The Lodgge Podcast Episode 10

Meet Steph Sandercock, Producer and Audio Director at 13AM Games.

Published On: 14 October 2022Categories: The Lodgge PodcastTags:

Meet Steph Sandercock, Producer and Audio Director at 13AM Games. She joins The Lodgge this week to discuss her career path, 13AM Games’ latest and greatest, localization, tea, and much more!

Scott  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the lodge podcast. I’m your host Scott Milley, and welcome to episode 10. Season two has been off to a great start so far. And we’re going to keep that here going today, though Joining me today is our uniquely talented guest, Steph sandercock. How you doing today?

Steph  0:15  

I’m doing great. Glad to be here.

Scott  0:17  

Steph is a producer at Toronto’s very own 13 Am Games. And then most recently worked on the kaiju brawler Dawn of the monsters and release it across all major platforms. With over five years of experience in the videogame industry, and a long list of credits and linear media. Steph is an outstanding talent here in Ontario, and we are incredibly honored to welcome her to the show. Today we’re gonna be talking about her career path 13 Am Games and their latest and greatest, the challenges of localization, EA, and much, much more. So without further ado, let’s get into the conversation

Scott  1:00  

so, every time we started an episode, we always ask one question. So for season one, it was always about people’s gaming habits and the best situation for them to like gaming in the morning gaming at night, things like that. But with season two, I wanted to do something a little bit different. So what served as the catalyst for you getting into the videogame industry was at a conference a game like not not Where did your career start? But why were you like, this is where I want to be? This is the industry I want to be a part of?

Steph  1:28  

Oh, that’s actually a really, really good question. Um, yeah, I can I can, I can pinpoint it to a specific moment, actually. Wow. Um, yeah, I remember the exact moment that I made the decision. So, um, I was at the time I was running my own company, I was running a tea company. And I wasn’t doing so great. I was like, just in like a really weird headspace. And my husband, Mike Huey has been in the game industry for like 11 years, something like that at this point. But he was away at GDC. And I was home alone. And I was like, kind of just feeling a bit down. And I’d been saving Night in the Woods, because it had just come out. Wow, I was like, I’m saving this, I want to play this game. So sitting there playing Night in the Woods, and I just had this, I don’t know this, this revelation where I was like, Oh, my God, like something in this game just kind of spoke to me. And I had this like, really strong emotional connection with it. And with every one of my friends being away at GDC, at the time, I had like nobody to talk to. And I was like, kind of bummed about it. And I was like, I need I need I need to pivot, I need to I need to make a change, I need to do something. And there was something just calling me to, to make the shift into gaming. Because I had the background in TV production, I was like, Oh, maybe I can pivot and actually move into into game production instead. And that’s what encouraged me to actually just start reaching out to friends and finding out who was looking for production help and like, whether I could intern or do like a part time thing. It took a few months for everything to actually come together. But like I remember sitting there in my living room and having just this, like, you need to do this. This is just, this is the next thing for you. And it was out in the woods. And I actually the next year, I got to go to GDC. And I got to actually meet the the writer on on the game. And he had just won an award, a writing award, I think at GDC for that game, and I got to actually thank him in person. I was like, Yeah, I’m actually here because of you. So it was like a nice, a nice little turn around in the years.

Scott  3:36  

I’ve had people that actually like put you down on that career path. Like I’m never gonna be able to meet. Like some of my like heroes, right? Like, that’s amazing. Yeah, it was,

Renee  3:45  

it was a weird conversation. He ended up mostly talking to me about how Enya owns a Castle in Scotland. So it was like, I’m here to like, Thank you genuinely for like putting me on the path to get into the games industry. And he was like, you know, and yeah, owns a Castle in Scotland. I was like, No, I don’t know that. So yeah, I don’t know, it was just it was a weird moment, but it was nice to meet him.

Scott  4:07  

That’s so cool area would actually like go and meet them. That’s also one of the best intro stories ever. That’s awesome. Like, the fact that you can pinpoint the most people like, oh, I grew up playing games with my family or, you know, just like, it was kind of the natural progression. You were like, no, like,

Steph  4:22  

it wasn’t natural for me at all. I bounced in and out of gaming a lot throughout my throughout my life. You know, bounce into it. And then as a woman was always kind of like, oh, you know, you play games. You know, maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you should try and do other, you know, other more girly things, quote unquote, although I hate that whole concept of you know, only certain genders are allowed to do certain things but you fall into that at certain points in your life. So it took a while for me to find my way back to gaming I think,

Scott  4:51  

well we’re happy to have you. So one of the things that we you did touch on and I want to get a little more into is that you did start your career in Linear video, I did more commonly known as television. What was it about production on the side of media that really attracted you? They’re like, why did you go like, obviously, if you want to go in entertainment, but the fact that you actually went into production and managing? Why was that something that like that spoke to you?

Steph  5:19  

It didn’t, it was an accident. Um, no, that was not the intention. So I don’t know, when I was about 1415, I was absolutely head over heels obsessed with Lord of the Rings, the movies, the books, the whole shebang. And I caught in this like really weird habit where I would watch like, the special features on the DVDs like over and over and over again. Also, the Shrek special features, I don’t know, it was a weird time of my life. So I would like kind of bounce back and forth between watching the Shrek special features, Lord of the Rings, special features. And I was like, oh my god, I either want to be an animator, or like, working audio, I wasn’t quite sure. But I was kind of leaning towards something a little bit more artistic, more more technical. For a long time, it was animation. And that was sort of the path that I was going into. Um, but then I went off to university, and it just like wasn’t really a good fit for me. So I left university after two years, and decided to go to college. And the only program that was open in January that I could find, just like, after a quick Google search, I was like I need to go back to school was a introduction to TV broadcasting or TV broadcasts. And so I was like, Oh, I liked watching all the special features for Lord of the Rings, I’m just gonna go into broadcasting. It’s very snap decision, I made it and like overnight, got into the program, somehow I didn’t realize it was actually a really competitive program. But I got in. And the entire time I was there, I was convinced I was gonna go and become a sound designer. It was either a sound designer or like a, like a news room director. Those are like the two things that I mostly focused on while I was there. And then when I graduated, I needed to find work. And a friend of a friend of a friend needed a production assistant, like an in office production assistant on a reality TV show called for rent, which is kind of like house hunters. But for rentals. It was on HGTV and I was like, Sure I’ll take a job, I don’t care what it is. Ended up just taking this production assistant job as a stop gap. While I was going to like look for sound design work. And then the production coordinator got promoted. And they just needed someone to slot in and become a production coordinator. So they were like, Hey, you, you’re the production coordinator now. And that’s kind of how I ended up in production. So

Scott  7:58  

wow, those seem like two very different career paths that like, we’re going to talk about it in a little bit that you’re kind of able to do both now, right, you’re still able to focus on audio. Yeah, but like, I feel like audio is a little more like siloed, right. And then when it comes to production, like those like managerial skills, right, and like organizational skills, so like, you find that those two really complement each other, or those are just two different passions of yours, or audio was the passion and then you just happen to be really good at organizing and managing people.

