After the launch of our first User-Generated Content mobile game Big Bang Racing in the summer of 2016 our team went through massive changes. During 2016 and the beginning of 2017 Traplight grew from 13 to 25 people, and the tight group that once was just a single team working on one game was now separated into 3-4 small teams. This change brought us new challenges.
We noticed that it was harder and harder to maintain great communication between different teams. After moving to a new office in July 2017, the teams got their long-awaited working space and peace, but the downside was that we were quite separated now. In the old, small office we were literally right next to each other all the time. Communication flowed then, but soon after moving to a larger office we realised that our communication was based on physical proximity rather than practices that were scalable. We needed something new to help us in this situation.
We chat a lot with other game companies to share experiences and to learn. The idea of having weekly, casual and open-ended meetings came from our good friends at Space Ape. They have had a tradition of teams telling about their current progress during Friday afternoons. After hearing about this habit, we decided to make our own version of it. And so the Friday Open Mic meetings were born. Every Friday at 15.00 we gather in the living room for an hour of sharing.
The teams took on this habit quickly and started to show their current product progress in the Open Mic. This turned out to be an excellent tool for keeping everyone up to date on what the teams are working on, and how they are doing. It’s also the perfect place for teams to ask feedback for everything from different art style tests to early game play prototypes. The fact that no progress is too small to show to others has encouraged everyone, and each presentation or talk is met with applause as a thank you.
In addition to teams, everyone else can also step up and show things. More and more people have taken this opportunity to tell about their work outside the game teams (like marketing, support and analytics), or share things they have recently learned. All new game ideas are presented in Open Mic as well. The inquisitive and open atmosphere of the meeting has also encouraged us to bring up issues, worries and problems: It is a safe space where those kinds of things can be discussed.
The idea of the Open Mic is to keep everyone on the same page and excited: Hearing, seeing and learning new things every week. It’s an amazing tool that we are constantly developing. Based on a recent round of feedback we, for example, set more defined time slots for each topic to make sure the meeting stays condensed and started to share notes from the meetings on a dedicated channel. We also decided that if interesting discussions start during Open Mic, those would be continued later in another meeting or after Open Mic has ended. Issues, problems and worries that are brought up are also treated the same way: If the problem is not solved in 10-15 minutes, it is acknowledged together and appointed another time for the solving or deeper discussion.
All in all, the Friday Open Mic has been one of the best habits we have taken on recently. As simple as the idea is, it has done wonders for our communication, team spirit and collaborative effort to move towards the same goal. It has already caused other interesting habits to spin out of it and helped us to understand each other’s work and the company’s direction a lot better.