Working Culture and Recruiting Process at Stunlock Studios

Fanny Lindblom Laux has told us how the work at Stunlock Studios is organized, spoke about the studio's approach to working with beginners, and shared some personal insights about working at Stunlock Studios.


Hi, My name is Fanny! I work with the environment team here at Stunlock Studios. We are six people in that team at the moment, a lead, three 3D artists, and two-level artists (I'm one of them!).

I've been on this team since we started working on V Rising. In the beginning, I made lots of the environment assets, but as the game grew, another 3D artist and I got to help out with building the "chunks" (all the big squares that our world is built up of), and it turned out people thought we were good at it! So the past year or so, we have both mainly worked on putting together all the chunks. That involves placing all the cliffs and abysses, roads, trees, bushes, building villages and mines, etc.

I studied to become a 3D artist at The Game Assembly (TGA) in Malmö, and I had lots of fun there! This was back in 2009 when TGA was newly started, and my class was just the second one to start their education there. 

During my last six months as a student, I did my internship at Stunlock Studios. Back then, they still worked on Bloodline Champions which had a beautiful hand-painted art style that reminded me of World of Warcraft, a game I also really liked. I've been here at Stunlock Studios since.

Work Organization at Stunlock Studios

At the moment, we are divided into five teams, but we are quite flexible, and the team changes if needed. We have a concept art, character, and animation team. There’s an environment team, a tech team, a design team, and our marketing team. Each team has a "Product Owner" or "PO."

We communicate using chat programs, old regular meetings, and of course, just going over to each other's desks to talk. The POs have their own meetings to sync everything on a more structural level. Then we use standard project management tools to organize all the tasks we need to get done!

Skills New Specialists Should Have

Except for the usual stuff, being good at what they are doing, etc., a new specialist should be able to come up with new ideas and help us improve our workflow, but also be humble and good at taking (and giving) feedback and then implementing said feedback. Most of us artists have only worked here at Stunlock since we graduated, so someone that has been working with different companies and has a few tricks up their sleeves would be super welcomed!

We're a small team, so "fitting in" with the group would be good too, but we are quite easygoing! 

Working with Beginners

We try to be open and friendly, we are not a company where hierarchy is a thing when it comes to interaction with work mates outside strictly work-related stuff, and I hope beginners feel that too. I would like to think we are all humble and a bit like a big family. But of course, it's still a workplace.

When someone is new, we try to start them off with smaller assignments, or if it's a new program, give them some time to get into it, with the help of tutorials and co-workers. For artists, we also have an art bible with lots of info about the art of our game, what to think about when making assets and such. 

In the past we have also had team building days, or other activities, but then COVID came and threw us off a bit concerning that. We have done a bit of everything, horseback riding, bumper balls, gone kayaking, etc. Doing things like that outside work is a nice way of getting people together, I think!

Then there's a Game Dev pub here in Skövde, once a month, where some of us go. That's also a fun place to get to know each other a bit more, in a laid back and neutral (as in not at the office) environment.

Managing Burnout

This is tricky, and to be honest, it is difficult. Sometimes stuff needs to get done, and you just have to work late or during a weekend. For our team, it doesn't happen very often, though. When it does, we always get either 1.5 or, if it's a weekend, 2 hours, for 1 hour of work. We can then use those hours to take some time off once it all calms down again.

We also plan our sprints with 6 hours each day instead of 8, even though our work days are 8 hours so that we have a little bit of wiggle room.

And if someone IS struggling, they can always tell their lead which can, if possible, postpone the task, or see if someone else can help out with the workload. I think we are all quite good at pitching in where needed, if we can, to help other teams if they have lots to do and we have less.

We have also been given lunch and dinner when it's been really hectic, which has been really appreciated!

Creative Freedom

Freedom is an important part of our working environment. We are encouraged to come up with new ideas and ways to improve our game and workflow. We are also able to give feedback on our in-house playtests. 

Stunlock's Approach to Education

Stunlock buys us tutorials if we find something we want to learn more about. We are also able to go to lectures during working hours. For me, looking at other artists' work and also other games gets me motivated and eager to learn new stuff and improve. So sharing cool stuff in our art channel is always nice! 

Team Dynamics During the COVID Situation

In the beginning, it was tough for me. I had a hard time concentrating, so it absolutely damaged my productivity. It was also boring being home all alone all day long, but I'm sure it's different for everyone.

After some time, though, I got used to it and got to really like working from home! My productivity got back to normal as well, and when going back to the office, I first found it difficult to work with people so close to me talking and making noises. I got distracted really easily, but I got used to that as well again!

But yeah, COVID made it harder to communicate, all those spontaneous stops at someone's desk, just asking the person next to you a simple question, talking to people at lunch and breaks. That all went away. I think it made people a bit more secluded.

We had mandatory chat breaks though, but it's still not the same thing. Those small conversations that happen at the same time are impossible in an online chat channel where two people are talking and ten are listening. We tried addressing that by making lots of smaller channels with a cap of six people, but we never really got the hang of it. 

We also had online AWs, and Halloween and Christmas dinners, where Stunlock bought us food and delivered it to our doors.

A positive thing is that it made us realize that it's possible to work remotely, and we have been able to hire talented people that are not living here in small Skövde, Sweden! 

Advice for Artists

I think many of us have a fondness for stylized art so that always gets our attention. Being versatile and able to do both stylized and a bit more realistic stuff is a plus. Having an eye for composition is also a big plus!

And I would also say, on a personal note, practice your topology! I see lots of students that have really good portfolios or cool 3D art on ArtStation, but then the topology is just not up to par with the sculpt or materials. Then again, I don't know if I'm just old school. Having worked on low poly games in the past, I might be too concerned about making every poly count. A nice topology always impresses me, haha. :) 

Fanny Lindblom Laux, 3D Artist at Stunlock Studios

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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