Project Director in Edmonton, AB
A distinctly "big indie" experience with opportunities to forge our own path
As Project Director, I have a bird's eye view of the operations of the company, and manage a large portion of the studio staff and projects, so my experiences are from the managerial level of the company.
When I joined Beamdog in mid-2018, the company was still in its "Indies Wild West" phase, with existing but not well-defined processes in place, some uncertainty about what the future held, and a few long-time senior staff leaving for new opportunities at a recently-opened competitor studio.
The move to a new office and a significant restructure of the organization, along with the hiring of a few very talented key directorial staff has essentially pushed the reset button on the company, allowing us to revisit everything we were doing wrong in the past, refine, change, and improve the company, pushing us into a much better place from the beginning of 2019, both culturally and organizationally. Under our directorial team, I'm growing and learning every day, and becoming a much better producer as a result.
We've had the opportunity to learn from our (admittedly many) mistakes of the past, and put in place measures to make sure that we're making the right decisions and focusing the right way into the future. In late 2018, I would've been uncertain, but Beamdog of mid-2019 is finally poised to make the leap, after its 10th anniversary, into creation of our own IP, which is underway at the time of writing.
The studio is broadly divided into discrete project groups within the larger entity, led by Project Directors, each working on a different game line. Each group works as a cross-disciplinary unit, with QA, art, programming, design, and production all working as a tightly-knit team to drive our game development effort. We embrace "real" Agile Scrum in our current projects, which is refreshing coming from a background of "Scrummerfall" or "Waterfall with sprints" - It's my personal responsibility to prioritize, but I'm always confident the right work is getting done, and the team is aware of the status of the project and where it's going.
I find that I, personally, as the Project Director across a few separate projects am a little spread thin. I'm responsible for live ops and active development on 7 games, each across up to 8 platforms and a number of distribution channels, but thankfully due to having some solid people working with me in production, and a responsible and enthusiastic team, things still run smoothly.
The teams are collaborative, we have a strong, diverse, fun, and relaxed team atmosphere, and despite being 50 people, we still have the indies familial feel in our interactions. I've had the opportunity to personally build and grow my own team, and everyone is engaged, excited, and driven to make amazing games. The greatest thing about our teams here, for me, is that to Beamdog, we hire on both skill, and confidence that someone is the right fit for our culture, meaning that people here like working together, and we don't get mired in politics or petty nonsense, which I've seen in a lot of places. Everyone from the C-level folks all the way to QA respect each other, and elevate one another.
Overtime does happen, much to my personal regret - it is a failing of my own planning when it does - but overtime for my teams is still "Go home at 7~8:00pm" for most, and those who stay later, do so not because of pressure to do so, but of their own volition, as everyone has a sense of ownership and a desire to do the best they can. We take our work and our deadlines seriously, but as Trent, our co-founder says, "We make video games. If somebody biffs it, nobody dies."