PC Games

How devs are still making big games during the pandemic

“I thought I was an introverted person before this,” said Kirk Williford, a senior game designer on Guild Wars 2. The world’s big game studios are now three months into a dramatic change spurred by COVID-19—offices closed with no firm idea of when they’ll reopen, and teams of dozens or hundreds figuring out how to do their jobs over Slack and Zoom. After a few months of working on Guild Wars 2’s latest big update from home, then playing other games for escapism in the evenings, Williford realized he’s a lot more extroverted than he once thought. Daily casual human contact is one of those things anyone can take for granted when they work at an office, but after months and counting without it, game developers have to find new ways to make games and make do without the water cooler.

Working from home is nothing new for plenty of indie devs, but the pandemic means something very different for triple-A studios with hundreds of employees. What’s it like going completely remote for a developer like ArenaNet, which has to keep Guild Wars 2 running smoothly while also working on future updates? Or Bungie or Digital Extremes, whose hundreds of employees are constantly working on events for Destiny and Warframe?

Things obviously will not be perfect, but… we’re trying to push out the big things and not getting scared of like, ‘oh, can we actually do this?’

Megan Everett

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