SIPBLOG: Game dev in the world of COVID-19 – 6/23/20
Game dev in the world of COVID-19
By Olivia Bogs, Worcester Polytechnic Institute ‘21
Hello MassDiGI-verse! Team Linguini here with another update on SIP20.
I’m an environment artist for Team Linguini, along with our lead artist Vlad Karashchuk from Becker College, our producer Kazmuir Long from Temple University, associate producer Brandon Coulombe from Becker College, lead programmer Henry Stadolnik from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, lead designer Whitney Kluttz from Rochester Institute of Technology, and our “Queen of Sound” Primrose Kirk from Berklee College of Music.
In our last blog post, JD Calvelli briefly touched on the SIP experience while working remotely during COVID-19, and I felt this week’s post would be a great opportunity to expand upon this! One common theme with having SIP run remotely, as well as the end of the past semester, is that in the post-COVID world remote work may very well become the new norm. This is especially true for an industry like ours that is more easily adaptable to remote work. I decided to interview my teammates to see what their thoughts were on the remote experience, and any challenges they have faced in the adjustment process.
“Working remotely has emphasized the importance of time management for me. I easily get overwhelmed if I do not plan out my daily tasks in the beginning,” said producer Kazmuir. On the plus side, they mentioned that being independent from a physical workspace allows for more time spent outdoors.
Henry said that remote work feels normal now, having adjusted to online classes for school this past semester. He also pointed out the importance of maintaining work-related tasks within the confines of work hours to help preserve work-life balance when you’re living and working in the same space.
Artist Vlad realizes that while the situation is out of personal control, he does miss having in-person interaction. Like Henry, he also touched on work-life balance, saying “[i]t’s hard to keep a balance between feeling like you’re working and feeling like you’re resting when your workplace is the same space as your comfort area.”
Primrose mentioned time management as a challenge as well. “It’s definitely much harder to stay motivated and manage your time when working remotely.” However, she’s very proud of the connections we have been making as a team and hopes to see the team in-person in the future.
I can certainly relate to all of my teammates’ experiences. One way remote work impacts me is by being in a different time zone than everyone else – it’s just a one hour difference, but it definitely alters how I structure my day! I wake up earlier and eat lunch earlier, but I also end my work day earlier. This gives me time in the evening to go outside and garden, just like how Kazmuir uses their spare time to enjoy the outdoors.
At the end of the day, while remote work has both its upsides and its challenges, SIP has still been an amazing opportunity for us so far. It’s been especially helpful with online networking. Every Friday, past SIP members act as our mentors and hop into our Zoom call to look at our game concepts, provide feedback, and talk about their experiences during SIP. Former SIPers have also started a Discord server for all SIP alumni to stay in contact. Being remote has also made other forms of networking more accessible; Kazmuir has started a series of weekly video talks hosted by employees from Riot Games, EA, and Ubisoft. Team Linguini has weekly game nights on Thursdays to build our connection in a social, non-work setting (so far we’ve played Don’t Starve Together as well as Minecraft and both led to some interesting experiences!). We’ve also had SIP-wide gaming events; last Sunday we had a Mario Kart 8 tournament, and last Friday Team Pork Dumplings hosted some Jackbox for everyone to participate!
In even better news, we now have the option to return to work in-person starting July 18th. Regardless of where our SIP20 team is located – online, in-person, or a combination of the two – we have been working hard and making plenty of memories along the way.
As far as what Team Linguini has been up to as of late, we’ve narrowed our potential game concepts down to a final choice with the help of SIP mentor feedback, and feedback from all of our fellow SIPers this year! Our focus this week has been getting test builds ready, fleshing out some more in-depth design elements, and solidifying an art style so we can begin production. We’ve also been preparing for a webinar we’re hosting this Thursday on “How to Make a Game”. Stay tuned for next week’s post for more updates on SIP20!