By Chris McCammon (GPROD ’20)
During the Fall 2018 semester, Chris interned at Casa Rara, a game development studio in Montreal.
During my time studying abroad in Montreal, I interned at a small game development studio called Casa Rara. This amazingly weird place is where I learned so much about my major, game production management, and what it really means to be a producer in the real world. The studio started October 4, 2016, with an official start date of January 16, 2017. Casa Rara is made up of veterans from the gaming industry such as our creative director who worked on Papa and Yo, as well as our programmer who worked on Roller Coaster Tycoon World. Our producer, Tali, has had years of experience in regular film production as well as in virtual reality game production at Minority Media.
I was located in the Milieux center at Concordia University, which is right in the center of the city. It is within walking distance of a bunch of incredible restaurants, and I would often go out with co-workers to them on a weekly basis. I even found the best ramen place of all time! During my time at Casa Rara I had a bunch of different roles in the company. Some I can’t talk about in too much detail, but what I can say is I had a blast interning at this company. For starters, I learned Jira which is the project management software the industry primarily uses. This process started by me planning out the weekly sprints with the team on Friday evenings. Once we discussed what we wanted to include for our next Sprint, and would reconvene on Monday to make sure that was still the direction we were going for. Once we decided on what tasks each person was doing, I would then type up their tasks in Jira with the correct priorities and descriptions to make them easy to understand.
An example of this would be creating a 3D model. I would put this into the correct ‘epic’ which is basically used as a category, and talk with my artist to find out how long he estimates it would take him to complete the task. With this setup, it is easy for my artist to log time against the task, and for me to see how the team is doing at meeting their predicted time estimates.
I assisted my creative director with multiple concept pitches while I was working here. This involved creating slides for marketing and production, as well as reviewing them for grammar and flow. These pitches ended up being great successes landing us several potential clients, and also gave me invaluable experience on what is important when pitching a game idea.
I also worked on several important Confluence pages with key information such as a giant list of publishers attending the Montreal International Games Summit. It was my jo to sort them by relevance to our studio, and do some research into each one of them. I also did the same type of list for trade shows and conventions that could benefit my company, and help them make valuable connections throughout the industry.
On top of that, I worked on several website prototypes to be used as design mockups of a future website for Casa Rara. They wanted a new website where the content was first, without overloading the viewer with excess information. I used my previous web design experience making mockups using Adobe Muse and Photoshop to see what kind of layout would best fit their vision.
During my internship, I learned so much about my role on a team, and more about the role producers play in the business side of things. I got to see my mentor work on important budgets and timelines and find out how she would go about making these documents accurate and fast. I also learned about how hard it is to make everybody happy on a team. My mentor works so hard to meet with each employee and make sure all their needs are met which is something I need to make sure I implement in my future teams at Champlain College as well as in the real world after that.
I also learned that my skills as a producer taken from the production classes at Champlain College were already useful enough to provide real improvements for the team. It seems like I was able to get everyone organized and create a connection with each person.
Thanks to my Scrum training that took place in the past year or so, I was able to immediately understand how the studio worked and then learned more about how these concepts are actually implemented in a functioning studio. I came out of it realizing that Scrum is much more of suggested guidelines than a rule book that prohibits changes. There were some things that worked for my studio that aren’t necessarily following Scrum to the tee, but the end result ended up working much better because of these changes.
I learned that I still have lots more to discover about being the best producer possible, but I can only gain that experience by being on projects and trying and failing. Similar to Production 1 where I didn’t know the best way to handle team conflicts, I felt like in this environment I didn’t know the best way to provide the biggest impact on making the team better.
With Tali and Ruben mentoring me, I really learned about what it means to be a producer in the real world. I learned with more clarity than ever that being a producer is what I want to do with my future, and that a small company like this felt like home. I discovered more about who I am as a person, and who I want to grow to become which is the most valuable takeaway from my experience here. Having an internship in Montreal is an absolute must to gain that real world experience and to better understand why I picked the major I did.