Steph  8:23  

Um, it’s complicated, but I find that working in audio, and actually having a technical skill is a huge asset as a producer, because it allows you to, like I know what’s going on in the technical side of the game, because I actually have a role that interfaces with the the entire programming department. So I’m never like talking about something that I don’t actually understand, like I, I’m in unity on a regular basis, like I know what our code bases, I know where to find everything. So I’m not talking in the abstract, I’m talking about things that I actually am dealing with. And I’m just like, I’m very involved in the system. So it’s having that technical base makes it way easier to be a producer.

Scott  9:03  

That’s kind of like a resounding theme that we’ve had like on the show is a lot of guests that we have and a lot of people in like bigger studios in Ontario, bigger studios in Ontario aren’t necessarily that loads of teams. So a lot of people tend to start in tech or they tend to start out as a programmer and then move all the way up to like a managerial role. And there’s like every single person has been like it’s better, it’s way better to know exactly what the issue is. Because one if someone says something’s taking too long, like you know what they’re actually dealing with. So you either may give them more time or you’re well aware that it’s it should have gotten done quicker, right? Like you need to actually know what they’re doing to be able to tell someone what you need, right? So like that’s, that’s awesome to hear, though, that you’re like it’s much easier that you know exactly what everyone’s talking about at all times. And it makes your job as a producer a little bit easier.

Steph  9:48  

It makes things so much easier. I don’t understand like there are a lot of producers obviously who don’t have a technical side of their job and that’s that’s completely fine but I just having the ability to be able to actually Talk about the systems that are in the game to know exactly where they are. And when someone’s talking about a specific bug or issue that they’re dealing with. I’m like, oh, yeah, I know, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I know what script we’re talking about. I know where that is, like, it’s, it just it just makes life make makes it easier and makes it more authoritative. And like more. No, like, you can actually talk about it rather than just having to trust someone to say something credibility

Scott  10:26  

having to trust someone to say something credibility to yourself, I guess, right? Where it’s like, I know exactly what you’re talking about. So you can’t like either talk your way out of this. Or it’s like, you can help figure out the problem with them at that time.

Steph  10:37  

Yeah, there’s a lot of troubleshooting involved, especially like as we’re getting towards, like delivery of a project or something like that. Like I actually become pretty heavily involved in QA and like, prepping milestone deliveries, and actually knowing exactly what’s going on under the hood is it’s a, it’s a beneficial skill. So

Scott  10:56  

it’s great for you. Probably great for your team as well. Right? Like, if you’re, if you’re answering to somebody, it’s like, it’s nice to know that they know exactly what your issues are. And you’re not you’re not talking to the wall or talking like, you know what I mean?

Steph 11:08  

Yeah, 100% Yeah, it helps. It helps to get people what they need, because you actually know what they’re asking for, instead of having to go and ask about it to then come back to them it kind of like, you don’t need to, like, look around for things as much. You’re just like, oh, okay, I know what you’re asking for. Here’s how you can get it.

Scott  11:23  

What was one skill that you learned during your time in linear media that you feel really prepared you for the for the videogame industry.

Steph 11:31  

Um, so I did a lot of very strange stuff in TV. I didn’t really ever work on anything that I would call like, normal and normal experience. I ended up in this like, weird. I don’t know cycle where I was just making stuff that was just like the most bizarre challenging stuff. It was never like, wake up, go to the office. You know, make a thing, you know, talk to some people and then go home. It was always like something crazy. So I did. I did one show. It was tear, like terrible show. I made a lot of bad reality TV. To preface it. There’s so much bad stuff. But I worked on the show for the Weather Channel called loaded, which is about truckers driving through bad weather. I think it only ran for the one season.

Scott  12:23  

But that’s like, that’s like, if you like every commercial, right on a&e and stuff. Like that’s,

Steph  12:27  

like we were trying to ride the wave. Yeah, like 10 years ago, trying to ride that wave of like Ice Road Truckers. You know, it was just, it was it was a weird one. So I had like three different truckers who would drive around one in Canada and two in the States. And we just kind of like Storm chased with them. But so it was coordinating like three different trucks that were constantly moving. With three different crews sitting in the back of the truck sitting on the truckers beds. Yeah, I’m just kind of like bouncing around back here behind the trucker. Yeah, totally safe. And they would call all the time and be like, alright, we had a detour we’re going to this other town, I need you to find a somewhere to eat somewhere to stay. We need some, you know, new materials delivered to us. We need tapes, we’re still recording on tape back then it was before the like digital road had like fully fully taken off. So it was like coordinating all these like three different groups of people driving around trying to chase hurricanes at like, three in the morning sometimes because truckers drive overnight. And I just remember being like, what about what is this? Like, what am I doing? And it was it was really overwhelming at the time. But like, the ability to, I don’t know just kind of like manage that and stay calm and these extremely weird situations that would come up. I feel like it makes me not to freaked out about the kinds of things that happen in game development. Like game development is weird. It’s difficult. It’s complicated, but like, Okay, well at least it’s not that you know,

Scott  14:04  

I 3 am and driving across country weird like exactly, 

Steph  14:07  

I go to bed at a normal time. And you know, I at least at least it’s not that. So this is this is manageable. Dealing with just those like very, very crazy situations is kind of like desensitized me a little bit to like, just like weird things that happen. So something crazy will happen. It’d be like a like a it’s somewhat emergency situation. I’m just like, okay, we can handle this. Fine. What do we need to do?

Scott  14:37  

Relative you just scarred you so much that now everyone else would normally panic about you’re like, This is fine.

Steph 14:43  

This is fine. Yeah, like we did a lot of like very remote shooting and, you know, living in the woods for months and that kind of stuff. You run through any of it on location. Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. A fair bit of location stuff and there’s no normal locations I guess. So Yeah, living in the woods for like four months and trying to manage a, a TV shoot where you’re like two hours from anything. And there’s no actual internet and all you have is a satellite phone and like, yeah, just living in the woods with a bunch of rednecks.

Scott  15:18  

This is supposed to be a video game center podcast, but I feel like I could talk to you about this for hours. Like you. I feel like you have so many stories.

Steph  15:25  

Yeah, TV was a weird time. Yeah, but you know, if you can handle that you can handle anything. So it’s definitely a transferable skill.

Scott  15:35  

So from living in the woods for four months at a time and producing all of these crazy shows to tea. Oh, yeah. It was that just like a huge overcorrection was something that you found like to be relaxing and calming? Or why was it that you ended up opening up your own online tea shop?

