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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.

Ludia ranked among Montreal’s Top Employers 2020!

Our commitment to the well-being of our employees was rewarded this year by being selected as Montreal’s Top Employers 2020!

A wonderful accomplishment!

Ludia is very happy and proud to be part of this ranking. More than a distinction, it’s an accomplishment that echoes all the efforts made in our studio to promote the well-being of our employees and allow them to have a good balance between their professional and personal lives. This encourages our desire to go even further, to offer the best possible work environment in order to carry out exceptional projects and to promote the development of our Ludians!

The criterias for an exceptional work environment

The Montreal Top Employers 2020 ranking is based on a list of precise criterias that reward the most exceptional work environments in the Greater Montreal area! These are divided into 8 distinct categories:

 (1) Physical work environment;

(2) Work atmosphere and social aspect;

(3) Health, financial and family benefits,

(4) Holidays and free time;

(5) Dedicated employee communications;

(6) Performance management;

(7) Training and skills development;

(8) Community involvement.

Ludia was able to meet these criterias with some of the highest scores to make it into the final rankings! But our studio distinguished itself more specifically around these 3 reasons:

  • Along with three weeks of starting vacation allowance, Ludia is supportive of employees spending time away from work with paid time off during the winter holidays (up to five days) as well as up to five paid personal days off, which can be scheduled as needed
  • Ludia lets everyone share in the company’s success with profit-sharing and year-end bonuses, and also offers generous referral bonuses for employees who help recruit friends (up to $5,000 per successful hire)
  • Ludia’s head office features a number of onsite amenities and perks including unlimited breakfast goods (bagels, English muffins, raisin bread), fresh fruit, a fully stocked employee lounge (video games, pool table, a tiki bar and personalized beer on tap known as “La Ludique”) and free membership to an onsite fitness facility

For more information on Ludia’s selection, have a look here : https://reviews.canadastop100.com/top-employer-ludia

What does Live ops mean at ludia?

Perceived as a chore to enter data, a project management science, a perpetual search for optimization, a sales catalogue or a complex construction of activities’ campaigns, the Live Ops activity is in constant evolution.

Defined as the set of events that animate the life of an online game, whether an exclusive game mode, time-limited content or special offers, Live Ops keeps generating an ever-increasing proportion of our games’ revenues.

Since I have been working on Live Ops throughout my career in game economy design at Ludia since 2012, I am happy to share a testimony of  my learnings and how my perception evolved along the projects.

Fred

Jurassic Park Builder : Where it all started

When Jurassic Park Builder was released  in 2012, we were far from thinking that the game would still be active 7 years later! Its success definitively placed us among the successful developers at the time. The principle was simple: the player builds his park by collecting buildings, decorations and unlocked dinosaurs along the way with the possibility of buying exclusive ones using premium currency.

It quickly became a priority to animate the game with events.  And to do so, only few possibilities were available at the time: giving discounts on virtual currencies and dinosaurs, activating exclusive dinosaurs in the market… and that was pretty much it! Other possibilities came much later but having to deal with those few tools at first taught us to improvise and be resourceful. As a designer focused on monetization (the term “game economy designer” was not yet really used at that time), I was involved in many aspects of the implementation, such as setting the schedule with marketing, making sure that everything was running smoothly with production, evaluating and proposing combinations of offers with the analysts… 

And the results were there! The game was progressing relatively slowly, thus the special offers had a lot of appeal. So much actually that this lead to an abuse on our side sometimes but taught us to better manage the offers’ timing in order to create envy and stimulating events for our players. Thanks to this experience, we gathered knowledge around content management for collectible games, which was useful for all our future productions, such as our famous How to Train Your Dragon: Rise of Berk released two years later…

Jurassic World The Game: the evolution

It’s 2015, and Jurassic World The Game is in its last gestation moments. Thanks to successful testing on other games, it benefited from a whole set of improvements and features: dinosaurs combats and different creatures’ environments had been successfully introduced in Jurassic Park Builder, and will therefore be an integral part of the Jurassic World The Game experience.

The game also looked very promising using its introduction of card packages to distribute dinosaurs, which would no longer be unlocked as single entities, but as creatures that the player would help evolve using duplicate copies: this may seem obvious today, but at that time, we were still operating with direct sales. To be able to give the duplicates functionalities reinforced the depth of the collection we could offer.

