By: David Jordan, Game Production ’21
My internship here in Montreal is at Ironbelly Studios Inc., a creative and technical service partner for game devs. Essentially, Ironbelly provides art, animation, programming, and production services for indie game devs. I worked alongside them to cooperate with many different devs on many different projects. Ironbelly Studios began with Ryan Wiancko in 2009 and has now expanded to employ over 50 artists, programmers, producers, and animators. Most of Ironbelly’s employees work from their home or remotely as the main office only has 4 employees there regularly alongside 2 interns. The 4 people at the office that I worked alongside include Ryan (the founder), Adrien (Producer and VP of Internal Operations), Chris (programmer), and Jenn (marketing). The other intern at the office was Simon, a programming intern. We worked on a variety of projects for clients on both a small and large scale. The size of clients ranged from solo devs to a partnership with Verizon. The office Ironbelly Studios works at is located on the eastern side of the island of Montreal not too far from the Jacques Cartier bridge. I take the metro to the green line’s Frontenac station. I worked mostly with the producer Adrien and the marketing specialist Jenn as a sort of production/marketing intern.
As I stated previously, I worked as both a production intern and a marketing intern. Depending on the day, I would complete tasks from either Adrien or Jenn that entailed quite a lot of things. On one of my production days, I typically work within the project management system Target Process. In this system, I create projects, epics, features, user stories, tasks, bugs, and views. I communicate with Adrien about new projects that need to be established, about already existing projects that need new tasks/US put in, or projects that need to be cleaned up. Cleaning up a project in Target Process entails assigning all tasks, user stories, and features to their respective hierarchies and removing the entries that are not supposed to be there. I also work in Skylight, a billing system, for my production work. Adrien would ask me to setup a project in Target Process and carry that project over to Skylight in order to bill the clients for the work that we do based on the time we put in. The final set of production tasks I would undergo would be the drafting of security documents. These documents include various policies and procedures for tasks such as making changes to our firewall or classifying different data security levels.
When it comes to my marketing work, I work with Jenn to do a couple different things. One major component of my marketing work is research. I would do research on competition, other indie game’s Twitter, streamer research, and other company’s website layouts. This research would then be carried over into a spreadsheet. Another aspect of my marketing work is creating the tweets for our Fractured Veil Twitter account. In order to remain active on Twitter, we schedule our tweets days in advance and set them to come out at even intervals throughout the week. I would collect the media (pictures, gifs, etc.) either from the website, our YouTube channel, or the game itself.
On the production side, I used the project management system Target Process. Getting familiar with this software was an extremely important aspect of my internship. Redmine is the project management software that I am most familiar with because that’s what we use at Champlain in our Production classes. Redmine is not very intuitive and is fairly difficult to navigate. So trying to learn a more intuitive yet complex project management system was a very informative experience and will be quite helpful going forward. Getting used to software I am unfamiliar with will be something I will contend with going forward in my professional life. Producers have to bounce between many different tasks such as budgeting, project management, running meetings, writing documents, marketing, etc. Learning how to be versatile as a producer is one of the most valuable skills I’ve taken from this internship. I also learned how to communicate and work with people who are located remotely from our office. Our clients and most of our employees are located outside of our office and sometimes in a different country. Given that we live in the digital age, learning how to work through entire projects remotely was very enlightening. The final lesson I learned on the production side of things would be organization. I’ve always been a fairly organized person, but I’ve learned how to better apply those skills to my work. Structuring the documents properly, cleaning up target process, and managing client communication all required a higher level of organizing and planning on my end. These lessons I’ve learned working as a production intern will definitely benefit me as a producer going forward.
Now for the marketing side of my internship. I’ve definitely learned a lot about a field that I am not currently studying, but it is important that I know about marketing principles since that falls within the realm of responsibilities for a producer. As a marketing intern, I learned about how to grow a social media presence. Working with Fractured Veil’s Twitter account gave me first-hand insight on how a game grows its popularity on social media. Using the correct tags, creating more engagement, and using the right media formats are all useful processes I managed to witness and engage in. I even got to monitor my progress throughout the semester by measuring email response rates from streamers and YouTubers and watch them improve after I changed how we engage with them to play our game. Learning more about another field of work was really valuable to me and I can guarantee will come in handy as I pursue a career in game production.
A challenge I’ve had to learn to overcome was how to ask for help. Sometimes, people remotely or right in the office won’t be the most clear. I worked out a system of trying to figure it out myself initially, and only if I can’t figure out in a timely manner will I go and ask for help. I try to not be intrusive when I do it because these people are busy, so it’s all a balancing act.
In conclusion, my time at Ironbelly has been incredibly informative and educational. I am positive that I will continue to learn and grow in my last month at Ironbelly Studios. This has been an important step in my journey to becoming a professional video game producer.