Above: Slegehammer Games team

Image Credit: Activision

GamesBeat: For those who are at home and having a tough time, is there a way to communicate with them and help ease the burden?

Wilson: We talk about technical hurdles a lot, but mental health is a bigger and certainly more important challenge, more so the longer the current conditions persists. We’re putting a lot of time into reaching out across the team and making sure that we speak to people directly. In addition to 1-to-1 meetings, Aaron and I use our team-wide Slack Q&A to talk to team members, and we’ve also seen people across the studio helping out team mates who need to interact and talk. The most important thing we can do is make ourselves available, as sometimes people feel better just by having the chance to talk things through. Everyone has different situations at home and on top of that this whole situation is so unprecedented that even people with great situations at home are having occasional down days. The lack of social contact and simple everyday routines is tough, so we’re encouraging everyone to take a deep breath, take it day-by-day and focus on their health and well-being above all else.

GamesBeat: Is there an understanding that some people might not be as productive at home, such as parents with young kids?

Wilson: We understand that a number of people have really tough balancing acts when it comes to work and family. Having two parents in full time work as well as young kids to take care of piles on a lot of pressure (both emotional and logistical) and we have to let people manage their time accordingly. We have people who’ve chosen to work non-typical hours that fit their needs better, for example. The last thing anyone in that situation needs is the added stress that comes from feeling like they are falling behind, and we’re trying to regularly remind people to work in a way that takes some of the pressure off. We’re trusting people to manage their time, figuring out ways in which the studio can support and placing an emphasis on work prioritization rather than trying to get every last thing done. We’re also firmly past the stage where people get embarrassed by having their kids appear unannounced in the middle of meetings, so that should hopefully help.

Above: Handing out sledgehammers at Sledgehammer Games

Image Credit: Activision

GamesBeat: Are there some very different roles between the locations?

Wilson: With a multi-location studio it’s important that each team has a mandate that they feel they can own autonomously, while still under overall project direction. In the most extreme example, that means if we had one location go completely offline for some reason then the other location could continue to operate unaided for an extended period. Rather than focus on having different types of roles in the different locations, we put our effort into making sure each team has every role they need to deliver against their mandate. Our Melbourne team started out very engineering-heavy, because the founding team there were engineers, but as the studio team has continued to grow we’ve added other disciplines and specializations, again with the team’s project mandates as the reference.