Nick Oprisu (Game Production ’19) tells us about his internship at Illogika during his semester abroad in Montreal.
There is a good deal of discussion and debate about what a game “producer” does. Is it mainly business tasks like budgeting and marketing, or is it more project management role? Is it an equal mix of both, or is it something else? This uncertainty is partially why I was drawn to this type of work. Self determination and independence are traits I value highly in people and companies, and the chance to forge my own mark on this new profession is a welcome opportunity. While we can debate the role of them, producers are key to managing even small teams and making sure a game goes from an idea to a product, and a successful one at that. The successful producers figure out this balance fast and adapt their style and work methodology to the team they have. This tightrope walk of managing the product and managing the business is what separates the bad producers from the good ones, and understanding when their current model is failing separates the good from the great.
Internships are a staple in the Game Development space. The industry is almost entirely portfolio based, with a single project making or breaking a person’s chances of getting in a studio. Having the right work experience is crucial when you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of projects under your belt. While this is the main reason people take internships, the second and arguably more important is for education. For me, this was my motivator when I accepted an internship at iLLOGIKA Studios.
iLLOGIKA is an independent studio founded in 2009 that focuses on new types of interaction in the gaming industry. It’s focus on VR and AR is just the newest step in this direction. With over 30 full time employees, it is a focused studio with many past projects under its belt. It’s newly released title, Subaeria, is it’s first original IP.
While at iLLOGIKA, I was mainly tasked to do two main things: translation and software evaluation. With translation, I was tasked with doing a full review of the English translation of the project I was working on. Afterwards, I needed to prep the document to accommodate four other language components. After this, I needed to contact translators and hire them to do the translation. This was a challenge as I had to find both a well rated translator that is within our budget and was willing to take the order. A number of them could not do it, which was discouraging at first. Once they were contracted, I had to make sure they were following protocol and answer their questions. Finally, I had to find other translators to do a few reviews and changes where they found mistakes.
The second big task came in a few parts, and was the one that I learned the most from. Initially, my job was to examine a few project management softwares and see if they included a number of necessary features. While I found this to be a small task at first, I found other pieces of software and added them into consideration, increasing the scope of the assignment. I was unaware that there were so many different and distinct ways to organize work. Before this internship, I was aware of half a dozen usable tools. Now, I have anywhere from 15-25 tools, each with their specific niche. After compiling the list, I had to do a deep dive on the limits of the software and see if they really stood up to heavy task management and other tests. After presenting my initial findings to the team, I did a fell sweep of Jira, one of the most ubiquitous project management softwares on the market. Lauded for its customizability, I setup a full example project in the software and explored the various plugins and attachments that could be used with it. I also looked into application development within Jira, as we were also looking for new software to help with resource management and budget predictions. I was able to locate an SDK and other comprehensive documentation for app development, which helped us in our evaluation. This is where another major hurdle came into play, as the trial for Jira was expiring. This wasn’t a big issue, as I could easily reproduce the small test project in another trial period. The kicker was that just the day after I was going to make the new account for the reproduced project, Jira did a major visual overhaul of its software. This is generally not a huge deal if I returning to an existing project. However, starting from scratch was a bit more difficult than i had originally expected. The general task management was the same across most spects, but the software navigation was something that took some time to get used to. In addition to this, I had heavily modified my Jira setting from the original template to accommodate for my team’s required features. Finding and applying those features took an astonishing amount of time and cut down on my effective work time, delaying my timeline. Lastly, some of the plugins that I had working for the original demo suffered from the change, reducing their value in the project. Afterwards, I did a number of other demos of the same tasks with other PM softwares, and presented the findings to the team.
There were a few other tasks that I performed: Digital distribution partner research and some budget estimates, but these were much smaller compared to the other tasks but just as important to the continued work of the company. In terms of the lessons that I learned, that would be the first: the smallest things sometimes hold some of the most important tasks. The second lesson was a more subtle one, and one that I personally struggled with. I learned that self-reporting and assertiveness are important in getting tasks done quickly and ectively. It’s not enough to do good work in a good amount of time; you have to keep the right people informed about the status of the work. In addition to this, it is always better to be honest with how a project is going than to lie and overwork yourself to meet the standard you committed to. I consider myself a prideful person,and asking for help when I know I can do something is my biggest flaw as a producer and as a person. It is often hard for me to see the good that asking for help would bring in contrast to the inconvenience that it might cause. Lastly, I learned that it is easier to work with people if you know them personally. Often during my the internship, I would try to not disturb anyone for any reason, to try and minimize my presence in the office. Once I actually talked to some people and got to know them post their profession, it became easier to ask for advice or assistance. I had always believed that the best way to work with someone was with their personal self at a distance. Perhaps I had misjudged that distance.
Overall I am very happy with my time at iLLOGIKA. The people that I worked with were excellent at their job and to work with. I felt that my tasks were meaningful and helped towards the company’s goal. I learned a lot about myself and about the industry, and gave me a new appreciation of the more mundane work that producers do. I will be sure to take these lessons to heart, knowing that they will make me a better producer for myself and for my teams going forward.