The Gunzilla Games team, a fresh and independent game development studio that is working on its next-generation Battle Royale Off The Grid, told us about the studio's work organization, discussed their approaches to education and creative freedoms, and spoke about the important hard and soft skills potential teammates should have.
Lisa: Hi, I’m Lisa Steele, Head of Recruitment at Gunzilla Games. I joined the team as a Senior Recruiter back in 2021 before being promoted earlier this year. I’ve worked in recruitment within the gaming industry for almost two decades. I took some time out to focus on my business degree, which I got awarded in 2018.
Currently, I lead a team of three recruiters. We are always looking for the best talents in the industry.
Alexey: Hey, everybody! I’m Alexey Plaksin, Lead Art Director at Gunzilla Games. I come from the world of photography and 3D visualization. I was awarded a degree in Audio, Video, and Cinema Technics at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.
I have worked on various projects, including RTS (Wargame, Act of Aggression), VR, and racing games (Moto GP, Ride, SLRally). Some of my most well-known projects are Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 and Warface.
I joined the team as Locations Art Director in 2020 and have been recently promoted to Lead Art Director. I work with a team of 44 filled with Environmental Artists, Character Artists, Hardsurface Artists, Animators, VFX Artists, UI Artists, Tech artists, and Concept Artists.
Igor: Hi everyone! I’m Igor Smirnykh, HR Director at Gunzilla Games. My professional experience spans over a decade, and my background is attributed to a number of industries, varying from F&B & Tourism to Oil & Gas, an experience which was mostly gained in the UAE. However, I have been a gamer since my early childhood years, and my passion for games has been truly welcomed at Gunzilla Games! I’m a graduate of the London School of Economics & MAPM universities, and I’ve got degrees in Business and Human Resources Management.
I joined Gunzilla Games back in 2021 in the capacity of HR Manager before being promoted to HR Director at the beginning of 2022, and I currently lead a team of three.
Work Organization at Gunzilla Games
Lisa: We are structured under three departments, these are: Development, Marketing, and Operations. Each department is composed of various teams that tie into their overarching disciplines.
We also have our Vision Holders who oversee the game’s development process. They provide direction on everything from narrative building to sound design. The team is made up of renowned industry figures such as Neill Blomkamp, our Chief Visionary Officer; Scott Probin, our Studio Director; Nikolas Gekko, our Art Director; and Alexey Plaskin, our Lead Art Director.
Our teams and their members are spread out across our offices in Germany, Ukraine, the UK, and the USA. Our office in Frankfurt, Germany, is considered our HQ. However, our home remains and will always be in Ukraine.
Due to the continuously unfolding situation in Ukraine, all team members have the option to relocate to our offices in Frankfurt. For those wishing to remain in Ukraine, we opened a new office in Kyiv. The office is equipped with an independent recovery system that ensures an ongoing supply of electricity, heat, water, and internet. We opened workspaces across the west of Ukraine for those wanting to remain in the country but not necessarily in Kyiv.
We ensure to keep in touch with our colleagues across all offices by facilitating the necessary digital tools. We strongly believe in open communication, as you never know where the next best idea will come from!
Lisa: At Gunzilla, we like to stay true to our core values – players first, belief in our team, commitment and engagement to quality, bold moves and innovations, openness, and honesty. That is why we take great care when bringing new team members on board. We want to make sure that both parties are a good fit. As an international team, we also look for people who value diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and equality.
Gunzilla Games was created to challenge the status quo in the gaming industry and push the boundaries of the battle royale genre, so we look for people who are all about making bold moves to improve their personal and professional projects. Although being a player of battle royale games is an advantage, our ideal candidates should also hold diverse interests and experiences in gaming, above all, a passion for creating great player experiences.
And lastly, a little lifehack for those who would like to join our team – We always like it when I talk to someone about our roles, and it’s obvious they have done their research on us. When candidates know who we are and what our values are, it shows they are really interested in joining the team, allowing for a good discussion about our projects and future plans.
Alexey: For those looking to join our Art department, the first thing, we check is the portfolio. We’re always looking for artistic vision and experience in the areas we need most (realistic, first/third person). Then we just go and talk, dedicating most of the time to showcasing our projects during the interview. I want to see the fire in the applicant’s eyes.
We need proactive people who strive to create something awesome, bring fresh ideas, and overcome challenges (you may have quite a lot of them when you are trying to create something really new and unseen, haha!).
Igor: We spend a great deal of time making our new team members feel welcome through an extensive onboarding and adaptation process to help them settle in.
The process helps new team members to get familiarized with our fellow Gunzillians, internal processes/pipelines, projects, and a chance to dive into our internal culture at Gunzilla. Our regular "Beer and Pizza" parties help too! And, of course, every newcomer gets their corporate swag welcome kit.
Alexey: On a team level, as we have a lot of corporate boards and docs for beginners to learn, we make sure to set up everyone for success by assigning a mentor who helps them in every stage of their adaptation. But I think my favorite part is the amazing welcome our newcomers receive on Slack!
Managing Worker Burnout
Igor: We understand the challenges that occur in a work environment, which is why we make sure to check in with each Gunzillian through regular one-to-ones. We always encourage open and honest conversations where any issues or challenges can be addressed.
From paid vacation to work-from-home days, we take great care in providing our team members with a variety of measures to ensure they have a healthy work-life balance.
We also understand how important mental health is and are in the process of implementing a full support solution that may be used for purposes beyond work (personal/family issues, physical conditions that lead to mental issues, etc.) to ensure the well-being of our Gunzillians.
Approach to Creative Freedom
Alexey: We love people who show initiative. People who are willing to contribute fresh ideas, as well as their experience and competence, are those who build the IP.
As our core values include openness and honesty, we encourage our teammates to provide us with ongoing feedback and ideas at every step of development. They can do it either during a private talk with team leads, during team meetings, or during company updates held on a monthly basis.
We would rather have someone that tells us, “I have an idea on how to make it easier/user-friendlier/mind-blowing” over “I’ll just do this in a way it was done before even if I don’t like it”.
Training the Staff
Igor: We encourage both personal and professional development at Gunzilla, and we incentivize this with our annual elaborative Performance Management practice.
Together with their managers, employees summarize their annual achievements, review hard and soft skills, set up next year's goals and define a plan to reach them. Moreover, in addition to the internal, “in-department”, learning initiatives, we frequently hold company-wide workshops.
Some of our most experienced colleagues, who are experts in their respective fields, share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with the other Gunzillians. These workshops not only enhance the proficiency of their immediate colleagues but also promote general awareness of our team members’ skills.
As an international company, English is our working language, so we offer fully financed language courses for those who would like to improve. For those foreign Gunzillians who work in the Frankfurt office, German courses are also available.
Tips for Artists Willing to Work at Gunzilla
Alexey: Research our style, try Unreal Engine 5, focus on realistic visuals and unusual mixes of realism and high-tech stuff, be a game admirer, and apply to our vacancies!