Welcome to another Developer Update. As a studio this past week has been taxing beyond belief. Sending home around 100 people on short notice presents a unique set of challenges that we’ve never had to face until now.
The first challenge is one of ‘understanding’. Having the sharks understand why these changes are happening gives the process of shipping them home a head start and thankfully this wasn’t a problem.
Logistically there have been heaps of challenges that our IT team can no doubt attest to. Every shark needs to be equipped with hardware and software in order to do their daily duties. Every shark needs a different set up. Some sharks have capable PCs at home that can be repurposed from entertainment and home use and turned into workhorses. Some aren’t equipped in their home office to do their nine-to-five, so IT has been ordering in new hardware every day. Then there are licence issues. Sure, something like Steam lets you install your games on 100s of different PCs without concern, but software like Maya for example, is much more limiting and requires licences to be either transferred or replaced, costing time and/or money. Our IT gurus have been putting in some fierce overtime in ensuring each shark’s unique situation is catered for with minimal downtime, and hats off to them as they have risen to and overshot any and all expectations. Big up Frank and Co.!
The next challenge is ‘process’. Switching from office work to remote working presents real changes to daily work flows. Gone are the morning stand-ups where teams huddle in the office, talk about the day ahead and share progress over a coffee or by the water cooler. Now everything you do is behind closed doors, and each and every shark needs to up their game in communicating how and what they’re doing. So far this has been going well and folks have really upped their game. Our producers and team captains have been invaluable in laying out new processes and procedures that keep everyone up to date and clued in on what their colleagues are doing.
One other key challenge is mental health, in fact this is really the most crucial one during these times. At Fatshark we genuinely take pride in doing right by our colleagues, limiting crunch, offering flexibility, and respecting the work/life balance everyone should be afforded. With the current timeline being uncertain, and with the media (both social and journalistic) running overtime, it can really wreak havoc on people and their mindspace. With worries about friends, family and society at large at a potentially all-time-high, we need to take that extra time and caution in making sure our remote sharks are staying healthy in both body and mind. Collectively we have all come together, albeit the furthest apart we have ever been physically, to research and share our tips and experiences with remote working. We’ve scheduled countless base-touch meetings to check in on each other, and we’re getting together in the evenings (remotely of course!) to play different games together, from Tabletop Simulator to Warzone, from DayZ to Minecraft. Obviously this challenge is an ongoing one, and one that will evolve as the situation evolves around us.
As for development turnarounds, we are doing everything we can to make this temporary upheaval have as little impact as possible. We’re still on track to release Chapter 3 of the Curse of Drachenfels adventure for Vermintide 2 next week.
At 14:00 UTC today , to end the week on a light note in the various shark tanks across Stockholm (and beyond in the case of even further remote employees!) we’ll be invading the lobbies of Vermintide 2 to hang out and play some games with you all!
It’s a good time to jump into the game and get buddied up with a shark. We’ll populate all the difficulties with bodies and we’ll be found on Xbox One and Playstation 4 (as well as Steam of course!).
On a side note, we want to mention that we’ve been working in a publishing capacity with Blackfox Studios who have been developing a new title - Dreadlands - a turn based skirmish game in which you control a gang of misfits and mercenaries, battling for survival and supremacy in a lush post-apocalyptic setting. It just went into Early Access, and owners of Vermintide 2 get a nice loyalty discount so if you’re stuck at home and want to get involved in some turn based tactics fun and add to it’s evolution through the Early Access phase of development (and of course beyond!) then it’s right here on Steam:
Lastly, we want to wish you all good health and positive vibes. The situation’s you’re in are likely all very different depending on where you are, but follow advice given by scientific bodies, and do what you can to make positive changes in your communities, be it through isolating or shopping for only what you need!
Big love, folks!