The Internship Chronicles: Austin

By Austin Roorda (GPROD ’20)

During the Fall 2018 Semester, Austin interned at Behaviour Interactive in Montreal. 

My name is Austin Roorda, and this semester in Montreal I was a Project Management Intern working at Behaviour Interactive. Behaviour Interactive is an independent game development studio based in Montreal, although it’s roots are actually Quebec City, where it was founded as Multimedia Interactive in 1992.

Since 1992, the company has worked on over 150 titles, many of which belong to AAA IP’s and have sold millions and millions of copies. Some of the titles that it has worked on include winners of several ‘Game of the Year’ awards with their work on titles such as Fallout Shelter. Behaviour also works on and creates its own IP’s, such as the critically acclaimed Dead By Daylight.

In recent developments, GAEA, a chinese based game development studios has invested assets into the company and now owns a 25% stake – this is a major move for an independent studio as it gives them a lot of leverage to enter the Chinese market. As a Project Management Intern, I was responsible for Project Management tasks and maintaining the ‘back end’ of the project in a sense. My usual day consisted of the following; I would start at 9:15 when I came into the office and said hello to everyone and looked at my emails from the day before. At 9:30 we would have either a Design, Tech and Audio or an Art and Animation stand up meeting where we would check in, move tasks around the task board and generally address any issues that were impeding progress. I would take notes of this and go over them afterwards if they were significant enough or were impeding the progress of the team in any way.

Once the stand up meeting was over I would usually get a task from Mathieu (the Producer on the project I was working on ‘Game of Thrones’). These tasks would vary from day to day an their length would also very as the tasks were usually pretty different from one another. Some days I would be working with Parker, who was our remote project manager who was responsible for things related to JIRA. He taught me a lot about JIRA and really helped to show me the ropes considering I had no prior experience with it beforehand. Most days I would be working on either creating / moving tasks around and organizing the task board, creating Confluence pages or doing smaller quality of life tasks that would streamline production. Other days I would be working with specific members of the team and making sure their tasks for the next sprint were all set and aligned with the project timeline. It really depended what the team needed me to do and what hat they needed me to wear and I would.

Now, this isn’t to say that I was always doing something different – many of these tasks would take a week or more to complete. I was responsible for backing up months worth of older documentation from Basecamp (team communication platform) to the project’s Confluence page. I learned how to use Confluence in a more in depth way given my lack of any experience with it.  Like I had stated earlier I had no prior experience with JIRA or Confluence before my time here at Behaviour. While I had already used Redmine, which is Champlain College’s custom project management software – Confluence and JIRA are the industry standard when it comes to Project Management software. Every major studio uses these softwares and I needed to learn how to used them. One of the more interesting and unexpected challenges that I faced at my time at Behaviour was the actual limited amount of time I had to spend at work. Rather than working two 8 hour days to total my 16 hours per week I was required to work – I opted to work 5 days a week for around 4 to 5 hours per day in order to get as much time in the office as possible. The issues that was presented with this however was that I was unable to stay in the office for long periods of time due to my contract.

I should mention that as an intern I was being paid – since Behaviour’s policy around interns basically treats them as a full time employee. Due to my contract only allowing me to work 16hrs per week, I was unable to work for more than that without not being paid, which they wouldn’t do. It turns out that due to my willingness to come into the office every day I was unable to stay for as long as I would have liked to and in turn made it so tasks would sometimes drag on for longer than they needed to. This wasn’t a huge issue, with the only example of this being when I needed a specific question answered by a member of the team who always came into the office for work right as I left. If I had been staying for a full day I wouldn’t have had that issue.

Austin Roorda (GPROG ’20) with mentors at Behaviour Interactive

To the left I am pictured with Robert and Mathieu, who were my mentors and colleagues during my time at Behaviour Interactive. Robert is the V.P or Mobile Publishing at Behaviour and has been in the industry for over 20 years. Mathieu (right)  is the Producer for the project I have been working on; ‘Game of Thrones’, and has also been working in the industry for over a decade. We’re pictured in front of Behaviour’s timeline, which spans an entire life of the company and lists all of the major projects that the company has worked on. Not pictured is Justin, who was the creative director on GoT, and who also has a nice beard. He took the picture of us here.

Overall, I can say that my time at Behaviour Interactive has been transformative for me. I have worked beside and under incredibly talented industry professionals who have gone out of their way to help me learn and grow as a producer and as a person. They have included me into the project and made me feel like I was a part of a family during my time there. As my final weeks grow closer, I feel saddened that I know my time with them is drawing towards a close. I know that my time with the team has strengthened my resolve to become a game producer and to live by my motto; to create what I want to play.