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Celebrating Jurassic World Alive’s 2 year anniversary on International Dinosaur day!

Today is International Dinosaur Day and…. Jurassic World Alive’s 2 year anniversary!

Can you believe it’s already been 2 years since Ludia and Universal Games and Digital Platforms brought dinosaurs to life in Jurassic World Alive?
The mobile game, bringing  players up close with their favorite prehistoric creatures from the Jurassic World film franchise using location-based technology and augmented reality (AR), was an ambitious project. The project has been a real joy for the passionate teams at Ludia to work on.

Thanks to a strong working partnership with Universal, the game benefited from the exploration of new concepts with a collaborative mindset. It was key to successfully run this massive AR/Geo-location game and we couldn’t be happier and prouder today!

With more than 200 dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures to discover, the game has received great support thanks to the wonderful community it has. Our players, who are passionate, engaged and supportive, are the real treasures here!

Always taking our community’s feedback into account, developing and improving the game, the team is also continuously working on updates and new features. The latest update introduced  new Permian creatures, as well as Revenge abilities! And, there are even more surprises to come this summer! Among them, a new cooperative battle mode will be introduced. Players will be able to face off against dangerously powerful new creatures with their Alliance and friends, in the comfort of their home. But until then: practice hard in Campaigns, and get your creatures ready!

Warriors of Waterdeep: One year of adventures at the heart of the Forgotten Realms!

Just over a year ago, Ludia led for the first time players from all around the world in an extraordinary new adventure filled with monsters, heroes, and epic battles across the iconic universe of Dungeons and Dragons. Opening wide the gates of Waterdeep, Ludia offers, at your fingertips, the chance to complete quests full of mystery and challenges in the heart of the Forgotten Realms. For either undisputed fans of the license or simply curious minds, Warriors of Waterdeep knows how to enchant its community!

Once upon a time … Warriors of Waterdeep

As surprising as it may seem, the adventure of Warriors of Waterdeep did not start in a forest but at a conference table! Let’s go back in time, and discover together the steps of this tremendous project!

A few years ago at Ludia, during an event such as others regularly organized at the studio, employees were encouraged to present game ideas. Having big fans of Dungeons and Dragons ™ the license emerged among the favorite ones and the team began to brainstorm on how to transcribe this complex and fascinating universe into a mobile game. How to combine the key elements and retain the essence of this role-playing game? Which heroes to choose? Which monsters? The gelatinous cubes and the dragons of course but what else? Which mechanics? Which tactics? And in which kingdom?

After intense thinking, the prototype is finally brought to life… in paper format! The mechanics of the game was tested during a play session with the team developing the project and our executives, including our president himself who will be at the source of central iterations for the rest of the project! After fine-tuning the project, the passionate team presented the idea to the company behind Dungeons and Dragons ™: Wizards of the Coast. And from the very first visit, a strong bond was created. The feeling of understanding each other right away and the open exchanges helped to build immediate trust between the two parties. Since that day, a close collaboration has been established to make the best use of the resources and result in a game that deeply respects the DNA of the license and the passion of the players, for whom Dungeons and Dragons™ is not only a game but a true lifestyle. And all this while allowing a new audience to discover this fantastic universe. To carry out this project, as in any good part of a D&D play, building a complete team to succeed in the full of obstacles’ quest that was ahead of them was essential!

“Choose your team!”

Contrary to what some would think from an external point of view, creating a video game is complex and sometimes exhausting. To successfully complete such an adventure, you need to surround yourself with passionate, brilliant and hard-working people. But at Ludia, not only we value those traits but also like our employees to be open, caring, with a nice touch of creative craziness. All these elements combined, the colorful personalities, the different cultures and the common passion are making Warriors of Waterdeep’s team a great team (but if you come to Ludia, you’ll soon realize that all our teams are! 😉 ). Artists, QA, designers, writers, programmers, analysts, … Each person is a vital element for the success of the project and for balancing the team’s dynamic. Each member feels and takes to heart this sense of responsibility towards the license and the fans and gives the best to always bring the project to a higher level.

The D&D team at Ludia, it is also a lot of laughs, listening, brainstorming about “How to make our monsters even scarier? , “How do we make the game even cooler? “, ” How to surprise the players? “, ” What date should we schedule our next team building for axe-throwing or paintball, …? ». Cohesion, communication, listening and sharing are key elements here!

All this atmosphere and values are shared with the Wizard of the Coast team as well. The special relationship between Ludia and Wizards of the Coast is a great pride. Each one learns from the other, is flexible, does not hesitate to share points of view and doubts but also the joy of working together. It is an authentic collaboration, with a common goal, which is nourished by a deep respect and mutual appreciation.

This wonderful relationship allowed our team to benefit from exclusive information, sneak peeks, attending the Wizards of the Coast Creative Licensing Summit, but also to receive messages that have touched the heart of the team such as those you can find in this extract :

 “Challenge and Discover”

When you create a game, as during a play, comes the time to challenge your talents as an adventurer (or game designer here). Then you face the steps that consist in discovering the final version, confronting the players’ opinions, and improving the mechanics. After the game development in itself, the team did not stop testing and improving the game along the way. It’s a long process that requires a never ending dedication to ensure the well-being of the game and the experience. The players have proven to be incredible, and continue to be in their feedback!  Dungeons & Dragons ™ has such a passionate fan base that the feedback is incredibly constructive and really pushes the concept of the game. Many iterations and improvements have been made as a result of the feedback received, and that’s still the case today. What players expect, what they want to see, their behaviors within the game, how fast they go through the levels and the content, all these are key indicators to improve the game and make it better for tomorrow.

“Battle and Earn”

After facing the obstacles that stood in the way, it is time for victory and rewards. After this first year, the team knows how lucky it is to have such an involved community! They are always very good at guessing what the next updates will include even before any announcement and players enjoy going through almost all the content available in the game every time! Their commitment is a real motivator for the team. The players are always surprising and it seems that the game has not only promoted cooperation between the heroes, but has also encouraged cooperation and team spirit between the players.

The kindness, cooperation and mutual help between players is one of the team’s greatest discoveries about this community through the game. During the launch a positive energy spread quickly. The spirit of helping each other led to tips sharing, recommendations and advice through social networks. They found new combinations of abilities which led to a round of rebalancing the game! Even after a year, far from fading, this positive energy continues to be shared between players, and the competition remains friendly.

One of the biggest surprises has been to discover the players, in addition to their in game’s sessions, also starting Dungeons and Dragons ™ games in the chat rooms!

Of course, not all the feedback is exclusively positive. Sometimes some are more incisive than others, but at Ludia we decide to see the glass half full and realize that if they take the time to express themselves, it’s because they’re deeply involved. These are also a victory because they always push the experience further and the quality higher. Our team’s motto since game launch has always been:: continuous improvement.

The first of many anniversaries to come

There are always new exciting adventures and new quests to experience and play! The team is very excited about the upcoming updates! The excitement shared with the players adds another notch to their level of motivation and willingness to go beyond expectations! The Live-Ops team has some great surprises in store in terms of events, new characters may be appearing very soon and whispers tell the story of an impressive black dragon being on its way to Waterdeep, so keep your eyes open!

The adventure continues, mighty warriors!