Steph  15:54  

Um, well, I had a bit of downtime, because I was a freelancer in TV. So I had a bit of a bit of downtime. And I was also just really burnt out, like,

Scott  16:03  

I can imagine. So basically, the stories,

Steph 16:05  

yeah, just just all the crazy things that have happened, like I’d been in TV for like six years or something at that point. And I was just, like, tired. And I hadn’t really ever taken like, a significant amount of time off. So I was just getting really into tea on the side. And I started doing this weird little side project, just to kind of keep myself calm and sane. Where I was mixing tea blends based on books. So I was like, oh, yeah, I could, you know, if if this book were a T, what T would it be? I guess? And I was taking this Tea sommelier course that was my next question. I was like, I did not know that was a thing. 

Scott 16:45

And I didn’t know either. Awesome. 

Steph  16:48  

That’s so yeah, I don’t know. I like I like just taking random random courses learning random skills. And I just like oh, Tea is interesting. Oh, you can be a Tea sommelier. That sounds fun. So I took this certification and just in my spare time and learned how to be a Tea sommelier which is fun. Learning how to tell what kind of tea it is just by drinking it. That kind of stuff. 

Scott  17:10  

For most people that wouldn’t be like wildly. That’s so cool. Like I was like the highlight when I was like looking through your career. And I was like, what we need to ask about this. That’s so interesting.

Steph  17:18  

Yeah, it’s the same thing for wine. But it’s just see there’s also whiskey I think there’s there’s a few different kinds of specialized small you certifications you can do.

Scott  17:27  

Was that something that you you did like you want to open the tea shop and you wanted to start selling them? Was it something that you wanted to learn just to be better at the craft? Or was it something that you had just always found like, enticing,

Steph  17:38  

it was more just like a side hobby. I’ve always got like a million hobbies on the go. So it was just intended to be that. And then I had a a TV show that I was waiting to get greenlit for like quite a long time. We had done a season one of a show. And we were waiting for season two to get greenlit and it was supposed to be like, a few weeks. But then a few weeks became a few more and a few more and a few more. And I was just kind of sitting around unemployed waiting for the show to get greenlit. And I was like I’ll just open an Etsy store. How hard can that be? And then I just did that for like, four years, five years. Yeah, and then that actually just became enough money to not have to go back into TV.

Scott  18:20  

That’s I was gonna say, and I was like you, you went from there. And then you ended up going into the industry that you you’re in now and love, like, clearly you were good at it. Like if it was something you’re able to pay the bills for four or five years and like it was your own business. I’m curious as to why why did you end up walking away from that?

Steph  18:34  

It was the money was okay. But I was kind of at a point where if I want yeah, if I wanted to scale up, I would have actually had to get employees and equipment. And I was kind of just enjoying doing it just on my own. And I didn’t really want to turn it into a business with employees, I kind of liked it being a solo venture. But just the it was actually just the physical limitations of filling tea bags over and over like you can only do so much of that before you get tendinitis in both of your arms. That is that’s what I discovered. And I just I didn’t want to invest like $10,000 into into like filling machines and stuff it was like this is just it becomes a completely different kind of business at that point. And so I decided to move into games, but it was only supposed to be on a part time basis. Like I was kind of just doing it as like to test the waters while also running the tea company and I just liked it so much in games that I just let the tea company just kind of quietly fade into the background and the games thing became full time.

Scott  19:40  

There’s a feel you do get a little bit more enjoyment out of tea now. Now that isn’t paying the bills.

Steph  19:46  

Um, yeah, I do actually. Yeah, living living in that like, tea focused environment all the time. I just kind of like lose my ability to just enjoy it for its own sake, you know? Like he kind of become a bit of a snob about it. Like, it’s kind of a stereotype. Such a snobby term, right. But I definitely did become like, oh, well, you know, I couldn’t possibly just drink a bag tea. Now I’m like, oh, yeah, whatever. Totally, that’s fine. I don’t care, you know? Yeah, I’m, I’m at the point now. I’ll drink anything. It’s fine. But,

Scott  20:20  

but yeah, if you found what you loved about it, you went back to your roots.

Steph  20:23  

Yeah. 100% you know, like, I’m not I’m not picky about it now, but it’s, it’s still a really, really. It’s a cool industry. Like, it was fun.

Scott  20:33  

That’s awesome. Yeah, I love that. That’s like a you like my entire family. And like my partner, everything that’s there’s a tea everywhere. Like a bunch of tea, my cat. And that’s just like, been a thing for a long time. So I read that it’s like, that’s wildly interesting to me. I would love to be able to learn, be able to like taste level differences. Just go back on track, because I knew I’m like, we’re gonna talk about tea forever. You made a comment that yeah, we’ve been you finished with the tea shop and decided to go part time into games? What was it starting at 13 Am Games? You started there part time and you just slowly, a little bit more and a little bit more? Or was it like, you know what? No, this is my full time gig. This is great.

Steph  21:10  

It was intended to be part time. So if it happened very suddenly, I had been talking with them for a couple of months. Their previous producer had left. I think in the spring of 2017. He went on to go start his own thing. That’s that’s Dave proctor I think he started up mighty yell. He’s He’s a great guy. Most people in Ontario know Dave, on the show. Yeah, he’s a great guy. So he had left, I think in the spring, he had been one of the original founders of the company. And they’d kind of just said, Oh, well, how hard can it be to just like, operate a game studio without a producer, like, we don’t need a producer, we can just all kind of like contribute. And it’ll be fun. We’ll figure it out. I fast forward like a few months. And they were like, Oh, this is actually really, really difficult. But they were in kind of like a limbo thing they were waiting for some Ontario creates money to come in. So they couldn’t actually afford to hire me. So there was a bit of a back and forth and it was like, Okay, well, we want to hire you. But we can’t afford to pay you yet. So standby. And we’ll let you know when our funding comes through. And I at the time, I was just talking about kind of like interning, I was like, maybe I can just work for you guys for free for a little bit just to see if I even like, like this, like if the skills are even actually transferable. So they call me one day and they’re like, Hey, we’re having a kickoff meeting for our for our new project tomorrow, that was for double cross, or if it’s just a kickoff meeting. But we think you know, if you can come by just for that meeting, it’d be like half a day, maybe one day of meetings. And then you know, we probably won’t need you for a few weeks or a few months after that, but just just just come on by and meet the team. So I showed up for this meeting, thinking, Okay, it’s gonna be one day of work or like four hours or something, I think is what they had said. And I met for the whole day. And then they were like, can you come back tomorrow? And I was like, Okay, sure. So I came back, I’m gonna be two days, it became two days. And then they were like, Okay, can you just work here full time now? Come in again, tomorrow, we’ll figure it out. And we’ll just figure it out. So, yeah, I was supposed to be there, like, two or three days a week or something. And then, just from day one, they were like, no, no, no, you work here now. And then I never lived in there for five years, actually, five years. Last week. So I’ve just crossed over five years.

