what this group of game devs told me.
Figure out why you want to make a studio. Do you want to be your own boss, or work with only the people you choose? Do you want to work on a specific IP or technology? Do you want to innovate?
This can be a combination of different things, but ultimately you need to prioritize it just like you would when you’re outlining priorities for a product. Just like in product design, there are many factors, people, and ideas that will distract you from the main goals.
Charm and politics aren’t what wins over remote teams. Remote teams need someone who will instill focus, create progress, and listen.
We’re no longer eating lunch together, talking small talk, or venting about work problems in-person. You can’t stop by someone’s desk and give them some quick feedback on their work. We hop from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, and we’re communicating via chat.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to be intentional about overcommunicating, listening, and spending quality time with your team.
The top 5 habits of effective remote leaders are:
Working in games is highly competitive, and working at your dream company isn’t going to fall into your lap. Sometimes you have to iterate on your career to achieve it.
My dream company was Niantic. It was a journey through many different companies and projects, but now I’m leading the design of a project there.
It was toward the end of my Game Design undergrad degree at the University of Central Florida that I started becoming interested in mobile augmented reality games, and one in particular–Ingress. My classmates consisted of programmers, artists, designers, and to paint you a picture, I…
I love a good game onboarding. Viva Piñata does a good job of creating a charming set up and environment for players to learn in, while scaffolding them into the game mechanics one-by-one.
Viva Piñata is a life simulation game in a garden setting. Players attract piñata to their garden by offering new items, food, or decorations. Piñata are worth money and can be bred, eaten, or killed. This is a simple breakdown for the onboarding, because I enjoyed how they stepped the player into mechanics and game systems. …
One of the most difficult things do as a leader of the game’s vision is knowing when to disregard feedback.
While I obviously don’t think you should ignore *all* feedback from playtesters and stakeholders while you make a game, it’s important to know when to disregard feedback, keep it for later, or understand the underlying problem of the feedback to create solutions for the team.
If you’re making a game, you’re going to be inundated with feedback. If you’re working at larger companies making games like I have, it’s going to come from all angles — playtesters, stakeholders such as…
As larger teams and companies are diving into creating games and experiences, I often hear the question from teammates and leadership “How will we know when the game or product is ‘done’?”
The truth is, art is never complete, especially when so many products are live services. But setting proper objectives and constraints will help you know when you’re ready to ship, so your team can ship a game or product that doesn’t churn the players you plan to acquire.
Constraints help teams make decisions based on scope and timelines. …
A game designer is a multi-disciplinary role that requires a wide breadth of knowledge. Many people mistake this role as an “idea” role, where the game designer offers ideas to make the game more fun. In reality, the game designer’s role is to synthesize and curate the ideas from the team by making frameworks, systems, and player goals. They are the “glue” of the team.
While there are different types of game designers, like a systems designer or a content designer, these top 5 skills are useful to help the team find the fun, scope, prioritize, and iterate on the…