The Journey of A Talented and Promising Artist: Felipe Ramos

Artist. If you look it up, you’ll find literally thousands of different definitions: a person dedicated to the expression of beauty, technique master, creator of emotions. In reality, there are as many definitions as people practicing Art, with a capital A, in the largest possible sense of the word. At Ludia, we’re lucky enough to count close to 100 of these amazing people. Inspiring, passionate, hard working, talented and curious experts, everyone’s source of inspiration is unique. To define this wonderful team, which amazes us daily with their creations, in one word would be: richness. 

Today we embark on a journey with Felipe Ramos, Concept Artist here at Ludia on our game Dragons: Titan Uprising. 

Felipe

Concept Artist: What’s That?

Concept Artists are key people in the pipeline of a video game production. Their objective is to illustrate, in images, a concept that was solely living in the designers mind prior to that. The project is brought to life thanks to their creations. All their work allows the entire team to visualise which direction everyone should take and how to move forward together on the project. 

One of the most important key characteristics for an artist? According to Serge Mongeau, our Art Expert at Ludia, “It’s the will to always push forward while improving your work methods, being curious and exploring new techniques.” And this is the aspect of Felipe’s profile that makes him more than just talented, but an artist with a promising future. “Felipe is deeply curious and does not hesitate to embrace new technologies, to improve its productivity and define a new coherent universe throughout multiple characters.”

Passion and Hard Work 

Being a great artist is not only about having good predispositions and “natural talent”,. To succeed in an artistic career often means facing of obstacles,. It requires a strong will and hard work. Especially for a concept artist, as it is quite similar from one studio or project to another, and so it turns competition into an even more intense game on a worldwide scale. , You need to be  deeply passionate and dedicated to your art, to get the chance to turn it into a professional career. But if curiosity, hard work, sacrifice, and commitment are your daily mantras, success could be at your fingertips. 

To reach his goal, Felipe worked ruthlessly until developing the necessary skills to be able to get into an art school here in Montreal. But once he reached this goal, an even harder goal was set. Leaving his family and friends behind in Brazil and facing the reality of the competition and how good and hard working some of his friends were at school, was, at the time, a tough period, but nevertheless forged his work ethic. 

Today, he still puts a huge emphasis on self educating. Internet tutorials, sharing sessions with coworkers and managers, new software learnings, online classes from the artists he is most inspired by: he takes every chance he can get to learn something new. Through time, as a Concept Artist, he came to the conclusion that he “can’t just specialize in a specific form of art”. That eagerness for learning was nourished by his professors’ who guided him, not only in mastering the existing techniques, but in continuously seeking knowledge, innovation, novelty. It is also, in part, motivated by a small fear of being outdated quickly in an environment constantly changing and marked by fast evolution. 

Albert Einstein once said “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”. This might also be very true for art.

Why use a quote from a scientist? Well, it’s a natural correlation! 

Science and Technology: The Heart of Felipe’s Inspiration

When asked if he always wanted to take an artistic path Felipe answers: Yes, I always wanted to be either an artist or a scientist, since I first saw a Leonardo Da Vinci exposition in Sao Paulo when I was a kid, it changed my life. So setting myself towards a career that would allow me a similar creative freedom was my main goal”.

After studying biology back in Rio, and realizing science was a hard reality in Brazil, he deeply dedicated himself to his art to reach this ultimate goal. 
But never truly forgot about the scientific universe. He still nowadays, besides taking inspiration from personal experiences, what’s surrounding him, events, films or environments he wanders in, science and technology remain in a special place amongst his inspirations. 

His current obsession? The artificial intelligence movement in art. More and more technologies allow us to make art and will surely change the creation process, artists’ work and way of thinking. It’s that part Felipe is exploring, and his thinking is nourished by his own research as much as sharing ideas with some of his peers, which are equally captivated by this subject as well. 

The idea behind it? Always keeping an eye on the potential future evolution of his job.

The Video Game Industry and The Creation Process 

Even if he thought he’d work for the movie industry at first, Felipe “always knew video games were the next step.” “It was just a matter of time until the graphics I was seeing turned into full immersion, like an obvious progression. Right now it has the potential to be the ultimate form of art and immersion.”

What he loves most in his job is world-building. “So things have to make sense when I’m creating them. Character and creature designs are my favorite thing to do for fun and at work.” He balances his time between his artistic practice at work and his personal projects in his free time. He does not limit his creative mind to express itself during work hours only. As a technology lover, he likes having access to a wide range of tools. “It forces me to learn new ways to make things every once in a while.” His managers are more than open for him to explore further to allow him to develop his full potential. 

How does the creation process for a Concept Artist work at Ludia?

Of course, every artist has a specific vision and way of doing. For Felipe, “it varies a lot, depends on what the asset is, or for what it is for.” In every case, some elements stay part of a routine in the creation process, as the research part for references and to form moodboards. Then, for a piece of concept he usually does it on a 2D media, render a base model of the asset then painting on top of everything on Photoshop. For those assets, his favorite technique is to approach things manually and painting stuff out as it is the fastest way to get a realistic looking finished piece. For a piece of illustration, like a splash screen, his first step is usually 2D sketches, then pass on a 3D process. It might take longer at first, but allow him to make interesting iterations and changes of camera angle. For in-game assets, he starts by creating many 2D concepts then moves on to make 3D models (in 3D coat) based on the best ones approved, so he can interchange/kitbash pieces and produce more variations. Then, the final assets being 2D, the final steps are assigning basic materials, rendering it and painting on top to deliver the best pieces. 

Covid-19 and Creativity

Along with the entire studio, our artists work from home. Some elements remain the same, no matter the job position occupied. Thus, the necessity of being adaptive, finding the best ways to communicate remotely, and focusing on the positive aspects such as: being less interrupted and being able to enjoy more free time as commuting is no longer part of our schedule is the same for everyone. 

For the most part, Felipe’s daily work, as for several of our artists, did not drastically change since the implementation of work-from-home. Same material, same meetings adapted virtually, projects still going on. But the quarantine has had a deeper impact on his creativity.  Inspired by the tiny daily details of life, his social experiences, being in contact with different personalities, being able to encapsulate moments of his life outside are elements that usually nourish his work. “For inspiration it can be tough sometimes, it can be blocking. For example, when you need to develop images reflecting summer and all the characteristics that encapsulate this season… it is very complicated when you can’t go outside, or are not living this usual summer vibe when going out.” So, he is a little more “forced” lately to solely find inspiration on the internet. 

Finally, of course, whether you are a parent or someone living alone, one of the main things is being organized. Not that Felipe lacked this before, but remote work still requires optimal organization. Feedback he received from his peers was key to improve even more his organisational skills. He also disciplined himself, still respecting the schedule he was doing in the office, even if he was tempted to move around his hours to meet the ones during which he thinks he would be the most inspired. That way he keeps the right rhythm and a good balance.

Some Advice During This Pandemic Situation

Felipe says that even if it feels very complicated sometimes, it is important to try to keep yourself up to date and well informed about the situation while protecting yourself from the media chaos. It will be good for your mental health. He also notes, not to forget about the importance of disconnecting from work, especially when being locked down alone. “The first 2 weeks were a bit more complicated as I use the same sound system for both my personal and professional computers. So it’s happened that while working on personal projects after my working day, I would hear my Slack notifications. I was tempted a couple of times to go check the messages and go back to work. But since then, I am more careful to draw a clearer line between work and personal life, and strive to get the best balance.”

