Tuesday was a tiring, but important day for us as we would be visiting two companies, King and Wooga. While the trip to Ubisoft Blue Byte in Dussledorf was nice, I wanted to see how other companies operate in Germany as well. Seeing actual industry people at work in other countries isn’t a chance one gets everyday, after all.
We started with King, best-known for their game Candy Crush Saga. I haven’t played it myself, and have no desire to, but I know plenty of people (including my mom, a complete non-gamer) who do so I figure it is a good opportunity nonetheless. Their studio was rather small, located on the top floor of a building. They claimed it was a temporary space, but if so at least it was furnished a bit. All the computers and workers were in the single, large room and in the corner there was a “Think Tank” for brainstorming.
We only had a short time at the company, so we went right into having the “winners” of the game jam present their games. Despite time for improvements, our game, Food Friends, still had a couple issues, but I was happy with what we showed off. We got some tips from one of the workers who seemed to enjoy our game despite an annoying control bug. After grabbing some swag, we broke off for a bit before meeting up to go to Wooga.
I’m glad we saw King first, because what Wooga had prepared for us blew King out of the water. Their offices were very unique with colorful stairs and doors every which way. They presented to us some things about how they operate. They make tiny teams of two to create a mass of prototypes of which only the best get promoted, eventually less and less until only a few release. Of these few only a bit go on to become big hits too. More than discouraging me in seeing how many games it takes to make a hit, these presentations taught me the value of prototyping and ensuring an idea you have is actually fun before investing time, money, and resources to it.
One of the developers there from America, Brian Davis, also gave us a very nice presentation on things he wish he knew before going into game design. A lot of the points he made were ones I had heard time and time again, reinforcing them by hearing them in person from someone so experienced. The one that always sticks out to me most is to have other hobbies; being well-cultured and experienced in life are things a designer absolutely must have. It reminds me of a quote from the man who made Space Invaders saying that the it was not the people who played games, but the people who grew as creators who made better games. Only through experience can you understand what experience you want for the player; this experience drives the design, not trying to imitate things that already exist.
Both of the company visits were interesting to me, and though Wooga was a seemingly perfect place to work at a glance, some thinking sparked by a friend’s research on the company tells me it would be too cutthroat an environment to be in. While I am happy to learn about the industry from these two company visits, neither really inspire me to want to work in Germany.