Summer Studio Blog: Working remotely, large group, small group – 7/17/23

Published on Monday, July 17th, 2023

Working Remotely, Large Group, Small Group

By Jay Lam, Clark University , MFA ‘24

July comes in with blazing, sweltering heat, and a torrent of heavy thunderstorms. Only three weeks remain for Team Turkey Leg to complete our Untitled Zen Garden Merge Game. Working in a large group of thirteen from the same school is a bit different from a small group of seven from different schools.

Summer Studio 2023 is hybrid, with half of the group online, half of the group in person, and some going back and forth in-between. Composed of a producer doubling as a sound designer, three programmers, four 2D artists, four 3D artists, and one game designer, our team is on the more art heavy side — the very reason why we were recommended to do a merge game, an art heavy genre.

Prior to my current studies at Clark, I was once a part of the second iteration of MassDigi’s XP (Experience Program) during the summer of 2021, after I left my first college with a bachelor’s. XP 2 was a fully remote 11-week program, in response to the pandemic disrupting the careers of recent graduates. With three programmers, three artists, and one sound designer, all from different schools, Team Blondie worked on Crustacean Frustration, a seaside brick breaker game.

Despite being online, communication flowed well because we made sure we were all caught up with the information we needed. Each important meeting within the group of seven made sure to include everyone. Miscommunication was minimal. Everyone felt heard as an equal.

Communication becomes even more important in a larger group, such as Team Turkey Leg. Each person has their own interpretation of what each person on the team says. With more people, there are more interpretations. It is up to everyone to reach out to each other to ensure we are on the same page, and keep each task updated. We manage that by the producer making sure the leads get all the information needed, which are then provided to the rest of the team.

Working remotely has many benefits. Meeting on time is easier without the hassle of physically getting from one place to another. It is cost-effective as well without spending a dime on traveling. Online services such as Ryver, Zoom, and Discord are free to use. Sharing files and documents between a large number of people is instant when people can click on the same link on a message at the same time.

All of my colleagues in Summer Studio are from Clark University, a big change from MassDigi’s teams in full-time programs containing students from different schools. Typically, working with various schools — having different professors, different curriculums, and teachings — help see other viewpoints that one might have not considered.

With working with students from the same school, most people are already familiar with each other. We know what each person is skilled in, and assigning tasks go rather quickly. It is easier to communicate with familiar faces from the get-go, as opposed to taking time to know each other. This is a benefit for our shorter-run 10-week program.

We are now past mid-way through Summer Studio, and Team Turkey Leg aims to make the best, most relaxing, Zen garden merge game it can be!

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