Marketing in Video Games: Discovering Creative Services at Ludia

“Oh! You work in the Marketing department? What do you do exactly? Where do you fit in the production cycle?”

We hear that a lot. If you ask the people around you what marketing does in a video game studio you’d get answers like: they create tools and strategies to promote games and help with internal and external communications for the studio. Indeed, the big picture may look a lot like that. But we also often hear that marketing “only creates nice, pretty images” or that “everything is done last minute”. Believe me, I’ve done the exercise!

That being said, we’re not just about creating “nice images”. To show you what we do on the daily, let’s begin by introducing ourselves.

Creative Services: Who are they exactly?

First, who are we? We are the Creative Services team here at Ludia! In a few words, we’re a pretty cool team managing the creation of promotional videos and images of our games, ensuring that both our studio and our games get a great visibility externally, making them shine and last through time. 

Let’s get back to basics, shall we? What are our daily goals and who is part of the team? 

Our department is composed of a multidisciplinary team of graphic designers, web designers, motions designers, video editors, and sound designers. 

We study vigorously the market, our competitors, and the different updates and events occuring in our games. This information allows us to create assets that are perfectly aligned to our players’ reality and our studio’s image. Every image or video created has gone through a well reflected process of research and development. 

In order to keep up with what’s relevant in terms of our games, we also have a close relationship with the production team. We try to avoid, as much as possible, last minute requests, in order to deliver only thoughtful work. We constantly check Confluence pages dedicated to projects, and also maintain a close relationship with Producers and Artists. Staying up to date and having close communication are key. 

Promotional images but so much more…

One of our main responsibilities is creating promotional images. But we don’t stop there. We create visuals and animated content for our communities, web sites, newsletters, audio content, and video trailers. The tasks we handle are so diversified that even internally, people in other departments, still get amazed at all the things being produced by our marketing team. From time to time, when sitting in on interviews with our recruitment team, even they get surprised by all the current projects going on. 

This continuous variety in our missions and the multi-talented people on the team allows us to interact with various departments in the company: executives, producers, leads, animators, artists – most would be surprised to find out that we are connected to all of them at one point during a project. 

How can we build such close links with all those different departments? We developed, little by little, the right knowledge and capacities to help. Today, we know by heart what each department needs, we gather as much data and information as possible, exchange ideas based on our experience and on what’s going on in the market. Thanks to that, we are able to suggest possibilities and solutions whenever necessary. 

Daily, we discuss ideas, study references, search for what’s new and trendy, and transform the information received and collected into relevant images and videos that deliver results. 

By continuously engaging our players, we are able to help games stay relevant and players coming back even after years of their first release. A good example of this is our game “Dragons: Rise of Berk” which was released in 2014 and which still has a LiveOps Team to promote sales, new dragons, and new events. 

Our work is the result of deep reflexion and rigorous analysis

To create engaging and relevant material, we base our work on research conducted by other departments and the license at hand. In our promotional material we always try to put a spotlight on player favorites or what makes the players more reactive to an ad. This explains why in our Dragons games, Toothless and Light Fury are featured in most of the promotional material, and in Jurassic World: Alive you might see, sometimes quite funny AR situations, seeing as this feature enables us to display a dinosaur in the real world.

Our research can also lead us to creating new assets we would never have thought of on our own. For example, by checking in with our Community Department, we noticed that fans were screen grabbing splash screens because they really liked them, so we decided to offer phone background wallpapers based on them (and more!) in the Jurassic World: Alive landing page. We now see a good amount of wallpaper downloads after every update.  

To stay up to date and relevant with a game, we also analyse competitor strategies and what they might do differently regarding User Acquisition Ads, Promotionals Videos, Community Pages, Newsletters, and so on.

Remember when we mentioned that we are a multidisciplinary team? As you can see, it is more than necessary to be multifaceted when we look at the list of all the tools and different channels used in promoting a game

Working for our games, but also for our beloved Ludians!

Not only do we work for the games, but we also take part in our studio’s internal and external communications! For our parties or assemblies, the Communication’s team comes to us for the creation of all the assets required for the events: posters, cards, pins and videos, we always love to lend a helping hand.

We also take part in more big scale external events such as MIGS for example, by supporting the Communications and Human Resources teams. We can create posters, cards, one pagers, graphic elements for goodies or social media publications, but also corporate videos illustrating our daily life at Ludia and our amazing games. 

Being a point of contact for almost every department, we discuss with producers, communications and HR teams about their needs and expectations so we can participate in the creation of those assets and improve the visibility of our studio, who we are and what we do at Ludia. These elements combined help in attracting new talent, and in creating a positive impact on employees in the studio. 

Our ambition: to make a positive impact

It is so important for us to see the results of our work, internally as externally. We hope to make a positive impact, and that what we create can last through time for both our player base and our coworkers. We are so proud to support the development of clear communications internally and even prouder if we can contribute to the attraction of new talent. Externally and for our games, it is always a huge satisfaction to know that we contribute to the players’ engagement. We study new ways of attracting players, help in the preparation of new game launches, and collaborate with all departments to help our studio grow. If a game still appears fresh and exciting after 5 years, and we, at marketing, have a little input on it, we are more than happy!

In a nutshell and a few hundred words, that’s what we do, this is who we are as part of Ludia. Maybe sometimes we do things that look shiny and cool – and sometimes just plain and to the point, but there’s always a purpose behind it. We love being part of this dynamic and ever changing environment. We take pride in delivering great assets, that are relevant and creative, and that deliver good results. Each day, we do our best to be up to this challenge!  

So next time you see an ad, a poster, a video, a promotional offer, a landing page, a pin,  please think about all the amazing people behind the work and everything involved that made it possible!

Love, Creative Services at Ludia.

Moderation and Social Care: let’s meet the team behind our forums and app stores

Every studio has a different name for this team.  They are what you could call our daily heros, working in the shadows, answering our players on forums and app stores. They help players the best they can and give advice with kindness in mind. They also bring player experience to the production team, by sharing player opinions. Production teams use their feedback to level up the quality of the game. At Ludia, we call this  team“Moderation and Social Care”. That name is representative of what they do, which is to take good care of our communities. 

Their work, their daily interactions with players and production teams, their challenges and their adaptation to work-from-home… we decided to shine a spotlight on them and let you in on this amazing group of people! 

Moderation and Social Care: What do they do exactly?

You’re probably familiar with job titles such as “Player Experience Manager” or “Game Master”. But at Ludia, those titles did not fit with the personality and mindset of our team. After some time of reflection, we came up with something that was more representative: “Moderation and Social Care Specialists”or as we refer to them internally the MSCS team.

The main objective for this wonderful team? To keep our communities on forums and app stores as happy and safe as possible, which allows us to in turn keep our employees safe as well. 

But, what is it they do exactly? 

All the forums, app stores, comment spaces; our team manages, not to mention in several different languages too! Their goal is to ensure that all questions get answered as quickly as possible, and that everyone respects communication guidelines, to update all platforms, inform players of any changes or updates, and ensure the safety of our communities . 

