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This month, I’m handing the keyboard over again to Joseph Simons, one of our technical directors at Iron Galaxy. He’ll tell you more about our programming service and what we think is a retention-friendly program. We know that our main strength as a company is the talent of our people, and we look for creative ways to foster interests. Two of our values: continuous improvement and capabilities drive us to create processes and programs that keep employee skills constantly evolving. We are constantly growing, learning and entering new areas of game development. We believe that providing opportunities for employees to try new things and constantly learn is key to retaining the best employees.
At Iron Galaxy, our business model is based on having many projects and working with several partners simultaneously. We consider that this approach and the diversity of our projects greatly contribute to some of our main strengths; give our programmers new and unique challenges to overcome and provide learning opportunities that interest them. All of these different genres and titles allow us to offer the opportunity to work in various areas of game development and give programmers the chance to try a wide range of tasks in their careers with us. We know that programmers who are enthusiastic about their work make better developers, which in turn leads to better games. Plus, by letting programmers define the areas of personal interest to them, we give them the reins of their careers to lead it the way they want (with our guidance and support.)
I always tell my team that “happy developers are more productive developers”. By finding tasks exciting (or at least interesting), programmers can enjoy daily programming tasks and project teams get more features developed or bugs fixed. We know that not everyone with a passion for artificial intelligence wants to dig deep into rendering code, nor that the resident networking guru wants to develop UI widgets and we recognize and plan for that. We also know that our programmers love to learn new things and that each has their own set of skills that they want to use or improve or new areas that they want to explore. With all of this in mind, we do our best to match programmers with projects that match their interests and develop their skills and career.
Our method of achieving this goal is relatively simple but effective. We have a data table that lists a variety of programming areas that we have encountered in our various projects (or that we plan to develop). These run the gamut from video game staples like gameplay and graphics to less-regarded areas like tools and firefighting (where you focus primarily on game stability). We also have a column where programmers can indicate their enthusiasm for becoming a leader or managing people. This distinction is made to recognize that just because a person may have several years under their belt in games and have honed their technical skills, it does not necessarily mean that they want to be a mentor or take on the responsibility of. delegate tasks. and performance evaluation.
This data table is covered from the start of the onboarding orientation. Most departments use a similar system and employees are encouraged to complete it as part of their installation. There is no wrong answer. It’s also something that employees can update as they see fit as their interests evolve and develop. We also encourage programmers to think about any updates they might want to make to their interests as one project draws to a close and the next deployment solidifies. Employee
All this at the service of employees with self-directed paths where they are partners in their growth. By giving employees the ability to specify and communicate their preferences, then having department managers work to meet them, employees can control which areas of the game they develop and which skills they will hone along the way. Plus, if they’re tired of focusing on just one subsection, with the variety of projects we attend, we should be able to find something of a different flavor down the line. This is also true for multi-year commitments on a single project or GaAS commitments. We have recognized that employees like to change focus periodically to stay excited and passionate about their work.
My own professional background illustrates this. Helped with porting work, helped develop UE3 for the Xbox One launch, performed optimizations and graphics work for a variety of games and studios, helped design and develop a patch and release architecture content for the client and the server, and I’m now working on something completely different.
This model also allows programmers to try out a lead role and then decide it’s not right for them. Since we don’t think you need to get involved in management to advance your career, they haven’t blunted their trajectory at all. They just took a different path for a while. In some cases, the person may be fine, but they’ve decided to really focus on the practical keyboard contributions on a future assignment, which is okay. We truly believe that everyone should pick up a shovel and that all tasks and roles are important.
We want to alleviate burnout and find ways to keep employees engaged in their work. We believe that offering choices outside of the more traditional career path of the ladder is a good way to do this. Fortunately, this is something we found out pretty early on and we continue to modify the process to allow this approach to develop as we grow.