A day at Dreadlocks can start anywhere between 9 and 11. We work on the second floor of a small villa and have an amazing kitchen. People drip in and drink their morning poison – largely tea, we are mad about tea – flick through their mail, eat breakfast… This is also the time when those of us working on a particular problem check up on teammates to see if any out-of-hours progress has been made. Then work starts. Every member of the team works in a room dedicated to their project, with each room designated by its own mural. The Dex room, for example, has a portrait of Blue on one of the walls.
This continues until lunchtime, when some go out for lunch and others stay to cook in the kitchen. 5 of us have formed up to cook for one another – each member once a week. This results in a delicious warm meal every day, eaten in what we call our “chill room”, which boasts 2 couches and a comfy chair for relaxing and enjoying our lunch. Here we also do our “research” on different games and movies in search of reference material for our projects.
Before lunch, there is tea, during lunch there is tea, and after lunch, again, there is tea. Usually, after lunch, we have meetings on our various projects in the chill room – where the state of and plans for each project are discussed. Then it’s back to work (tea first though). Occasionally, something higher priority comes up and pushes back the original work, which happens all the time for some people.
At Dreadlocks we are all about after-work activities. Whether it is watching movies, playing games (board, card or video) or a combination of all of these things, we love hanging out. Some personal favorites include board game evening (where I recently shot the same person in Bang! 3 games in a row), and Bollywood night (for its sheer silliness).
Because the team is small – just 20 of us – every birthday and name day is individually celebrated. The whole company gets actively involved in secretly picking a gift for that person. And since we don’t have name days in the Netherlands, where I come from, the team chose a random day on which to celebrate my name. It’s things like this that make a person feel like an individual within a company, instead of just another gear in the machine. And being invited to important Czech game events such as the GDS or the Czech game awards are great addons for learning and development both personally and as a team.
I come from a university that taught me how the industry is supposed to work – management methods, design structures and player psychology. Thus it was quite a novel surprise to see a company like Dreadlocks handling things “a little differently” from the structures I was taught in books and on projects. But it is very refreshing to see how different methods can work well for a team once they have been using them for a while.
On our website, I am listed as junior designer and Scripter. However, during my internship here, I have done a great many things, ranging from level design, event scripting, prototyping, concept development, playtesting and much more. The option is always open to attend things that seem interesting to me, or help on tasks not directly related to my job (such as this article, some audio work or assisting with the playtesting on other projects). This keeps the work varied and interesting.
Another common occurrence is sharing our challenges at work. Some things we are doing on a new project are unfamiliar to everyone and this generally results in other members gathering around repeatedly and for long stretches of time until we have collectively fixed the problem. While trying to overcome said difficulties, we also always try to keep morale high with a healthy dose of humor. And puns. We love puns. Especially unpublishable ones.
As an intern abroad, I could not be more excited to come and work in the Czech Republic. Every day feels like an adventure, with new and interesting places to visit each day, people to meet and games to play.
Relocation of course brought with it a ton of trouble (as it always does). The language barrier has been a particular problem and nowhere more than with all the legal and bureaucratic stuff. However, Dreadlocks always gave me time to visit official offices, or just help in figuring out where to go or what to do next.
At the end of the day, it is the people who make the company. All are talented, everyone has their own quirks, and this results in a healthy dose of fun during work. We can be serious when a lot of work needs to be done, but no one is shy on the humor and jokes. Especially during lunch, conversations go all over the place, ranging from what happened during the weekend to politics. This friendly mood ensures that everyone is always more than willingly to take time out to give feedback and opinions when teammates need. Game development is not an easy vocation, but I can say that my time as an intern at Dreadlocks has been, and hopefully will continue to be, exactly the same as it’s always been.
Scripter / Junior Game Designer