I spent two semesters in Montreal, and staying here was was a great choice. I got to go on more company visits, get taught by a Ubisoft employee, and more relevantly, I got to take another internship. This semester I got to work at a company called Pixelz, on a game titled Cefore, a demolition puzzle game (that’s also available now on Steam Early Access). My main function for most of the internship was creating a system that records GIFs of gameplay and gives the user the ability to upload them to Imgur and share them on Reddit and Twitter.
However, unlike my previous internship, for this one I was working remotely. Since Pixelz is a small company, of two but later three developers, making their first game they don’t have a great deal of resources to work with. So when they went to work in the Gameplay Space, they had about two tables worth of room that was taken up by all three employees. This is why I had to work remotely. This is most of the basics of working at Pixelz done, so now let’s move onto some of the more in depth things.
On a week to week basis I worked inside one of the labs here at the Champlain Montreal Campus. It was the perfect place to work most of the time: low amounts of distractions, easy bathroom access, and a decent internet connection. Then on Wednesday of every week, I went to the Gameplay Space to meet with the members of Pixelz to discuss what I did over the past week, as well as what I was going to do for the next week/beyond. These meetings lasted about an hour and contained an informal presentation of what each member of the team did, before discussing things that I previously mentioned.
The first task they asked me to do was to make a system that could keep track of rewards that player’s could earn from buying special editions of the game. This required a web service and a system that I knew nothing about. After around 10 hours of research and trying things, I did create the basis of this system for them. However, immediately after I was to stop working on that system and move to a completely different one. From this point onward I would start the system that would encapsulate the rest of my internship. My first task was to make a system that could record gameplay, export it as a GIF, and upload that GIF to imgur. Well, that wasn’t so bad. It took around 19 hours of total work to get that system running.
For the next week they asked to display the most recent GIF on the main menu along with implementation of Twitter and Reddit to post the GIF on. So for the next week I did bug fixes, researched a way to play a downloaded GIF in Unity, and started to look into the Twitter and Reddit api. It was not until two weeks later that I got the reddit and twitter api into a good place. Subsequently, I restarted and completed the GIF playback on the main menu, and while the team was off to Boston for PAX East, I worked on displaying the Imgur album on a webpage.
Working remotely was a challenge, as I only interacted with the Pixelz team online through a text chat, and for about one hour each week. I don’t regret working remotely, and I think everyone in this type of field should do it at least once. I can see the appeal of working remotely. You get to decide your own hours and you don’t have to interact with people too much. However, there are some downsides. Communicating with the team can feel impersonal, lacking the close connection you get when you meet face to face.
Now that I’ve paid my dues and have worked remotely at least once, I will now almost never do it again, but I’m glad I gained the experience. For the semester I had to step outside of what I know into the realm of unknown and I liked it. I liked making Unity work with Twitter and Reddit. I liked posting things to Imgur.
Being in Montreal for a whole academic year led me to grow more fond of this city. When I’m back in Vermont, I’ll miss getting up to walk the twenty minutes down a busy street to class. I’ll miss going to the store and getting food and things that aren’t healthy for me. I’ll miss the ease of talking to the staff here on campus. Champlain abroad has helped me greatly in a number of ways. I visited companies and spoke to professionals, I actually had to go buy things from a store for myself; but most importantly, when I originally arrived here, I made a promise to myself. I thought that since I was in a brand new place I should be different, be better. So I signed up for school activities, I talked to more people then I was normally used to. It felt liberating. I’m going to not stop writing if this continues, so I’m going to end it with one more thing. Coming up here to Montreal was the possibly the single best decision I made in my life. Going to a new place, experiencing new things, could be just what you need to step outside of yourself and see the world as it is.