It is a very meticulous and rigorous role that requires a lot of energy and dedication. They must identify questions, research information, evaluate the risk  of aggressive comments. They need to act fast, with kindness and understanding, be able to interact with diplomacy, and make difficult decisions when necessary. The internet is indeed a funny place, where certain people seem to forget how to act respectfully. Comments can be hurtful, even violent and threatening at times towards other players and our employees. MSCS ensures to flag these, evaluate their risk, and as a result take the necessary measures . Between you and us, no one likes to ban someone, but safety always comes first. It remains our top priority. 

Internal and remote employees: coming together for our players!

At Ludia, 5 amazing people make up this department. But we are lucky to count on remote colleagues as well. A total of 16 people are also part of the team. Based in several locations abroad, from the US to Scotland, Poland to the Philippines, and other countries, this allows us to better serve our communities around the world. 

Rigorous organization and distinct specialties for a top performance

You guessed it! With all the hard work that comes with managing various platforms, the team needs to be very organized and have a good grip of time management to fulfill its mission. 

In addition to it’s manager, every internal team member of MSCS works on app stores management as well as the moderation of forums, but a specialty is assigned to each. Two people are assigned the biggests app stores that have numerous and highly engaged communities and some of the forums, two other people are managing the biggest forums with the most active communities and some of the app stores requiring a bit less time to manage. This way, every platform is covered efficiently by one of our experts. Comments that require answers are replied to within 24h. The priority is to offer the best service to our players. When a new member joins the team, specific attention is paid to give them the best tools and pieces of information to better organize their tasks and work schedule. In order to guide a new employee, they receive an example of a typical work day, the tasks that need to be completed, the time it should take etc. Each person being different, organization can be too. If difficulties had to occur, the manager would take time to discuss, evaluate and understand the blocking points and the best way to rectify the situation. 

Besides one-on-one meetings with their manager, who cares more than anything about putting the wellbeing of the team first and is available each time someone expresses the need to talk, the team also has 3 meetings a day. They discuss workflow, energy and the mental state of each team member, definition of new priorities and redistribution of the platforms according to the current situation. Those meetings are essential for the good work and dynamic of the team. There are also less formal meetings just aimed at taking a deep breath, being together, laughing and sharing some time together to let go of the pressure that could have come up. 

Most people tend to finish their work day at 5:30 p.m., for the MSCS this isn’t exactly the case. Alternating each day, each member of the team is on-call. They monitor the platform to make sure app-stores and forums stay safe places whether it be day, night or the weekend. Isn’t it a great proof of their ruthless commitment ?

A close link with production

In order to plan the workflow, and because they are anticipation masters of our players’ reactions, MSCS takes part in production meetings where new updates are announced. Those meetings are fundamental for the organization of the team. It allows them to work on their priorities calendar, and make sure no major update is made on the exact same day as the one planned for another game. This indeed could result in a huge inflow of comments, that could be very difficult to handle. Some producers even integrate MSCS before the update announcement to get their feedback. Players’ perception is key, and the team can bring this vision and expertise to the table. 

MSCS’s role is even more relevant during soft launches, as it is a direct window to the players visions and reactions. At that time, optimization can still be made before the worldwide launch. Our community’s feedback is then a golden source of information, extremely useful for the production team. 

Front row seats to player reactions

Throughout forums and app stores, MSCS get an exclusive view on player emotions or behavioral changes. This can be such a great moment when reactions to the launch of a feature are positive, for example. But when reactions are negative, it’s quite the opposite. 

With the current pandemic and lockdown, the situation can sometimes be difficult to handle for a lot of people. Our team has noticed huge changes in terms of player behaviour these last few weeks on our platforms. Our players are more committed than ever, they come back, share a lot, discuss regularly about the games. This part is extremely positive and reminds us how lucky we are to be part of this wonderful industry, we are truly blessed. But in parallel to that, we can deeply feel the tension. There is, with no doubt, a huge effect on our communities’ mental health: more sensitivity, fast answers based on emotions, sometimes more distress, anger and aggressivity are common lately.  

A huge challenge: mental health

Our amazing team,Moderation and Social Care, just as all Ludians, deeply care about our communities. During these weird and difficult times, it is more important than ever for us to pay special attention to our players, and double our efforts to keep everyone safe, promote well being and good mental health for all. When they feel like it is needed, the members of MSCS do not hesitate to remind the entire community of  different help and emergency contacts(all links will be available at the end of the article).They have even decided to make them available continuously on the forums page. No matter the player, they make it clear that this person counts, and is not alone. 

Beyond the players, our employees’ mental health is also a top priority at Ludia, maybe even more within the Moderation and Social Care team. As said earlier, it is such a passionate job but can be demanding and threatening at times. Comments said in distress can also hit hard to our wonderful MSCS team members behind their screen, as they have a lot of empathy; an amazing gift but sometimes a burden. Ludia and even more so their manager take great care of discussing with each team member to check in if they are ok, be the listener they need, offer extra time off and implement fun activities to cheer them up! The last one implemented: share the funniest comments of the community! This works every time by bringing a bit of joy and lots of laughter to everyone. 

Another thing that helps a lot? Sharing and the continuous support! All team members, internal and remote, are invited to share, express themselves, be open so that everyone can contribute and be honest, improve procedures, and lift team spirit. The managers main focus: “That everyone has a voice, to encourage everyone to express themselves and not keep everything bottled up inside.”. Good listening and transparency, are the pillars of this incredible committed, hilarious, and passionate team.

And during covid-19, how has working from home changed for the team?

In all transparency, if a team has all the tools on hand to be able to work remotely, it’s surely the Moderation and Social Care department. As mentioned above, part of the team is working remotely already. Have you ever noticed that the team is also available not only evenings and weekends but also during the holiday season when our studio is closed?  A work-from-home approach was already taking place for this department. The preexisting team’s cohesion, great management, and organization has allowed them to be fully operational and as effective as usual since the announcement of the temporary closing of the physical studio.. 

Of course, some points are not as easy to handle. It can be a bit difficult to get the answers needed right away,there’s a delay when waiting for a reply on Slack, we can’t just stop by our coworkers desks anymore, or take an actual  face-to-face break together. So MSCS compensates with more team and one-on-one meetings, Slack conversations, and videoconferences. 

On a brighter note, everyone has decided to make the best of the situation and try to enjoy the small joys of working from home: spending more time with family members, being able to jump in a workout session during breaks, being able to listen to any music, working with a lovely cat on your knees! 

Advice for people interested in joining such an amazing team? 

It is a fantastic job, and it’s even better when you are lucky enough to be part of a hardworking, passionate, and fun team as our beloved Moderation and Social Care one at Ludia. To succeed in that type of position here are two tips : have tough skin and have a tremendous sense of humour! With these two qualities, there is no doubt you’ll be a future shining star in moderation and social care!

To wrap up, we wanted to add:

For everyone managing moderation, forums, and app stores: we see, we care, we are so proud. Simply, a huge thanks! 

