At Ludia, we’re composed of many teams, with many different profiles and positions essential for a games development: support teams, administrative teams, but also a core team that pushes innovation even further, the improvement of existing technologies and implementation of new tools and processes. This team is called CoreTech and is organized into 2 divisions: infrastructure and development.
Today we invite you to dive into the heart of this department and learn more about the Coretech Development team and the expertise of its members who provide indispensable support to our games’ teams!
Three teams in one!
The main mission of the Coretech Dev team is to provide all essential technological elements so that our games teams can communicate with the games’ servers, whether from a phone or our internal servers. To do this, the team develops, deploys and maintains various products and tools that are then used by the game teams to facilitate their lives and unify the way they function. In other words, for each one of our games, the teams will have access to an Application Programming Interface layer (commonly called API) that will allow them to call functions to connect, save their progress, receive events and messages, create guilds, enable purchases, etc. The team is dedicated to simplifying the life of game teams and providing them with the necessary tools. This is where the expertise of the members of Coretech Dev come into play. To carry out this colossal work, which increases as new titles are added to our portfolio, 29 passionate people are divided into 3 specialties: Back-End, Front-End, and Framework.
The Back-End team is responsible for building and providing the games teams with the most efficient set of functions possible, adapted to their specific needs. It is this team that is responsible for the development of the Luna 1 and Luna 2 platform, but also of the Jazz and Titan analytical pipelines. As Ludia develops different games mechanics, the Back-End team must constantly develop new functionalities and implement innovative processes while improving existing ones in order to save precious time. This development takes place for the game’s base but also for each new function that will be added or modified. For example, if we need to be able to track data from a new subscription system set up by Apple or Google, our experts have to develop and implement this at the server level, and propose one or more APIs in the games environments.
This specialty team focuses on high-level tools for the graphic administration of the back-end. It is thus about providing the different roles of our game teams (producers, designers, community managers, support…) with web graphic tools to be able, for example, to administer the game, manage reclamations, ban members in case of extreme necessity, or manage GDPR data. For the latter, we want to offer the teams the possibility to access information quickly and easily just by pushing one button and performing actions in a single click. Another example: for the implementation of a segmentation in order to make A/B tests and improve even more our player experience, it was necessary to make developments in the Back-End and to create a Front-End interface to collect the segments and manage the events. The Front-End team is also responsible for the development of LiveOp tools.
The specialty of our Framework experts is to develop the Unity gateway, allowing to pilot the Back-End, the client part and the data for the game teams. The game code must be able to connect at any given time. Their work therefore focuses on a set of C-Sharp class libraries, called LudiaNet, that teams can “call” and take care of the communications aspect with all possible errors, the connection flows via Facebook, Apple Signing, Google, etc. Ideally, the games then have just one function call to make, the rest is taken care of by the Framework layer.
In addition to these 3 “customer-oriented” poles, a Project Manager’s team, composed of managers, handles more specific projects in parallel. These managers follow up with the game teams to ensure that CoreTech Dev teams’ work is aligned with the needs of the games. They guarantee the respect of the schedules, priorities and communication between all teams.
Within each of these divisions, a team member is always “on call” to answer specific questions from the games teams. He/she answers questions, and is the one receiving the requests and needs. This leaves the rest of the team free to concentrate exclusively on the development of tools and processes without distractions. This organization becomes more necessary as the games portfolio grows. Our games live today much longer than we would have anticipated a few years ago, and LiveOps also demands the ability to deliver efficient, optimized and innovative solutions in an increasingly short time frame.
A Constantly Changing Environment
The video game industry is known for it’s constantly changing environment. We often talk about adaptation, and those are not just words on paper – the Coretech Dev team can attest to that! Over the department’s life, the teams have had to face many challenges, and we must say that they have done so brilliantly! Here is a brief overview of the projects that have required (and still require) the most adaptation, energy, and innovation.