Scott  23:27  

gratulations. Yeah, that’s awesome. So that’s, I find that really interesting, because you came in via very much like on a part time basis. But you were part time. Never.

Steph 23:38  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, became full time from day one. But it was like it was intended to just be a part time gig. I was supposed to be just helping them out with like, a little bit of organization, a little bit of finance, stuff, that kind of stuff. But no, it turns out, they actually needed someone full time.

Scott  23:55  

When did you end up getting to do some of the audio stuff where we like you’re finally able to kind of use that passion as well.

Steph  24:02  

That happened pretty early on. So about six months into working there. We were at the stage on double cross where we started actually needing audio. It turns out that Dave, in addition to being the producer at 13, and was also in charge of the audio, so him leaving it also left kind of like a gap there. And we were just talking about this one day, and I was like, Well, you know, I am trained in this. I know how to do this. I don’t know how to use Unity. But I know how to use you know, audio editing software. And, you know, I’m trained in Pro Tools and all that kind of stuff. And they were like, Alright, cool. You’re hired. Go learn unity. So I just opened up unity one day and was like, Alright, let’s see, because

Scott  24:47  

unity was self taught. Yeah,

Steph  24:49  

yeah. 100%. So just started doing it one day and then I think we had three or four months until Double Cross had to be delivered. And they were like, We got to get all of the audio in the game. Before that, which obviously, as the producer I do at the deadline was like, well, you

Scott  25:08  

knew what you were getting the audio they were like, yeah. Okay.

Steph  25:12  

Yeah. So learned learned unity in a very short amount of time and got all the audio in and then just kept doing it and did it did it and double cross and and again on down to the monsters. And yeah, we’ve never actually hired another audio director, I don’t make the sounds we have actual sound designers who do a lot of the sound creation, but I handle all the implementation and yeah, it’s fun. I like it.

Scott  25:45  

What do you think like so like you came on right before ronbow would have been released on switch? Correct?

Steph  25:51  

Yeah, it was, it was around when Rambo was released. I can’t remember if it was right before or right after.

Scott  25:56  

So for those who don’t know, Ron bow is a one to nine player party game with an aesthetic that I find much more appealing than most of those type of games, most of like the heroes and character creation, things like that. I really, I just really liked the main character. I really liked the black and white. Yeah, she’s awesome. So going for something like that, where you kind of came on right when something was releasing, compared to double cross where you even said, like you were in that first meeting. And all the ways for release? Can you tell me a little bit about that experience of being able to see something in the concept stage, all the way to release date considering especially in production where nothing ever goes as planned. And this is your first game like ADC.

Steph  26:39  

Yeah, I don’t lacrosse was a really interesting challenge. When I came on, there was a prototype level where you were kind of like on the back of a truck. We had the the sling mechanic that was working like the hook and swing, it was working, it ended up changing a lot in the in the final gameplay. But we, you could find a little dinosaur and you could run across the back of a truck and you could like swing. And that level was called caravan. And then it was the first level they were working on it. I think it was also the last level we ever finished on the game that was like a an ongoing kind of like, painful level to work on. We just kept redoing caravan over and over and over. But that game was done really, really quickly, I think, start to end, it was only about nine months of production. Yeah, everything had to be done very, very quickly on that game, because we didn’t have a huge budget on it. And we did end up managing to secure a publisher on it. But it was actually only quite a small investment that they had made. So it needed to be done before it ran out of money. So managing that was actually quite challenging. Knowing that we had a very limited budget, right from the beginning. Because I think originally we only had enough money for about six months of work on it. And we knew it needed a lot more than that. So we were really, really aggressive and trying to find a publisher to give us any any extra money that we could just extend the the amount of production that we can do on that game. And we didn’t get it up to like nine months, which frankly, we could have used more time on that project. But it always felt very rushed. It was a very quick production. And we always felt like we were racing against the clock to get it done.

Scott  28:33  

That’s a sprint. What are you looking at? Like most game production? Right? You’re looking two to three years? Yeah. At least like everyone that I’ve talked to be at two to three years like almost minimum depending on the studio and a percent mobile tends to be that that year right here. Nine months you’re thinking a mobile turn out? Yeah, even on the lower end, right. So it’s like that’s, that’s yeah, that feels like it’s a sprint and a half the fact that you didn’t even get one full calendar year on your production.

Steph 28:57  

Yeah, it was a sprint, we did have to crunch on it multiple times, which is now something we don’t do anymore, because it kind of ruined us for a while like crunch just sapped all of our energy. And we actually had a really hard time recovering from from making double cross just because of the sheer amount of overtime that we put in on the last few months of that game. Just because we didn’t have enough money. It was a learning experience. Pretty pretty substantially for us.

Scott  29:24  

So being able to take all of those lessons learned and being able to bring them into the current shining jewel of their team games, which is done with the monsters originally released in March of this past year. What was the inspiration behind doing a Kaiju brawler? It’d be like even a lot of a lot of games you can see there’s like a similar like DNA or a lot of studios rather. But just seeing like ronbow to double cross to Dwan of the monsters. It’s hard to find that through line. So I’m curious like where did this this passion for a Kaiju brawler destroying cities? Where did that come from? I

Steph  30:00  

think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. But it’s hard to find the true like, the through line. Because the when I, when I was starting at the studio, they were always like, Oh, we like to do something different every time, you can really see that with our first three games that like, it’s hard to find that connective tissue, we’re trying to learn from that going forward and not try and reinvent the wheel every time. But definitely for the first three projects, it’s like, burn it to the ground, start again,some assets into the next game is a little easier.

Steph 30:31  

That’s what we’re trying to do now. But that wasn’t what we were trying to do. Then the koji thing actually came from, from our CEO, Alex Rushdie. He is a Kaiju nut. It’s like his entire life. So it’s definitely originated with like his passion for the genre. But he was I put this with double cross, we kind of erred on the side of being too generic, and not really committing to a niche. We were trying to make a cool story. We’re trying to make cool mechanics, but we didn’t really go after a particular demographic or a particular niche, or even like a particular style of gameplay. Like everything was just maybe like a little bit too broad. A little too general.

Scott  31:18  

Just try to hit check marks.

Steph  31:19  

Yeah, exactly. And like, we really enjoyed playing that game. It’s a very fun game. But when it came around time to actually start marketing it as we were starting to wrap up the project, we had a really hard time marketing the game because it didn’t really have like a central identity. Like it was trying to be a platformer and a puzzle solver, and be able to, you know, be played in any order. And it had commentary on like, you know, police corruption, and you know, like it was trying to do a lot of things. So yeah, I remember being at PAX trying to demo that game and trying to explain to people as they were coming up, like what it is that was like, it’s like a platformer, mystery solver, about intergalactic policing. It’s just you couldn’t really sum it up. So it made it hard to like actually know who the game was for. We didn’t want to repeat that mistake with with Dawn of the monsters. So we knew what our next project that we wanted to have a really good focus on, on finding a niche and catering to that niche, like pretty tightly. So with Alex having been involved in in kaiju, fandom for his entire life, he was like, there is something here, like this is a very passionate group of people who are just not being fed. Like there were at the time, no kaiju games, that’s changed a little bit like we weren’t the only people to try and like exploit this. Yeah, there’s like, there’s a handful of them now. And it’s, that’s awesome.

