The Progress Team Speaks up About Making Games Across Borders

Progress logo

The truly Nordic Puzzle game Progress was released on iOS earlier this month, and it has been made by three guys in three different countries – Tim Garbos in Denmark, Joel Nyström in Sweden and Martin Kvale in Norway.

Tim mainly did the programming, Joel marketing and publicity and testing, and Martin did sound design and music.  And according to themselves, the physical distance between them was not an obstacle to talk about.

“All of the team members had been working with external people not sitting in the office – or had been that external person. There is no real difference between working with someone across borders compared to between two cities in the same country.”

“While we had our own set of challenges, the fact that we weren’t in the same room while working on the game wasn’t one of them. Between Slack, Skype and Trello, communication was not a problem, especially since we all live in the same time zone too”, says programmer Tim Garbos.

Progress is a puzzle based game for iOS.

Progress is a puzzle based game for iOS.

“Making the game together with 2 other developers from 3 countries in total was exiting, especially since none of us had done anything together prior and at least I did not know these two fine gents. The game was concieved by Tim and Joel at NMS last year and from then we agreed we wanted to develop it”, adds sound designer, Martin Kvale.

 

Modern tools of communication has more or less eliminated the obstacles of talking to colleagues who are not in the same room as yourself. For Progress, the trio used several communication tools to make sure the project moved in the right direction.

“The biggest challenge was for me not knowing how the other two worked and communicated, especially in the beginning. We had Skype, Facebook and Slack to keep in touch and used Google Docs for file transfers and sharing ideas, but some times progress seemed to halt a bit.”

“Communication is tough, and I like to always start up projects working next to people for an extended period of time to learn how we can work together, and I felt that when we met up and worked from the same space, things would flow better. But that was an issue, and I think we would have needed a different approach to working together had we not been in the same city as often as we were”, says Kvale.

Progress offers 100 small puzzles for you to solve.

Progress offers 100 small puzzles for you to solve.

“Figure out how to best sync up your work together and make it easy to communicate and know what everyone is doing. as working together is an art, its perfectly possible to do well without being physical, just as long as you account for how to weigh up for the weaknesses that come along with not sitting side by side”, he adds.

“It is definitely recommended to actually sit in the same room, but for this project it probably wouldn’t have mattered that much since a lot of the work was done during evenings and weekends anyway”, says Garbos.

 

When Progress was finally released, it was certainly time to celebrate for the three developers. But that’s the one thing communication tools do not allow as easily as having the entire team in the same room, Tim Garbos concludes:

“Make sure that you celebrate all your successes together. That’s one of the harder things to do over Skype so that’s a good excuse to meet up at conference and game jams”, says Garbos.


Denmark’s largest games industry conference for Nordic game developers returns on December 7th to discuss the future of business in the games industry. The lineup of speakers includes as Ex-King Tommy Palm, Christine Thaarup, Steffen of Betadwarf, and many many more!
Tickets are limited and can be booked here.

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Authors

Håvard has been a gamer for close to 20 years now. Enjoys platform games the most, and is in fact the world's 47th fastest Banjo-Kazooie speedrunner.

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