One of the major challenges was, a few years ago, the transition from our “in house” game engine to that of Unity. In just a few months, everyone had to adapt, transition, learn a new language, and sometimes reinvent themselves. It was a real eye-opener for the team, and it’s members’ impressed us with their development and learning capabilities.
Another big project, which is now a constant issue, revolves around GDPR issues. This is a small revolution in itself, which has a significant cost in terms of time, technology but also regarding the human aspect. Surrounding oneself with lawyers, developing knowledge, nourishing oneself with each other’s expertise is essential to do things properly. As with other challenges that the team regularly faces, expertise and knowledge were not entirely present internally, as these issues are not always part of the core business of the teams. This is the strength of Coretech Dev, and more generally one at Ludia: the ability to develop the knowledge and potential to be able to deal with any situation.
Other ongoing projects require increased flexibility and adaptation for the teams, such as the question of the implementation of automation systems on a bigger scale or the transition from a regular release mode to a continuous deployment mode.
We can always count on our Coretech Dev team to take our tools, processes and by extension our games to the next level! Continuous improvement, development of their knowledge and skills, adaptation, innovation and knowing how to make the most of each member’s potential are the characteristics anchored in the DNA of this team.
A Unique Expertise
Even if Unity is used for the graphics of the games, the server part remains “in house” at Ludia. The decision not to use an external partner is simple: an internal tool is further developed, adapted and customizable than what is currently available on the market. By working very early on the development of mobile games and LiveOps, Ludia has developed a unique expertise and this is where the studio clearly stands out. Thanks to this orientation, Ludia has been able to give itself a clear step ahead, a sharp expertise. Far from taking everything for granted, the team continues to improve its tools and processes with the integration of Cloud tools, DevOps, to quickly pass a technological milestone that will benefit all games. This new direction will allow the studio to easily pass the next 8 to 10 years on this technology, taking into account the increasingly long lifespan of the games and the stakes involved.
Curiosity and Diversity at the Service of Innovation
According to Coretech Dev:
“At Ludia, we are fortunate to have people who are eager to learn new things, who are always eager to learn more, who nourish each other, want to try new things, and move the studio, projects, processes, and tools forward. It’s really incredible.”
Each member of the team is eager to share, can and knows how to learn quickly but also how to teach, so that they can always benefit from everyone’s expertise and experience. Taking advantage of all of the team’s strengths is done organically. For example, one person on the team today is particularly familiar with the world of CICD (continuous release). This person has therefore created discussion groups and regularly prepares internal presentations for the team but also for production. It’s a perfect way to share on what would be good to implement and how to improve things, what the problems are and how to solve them.
The team’s management style is based on sharing. It is simply not about imposing technological solutions on the 29-person team here. The idea is to know how to learn from what is being done elsewhere, from the problems of other sectors/ markets. With this in mind, Coretech Dev also knows how to surround itself with external experts who will accompany them, carry out a sharp analysis of the available technologies and present what they have identified as opportunities and problems.
In addition to experts and very curious members, the team is made up of very different profiles, in terms of experience, knowledge, and affinities. Its richness lies in the diversity of personalities, cultures, and its openness. It also includes a number of atypical people, some of whom suffer from autism spectrum disorders. It sometimes requires adaptations, but a safe and comfortable environment for everyone was quickly and naturally created.
When the director is asked how he managed to create such a degree of inclusion and openness in his team, he simply answers: “It’s like it’s in our DNA. Having open people at Ludia is an integral part of the process from the very beginning of the recruitment process. A lot of attention is paid to see if the person is open, shares the same values and will blend well into the team.”
Everyone is aware of the differences and knows how to adapt in terms of communication, workload, work rhythm, and relational specificities. Even if cohabitation is not always the easiest, collective work and a strong team spirit always contribute to the smooth running of this department. And when you bring up the subject, you quickly come to the conclusion at Ludia that yes, this open-mindedness, inclusiveness and diversity nourishes the spirit of innovation and pushes it to a higher level.
If we had to walk away with one piece of advice in our exchanges with the Coretech Dev team, it would surely be: always value open-mindedness and never neglect communication.