Scott  32:51  

Because you have a community now, right? You can kind of wink out or like even join in on sales, or whatever it might be.

Steph  32:57  

Yeah, it’s actually been really nice. Like, as we started development on that, it was like, oh, other people are seeing that this, this needs to be filled as well. But Alex was really like insistent on like kaiju fans, they, they are desperate for games. So we went pretty, pretty hard into that we did a lot of research into kaiju Phantom, because like, I’ve originally Alex was the one who was really, really passionate about it. And he knew he needed to get all of us on board. So we actually had like Team movie nights, where he would like give us a little PowerPoint presentation about like, the history of, you know, the original Godzilla movie, or the history of like, we watched Patlabor and Pacific Rim and the gamma trilogy from the 90s. And he was really good about giving us all of this context. And then we would all watch these movies together and like, so we would have these touchstones and he actually turned pretty much the whole studio into Kaiji fans. And then we hired on a few other people who really loved kaiju as well. And it it’s just kind of became our thing for like three years. But I would say most people in this in the studio are like already pretty big fans of like, you know, anime and like other Japanese stuff. So adding kaiju into the mix wasn’t wasn’t a huge sell. Like, we’re just like, oh, another thing, this is cool. And we could just kind of like connect to it that way. Like, yeah, that’s where that came from.

Scott  34:25  

It’s just nice to be able to see in a studio like that, where the passion is already there. Right? Like you’re not having to, like convert people to something. It’s like, oh, we’re doing this party brother. It’s like, oh, I don’t play those I play mobile or I like, you know, Souls games or whatever it might be. But it’s like the fact that you’re able to kind of get everybody all under one roof and having Alex’s unbridled passion like for for that industry. How many versions of the VHS is he? Oh, no.

Steph  34:50  

Oh goodness. I was at his house the other day. I think it’s over 30 He’s got um, it’s Godzilla 98 It’s The terrible one from the late 90s I think he’s got at least 30 copies of the VHS just like in these little stacks in his house. And he’s always looking for more. So if you ever if you ever see when you let him know, I will

Scott  35:09  

see that tweet and I was like this this studio like these, these guys care a lot about what they’re doing. That’s really fun. What’s one aspect of I have to ask this as a as a producer, what’s one aspect of the game that you guys didn’t really showcase in trailers or in the promo material, but you love like, what’s a little thing that maybe people didn’t notice? Like an as a sound effect, or something that you’re like, that’s my that’s my favorite thing right there.

Steph  35:36  

So I think I think my favorite thing is so my my like go to character that I play is always Ganira rash. She’s the big giant crab of actually, I’ve got her up here. This is the only thing we actually did make configures Yeah. Second year. I’ve got a megadon up there, too. But but she’s my girl. She’s my favorite. She’s got like a little minion that you summon. You doesn’t have a name. It’s just crab. It’s just a little cute little crab that shows up. And it’s your little pet and it fights for you. And it like takes aggro and makes Ganira hero pretty, pretty accessible character because I’m not very good at dealing with the monsters. But when I play with Ganira, right, I do. Okay. But my favorite thing is the crab. And we all got really attached to the crab in the studio know what? We proposed some names. I think there might be an in law or actual name that our writer has. But crab just stuck. It’s called crab and engine and we just got crab. Yeah, it’s the best. But my favorite part was we had to start doing the sound effects for crab. And we’d all gotten just like so attached to this little guy that like, anytime it got hit or died, you just like feel bad. So I remember telling our sound designer, like I want you to feel bad when this crab gets hurt. I want I want you to exploit the maternal instinct for this crab. This is your son, and you want to not let him die. So he was like, okay, we can do that. So the sound effects for crab are these heartbreaking? Whenever it takes damage, it’s just like, it just breaks your heart. And when it dies, you jet you feel terrible. And yeah, our sound designer just absolutely nailed that. Steve, you completely follow my direction on that. And it just makes me happy. It’s like the one thing that we just had this idea. And it it just worked exactly as intended. And all I was trying to do was like spread the love and attachment to crab to other people so that they would they would feel bad when the crab was hurt. And I’ve had a few people be like, Oh, I love that. I love that little crab guy. Like,

Scott  37:57  

that’s my favorite.

Steph  37:58  

That’s my favorite. He’s my boy.

Scott  38:00  

Oh my God, that’s that’s way way better answer than I could have ever asked for it. That’s so good. It’s like a dying crabs. Your favorite part of the game is like, the whimper that it makes us. It’s not that existence.

Steph  38:12  

It’s the little things that make you happy.

Scott  38:15  

It’s one of the things that you’re talking about us with being able to focus on a niche without of the monsters. A lot of that being having a bit of success in Japan. Do you have a big localization focus when it comes to Japan? And I know that you guys were out there recently. Can you tell me a little bit about that specific challenge?

Steph 38:33  

Yeah, definitely. Um, localization is a pretty big focus at 13 AM. We have a lot of fun, it has a lot of diversity at our studio. Like we have people from a lot of different countries, like our writer he’s from he’s from the Basque region in Spain and our art director, he’s from Brazil and our animators from Brazil, we have a lot of people who speak a lot of different languages. So we’ve always been pretty cognizant about localization, partly just because people want their families to be able to play the games that they make. Which Yeah, it makes it you know, it makes it kind of like a personal a personal thing. But the other thing has been localizing into Japanese as like a priority. So this is our third time localizing into Japanese. It was a really big struggle on double cross, like we really went through it with that Japanese translation. Just because we didn’t take a lot of things into consideration, like it’s not a language that works like any other language. So if you have systems that just don’t take into consideration the fact that there’s no spaces in Japanese and the characters are very different dimensions, and the legibility changes a lot. There’s just a lot. That doesn’t work the same way. As other like Romanized languages, and that really caught us out on double cross, and we didn’t want it to catch us out as much on down to the monsters. So we, from the very beginning, we were like taking into consideration the fact that this game had to had to translate into Japanese, especially because it’s a Kaiju game. And if it doesn’t localize into Japanese, and what are you even doing? Yeah, but the other thing is, this is our first time actually doing voiceover in a game. And from day one, we knew we wanted to also have Japanese voiceover. So we did it. And it’s not released yet. So that’s going to be coming at the beginning of 2023. But the full Japanese translation the full Japanese vo I’m already playing with it. It’s it’s awesome. It’s like the coolest thing to play that game with Japanese voices. And

Scott  40:49  

argument of sub versus dub, right? Like you want to anime fans and stuff where it’s like, this is creator’s intent. Like it needs to be. Right like

Steph 40:57  

100%. Yeah. And you can you can do the the text in English and the voice in Japanese. Yeah. So that, you know, you get the full experience if you want. But yeah, the Japanese voice actors just knocked it out of the park as well. Like, I’m actually so excited for that, to, to get released. Because the it’s incredible. They did such like the English voice actors also did an amazing job. But like, we’re the only people who’ve heard the Japanese voices up until now. And they’re just so cool. Like, we just get so much joy out of actually playing that game with those voices. They only went in like a couple of weeks ago. So it’s still like this fresh, new, exciting thing.

