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Universal and Ludia: it’s all about trust !

Maggy, Jurassic World Alive’s Senior Producer, started working at Ludia in 2015. Not only does she supervise the creation of the dinosaurs for the Jurassic World:The Game and Jurassic World Alive mobile games, but she also works with the largest Game team at Ludia. During production, the team consisted of more than 100 developers, artists and designers! And we’re not even talking about the day-to-day work with other teams, such as IT, marketing, back-end, live-ops, community management, etc.

Maggy

For all those aspects, she is the perfect resource at Ludia to provide insight into Ludia’s collaboration with the Universal Games team on one of its strongest licenses.

Ready? Ok Maggy, let’s talk about the Jurassic World universe, and Ludia’s relationship with Universal.

Working with Universal, how is it really?

The relationship between Ludia and Universal is one of the most collaborative among all of our projects. Since Jurassic World: The Game, Ludia’s first co-production, we worked closely on every single aspect together. From the dinosaurs, story writing and characters, to establishing the roadmap, reviewing the designs, developing the live ops calendar, and much more. Our objective is to continue building on a winning partnership that will continue to grow for many years.

Trust is key!

Thanks to our our collaboration on Jurassic Park Builder, Jurassic World: The Game and Jurassic World Alive, we’ve developed a strong and rewarding working relationship with Universal. I like to call it a trust-based relationship. This trust enables us to explore new ideas and concepts with a collaborative mindset. And we’ve found that due to our history together, we now are usually on the same page about the features that we find most important for the long-term success for the various titles.

Working with such a strong license like Jurassic World gives us an amazing advantage and visibility marketing-wise. The franchise is adored by almost two to three generations!  Our team consists of a real fan-base for Jurassic World, they all know the dinosaurs by heart!

Anything unique about this collaboration?

We had the opportunity to work on our first full-length live-action trailer for the launch of Jurasssic World Alive, in collaboration with the Universal Games marketing team, and it has been viewed more than 3 million times! We were also able to leverage the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom film marketing campaign toshowcase the game in fun ways, such as when we were given the opportunity to tag the game at the end of the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer that was shown in theatres.

Second, working with Universal continues to be a ton of fun and their input is very valuable in helping to bring our gameplay vision to life. To reinforce the authencity our games, we are given access to resources and assets that help us to make informed creative decisions during the development process, like being able to read the Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom script almost a year before the film was released.

Finally, more recently, we partnered with the team at Universal Studios Hollywood on the recent opening of the new « Jurassic World – The Ride » attraction. The collaboration allowed us to created an event specifically for the ride location, so that when the people come out of the ride, they can battle with their own dinosaurs. Fans visiting the theme park were also able to collect their favorite dinosaurs and track down an exclusive Epic Incubator, a capsule that contains valuable resources, such as dinosaur DNA.

It goes without saying that being able to make our own contributions to some of Universal’s biggest launches has been very rewarding.

Key learnings to build the best relationship with strong licenses

The key to success is simple – treat your licensors like true partners. A strong collaboration helps make things go faster and everyone is able to accomplish their goals.

Drawing dragons with Dreamworks

CREATE DRAGONS WITH DREAMWORKS

Working with licenses in the video game industry can be a complex topic: a formidable source of opportunities for some, a creativity brake for others. One could agree that there are as many reasons to work with licenses as there are existing brands and studios.

But how does it work at Ludia? How do we work with our licenses? Do our artists feel constrained in their creativity? A quick feedback from Philippe, artist on Dragons: Titan Uprising.

Philippe

Working hand in hand

After studying art and animation, Philippe joined Ludia 4 years ago and has since worked on exciting projects with Dreamworks, such as Kung Fu Panda and Dragons: Titan Uprising: “I am responsible for the artistic design of the games and visuals”, says Philippe.

How does it work in practice?

Well, for the Dragons: Titan Uprising game for example, the Ludia Game Designer may need a new dragon. This is where Philippe comes in. His work consists in imagining and drawing the dragon including the research phase, sketching, adding texture, final drawing, colorimetry: everything is well thought through. Philippe collaborates with Dreamworks throughout the whole process to bring this unique universe, its dragons and characters to life.  They share the visuals, make live comments and are in constant touch until the final validation.

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Working with Licenses: How to Train Your Dragon

As Ludia’s Lead Game Designer on DreamWorks Dragons: Titan Uprising for nearly 3 years, I’ve seen first-hand how working with a beloved franchise empowers game development.

There’s a common misconception that working with established licenses stifles creativity and results in mediocre products. While the early days of games are littered with half-baked movie cash grabs, things have changed dramatically over the years. From 2018’s Spider-Man on PS4 to Jurassic World: Alive on mobile, gamers have more options than ever to dive deep into their favorite franchises. Licensors now understand the value of high-quality titles supporting their brands, and Ludia has become a mobile expert in licensed gaming.

Written by Kevin Messer

You Already Have an Audience

Let’s face it—getting people excited about a mobile game and forming a community is really hard. There’s more competition every day, and mobile still carries a stigma with old-school gamers. Building around a known franchise not only helps with marketing, but you already have an answer to “who’s our audience?” Knowing your audience helps in all stages of game development, allowing the team to focus on what really matters to people who already care.