We wanted to create an impressive visual experience around combat where the central plot of the game would be built around it. The genius part of it was to develop tools that would also create events around these combats, which means that we could create special events to vary the experience and guide players to the unique dinosaurs’ collection!

When the game was released, we had access to a real arsenal to create interesting gameplay events and a virtually unlimited variety of offers to support them. This is how our first campaigns were born! We also made use of all the experience we gained from previous games to rigorously monitor public feedback, around sales performance or special events.

But over time, we fell into some misfortunes. We kept multiplying gameplay and offer events without necessarily seeking synergies beyond a specific moment, which led us to organizational difficulties and a wearisome overproduction… but ultimately it pushed us to be more inventive, more precise and more innovative in the approach. So, more than a year and a half after the game’s release, we launched a new Live Ops approach introducing monthly themes, and a series of events better structured around the evolution of the player’s collection. This brand new methodology was well thought out as a team and enabled us to give more meaning to our approaches. Instead of simply trying to build the most profitable event at a given moment, Live Ops is now a tool that concretely creates rendez-vous and keeps an audience on the edge until the desired climax!

Today, a great community of dedicated fans still follows Jurassic World The Game and remains on the lookout for each live event. It is also a complex machine to maintain, but an invaluable source of learning for Ludia to understand the needs in order to optimize Live Ops’s management.

Jurassic World Alive: reaching maturity?

While we were getting ready for Jurassic World Alive, Ludia had already experimented the following in terms of Live Ops:

– The advanced articulation of game events and sales on Jurassic World The Game.
– The systematization of offers on How To Train Your Dragon Rise Of Berk.
– The creation and automation of game event cycles and offers on TMNT Legends.
– The segmentation, dynamization and remote management of the offers for Buzzr Casino and the Price is Right Slots.
– Numerous experiments and revenue optimization campaigns on all projects.

It would have been a shame not to take advantage of that legacy! So naturally, Live Ops was already part of the game’s conception. This time though, the objective was to offer events right after the release of this ambitious experience, such as a mix of geolocated dinosaurs hunting game to attract the public, a deep combat system to engage our players in the competition and fun augmented reality photo features to enjoy the collection. We really made good progress in the vision of the experience we wanted to offer, and Live Ops just had to embellish this approach.

 To do so, we benefited from the development of an internal tool called Dazzle, our online content and planning manager, which eases our events management and their activation in the game. We also adapted our organization and built a Live Ops cell within the development team. Which meant that any interesting feature would be considered for an event!

 Our experience enabled us to better understand how to build our event inventories and how to standardize them in order to quickly create interesting routines. This gave us much more time to focus on the calendar highlights and, on top of that, geolocalization opened new opportunities for varieties: the Toronto Raptors are in the NBA finals? Quick, let’s organize a raptor hunt in Canada to honor them!

 We also have been very lucky to work with our community management teams. Thanks to them we never miss an opportunity to understand, inspire and stimulate the passion and expectations of our fans. This relationship grows stronger over time, and gives a whole new dimension to the surprises we launch: for example, if fans create a support group for the Lythronax, an unloved dinosaur, we will pay tribute to them by creating a boss fight with the great Lord Lythronax, a super-powerful creature specially created for the occasion!

 Today, we are extremely proud of what we have achieved with Jurassic World Alive. Its success encourages us to venture even further. There is still a lot to learn, and we look forward to creating new, more fun and engaging events!

Conclusion

It’s not an easy exercise to list all our progress on Live Ops over the years. There is a reason why we build our business strategy around our ability to run our games over a long period of time. In today’s market, fresh content and regular, interesting events offered to players are key in guaranteeing the health of our audiences and our ability to monetize them.

It was always our choice to develop at our own pace. Our priorities above all are to optimize our approaches, wisely use the tools at our disposal, and keep learning from our operations, with challenges ranging from service management to organizational corporate strategy. 

Through experimentation, we learnt that each game will be different depending on its Live Ops, and that its audiences will have completely different needs and wants depending on the license and game type. 

In fact, we learnt a lot of things. But most importantly, we learnt that we still have a lot to learn.

Thinking about it, the most important question to you today is: are you ready to learn with us?

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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