This summer, I had the insanely awesome opportunity to work as a Design Intern at Disruptor Beam in Framingham, MA for three months. DB is known for hit licensed mobile games Game of Thrones: Ascent and Star Trek: Timelines, and they’re currently working on multiple unannounced projects! Unfortunately, that means I can’t really get into too much detail about what I worked on, but I can talk about the broad jobs I did and my overall experience!
So when I first started my internship, I was placed on a project that was nearing an early access release, but due to certain complications, the team was able to polish the game up and forge ahead on the next milestone’s goals. This made for an interesting couple sprints because I was coming in every week to a wildly different task. My first task was implementing balance data for future levels of the game, but each week expanded into researching assets from the source material, organizing documentation, and brainstorming and proposing for various aspects of the game. It was really cool to be able to
While working on this first team, something invaluable I was able to pick up was how to properly work in an agile scrum environment. In school, we’re taught proper scrum and project management, but only through producers who have a million other things they need to handle. We never block out all of our tasks ahead of time and prioritize them, nor spend the time as a team discussing tasks that might reach other members of the team. I’m extremely excited to be able to take all of these skills I’d developed back to my team for my capstone, as I can see them helping us immensely.
However, six weeks in, with the first project stalling still, I was brought over to another project that had an immediate milestone deadline and was in need of some help. This project was interesting because both the vibe of the team and the needs I could meet were completely different from the first team.
The main thing I really appreciated about this second project was that it gave me a lot of time to flex my creativity as a designer. My first day on the team had me immediately thrust into the action, creating data for characters and adding them into the game. From there, I also spent time designing abilities and challenge encounters, which gave me space to create some unique combinations with the framework of the game.
Another week, we spent the beginning of each day playing through the game’s NPE and compiling issues that we found with it, followed by taking the rest of the day to address those concerns. We rebalanced the difficult curve of the first few encounters, redistributed where rewards were given out, gave extra of some rewards in places to make progress easier, etc. Having only had limited time and a single assignment to spend on balancing in classes at school, it was awesome to be able to get a feel for the different routes we could take to tackle a single problem.
My final mark on the project is one I’m very proud of. One of the features in the game needed to be reworked for various reasons, and so the design team was tasked with designing and pitching proposals. I spent a week working on two separate ideas, and I’m happy to know that before I left, my lead confirmed with me that one of my ideas was going to be prototyped to see how effectively it can fit into the game. I was extremely happy to hear that, but the process itself was what was really rewarding for me, because I was able to just throw ideas back and forth with the team as I worked towards refining my idea.
When I had to give a presentation at the end of my internship about what I had gained from the experience, two major things stuck out to me. The first was that I had built a lot of confidence working full-time, being given tasks and learning how to work in a professional game setting. There are lots of the things that I am going to be bringing back to my capstone team to implement into the way we work to make things run smoothly.
The second, and arguably more important takeaway, though, was the actual experience I had working with others. I made so many friends and connections through simple workplace interactions and social hours that I’m extremely happy to have and to keep having moving forward. They were not only great to work with, but they were great to just eat lunch with, which is when most of the real learning happens.
I’m extremely grateful for everything Disruptor Beam helped me with this summer, and it was such a pleasure working with them. However, I’m now back off to school to work on my senior capstone, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!