To  everyone else: Be kind and indulgent, always, with others but even more so with yourself. Take great care! #everythingwillbeok

*If you ever feel the need to, here is a list of help and emergencies numbers. Please never hesitate to use those and ask for help. It is the best gift you could offer yourself, and one of the bravest things in the whole world.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Canada and USA : 1-800-273-8255

Kids Help Phone Canada  1-800-668-6868

Crisis Line Canada: 1-866-996-0991

HopeLine USA : 1-919-231-4525

International Hotlines: Links to suicide crisis numbers from all over the world by Country

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention 

Information for those considering suicide and those who have recently lost someone to suicide and need help

Phone number: 1-613-702-4446

NEDIC Information on Eating disorders and links to helplines

Helpline: 1-866-633-4220

Game Producer and Mother to an Infant: Coralie Munier Lets Us in on What It’s Like to Work From Home

For the last month and a half all teams at Ludia have been working from home. The current situation is complex and necessary, but brings with it its slew of challenges in the development of our projects, and also for the daily lives of all of our employees.

In this context we wanted to let you in on the day-to-day operations of the studio and some of our Ludians daily routines. This week, we start off with Coralie Munier, who has been a Producer here at Ludia for the last 8 years, and is a Mother to her 18-month old daughter. 

Coralie and Clémence

The production of a game while working from home

Coralie is a producer on our game Dragons: Titan Uprising. Between strategic planning, defining objectives, distribution of tasks, collaborating with other departments and managing a team of 30 people, even in a “normal” context this is a demanding role, highly based on communication. This can be very challenging to manage, especially at a distance.

On the other hand, Coralie and her team were able to rapidly adapt and efficiently keep up with production. “What helps us, is having an extremely clear roadmap. When the vision is clear, they know where they’re going and what they need to do.” Certain situations need to be managed more regularly but globally, they’ve tried to keep and maintain the same routine and functioning in place as the one at the studio; the sprint meetings once every two weeks, and the recurring, habitual meetings. The only thing that changes is that they are now virtual. 

It’s by being organized and keeping a weekly rhythm similar to that of what the team is used to, with a few exceptions of course, that allows for them to produce and maintain their same quality of work. 

Managing a team at a distance

It takes a lot of organization to manage a 30 person team including, notably game designers, developers, testers, and artists, in a way that is as efficient and human as possible. There wasn’t a need to put in place new things, but rather to simply adapt all the previously physical actions into virtual. Naturally, specific attention was placed on reinforcing communication and a regularity of contact (whether by call, video, or chat). This regular contact is more than to just discuss tasks and projects, but to ensure that each team member is feeling good, that there are no specific issues or to simply allow them to talk about how they are feeling. The team is encouraged to be open and honest about their emotions in order to be accompanied in a way that is ideal for them during this worrisome time. In addition to regular stand-up meetings, every team lead is responsible for 2-5 people which he or she must speak with every day. Similarly, Coralie takes the time to discuss with each of her leads daily.  

More generally speaking, for Ludians that have been with the studio for a longer period of time, it’s a bit easier, but for new employees, working from home can be a big challenge. The team therefore places special attention to the latest recruits. “One of our new arrivals started about 1 month before the deployment of remote work. He’s just freshly arrived in Montreal; he’s not in his country, doesn’t really have any friends here, nor family, and just moved into an apartment that doesn’t feel like home yet. We pay very special attention to him, his lead speaks to him everyday and creates social, informal moments. For example, they connect together at lunch time to play games together.” The most important aspect for Coralie is that not one person of her team feels isolated. 

Another category of people that are naturally having more difficulty in this situation, but for different reasons are parents. The key message for them is: do your best. As herself, a Mother to a young child, Coralie reassures parents and reminds them of the flexibility offered by Ludia to work when they can (in respect to the deadline of deliverables). She even rallied her troops to create a wonderful team spirit that allows others to support and help lessen certain people’s workload if need be.

“I think that with the current situation we’re really seeing Ludia at it’s best, the support between Ludians, and it makes us realize that we are lucky to be working in these conditions and for this studio.”

Although if she allows parents a lot more flexibility, it’s often a lot more complex for her to benefit from the same flexibility. 

In fact, when others can organize their schedules to work early in the morning, or late at night whilst the kids are asleep, it’s not always a conceivable solution when you’re managing thirty people daily. Coralie must be available to her team during regular hours, which has required a lot of adaptation. 

Working from home with a young child

What she misses the most? “The ability to switch my brain and concentrate solely on my work. In the Ludia offices, I can devote my entire energy and concentration to my work. When you need to also take care of an 18-month old at the same time, it changes everything. We realize that there are so many things we take for granted, and we’ll appreciate them so much more once we’ll be back in the studio. I also have a lot more admiration for my child’s caretaker, haha.”

So how does one organize themselves to manage their work as a video game producer and also care for their young child?

Coralie and her partner Romain, adapt their time management by alternating their work moments and moments spent with their little one. They try, to the best of their ability, to schedule meetings in function of each other’s agendas in order not to be both working at the same time. Does it always work out? Well, no, sometimes one or the other has the little one on their lap during a videoconference, “but everyone is really considerate and understanding in these cases”. We adapt!

In a few words, here’s how a typical day works out for Coralie:

7 a.m.: The little one wakes up.
9:30 a.m.: Nap time. This is where Coralie and Romain plan out their most important calls: VP production, Human Resources, Team Meetings…
12 p.m.: The little one wakes up and lunches are prepared (it’s crazy the time we spend just preparing food! When at the studio, we simply just stepped out to get a salad or sandwich – it’s the little things that we take for granted!)
Afternoon: It’s at this point that both really start alternating taking care of the little one. Certain days she’ll do another nap, but we’re never sure. So, again, we need to re-arrange our agenda’s in consequence and organize ourselves the best we can to ensure we can get some work done while being reasonably available for our teams.
6 p.m.: Already a new meal to prepare.
7 p.m.: The little one goes to sleep and Coralie and her partner start up work again. Planning tasks, meetings, defining objectives, and everything else that doesn’t require other teammates. 
9 p.m.: It’s time to eat and to relax!

“To be perfectly honest, it makes for long days, but we finally found a rhythm. Thankfully our daughter has really good nights, and generally stays asleep from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day. In the beginning, we wanted so much to follow a specific routine, that would be the same daily, but that wouldn’t work. With a child, we need to go with the flow and take things as they come. If one morning I see that it really won’t be possible, I let my team know that I’m taking a day off. They all know what they must do, and  there is less pressure on me. The following day I can return rested and more readily available to them. It’s also leading by example. I encourage the parents on my team to do the same, our mobile days are there for a reason. And in emergency situations, everyone adapts. Again, we’re all doing our best, there is more magic recipe.”

Concluding words?

“My advice to parents: don’t try and be perfect, nor find the perfect routine! Take it day by day, be indulgent with yourselves and with your little ones. You are stronger than you think!”

“Also, my last piece of advice: take time off if you need it! Parent or not, don’t wait until you’ve reached your limit. Taking the day off from time to time to concentrate on yourself or your family without the pressures of work-from-home can make all the difference!”

Even at a distance, Ludia puts the wellness of its employees first!

Almost one year ago Ludia was bringing it’s wellness engagement to another level with the opening of our corporate Gym, Gym360 – Wellness by Ludia. Even though the current situation comes with its slew of challenges, we are committed to providing our employees wellness at distance.

