One–day jams within the company stimulate the creativity and autonomy of employees, according to ZeptoLab. The authors of Cut the Rope and King of Thieves told App2Top.ru how and why jams are held four times a year.
The last Friday of each quarter is a special day at ZeptoLab.
On this day, the company’s employees postpone all their business, cancel meetings and split into teams to make their ideas a reality. It’s called Autonomy Day.
The point of the event is that every employee, regardless of position, could create something unique or useful. It can be a prototype of a game or something that will make life in the office more productive and fun (for example, a board where user reviews of games are displayed in real time).
“We find it useful when an employee expands his range of tasks (at least for a while) and looks at the creation of a product from the other side,” says Semyon Voynov, co–founder and creative director of ZeptoLab. – “In addition, we do not force employees to participate in the Day of Autonomy by force. Whoever wants to do his own thing, does his own thing. But those who have always wanted to create their own project or share interesting ideas can easily do it.”
NoirArt is an interactive novella in the noir genre. The gameplay is based on quick time events.
The first Day of Autonomy was released in 2012. It turned out to be popular among the company’s employees, and they decided to hold it regularly.
Each team has one day to implement their ideas. Sometimes teams manage to create projects that, according to ZeptoLab, will pass for a full-fledged mobile indie game.
“We do not set conditions to make a mega-high-quality or fully completed project (we understand that it is impossible in one day)” – says Voynov. – “An employee can simply present concept art and a brief description of the gameplay – this is already enough to be considered a jam participant. Of course, sometimes teams overestimate their strength and stay in the office for a long time. However, on the very next Day of Autonomy, they assess their strength more adequately – and this, of course, also has a practical benefit of this practice.”
In addition to developing creativity, Autonomy Day also has practical value. This is a way to experiment with genres unusual for teams and new technologies that can be applied in real projects in the future.
On the Day of Autonomy, the company can painlessly shuffle developers from different teams that overlap little with each other in work, and see if they work together. As a result, all this can result in more successful development teams.
Absinthe Theater is a multiplayer game set in a drama theater. Only instead of actors there are two alcoholics who want to fight.
The first Day of Autonomy did not have a theme, everyone just experimented on
what they wanted. But ZeptoLab quickly realized that if you set some abstract theme for game projects, the results will be more productive. This not only gives a good start to those who have not yet decided on the idea of their project, but also allows you to create prototypes of games that the company is more likely to want to develop further.
“We analyze every project created within the framework of the Autonomy Day in terms of market prospects. Of course, not all ideas have them, but very promising ideas are born periodically,” Semyon notes. – “Some have grown into full-fledged projects, but, at the moment, there are no full-fledged releases based on them yet. Also, many utilities have found their application in the office, and technical developments are successfully used in our current projects.”
Oculus Bike is an experimental VR project where you need to pedal an exercise bike.
On the next working day after the Autonomy Day, everyone gathers to choose the best project.
Presentations often turn into a show during which employees play multiplayer prototypes. Then each employee, regardless of whether he participated in the Autonomy Day or not, votes for the project he likes (games and all sorts of office utilities are evaluated separately).
The project with the largest number of votes wins, and the winners receive applause, respect and valuable prizes. The following are examples of prototypes that were developed in the last Days of Autonomy.
Rap Battle – in this game you have to compose rap ballads. The goal is to “reread” the opponent by composing a funny song from randomly dropped words.
We hope you enjoyed the article! We will be glad to receive feedback about the Day of Autonomy in ZeptoLab. Do you do something similar in the company?