Serge arrived at Ludia in 2017 and has recently been promoted to Creative Manager responsible for the Art, UX, and Design departments, which represents more than 150 people.
His role is to guide all these creative minds, to provide them with the best tools to bring out their creativity within our games and reach their full potential.
Finding the balance between ambition and humanity
Since he was 12 years old, Serge has loved video games. He has grown into an expert, especially in mobile, knowing the complexity and competitiveness of this industry and the number of jobs needed to build games that stand the test of time. Before joining Ludia, he had been following its development from afar for some time and admired the success the studio had had over the years.
When he arrived, the position had been created for him: the management team had identified Ludia’s needs that were a great match for his skills. Through this position, Serge helped grow a strong next generation of artists. Now it is time for Serge to undertake a similar journey with the entire creative department at Ludia!
His greatest wish is to see Ludia assert itself as a major player in the industry, not only in Canada but also around the world. To achieve this, it begins with the people we work with every day. These days the creation of mobile games is increasingly complex. You have to know how to bring teams together, bring out their strengths, understand each other’s impact and create bonds that are stronger than technology. It’s an everyday challenge, and even more so in a virtual context! This is what he strives for, providing dynamic solutions and supporting the day-to-day.
It is in his ambition to take on this challenge and continue to develop his people to go further in our creations that Serge relies on a value that he shares with Ludia, and we hold strongly: the well-being of our employees. Serge upholds this kindness and willingness to put well-being and development at the heart of everything we do.
“The fact that we don’t work in a work-for-hire environment allows us to plan more long-term and invest in what is most precious: our people.”
Since Ludia’s creation, and especially since his arrival, Serge has noticed the emphasis on constant evolution and pushing of boundaries while allowing employees to really invest themselves in the studio without compromising their work-life balance.
“A good example is Ludia’s desire to invest the time of our employees to contribute to the continuous improvement of the studio”: Ludia is a story that belongs to all those who wish to help write it. The implementation of a multi-level decision-making process will not only give our employees more transparency and visibility on Ludia’s future but will also provide a framework in which they can have fun and make decisions.
Another example of this is the FLEX program announced last November at Ludia: “Flexibility means different things to different people”, but offering a program and approach that ticks all the boxes, being able to adjust your presence in the office or at home as you/he/she wants, is a huge step forward for Ludia. This program, which was designed with no other goal than the well-being of our employees in mind, has even allowed some of our employees to fulfill their dreams, such as buying back a family home which they grew up in outside of Montreal.
For the past 4 years, he has been following Ludia’s evolution from the inside and sees how the studio and its 400 employees are adapting as they grow. Ludia’s strength? Constantly questioning itself, listening to our needs, and implementing the changes necessary to improve our games, and ourselves as a company.
“If you’re passionate, you can create”.
What is he most proud of? Working hand in hand with his colleagues on human resource management, development, coaching, complex projects, role formalization, team support, as well as managing the start-up of new productions at Ludia. Knowing how to mix long-term employees and newcomers from different backgrounds, bringing out their expertise and innovation: all of this is what drives him.
Serge is passionate about people, he likes to coach, accompany, bring out creativity, equip his people with the right tools – in general, and even more so at this time of COVID19. But he is also passionate about music, cooking, blogs, decor, and travel. His greatest support is his family. He also surrounds himself with books and inspiring quotes, notably from Simon Sinek or books related to the creative process.
All of this mixed together gives him the energy and creativity he needs, which he then passes on at Ludia to our creatives every day.
What’s important to remember?
At Ludia, we love working with passionate people, discovering, bringing out creativity, developing the human aspect, questioning ourselves, learning, and evolving. That’s why we’re still here today and why we create exceptional games.
“Today, I am able to say that what I do every day at Ludia is exactly where I want to be and what I want to do”.
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;
atmosphere and social aspect;
financial and family benefits,
Holidays and free time;
Dedicated employee communications;
Training and skills development;
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
When people ask what is the role of a community manager, the most common answer we hear is that they spend alot time surfing on social media without understanding the real purpose. Since this profession did not officially exist a few years ago, varies from one company to another, and is still constantly evolving, it is only normal that one might not recognize its true value.
Here at Ludia, we understand the value that our Community Department brings through their everyday’s hard work engaging and exchanging with the passionate fans of our games. So when we hear that the most common vision of their role does not do them justice and is so far from reality, we decided that it’s time we highlight the important work this department is doing on a day-to-day basis. Without further ado, here’s an introduction of the vibrant Community Management team and a brief breakdown of their mission!
Community management: the complexity of a “new profession”.
Social, digital, creative and engaging. These 4 words might give you a first glimpse of what lies at the heart of the work of our community managers. But it would be a lie to tell you that this complex and constantly evolving profession can be reduced to just a few words. The reason why it is so complicated for many people to understand this position is that it is relatively new and the community managers work in a very fast paced environment.