Normally, our Ludians have access to a healthy breakfast at work, daily access to our free Gym that is decked out with gym equipment and machines, but also daily classes and advice and tips from expert coaches, the possibility to reserve massage sessions, and the regular expertise of an ergonomist if needed.

Now that we’re at a distance, these advantages are a little hard to come by. But we rise to the challenge, never forgetting our engagement to employee wellness. Incidentally, this time probably calls for even greater wellness and health support, both physically and mentally. We are thus doing everything in our power to accompany Ludians even more. 

Physical well-being at home by Ludia

  • Ergonomic tips for at-home work stations

    Setting up an at-home workstation is not always easy. Beyond technical equipment, desks at the studio are ergonomically sound for employees. Therefore, in order to create the best possible work environment at home, the entire studio received ergonomic advice and best practices to replicate at home! 
  • The wellness account adapted 

    Because an adapted desk and a good office chair isn’t always what we have at home, our employees responsible for Employee Benefits worked hard to adapt our employees’ wellness accounts. The amount offered to employees per year for wellness activities and equipment can now be used to purchase office furniture to provide the best possible working conditions at home. That way we can avoid small aches and pains, that are uncomfortable and maybe even dangerous long term. 
  • The Gym 360 – Le bien-être par Ludia becomes virtual

    One of the advantages most appreciated by Ludians is probably access to the gym. Classes, machines, advice from certified coaches, easily accessible, locker rooms, showers with hygiene products… The gym was created with our employees’ wellness in mind. In this context, we could think that this privilege is of course momentarily put on hold… but not at all! Concerned about employees well-being, teams at Ludia and staff at Gym360 came together to launch virtual classes. Everyone can therefore continue to take advantage of their favorite classes. HIIT, Tabata, Yogafit, WOD, Yoga… there’s something for everyone in terms of exercise preferences and schedule.  And for those that are a little more pressed for time, and want to jump start their morning, a new session lasting a short 15 minutes, for all levels is now being offered so everyone can stay in shape together! Above staying fit, these meet-ups also allow us to keep a close-knit atmosphere with the team and improves everyone’s good mood, giving us a sense of normalcy. 

A specific attention to mental wellness

One of the challenges in the current context and working from home long terms is definitely the impact on our mental wellness. That’s why it’s one of the main attention points at Ludia. Teams make their best to anticipate potential issues that could come about and bring forth the tools and support necessary to all members of the studio. 

  • Advice for work/life balance

    Pouring yourself dry in your professional life or on the contruarty not being able to properly maintain it, granting too much or not enough time to your professional life or personal life can quickly happen in this context. All this demands for a period of adaptation and a good dose of organization. It is often complex to know where to begin in order to maintain a good balance that will allow us a bit more serenity as we face the next couple of weeks. To accompany and support our teams in the transition to remote work, our Ludians received a number of tips and tricks, but most importantly messages of benevolence: the idea being to do your best. There is no perfect recipe in this situation. Like everybody else we are in a period of adaptation and tests, and effort and support from all is key. That’s why all Ludians were invited to share their experience and tips through a short survey. And new communications are regularly sent to employees concerning this subject. 
  • Specific tips according to your work-from-home situation

    Diversity is one of the characteristics that represents Ludia the most. It’s also representative of the patterns of life present among our Ludians. Large families, single parents, with young children, with teenagers, with partners, with roommates, with pets, alone, all these situations bring their own unique challenges. Because we want to support and accompany ALL our Ludians and respect our fundamental value of inclusion, our team strives to address each one of these situations and their associated issues! We are together, even at a distance!
  • Increased flexibility 

    While at home we must take care of young children, the traditional 9 to 5 is quickly called into question. Even the “core hours” that are usually mandatory, quickly became an issue to address. At Ludia, an exceptional context means exceptional measures and adaptations. In order to facilitate every parent’s life, we allowed for flexible agendas; Ludians can now organize their time as they wish (or can rather). They must simply submit what is required of them, and inform their manager and teams. 
  • The importance of opening up, and talking about your emotions 

    Beyond the purely logistical and organizational aspects of work, the current situation can easily take a toll on your mood and emotions. Ludia encourages all Ludians to open up. It is totally normal and ok not to feel your best emotionally, but it is not ok to shut down when dealing with these types of issues. Managers are invited to host 1on1’s, and Ludians in general are encouraged to open up and be honest with their team, colleagues and friends, the HR Team, and most importantly themselves regarding this subject. 

The message that is repeated internally at the studio, but merits being heard more largely, is that : if you need to talk, never hesitate. Ask for a call, video chat, or even a conversation through messaging, whatever is more comfortable for you. If you ever feel the need to talk, don’t stop yourself. Don’t ever be scared to say that you need to talk, as there’s a big chance that the person on the other side of your screen needs it too. Venting is so important in these moments in order not to explode later. 

  • Virtual office: maintaining a social life at the studio, even virtually 

    Again, being at a distance does not mean being alone or isolated. The social life at the studio thus continues! It’s only a bit different than before: it’s now virtual. Breakfasts, coffee breaks, lunch times, exercise classes, happy hours: all these social encounters that are essential so we can keep being close and maintain our good spirit at Ludia! The tools available today are wonderful and allowed the creation of a virtual office! With the help of an interactive map, Ludians can now find all the key spaces at the studio:
  • The kitchen to share a coffee, breakfast or lunch with colleagues
  • The lounge for our traditional happy hour and Lunch & Learns 
  • The Gym to quickly access virtual sessions
  • Our LudiaLive space for our town hall meet-ups

The idea being that if you think you can’t do something because you’re at home, think again – and be creative. You’re only limited by your own imagination, right?

Simultaneously, we also have tools such as our virtual clinic available 24/7 or access to an Employee Assistance Program which offers a great number of services. Both are available to all employees in order to better accompany them during these difficult times.

In all honesty, this is an uncharted territory for us too; but a wonderful and wide field open to new opportunities and ideas. Ludia is ready to put in place further actions, to adapt, and to guarantee the wellness of all members of its crew.

How I entered the video game world

My name is Mathieu and I am a Game Economy Designer at Ludia. When I started studying in 2002, there were only a few video game schools in France. Video games have always been my passion, but my studies and background reflected otherwise. I studied communications, video, 3D, coding, design and started my first job as a Web Designer then as an Art Director, mostly focusing on functional design based on UX and UI. I got a Designer Conceptor diploma which is a mix between art, design and user-centricity. In my years before coming to Ludia, I had accumulated experience in communications, art direction, brand image, server management, consulting, competitive analysis, integration, deployment, even server hosting! Not the typical path you see when entering the video game industry…

I am curious and multi-faceted by nature, so in parallel I learnt to develop independently. I built my own Minecraft server 9 years ago with 3 other friends, gaining experience in the server department, community management and communication. (I take this opportunity to thank my community, you guys are the best !). But guess what? That experience,my autonomy and curious personality are what got me a job in video games, not necessarily my background or training. 

At that time, I literally forbid myself to apply to any video game companies. I was worried I did not have the right experience, background, or proficiency. But the industry always stayed at the back of my mind.

Mathieu

Let’s go to Montreal!

