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level up — Mar 24, 2022

Final Two: Freedom and Responsibility

Welcome to Level Two! Now that we have been here for over two months, we want to check back in at the next level to give you some more ideas about what it is like to be part of a team at Supercell.

Supercell consists of many small independent teams like us. Cells, if you will. This structure is quite different from many other companies. Supercell has been built around the idea that the best teams create the best games, and for that reason Supercell wants to be the best place for the best teams. It is easy to think that basically the whole company consists of multiple small indie-studios, which together create one Supercell.

What we have noticed the most about the teams at Supercell is that everyone can, and is very much encouraged to contribute to their team’s effort as a whole. While we all are specialists in our own fields, we also have to step away from our comfort zones and work as generalists, which gives us a great opportunity to widen our knowledge about new things. In some other studios there can be people working almost exclusively on very small details, such as an artist that mostly creates shoes for the characters. In Supercell, the teams are small, so something like this does not really happen. In our team, we only have two artists, who create the whole game world for us. At the same time, our three programmers divide the coding tasks between them, and we all work together with our designer to create the best possible gaming experience.

Our common goal is to create the best possible playable in six months. To achieve this, we need to trust each other and understand what everyone else in our team is working on. Even though we make all our decisions together and everyone has a right to give their opinion, the final say is always on the team member who knows most of the topic at hand. For example, we can all give suggestions on some character’s appearance, but the artist who created said character always makes the final call.

Like all of the other teams at Supercell, we are also completely independent. This independence of the teams creates a mixture of freedom and responsibility. No-one walks into our office space and tells us what we should or should not do. We have the complete ownership of our playable, and we make all the creative decisions by ourselves. We can always ask for feedback for our thoughts from our mentors or from other Supercellians, but in the end, we need to make the final decisions by ourselves.

On the flipside of freedom, there is always the responsibility that comes with it. During hard times, everyone still has to pull the same rope, which is not always easy. The teams are small, so there is no room for people who just stay on the sidelines and wait for someone to tell them what to do. We also have to find common ground on the team’s practices.

Even with all the responsibilities we have, we still need to be forgiving to ourselves. Most things don’t succeed on the first try, and we need to be ready to start again from scratch. This iterative process of trial and error is at the heart of Supercell, and we are actually very happy that we always have the option to throw away work that does not meet our quality standards. Even though we have not worked here for a long time, it became clear from the beginning that here people have room for growth and learning. Every mistake is a learning opportunity. For that reason, the company actually honors canceled game projects with champagne – as learning is something that should be celebrated!

For the past couple of months, we have learned a whole lot about game development and teamwork, and there is still a lot more to be seen out there. We hope to share some more of our learnings with you in the future!

– The Level UP Team

Read more about Level Up here.