In the case of How to Train Your Dragon (HTTYD), I’m constantly amazed by the passion and civility of the fans. The inherent optimism in the franchise attracts some wonderful people who treat others with respect. Even when they find bugs, they often let us know with a tone of “I want to help improve the game” instead of “the devs are terrible!” This creates a collaborative atmosphere with the community and motivates teams to constantly improve.

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Let’s talk about autism in the video games industry

Anxious, sometimes clumsy in society, not always easy to understand but amazingly detail oriented, meticulous and innovative : they are often called the forgotten of the workplace. Who are they? They are the people with autism spectrum disorders, and we are so proud to count some among our crew members at Ludia.

Michel

Diversity at Ludia 

At Ludia, when we talk about diversity we want to include all types of differences, not only to be tolerant, but offer a place where we want each and every Ludian to feel free to celebrate his/her differences, share and discuss with open-minded people, and always feel accepted and respected.

So, in this context, Michel Blanchet addressed the topic of autistic people at the workplace during one of our Lunch and Learn a few months ago, to help everyone get a better understanding of those specific profiles and how to act around them and integrate them. Let’s take a look back at this topic that deserves such special attention.

The Asperger myth

Michel has been working at Ludia for almost 4 years. First as Build Master, then as Backend Developer 6 months ago as part of his evolution. When you see him, he seems quite different from what we have in mind when we think of autism: smiling, sociable with various interests.  “Autism is not something well known by everyone, and a lot of people have their own idea of what it is.” He explains to us that people still strongly associate autism to a kid that is rocking back and forth, that does not want to be touched nor be disturbed in his own world. “But autism is so much more. We all have our personal characteristics and differences.”

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What does it mean to be inclusive at Ludia?

At Ludia, we embrace diversity, whether in trades, origins, languages, individuals and their passions, expertise and personalities. Being a Ludian is also about taking action, even if small, to improve the feeling of being part of a crew and to build a more convivial, secure space at Ludia where we can all feel like home.

Leslie

This year is a special year at Ludia, because for the first time, the company decided to walk the Pride Walk with other Gaming studios here at Montréal on the 18th of August 2019. “ I am so happy we are finally being part of the Pride Walk, I have been waiting for that day” says Leslie Martin, a french Technical artist and Ludian for 6 years.

If there is one thing we can say about Ludia, is that everyone here feels accepted and part of a crew. It’s one of the reasons why people stay. “For a long time, I didn’t feel normal, wondering about my sexuality, my purpose, what it meant to be a woman. Today I have learnt to embrace my femininity, and changing countries broadened my view on things. LGBT in Canada is much more developed and accepted than in other countries, same sex marriage was already recognized in 2005!” Leslie does not really believe in gender binarism, gender is a spectrum. When we look at the new generations growing up in a more accepting world, the line between genders becomes more ambiguous and people are more free to be true to themselves.

A lot of initiatives have been set in place at Ludia to build a healthy working environment, for everyone to feel included and accepted. Starting with our given classes around manners and respect for each other at work, our lunch & learn sessions given by colleagues, where they speak about depression, burn-out, autism, self-improvement, meditation for instance. “It’s cool to see how people are more and more comfortable here to share their personal findings and experiences without being ashamed”

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Inclusion, our studio’s main pillar

It has always been part of Ludia’s DNA, to accept people for who they are, with their personalities and skills. And even if for some, this is not a topic for conversation, well to have women working in the video games industry, especially in programming, was not always easy (and still isn’t for some today).
But this was never an issue, nor even a question at Ludia, says Catherine Barbeau, who has been working at Ludia since its creation in 2007 and today in charge of technical back-end projects.

Catherine

An obvious integration

Catherine has been evolving at Ludia for 12 years now! She saw the company bloom from a small start-up to today’s mature studio. And what remained constant during this incredible evolution is the continuous integration of all types of profiles and an open mindset.

“At Ludia we are generally good when it comes to hiring people who are enjoyable to work with, therefore I was never put in a difficult position for being a woman. I always felt like I had  a great support around me, it wasn’t a problem at all. I know there are girls who would have different stories to tell, but for me it has always been very positive. I was able to find my place and evolve with the company.”
After having been in the Jurassic World Alive programming team as co-lead of a dozen programmers, Catherine is now in charge of a team of 5 programmers who provide all the server infrastructure for the games. Being part of teams composed mainly of men (which is still a reality in programming), and being their leader even has always gone very smoothly for her.

A natural recognition

Catherine is aware of how lucky she is that she never had to fight as a woman in her working-environment. However, she admits that she felt a bit anxious when she had to take her first maternity leave. “There were not many women at Ludia’s at that time: a one-year maternity leave was not common. I was really worried about what was going to happen when I came back. Was I going to lose my position? »

None of that happened of course!  A place was naturally found for her in the teams. During her second maternity leave, she left much more serene, and she is now glad to see her colleagues go on maternity or paternity leave with much less apprehension than she had felt at the time. As Ludia has evolved over the years, this was integrated in parallel to its culture: no more uncertainty and anxiety.

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