In 2016 I moved to Montreal as a Freelancer, continuing my work with clients back home and gaining new ones here. But after four years, I was itching to work with a team again. This is when I finally mustered up the courage to apply to a video game company and that’s where I came across Ludia. But how do you find a job within the industry, when you are not an expert in a particular field and more a jack of all trades?

Meeting Ludia

I had already heard from friends about Ludia and applied to three different jobs. When I met the studio for the second time, I was interviewing for my current job, and my two now-colleagues were very interested in my server experience, funnily enough.

They were interested in how I created new economic models, how I managed this experience, what I learned from it including all the things that went wrong. We had a long discussion about autonomy and the importance of being able to take a decision, learning new things and adapting. My interview process and the heartfelt conversations I had was a lot different from what I had seen in other companies.The job description for my current role was quite unclear and was still being shaped, thus they were looking for a curious and adaptable candidate- that’s not something you can read off a CV! 

So what do I do exactly now?

You may be thinking it’s difficult to find a multi-faceted job, or that by being a multi-faceted person, you may struggle finding something stimulating and interesting, and that one-tasked jobs are simply not made for you. You may also be thinking that you need to be an expert to find a really cool job. Well, I’m here to tell you that,that’s just not true! 

When I joined Ludia 9 months ago, I found exactly what I needed, aligned with my competencies, skills. A Game Economy Designer (or GED), on paper, balances out a game. He/she looks at the gameplay, at how long a character survives, how much damage a weapon can make, how long it takes to get to the next level and the progression pace. The GED will also look at the economy side of the game, its monetization, and making sure that the game remains profitable. It’s like being the guardian of the game’s foundations, like being in the middle of everything, aware of everything that is happening around the game, like a project manager. I love it! I get to interact continuously with all the different roles on the team, understanding what they do, their constraints, finding solutions with them and other team players. I help people with a more detailed-oriented vision get a broader vision about the game. That’s exactly the type of job I needed to keep learning, expanding my multifaceted skills and competencies, sharing my experience and knowledge, and not one day looks like the other. Every day is different. 

The video game industry is often perceived to be a certain way. We see the industry like a big unattainable box, in which only elites are accepted. But today, there are so many different ways to get into the industry. There really is a place for everyone. Finding a company that gives you the space, the time to develop yourself, to grow within the company, even to change path is crucial. At Ludia, there are a lot of people that changed paths along their career. I know Level Designers who became Game Designers within 6 months or Quality Assurance Ludians who became Level Designers.

My tips to those wishing to make it into the industry:

If you feel like do not have the skills to enter the video games industry, know that you are your worst enemy. We tend to judge ourselves and our work too harshly, we compare our skills to what seniors do and share on social media. But guess what? Everyone started somewhere and they still having the same questions that you currently have. Keep learning, stay humble, use all the tools available to train yourself. Have faith, start small and see where it gets you!

If you have a job interview soon, prepare yourself. If there is a test: read, find out as much information, and be as prepared as possible.

Always talk about all your experiences during a job interview, even the bad ones. You may think they are worthless or that they will put you under a bad light, but they may be exactly what your future employer needs to hear to hire you. The impostor syndrome exists in everyone. I always thought I wasn’t good enough, especially after being rejected a few times when I started applying. It took me years to realize and accept that it was not the case.

The training or studies you choose do not necessarily reflect what you will do in the future. Be open minded, faithful, patient… it’s by doing little jobs, completing tasks here and there that you’ll really see what you enjoy doing the most.

And don’t forget to love yourself. Life is too short!
Signed by Mathieu Roth aka @dokMixer on Twitter

Recruiting remotely during the COVID crisis

The current situation is quite particular, but we are lucky to be part of such a booming industry abuzz with activity, and fully operational with all staff now working remotely. Beyond Live support for our games, we continue to work hard on our games in development. We are also working hard to complete our teams so that projects may continue to move forward.
Frédérique et Marion, our Talent Acquisition Specialists, are always on the lookout for new recruits. Here are a couple of details about Ludia and the procedures put in place.

Adapted procedures

One of the strengths of our Talent Acquisition team is their ability to recruit remotely through global recruitment for international profiles. Before announcing that Ludians would be working from home, they already had a solid process down pat. Many managers had already gone through this exercise and were equipped with the tools necessary to move forward without any major issues. That being said, a period of adaptation was imperative. 
In order to not lose the quality of in-person recruitment processes, the team takes their time, they’ve added steps so that everyone concerned can follow advancements and be comfortable with how things are rolling-out. They make sure that every step is properly concluded before hopping onto the next. 

They of course, use internal tools such as Slack and Hangouts, but they’ve taken preparation one step further. The most important aspect is communication, the exchanges they have with candidates. They therefore don’t neglect preparation, follow-ups and conclusions. All parties must be able to express themselves, ask questions, provide details, raise doubts, and interrogate. All that demands learning and adjustment, but especially a benevolent support from both the candidates and the Ludians involved in the recruitment process.

Our teams are more organized than ever. Frédérique et Marion were inspired by our games and applied best practices on recruitment processes: added steps, becoming stricter on QA milestones, working in a more agile way… 

They are continuously bettering this process in regards to feedback from internal contacts and candidates. 

The importance of people

Because we spend a lot of time using various software and tools, and that conversations are essentially virtual as of today, we have placed an increasing emphasis on the value of people in our remote hiring process.

The fact that we’re only seeing people through videoconferencing: sound problems arise, connexion issues ensue, these are all daily challenges. It is also often complicated to match the feeling that we may have meeting a candidate in the flesh. 

So, again, we’ve taken the decision to take our time, to keep up with good habits. Patience and support are key words in this situation. Our recruiters support Ludians who are leading the interviews by keeping the conversation fluid. Often videoconferencing can be awkward when there are more than 2 people present. They pay special attention to each participant in order to dig deeper on certain subjects, raise doubts, clarify situations, all of which lead to high quality interviews. 

But what Marion and Frédérique have realized is that in the end, this adapted procedure allows them a lot more proximity with those involved. They exchange more, but also because the current situation is global and touches everyone. There’s a feeling of solidarity. They take the time to ensure that everyone is comfortable and they try to lessen any anxieties. Comprehension and support is felt and shared by everyone.

What about new employee integration?

In all honesty, new employee integration in this context adds a level of difficulty and is a challenge. But integration for new employees has still been happening in the last weeks, and it’s turning out to be very positive. 

New logistics have been put in place for newcomers. There are obviously no studio visits or the physical discovery of workstations, but essential elements are still very much part of new employee onboarding! Our new Ludians receive their work equipment to work from home and are greeted on day one by a member of the Talent and Culture team for the habitual presentation of the studio. Everything is done virtually, of course, with a shared screen for the presentation. We also never forget to take the time to share a coffee and answer any and all questions. Next, via a group conversation or by videoconference we present the new recruit to their team, and their adventure at Ludia begins.

At a distance, yes, but isolated, definitely not. 

In the current context we know that a solid, structured recruitment process and integration is even more imperative and we are always looking for ways to better it.

Like everyone else, this unprecedented situation is a learning experience, and we are making an effort to learn and take away the good from these lessons. We sincerely hope that all these additional efforts will give candidates the best possible experience. We are doing and will continue doing everything in our power to adapt quickly and efficiently to all possible outcomes. 

