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  • Promoting Studio Diversity Via Student Internships

    - Andrew Smith
  • It's really hard to diversify. Both your workforce and your output. Especially so if you're a tiny developer in the middle of sunsetting an MMO you've been making for three years. But that's just what we found ourselves doing, and we think successfully!

    In the summer of 2019, we found ourselves in a really strange and unique position, with an unexpectedly brand new team and a time-limited opportunity to make something new... but to understand everything about the situation I think we need to go back even farther.

    In January 2019 we moved into the Tentacle Zone. You might've heard of it? It's run by Payload Studios who make the excellent Terratech. One of the original and early kickstarter successes (and now out on consoles as well as PC!), they've been quietly making a success of themselves... and part of that is down to their attitude to building a community around developers and game development. They have been running the Tentacle Stand at games expos across the UK for years, where they give indies nice and cheap space to show their games, on a stand that looks like a cartoon Kraken is trying to play everything at once. It stands out like nothing else, and has become a part of the fabric of the UK industry.

    For years previously we've been working out of wherever we can, and directly previous to moving in with these wonderful people, we were working from a loft, a bedroom and occasionally the UKIE offices. We knew the same bunch had been offering shared workspace out of their office in central London, and they'd been courting us for a while, so we ended up deciding to take the plunge. The usual thought is that London offices are prohibitively expensive, but the combination of fair price and being in a shared space with 4 other game developers and all of the bonuses that naturally brings (networking, knowledge sharing, problem solving, free coffee) really swung the vote.

    Anyway, both the space and the team that run it are amazing, and we moved in with them as soon as we could. Fast forward a few months and we get two phone calls. One from CAPA, and the other from ELAM.

    CAPA place students into work all around the world, from all kinds of courses and into all kinds of industries. I answered the call with a pretty skeptical mindset, but once they'd sent over Connor's portfolio and explained a few things, I figure 'why not'. An extra artist to help out with some Lazarus work, plus the ability to give him a credit on a Real Game seemed like a good opportunity for both sides. In addition we would get more experience managing an artist, not to mention someone at pre-graduation level, something we'd not done before - one of the dangers of working with known contractors as we and many indies do is that you're unaware of the work required to manage juniors should the need surface. Most contractors are mid- or senior- level, so you could easily find yourself ill-equipped to adapt when the time comes for more junior workers.

    Of course we could never have done this, nor what came next, from our loft/bedroom combo office. Connor sat next to me the whole 9 weeks, and I think he had a great time. We worked on a variety of 2D branding for image factions, plus emotes associated with them, but sadly Lazarus was cancelled after he left. Bad timing, but fate would see to it that another opportunity was more fruitful.


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