Guilherme Amantea, Director of Engineering, writes about Bike Race, a spontaneous success with an interesting technical history.
Eight years ago, when I worked as a software developer for a company that makes ATMs, I couldn’t imagine that one day I’d be working for a gaming company.
There are lots of stories such as mine, of people that already loved games, but didn’t necessarily looked for jobs in the area. Those stories are often marked by a particular person who presented us the opportunity to explore this relatively new (and very promising) industry – in my case, that person was Rafael Garib.
Garib was the first person hired by Victor and Arthur Lazarte to work with them in the gaming company they were creating in 2011, then known as Top Free Games. We used to work together before, so he invited me to join this adventure in 2012.
Two years later, I would hit a significant milestone in my career. After working on some exciting projects, I joined the Bike Race development team, one of Wildlife’s most successful games at the time.
Before I even joined the team, Bike Race was my favorite game, due to its dynamics and competitive style. It was an honor to be able to contribute to a project of such spontaneous success and which also has a fascinating history from the technical point of view.
Bike Race was launched in the first months of 2012 and was already a good game. In just three weeks, it received the multiplayer feature update, which made its popularity explode. The new feature allowed people to gather friends to race against each other, run competitions, and it created another dimension of fun.
Until that moment, the most successful game in the company was Racing Penguin. But Bike Race was special, because it provided the creation of a strong and highly engaged community, spontaneously, without us making any investment in community management or social media channels.
It was impressive to see how a crucial feature for the game’s success was developed by a single programmer, and in a very short time. This is the kind of thing that always defined Wildlife’s culture: our commitment of doing things quickly, and delivering with quality.
GOD OF BIKE RACE: A GROUP FOR REAL FANS
An example of this engagement came from a Facebook group, where players got together to exchange game hacks with each other: God Of Bike Race. Basically, they taught each other how to get advantages and resources without having to pay for them. Although this was not very good from a business point of view, it ended up evolving into a powerful collaboration with the group administrators and the community itself.
People’s engagement was impressive, and the group had very active discussions. I remember some incredible stories of people posting photos with T-shirts, birthday cake for their newborn daughter, tattoos, all with Bike Race theme. They were real fans. At the same time, it was a great space for us to receive feedback, track bugs, and get information from real users’ experience, which helped us improve the game.
One of the coolest outcomes of this collaboration was when we made available the feature that allowed players to create new levels to play. The group organized competitions between them to select the best creations and officially incorporate them into the game. It worked so well that two new Bike Race official worlds were created that way.
And it didn’t stop there. Those Bike Race fans promoted unofficial tournaments, created channels on YouTube and other social networks, without any investment or interference from the company. To this day, I am surprised by such an active community that remains passionate about the game, and I am particularly proud of having been a part of this story.
TIME FOR A NEW CHALLENGE
I worked with Bike Race until 2018, and accumulated a lot of knowledge about team management over the time. The team has always undergone several changes, but the people who were part of it created a strong bond. This was good for the work environment, but it exceeded those limits, and many of those contacts remain today.
At the same time, Wildlife was expanding, hiring more experienced professionals in several areas, and continuously investing in improving the games’ quality. I took other roles, until I got involved in the last stages of the launch of Tennis Clash, with a commitment to deliver it until October 2019.
For the first time in the studio, 50 professionals, distributed in squads, were involved in a single game. It was a new and hard experience, but we learned a lot from it and we had amazing people among us. Our mission was only accomplished due to the partnership with Ana Costa – Wildlife’s Senior Product Manager for Tennis Clash. She was the leader of the product managers and was on the project before I joined.
We faced some real difficulties in the game, for example, coordinating expectations with stakeholders and giving visibility of the work in progress.
It was a great learning experience about how communication is sometimes even more critical than deliverables. It’s imperative to provide relevant information in a simple way to the leadership and the team. Nowadays, I have more confidence to do all of that.
After a successful launch, I took on another challenge at the company – the Associate Studio Technical Director role, a more transversal role across gaming teams. This job is all about keeping an eye on reducing games’ development time without losing quality by removing inefficiencies, and also creating proper processes to monitor technical performance on different classes of devices.
For example, we want to avoid unpleasant surprises, such as finding out, on the eve of the launch, that the game does not run well on older smartphone models.
A TEAM OF PASSIONATE PEOPLE
Over the years, I’ve ween Wildlife’s many transformations, most of them regarding our growth. In the beginning, when the entire team consisted of 15 people, everyone had lunch together and played FIFA at the end of the day. At our weekly status meeting, absolutely everyone spoke.
For a few years now, it is impossible to know everyone, as in any organization experiencing such rapid growth. On the other hand, the culture hasn’t changed.
We’re passionate, committed, and each person is responsible for the final result. We insist on being candid to give and receive honest feedback, even when it is difficult. We understand that this is essential for individual and collective growth.
All of this reinforces our goal of being the best place for talented and committed people. Any tech and games enthusiast will definitely find here a challenge that matches that passion.