A career change is such an important step, even more so today. It’s also why our teams put people first; in the end people are at the heart of what we do. 

Rolling Out Emergency Work-From-Home at Ludia: What We Learned

On March 13th, Ludia took the decision to transfer all it’s teams remotely starting the following Monday. In a week’s time,no less than 380 employees were equipped and fully operational. A real feat of strength for our IT team and all the people who volunteered to help them deliver. 

The Dream Team

A Unique Remote Work Situation

As with any emergency situation, what was put in place was very different from what would have been done in a different environment. If we would have decided to put in place remote work at Ludia, in a non-urgent context, which wasn’t the case, the logistics, equipment, decision-making, planning, and the entire implementation would have been entirely different. It would have been a real challenge of course, but with completely different problems and approaches. 

In our case, remote work is less than common, especially considering equipment. Few employees are equipped with laptops, therefore complete workstations had to be distributed, some were even improved as they went along: computer tower, monitors, plugs, webcam, microphone, headphones.These material, human, and logistical challenges were carried by our IT Team.

A Huge Challenge

When the situation started to become concerning, the board rapidly established provisional plans and list of priority workstations. These plans demanded numerous resource materials and deadlines. Orders were placed with the idea of providing a deployment within the span of a couple weeks. 

Then, everything accelerated very quickly. In lieu of the rapidly evolving situation, a decision was taken on Friday morning, March 13th based on the health and security of our Ludians. The entire studio would work-from-home starting Monday, March 16th. While the board of directors announced this decision personally to each team, the IT team, supported by the HR team and many other decisionnaries, searched for the best solutions to the following problem: how to rapidly equip 380 people with the necessary tools and equipment to work remotely? We were going into uncharted territory, with a big challenge to overcome.

Organisation: More Haste, Less Speed

As all employees were sent home, the IT team was still faced with the challenge of how to provide all employees with the necessary workstations to work-from-home. Knowing well that laptops were not a possible solution, the question remained: How to provide everyone everything necessary to work from home? Mirroring employees’ exact set-up (equipement, tools, and documents) was the most logical solution to ensuring that everyone was operational and productive. 

With that solution in mind, the deployment needed to be organized! Theoretic plans were now reality: employee priority lists, team meetings, retrieval of needs. Everyone rolled up their sleeves and went to work. With due diligence, we reflected and worked for the success of the deployment, rather than too quickly. Our CEO Alexandre Thabet, took the time to personally see all deployment teams to say: be organised and deliver this deployment, but do not burn yourselves out completing the task; remember to also take care of yourself. 

Knowing that we needed to move quickly but knowing that rest was as important, really helped the IT team surmount this feat. Having our CEO present everyday and in contact with every team was also a key factor. “Human” is one of our values here at Ludia, and that’s what remained at the heart of this operation. 

Well Defined Logistics

With a well-defined plan, it was now time to prepare logistics!

First things first, dispatch all employees by order of priority and business criticality. This meant, as a first step, we needed to ensure LiveOps support for our games, and then we could roll-out equipment for our games in-development. First step was to create a list of materials for each phase of deployment, fill out and make orders, and only then could the preparation of the boxes of equipment commence. The IT team worked all week-end long to prepare the material and begin the distribution process (either by in-studio pick-up or at-home delivery) to begin Monday, March 16th. The following week rolled-out one day at a time.

A typical deployment day:

The IT team, executives, HR, and our incredible volunteers met-up every morning to define the plan of action for the day:

  • What must be done
  • Who does what
  • What are the priorities and deadlines
  • What elements we are waiting for and how can we remediate the situation
  • What are today’s possible obstacles and how can we avoid them

Teams and volunteers turn to Jean-François, our IT Director. Have we ever told you about humility at Ludia? Whatever a person’s role, everyone involved listens to directions and recommendations given and starts working towards moving the deployment forward efficiently.

Following this morning meeting, we start working: assembling nominative equipment boxes, managing the employee pick-up process, gathering the lists of needs for the next phase, managing deliveries, and next steps. At lunchtime, we take the time to sit and share a meal. Then we meet another time and continue moving forward, anticipating blockages and finding solutions. We contact employees that have not yet responded concerning their equipment needs. By mid-afternoon, we can start to have a clear vision of next day’s equipment distribution. 

The most important part? Always ensuring that all elements have been prepared for the people in the current phase before starting the next. This avoids any mix-ups and potential errors that would take time to fix. Every employee box is prepared so that there is minimal installation and as little IT intervention as possible. That being said, a separate IT team forms to offer technical support to employees at a distance.

The same system is put in place everyday. If a new person volunteers their help, we take the time to explain what is to be done, how and why.

Within this context, one thing remains the same: we take our time. We take the time to explain, to analyse, to listen, to organise, to deliver properly. 

Of course, minor errors were committed: a forgotten keyboard here and a broken screen there, but nothing too significant compared to that fact the 380 employees were equipped after only 7 days! These minor errors were all dealt with appropriately: we took note and found a solution. There’s no time to reprimand, especially with a team that does such a great job the rest of the time.

On top of that, not only are our current teams now equipped, but also our new employees. Even more impressive: everything is ready to be delivered to new team members joining in the coming weeks!

But the work isn’t finished just yet. This is just the beginning of the biggest pilot project we’ve launched. It’s going to require a lot of adaptation, cooperation, and preparation for the coming weeks. But our teams are ready, close-knit, and motivated!

2 Factors for Success: Trust and Human-Centered Thinking

Organization, well-oiled logistics, responsiveness, and agility we’re at the forefront of this deployment. But after discussing with the teams, what really made a difference was trust and our human-focused  thinking. 

Working like machines, burning out our teams, forgetting to take the pulse of others and forgetting to listen can easily happen in situations like this. Yet at Ludia these elements were naturally a priority. A wonderful example of this is our CEO’s way of thinking during this situation. Physically present during the entire deployment, he asked us to do our best but to make sure to take care of ourselves. 

Our entire team upheld this spirit and state of mind. We worked hard, laughed together, and ensured that everyone took breaks. We learnt to better know and understand each other and bring out the best of everyone’s strength. We took the time to share, to listen, and that’s what enabled us to succeed and surmount this challenge; tired but not exhausted, proud and closer than ever.

Trust was primordial. No one was scared to express their thoughts, to stop the process if they had a doubt or an eventual error, and this combined, resulted in quality work. 

Our employees provided incredible support, care, and mutual assistance which facilitated the deployment. It also brought an immense amount of company-wide gratitude towards the team that made this all possible. 

With the help of our teams and volunteers, and the caring and comprehension of our Ludians, what seemed like a daunting logistical feat in uncharted territory, transformed itself into a beautiful success and an illustration of our values and corporate culture. 

A Golden Ally

We would also like to say a special thanks to our unsung hero who enabled all home deliveries, while also recuperating material in all four corners of Montreal. This permitted us to advance, saving us precious time. Thank you Marc, our Chronos courier.

We call Marc our hero internally – he inevitably is a vital part of our dream team. If our employees can work operationally from home today, and you and your kids can find some small comfort playing our games at home, it’s in part thanks to him!

It’s moments like these that make us realise how lucky we are to work with quality partners and collaborators. We couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and to count such incredible people as part of our crew.