Scott 41:33  

Like this just sounds right. Like sounds,

Steph  41:36  

it sounds so cool. In his mind. Yeah. The first time he played he was like, yeah, yeah, it’s a little bit of a dream come true. Actually, to get that

Scott  41:47  

that was something that you guys really learned with double cross, like you said, What was one part of that like? So besides a specific word this. So like, when you look at the like subtitles and stuff, you’re saying like a lot of the other major languages that end up getting localization is is Romanized. Right? So it’s like, yeah, it might be a little bit longer, a little bit shorter. But those are really the only issues you’re running into. So what was one thing in particular, that was that you felt like you had really learned on double cross? I know, you guys started at the beginning of Donta the monsters with that in mind. But what was something that you learned during that struggle of time trying to localize and double cross and being like, I am making sure day one that this is something that I focus on. So that doesn’t happen to me again?

Steph  42:29  

Yeah, I mean, we didn’t get it perfect the second time around, but it was definitely smoother. One of the things was just like, a lot more familiarity with our localization system, and knowing exactly how that system was going to work from day one. And like how we wanted to lay out the spreadsheet, how the keys were going to work, like everything, just like on the back end, was set from the very beginning. Whereas on double cross, we were still like, really not that familiar with the system that we wanted to use, we were still kind of like exploring how we wanted to do that and doing experiments. With Dawn of the monsters was like day one, this is exactly how we’re going to do our localization. We thought it through we made documentation for it. We tested it, everything. There, there’s room for improvement next time around, again, because we’re still having issues with there not being spaces in in Japanese, it really does mess a lot of things up. But the legibility improved a lot like I remember us really struggling with finding a good font on double cross. And like the first time that we implemented Japanese it was it just looked bad. There’s like

Scott  43:39  

specifically like size or is it like, yeah, there’s a certain particular font because you need to be able to see. Yeah,

Steph  43:46  

it’s both Yeah. Yeah, there are a lot of things that like just don’t work as well in Japanese script like I remember in in double crossed, we had like a bit of an over reliance on like bolding text and like italicizing text. And those things just don’t work very well, in a lot of Japanese fonts. Like if you bold fonts and a small size, they get really like crowded, especially with kanji, like you kanji becomes completely illegible, like, you just can’t rely on that as a thing. So finding a font early on, and like actually testing those fonts. Was, was it was a good call. We didn’t run into that issue. But I remember there being issues on double cross of just like, ooh, this looks bad. And like we’ve made a lot of like, assets that were hand drawn in English and like we had made some of our own English fonts. And then it was like, Oh, well, this doesn’t work. And in other other scripts, this is just doesn’t make any sense. We also localize that game into Russian and we had a similar issue with that as well. It was just we weren’t really thinking about like the end result of the localization from day one. What was done we did we didn’t we didn’t run into those those issues where we had to completely redo specific assets and completely changed the system. because it just didn’t work. still room for improvement. But let’s learn a little more every time,

Scott  45:06  

something I never thought about that was like, in. So like most games, right? games that don’t have voiceover, they rely so much on that like bold or italicize or like shaking text to like convey emotion or convey tone, to being able to try to translate that into a completely different language like that must be a unique challenge. I never thought about that part of the translation of how much is actually being said based on formatting, not just the words themselves.

Steph  45:31  

Yeah, and then that formatting actually, like because we use XML is like that formatting is in the XML itself, ends up with a lot of like, issues with tagging things. And like, there’s just a lot of little tiny back end issues that that kept cropping up on the on double cross, just trying to like, reduce that stuff happening the second time around was like, I think our tech team did a really good job with it.

Scott  45:55  

So I’m really looking forward to actually being able to hear that. So the last thing about Dawn of the monsters is, there’s a area called New Toronto. How important was it for the team to have something that was so close to home that you thought was whether you had to bake it into the narrative baking into the lore? Why was that something that you guys focused on?

Steph  46:17  

It was, it was really important. So I remember really early on, we were trying to decide what areas like what cities the game was going to encompass. So we knew that we wanted it to be real world locations. Because double cross it was, you know, fantastical, Planet jumping kind of thing, we could just kind of do whatever we wanted planet made goo planet, that’s all our kids, you know, that kind of stuff. But we knew that we wanted dawn to actually take place on earth and be set in real cities. So we actually picked all of the cities that were chosen are ones that actually have a personal connection to the studio. So we have Toronto, obviously, because that’s where we are, and we just never really see it represented in games as or even movies as itself.

Scott  47:07  

So I wanted to ask, and I was like, that’s so cool. To me. There’s so many people, there’s so many games and like entertainment that gets made in Toronto or gets made in most of Ontario doesn’t like Toronto or Toronto, you know what I mean? It’s like, the capital. But yeah, like, you don’t see it represented very often. So I thought it was really interesting. Please continue.

Steph  47:22  

Yeah, like no one, no one ever lets Toronto just like be Toronto. We’re always like, Oh, it’s filmed in Toronto, but it’s New York and Chicago. It’s, you know, Philadelphia, it’s whatever, right? Like it never actually gets to be itself. And like working in TV and film before that, like the amount of times that we’ve filmed in Toronto and like, oh, yeah, this this is New York. It’s Brooklyn. Oops. It’s not. It’s Toronto. Yet, like a fun time as well living in Toronto and like watching movies in mainland. I know that intersection Exactly. This is filmed here. So actually letting Toronto be Toronto. It was it was fun for us. But we also got to put in all these like little easter eggs. We had a great time just like brainstorming all the locations that things could take place and like little billboards and little little Canadian in jokes. Like there’s little jokes about, like the concerned children’s advertisers, commercials from the 90s. Like, don’t you put it in your mouth? And there’s like a billboard in there for sellers but it’s Zellers like Godzilla.

Scott  48:22  

I saw that one. I definitely saw that one. Yeah, we had a really

Steph  48:25  

good time with that kind of stuff. But I think from day one, we knew that to the locations that had to be in the game were Toronto and Tokyo. And it was just figuring out what the other ones were going to be. But yeah, that was that was kind of like a personal victory. And it’s been nice to see people actually connect with that and enjoy that. Cuz I can’t really think of that many other games that are set in Toronto, it the only other one I can think of, like I think Soma is technically set in Toronto, but I don’t think you’ve ever go outside. Yeah, and then that’s only the beginning that it takes place in Toronto. Anyway. Someone else told me there was another game recently, another kaiju game, like a smaller, smaller indie project, that part of it took place in Toronto, so we’re not the only one anymore.

