Being a part of a game team with over 60 people might feel daunting when you’re at the beginning of your gaming career. But it’s actually a learning experience like no other according to Game Programmers Mikael Karlbom and Graeme Barclay, and Game Artist Eman Salah. These up-and-coming gaming professionals have been part of Metacore’s hit game Merge Mansion’s team for the past few months as part of the company’s Press Play trainee program.
From fixing bugs to creating brand new features
After a few months in the Press Play program most of the participants moved on to work with Merge Mansion while the others joined a different game team that is gearing up for a launch. The aim of Press Play is to give all trainees a thorough experience of working in a mobile game company – and live games are a big part of that.
“It’s really hard to get experience when you’re starting out in the gaming industry because everyone is looking for senior talent. I applied for the Press Play program to get my foot in the door, and working in a live game team of over 60 people in a respected company like Metacore stands me in a really good stead for the future. I’ve also learned so much in such a small time,” says Mikael.
Mikael worked as an entrepreneur for almost 15 years before he took a leap of faith and began to study coding. Gaming was always something that interested him and he says that his time at Metacore has been an endless source of amazement and curiosity towards the world of game programming.
As part of the Merge Mansion team, Mikael has gone from working on fixing small bugs to creating entirely new features with publishing deadlines. His colleague and fellow Press Play participant Graeme mentions a similar progression. Before joining Metacore, Graeme had worked as a nurse and in a couple of other game studios, but never with a game as big as Merge Mansion.
“Initially, I began helping with the audio system – fixing a couple of bugs while I familiarized myself with the code base and implementing some changes that made the audio more robust. After a couple of weeks I started to develop more features for the whole game team,” Graeme says. “I’ve also gained a lot of new personal development skills throughout the Press Play program. Especially my professional confidence has gotten a boost because I now know that I have the necessary skills for this job and that I can do it well.”
Collaborating with other game artists to create high quality assets
Eman Salah is also part of the Press Play program as a 2D/3D Game Artist. Like Mikael and Graeme, she’s working in the Merge Mansion team. In her work, she relies a lot on the skills she gained in traditional art and graphic design in the advertising industry before she joined Metacore. Right now, she’s enhancing her skill set especially with 3D art.
“I’ve learned that staying up-to-date on industry trends and techniques is really important for Game Artists, and that is something that comes naturally when working on a live game like Merge Mansion. We’re using different softwares to create and modify models, textures, environments and objects which is such a great learning experience,” Eman describes.
Eman also mentions how beneficial the support and guidance she gets from the rest of the game team is. Working with artists, designers, developers and producers has helped, and is still helping her to grow as an artist.
“Everyone gives and receives a lot of feedback to improve our work. This is essential especially when working on the visual elements of a live and popular game. All assets need to be high quality and consistent with the overall aesthetic of the game, so attention to detail is crucial,” Eman adds.
Taking ownership of your work in a new way
When asked if something about working in live game teams surprised them, Mikael and Graeme can’t think of anything specific. Both mention that they were prepared for the different aspects of working in game teams through lectures and workshops held during the previous fall.
“I’ve worked on a lot of different gaming projects including on a game prototype with the rest of the Press Play trainees, so I knew what to expect. Of course, joining a team with over 60 people was a new experience. I needed to take ownership of my work in a new way and remember to let others regularly know what I was working on,” says Mikael.
“The amount of communication that happens within a game team as big as Merge Mansion was a new experience for me as well but you get used to it fairly quickly. People are also ready to communicate with each other which makes the whole thing like a well-oiled machine. And if you’re ever unsure about something, all you really need to do is ask and someone will tell you,” Graeme reflects.
In general, Graeme mentions that asking for help is really easy at Metacore, where everyone is encouraged to reach out when they need to. Mikael agrees with this and adds that Metacore’s emphasis on wellbeing is something he really appreciates.
“It really feels like the whole company is thinking about wellbeing first, which is great to see. The entire Press Play experience has left me with so much personal growth and knowledge that I know I can use in the future.”