At Kolibri Games the idle genre is our strongest suit. Over the years, we’ve learned that a higher percentage of male players seems to flock to this genre – this might be due to the idle game mechanics themselves or the themes we’ve chosen that sometimes cater to more male-dominated fields of interest like mining. But we want to make games for everyone – enjoyed by anyone, no matter their age, gender, or country of origin. We understand that the diversity we want to see represented in our players, as well as the characters in our games, should also be represented in the people who make the games.
So what better way to broaden our audience than to form a games team led by two incredible female game makers: Introducing Leontine, Product Lead for a new games team and Jelena, one of our talented Game Designers. In this blog post, they will reveal the idea behind their Team Nebula, give insight into their game iteration approach and talk about teamwork during remote office times. Let’s hear about their journey:
Welcome to Team Nebula
Team Nebula was formed at the beginning of 2021, growing from Leontine as product lead and two developers to a now 6-person strong team supported by game designer Jelena, two game artists, Diana and Judith, and two developers, Unai and Marcel. This team offers a lot of space for collaboration, and everyone’s input matters greatly. We also work closely with the marketing and data teams. With Team Nebula, we have the freedom to experiment to see how we can broaden our audience. This involves a lot of research, market testing, and trial and error. We found that especially narrative features attract a more female audience, something we have not been focusing on as much in our other games. That’s why we came up with a new games project with a whole narrative side, including a nemesis character, which quickly achieved cult status within the several Kolibri teams.
Jelena had already gathered lots of experience developing narrative-driven games before joining Kolibri Games. She transferred from Team Odyssey to Team Nebula to help with her expertise in this field.
“I have a background in interactive story games, so it is very fun to be working again on something more narrative-focused. It’s also something I enjoy playing personally, which makes the work even more engaging and rewarding for me.” – Jelena
We also strive to make the in-game characters more ethnically diverse, to reflect our global audience. We attempt to mix different genres and to reinvent what an idle game can look like with new features and game mechanics. It’s very exciting to see our ideas and especially the characters coming alive. Something we are very excited about is the new art direction we are attempting with this new game. We can’t show anything yet but can already reveal that the game combines 2D and 3D art styles for a more hand-painted look.
For our research, we utilized tools like GameRefinery and Sensor Tower, but it also included spending a big chunk of time on the app stores to research competitors, try out several games and find inspiration. From our research and testing, we gathered quite a lot of demographic data that helped us to see if we were on the right track. One thing that greatly helped us, in the beginning, was forming an internal focus group to really dig deep into what themes and games other women at Kolibri Games enjoy personally and would want to see more of. Forming this group also helped us later on, when we recruited internal game testers. This feedback is incredibly valuable and still helps us as we are figuring out how the final game will look like.
If you want to know more about Leontine’s journey as a project manager in the games industry, click here.
The challenges of remote game development
Developing the game completely remotely definitely posed some challenges. In a smaller team like ours, it’s easier to stay connected: We came up with the idea to open a Team Nebula Zoom Room that would be easily accessible to everyone in the team. Cameras and Microphones stay turned off most of the time, but you always have someone available for a quick chat or any questions, which makes communication much more efficient. We also noticed that daily coffee breaks and gaming sessions from time to time can help keep the team together and make work more fun. Although we’ve found some great workarounds for remote collaboration, we are very excited to come together in the new office soon and brainstorm ideas on a real, physical whiteboard.
So far, our journey with Team Nebula and the experiment to tap into a new audience has been very rewarding. We enjoy a lot of trust and support from the other teams and can’t wait to finally show everyone what we’ve been working on in the past months.
Games are for everyone
If you are also interested in joining the games industry, especially as a woman, we very much want to encourage you to follow your dream. You can get started by familiarizing yourself with the different roles in a games company. Some people like Jelena find their entry into the games industry through QA roles, and other ones like Leontine progress from a game design internship to project management. There’s a wide array of options and interest fields you can go into. It’s important to put yourself out there, not to listen to your inner saboteur, and attend meet-ups or conferences (even virtually!) to connect with other people in the industry.
Check out our blog for what kind of positions we have available at Kolibri Games, for example, find out what a typical workday as a product manager can look like here.
And now it’s time for you to put yourself out there. You can help us reach our goal to make more diverse games for a more diverse audience. Check out our open positions below and get ready to apply!