Scott  49:11  

I do. I did all that pressure. That was the first story about all the monsters that we shared on the lodge, at least like one of the first like two or three because that was like a focus for us like in the team. Like obviously, we cover like a lot of different news stories on a regular basis. But like those ones are the ones that I highlight. And I throw it to the team and I’m like, Look at this, like this is awesome. Like they’re too damn games, one being a member and two, like, we don’t get to see that very often and working on this side of the video game industry. It’s fun to be able to see that kind of stuff and be like, oh,

steph  49:39  

one little Easter again, now that I think about it. We have a cutscene where in in the first first world which is which is Toronto. The boss of that area took Arash like a big lightning preacher. We’re showing her off like cleaning to the CN Tower and there’s like a, an explosion in the background and If you look at where the explosion takes place, it’s actually where our office used to be. Yeah. We don’t have the office anymore because we’re all work from home. But like, the thing that’s blowing up, that’s that’s our old.

Scott  50:11  

Oh, I love that though. That’s awesome. That only you guys would know that. I don’t think anyone Yeah.

Steph  50:15  

There’s some little tiny, stupid easter eggs in the game that are just for us. But

Scott  50:23  

I’m sure when you play through it. I know what that is. Yeah. So that’s a pretty good segue of leading into the last part of our conversation where I want to talk a little bit about Ontario as this is the live podcast, you know, powered by interactive Ontario. Support from Ontario creates, the our focus is really celebrating and championing the Ontario video game and IDM industry as a whole. So as someone who’s been working in media in Canada for almost a decade, or over a decade now, how do you feel about where Ontario is headed? And do you feel that since you entered the gaming industry in 2017, do you think that the community has gotten stronger? Do you think that it’s kind of been the same? Or do you think it’s gotten more separated?

Steph  51:05  

Hmm, that’s interesting. Um, yeah, pretty much my entire career has been somewhat reliant on, you know, Ontario creates MDC, kind of from day one. So pretty, pretty familiar with that. It obviously it’s different in games than than it is in film and TV, but it’s hard to say whether or not like it’s gotten closer or further apart, there’s been a lot of good things that have happened, particularly during the pandemic with regards to like advocacy. Like we were involved with interactive Ontario, before the pandemic, we talked about it, but we didn’t really think that we had anything to contribute to it. And then during the pandemic, it was like, free membership for a certain amount of time to kind of like, bring people together, right, and then we, we hopped in and actually saw the value in that kind of space. And we’ve been, we’ve been in it ever since. So on one hand, I feel more connected to the industry, because we actually are involved in that kind of stuff. Now, when we never used to be. On the other hand, people just don’t see each other anymore. Like we used to have, like, you know, monthly Game Dev events, like there used to be tauren Tarot that never came back, right. And like, that was a nice, kind of, like, monthly. I didn’t go every month, but the option was there to have that kind of like stress relief and be able to meet with other fellow game devs. And kind of, you know, complain and vent and play Galaga which is what people did. But so that kind of stuff has definitely been lost. Like, I feel like I don’t actually see people in person. Like you were mentioning how we were just in Japan. We were over there to demo, dawn of the monsters at bit summit in Kyoto. And this game dev came up to me from Toronto, and he was like, Hey, I know you guys. You’re from Toronto. And I was like, Yeah, we are. And he goes, I’m from Toronto, too. And we hadn’t met before. But we were both Toronto game devs. And he was like, We talked for like, 40 minutes. And I’ve never met this guy before in my life, we had a great conversation. And like, halfway through, we were like, this is nice. Like, this is actually really nice to be able to talk to a fellow Toronto Game Dev, who knows what I’m talking about? Who, like, I don’t have to explain anything. Like we know exactly where, where each person is from and what we’re talking about, even though we’ve never met each other before. And there was just this really nice moment of in person connection. And then we were like, Why is this happening in Kyoto? Japan? Why is this not happening at home in Toronto? Like, Why does no one see anymore? Just kind of this like, it was a joy, but also kind of like a sadness? Because like, I feel that that connection has been has been a bit lost. And I I hope it comes back. But I don’t slowly

Scott  54:08  

on the way we’re having like, more and more like in person events, right. We like Pocket Gamer a few months ago. The RTL wasn’t long ago. Right. And there’s Well, I think I think we’re getting back to that, hopefully. But it’s funny. I’ve heard that from numerous people have been like in GDC. Like, I want you to be one GDC and all from Ontario. And that’s where they met and that’s where they hung out. They’ve never seen each other in Canada. They also each other on the other coast. And then same with like games calm, right? It’s like we always have those those groups that go. And they spend all this time together to go to dinner, they become great friends. And then when they’re down the street from each other. They’re doing this as close as they get right.

Steph  54:42  

Yeah, that I mean, that is just a weird thing in Toronto, like yeah, there’s always people you run into a GDC and I haven’t been to DC since the pandemic started. And I’m like, I’m really missing that missing that connection. But yeah, you see these people in California and you never see them at home. I’ll see you again next year. Even though we’re like down the road from each other doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But yeah, I do kind of miss those opportunities for like more regular connection through those like informal kind of events. But at the same time, like the rise of discord, I would say throughout the pandemic has been a huge, like a huge point of connection. I didn’t use discord very much before the pandemic and now I use discord for everything like our entire company is run through discord. That’s where we have all of our meetings, that’s where we actually see each other. That’s where we hang out. That’s, that’s the office the office is discord. But also there’s there’s discord for, you know, the Toronto day game dev community, there’s a discord for interactive Ontario, there’s all these places where people actually are connecting with each other, just not face to face. And the sharing of information has gotten a lot better to like, there used to be used to be harder to get information about things like issues that you’re having with od MTC. And you know, what bank are you with, or what insurance company are using Are these like little daily business things that people are actually like, unraveling and talking about, and trying to get change made on? Like, I remember this whole thing, like I think it was last year about people talking about insurance. And people talking about how CMS requirements for insurance are kind of ludicrous, honestly for what you’re doing. And that did actually lead to some change, because people were actually sharing me information about companies that they had worked with and discussions that they had had with the CMF. And that kind of stuff wasn’t really happening before at least not at the same speed. Like there’s actually changes happening. And like Lucie at IO has been incredible at actually bringing all these people together and like getting change made to things like oh, Id MTC like, it’s a huge deal. Like as a producer, as the person who is the one with the pulse on the financial viability of the studio on a day to day basis. Having something like that be more reliable than it was before. It actually is like life changing to a studio. And I don’t know that we would have gotten that changed before the pandemic or not at the same scale like it happened faster than I would have expected. 