If we were to give a general outline of it, the basic mission could be summarized as: to continuously improve retention by creatively and effectively animating, engaging and interacting with the communities, and to sustainably increase digital and social fingerprint for Ludia and its games. The focus is to foster strong relationships with our communities and to create a bridge between fans and developers. All this will create a virtuous circle of exchanges for the good of both the games and the communities.
The keyword is engagement. Every idea that will be thought of and creative material created will serve this goal. Engaging can take many forms: entertain, inform, surprise, interact, share, value, reassure, praise, etc. Engagement will have an effect on the community’s dynamic, attraction and retention for the game and dedicated networks.
The main functions are organized around different axes:
– Monitoring the latest trends (industry, competitors, other brands, top trends) – Creating appealing content – Brainstorming for ideas to tease, build hype and excitement – Scheduling and planning the content according to a precise calendar (while remaining reactive and up to date with new trends or news) – Interacting and engaging continuously with the communities – Interacting and fostering relationships with Influencers, Content Creators and Ambassadors – Analyzing and optimizing the performances of strategies and publications – Sharing good practices but also failures to allow the whole department to move in the right direction and learn
All these steps must be thought of for the different platforms because each one of them will have its own social strategy, content to focus on and technical constraints. The main platforms managed by our team are :
– Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Youtube – Official Ludia Forum
Of course, according to the different trends and the emergence of novelties, new platforms can be explored (like TikTok). In any case, the team always makes sure to be present wherever our communities are, more or less intensely.
And this is done for all our games! You see, no time to wander around really 🙂
The vibrant team of Community at Ludia
Being a great community manager requires several essential characteristics such as having strong writing skills, being creative, attention to details, curious, a tiny spark of adventurous spirit and knowing how to learn from success but also mistakes. One thing to remember, according to Marcus Tan, our Head of Community Management, is that “there is no magic formula in community management”. It’s a job of constant learning and that’s what makes it such a stimulating role on a daily basis!
When we take a look at Ludia’s Community team, beyond professionalism, several things stand out. First the energy, the positivity, the vibrant side and the brains of its 6 members always bursting with new and greater ideas. Then the feeling of trust, openness, transparency and sharing that are so very present among the team.
All members evolve with a common goal and the desire to make the games and the whole team shine. No solo work here, no one hidden in a tiny corner. Yes each member has his/her own communities to manage but sharing is one of the most valued elements. Thanks to the follow-ups and weekly meetings, more or less formal exchanges on the latest trends, ideas to try or develop and the sharing of the latest victories and failures, our community managers nourish their minds and inspire each other. They help each other and combine their strengths to overcome obstacles and difficult situations together.
Everything changes very fast in community management. Trends, codes, what is considered creative, what becomes outdated, everything can go on and off in the blink of an eye. The team must therefore be insanely reactive and always on alert. The main challenge is to succeed in creating engaging content that will delight fans while capturing the attention of a new audience. In order to engage the communities successfully, it is a complex work to stay creative, inspired and as possible to try not to reuse the same content. It requires good capacities of adaptation and the ability to identify key indicators and analyze results. Yes, being a community manager also means having a sharp analytical mind!
Once again, this is not an exact science, because humans are at the heart of the role and the results! You need to A/B test, adapt, succeed, make mistakes, interact a lot and sometimes trust your gut-feelings to get to know the personality of your community. This is valid for new communities being created but just as true for the one already established. As every human being who’s part of it, a community has a subjective and changing vision.
A strong trust shared with the production’s team and our licensors
Preparing and planning for the games launch as well as the announcement of various promotions and the daily animation of the social platforms, Community works very closely with production and our licensors.
In both cases, trust and deep respect have been built over the years. Exchanges are open. Community’s expertise is appreciated and taken into account when it comes to anticipate players’ appreciation of an upcoming update or to share ideas for new features, optimizations or events according to the players’ expectations and trends. Community is also, just as our “Moderation and Social Care” team, a great ally to identify bugs immediately reported by players, and provide great help in resolving these issues in a timely manner. A great mutual support with production naturally emerged for the good of the games and our communities.
Same with the licensors: an established trust. Of course, licensors’ approval rounds take place in order to validate the content, but the partnerships are so strong and based on solid foundations that Community can easily propose new ideas and test new mechanics. Working in such close proximity with our partners gives the Community access to exclusive content, the ability to attend events (such as the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park and D&D Live 2019: The Descent) and receive great social support. All this allows us to provide higher quality and interesting content to our fans!
A community management department is so much more complex than you thought, isn’t it?
“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!
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.
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.
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.”
“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!”
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!
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.
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 asanArt 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.
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?
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
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.
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.
Working hand in hand
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.
does it work in practice?
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.