Scott  57:28  

It’s been good to hear those kind of things. Obviously. Bad does one thing as well like for me is that we were able to launch the discord obviously during during the pandemic. And we’ve gotten a ton of great feedback. And it’s a it’s made IO a lot more accessible writers that you can have like Lucy can just jump into the conversation. But then yeah, like all the other like discord channels that I feel like I’m a part of so many more now, since all this started, like I was on Discord before for like the end and like a couple of like, like just like gaming ones Rachel stuff? Yeah, exactly. Like it was it was like, kind of funny and like some of the like video game centric things. But like, people that I actually know and people that I talk to on a regular basis, this is the first time and like, I Oh, it’s the same. A lot of our tech stuff is still on Slack. But every single one of our meetings is in discord. That’s just where we are. And that’s where our members are. And that’s where a lot of the IDM industry in Ontario is. So I definitely agree with you that it feels like we’re closer together but farther apart at the same time. But I’m hoping that we can kind of now the COVID is slowly, slowly hopefully that we can we can start getting back to that. And we can have the cane and Game Awards in April. And we can all see each other in person and we can like start to do these type of events again, because I came into the industry during COVID.

Stephr  58:40  

Oh no.

Scott  58:41  

So I’ve been able to go to a couple of events. But most of my conversation most of my interaction with people has been through discord or been through zoom. And it’s great. I’ve been able to meet a lot of wonderful people, but I want I need that experience. Like you miss it because you’ve had it before. I’ve never had it and I know what I’m missing.

Steph  58:57  

There’s there’s honestly there’s nothing like GDC like, it’s everyone always gets sick. So there’s that. But there’s a reason that people go there every year. Like there’s there’s just something about that in person connection. And like it’s not even it’s not about the talks. It’s not about any of the actual industry stuff. It’s about at the end of the day, going to a bar with people or going to a restaurant with people and just talking just like sharing stories. Yeah,

Scott  59:30  

like you’re you’re you’re around your own, which you don’t get very often.

Steph  59:34  

It’s like a hard reset for your brain. Because you get really kind of wrapped up in what your company is doing on a day to day basis. And you kind of like don’t get that outside perspective as much. So seeing people in person and actually kind of like unwinding with them and sharing your horror stories or success stories or whatever they happen to be. Gives you a perspective about like what everybody else is doing, like what the temperature of the industry is probably Problems other people are having. And it just kind of like normalizes the whole thing. And it’s like, oh, simultaneously, like, our problems are not as bad as we thought. Because other people are having them too. It’s not just us. But like, just yeah, just like understanding the what’s going on the things that are affecting you, or also affecting other people or, or someone else will have a fresh perspective on something like, Oh, that’s a problem for you, oh, we solve that using X Y, Zed. And it’s like, oh, I didn’t even think about that. Awesome. And then you just you come back to work after GDC just being like, full of ideas and like actually full of enthusiasm again, and it’s like, it’s like a reset for burnout is kind of how I always looked at it of like, Oh, I just feel so down. It’s been a long, cold, hard winter. And then you go down to California in March, and you get a little bit of sunshine, and you’re like, oh, vitamin D, this is great. You actually get to talk to some game devs. And you’re just like, Oh, right. This is why I’m in this industry. It’s, it’s actually great. And then that keeps you going for another another little bit. So how are we gonna go? I hope so. I hope so.

Scott 1:01:11  

Where you guys are in production, like you should be able to go?

Steph  1:01:14  

Yeah, I mean, yeah, I’m not. I don’t always get to go. We usually send at least one person. It’s not always me. And that’s okay.

Scott  1:01:21  

Well, hopefully, you guys get that. Yeah. So as we’re wrapping up, is there anything that went left unsaid? Was there anything about the one of the monsters that you wanted to pitch? Was there anything about the team? Anything about tea? Tea advice for people? Any, any of the above?

Steph  1:01:36  

Um, that’s a good question. I don’t think I have anything specific. No, I mean, I don’t know that I have anything else.

Scott  1:01:48  

I’ll come back to you. I’ll do the outro. And then I’ll come back to you got any buff. Though, I got stuff. Thank you for joining us today. I always enjoy this my highlight of my job, this is my favorite thing to do. But actually get to sit down and pick the brains of the people that create the projects that I fell in love with as a kid and I’ve been able to to enjoy are long enough. So a big thank you to Natalie, our producer being on the ones and twos. Thank you, Natalie, as always, and thank you, Jo and Terry crates for their continued support. Also, I O is going to be at Megamix. So if you see us, come talk to us come say what’s up, set up some meetings on me to match. I’d love to meet and talk with all of you. So please feel free to come and say hi. Also, we’re going to have another episode of notice the recaps coming after Mega Meg’s so stay tuned looking for that that information will be announced the next couple of weeks. And make sure to check out the lodge for all of your daily Ontario video game news. And yeah, staff has anything else from you?

Steph  1:02:46  

Yeah, I guess, thinking about it. Um, I just kind of want to call out I guess what I think is unique about working at 13. Am, please. Because we just got out of a meeting this morning, we were kind of just like, just our usual like, weekly. I say Monday, it’s Tuesday. But it’s because yesterday was a holiday. Kind of like retrospective, just trying to like reconnect as a team. But I think what, what is the best part about working at 13 Am is that we’re work we just kind of like like each other. Like, it’s just a nice place to work. It’s just nice to come into work, and be working with your friends. Rather than just like working with a bunch of impersonal people like over the the five years that I’ve been here, like we’ve got up to 13 people, we’re now we’re down to 10. But it’s pretty much the same core of people, we’ve gained it, we’ve gained a few new friends. We’ve lost a few along the way. But at the end of the day, like we are all genuinely like working together. And I it’s cheesy to say like we’re a family. I don’t want to say that. But like we’re friends first and employees second, which is difficult sometimes, because sometimes you disagree with people and it’s like how do I say this without hurting my friend’s feelings, but it does make working together easier. And I think it’s part of the reason that this studio is still around after eight years, like eight years as an indie studio is quite a long time since Yeah, for sure. Like most studios would have folded by now and we’ve gotten close. Like, there’s I don’t think there’s any indie studio that just is smooth sailing the entire time. Like it’s not easy to run an indie studio, but um, you know, they’ve made it for eight years, and I’ve been there for five of them. And it’s it’s been a fantastic ride through all the ups and downs. And yeah, I just wanted to shout out 13 Am because they’re a really fantastic group of people that make coming to work every day and actually being a producer like a complete joy. 

Scott  1:04:51  

So that’s a 13 Am Games set out to 13 am. Thank you. Thank you for joining us. It’s been another episode of the lodge podcast. And I will see all of you stuff thank you again and I will see all of you take care.

Steph Sandercock

Currently Producer and Audio Director at 13AM Games, Steph Sits with Scott to discuss her career path, 13AM Games’ latest and greatest, localization, tea, and much more!

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