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Behind-the-Screens: The Structure of Our Development Teams

As one of the world’s leading educational game developers, our team is well-versed in all aspects of game development – design, engineering, art, and so on. For each project we take on, Filament carefully selects a development team best positioned to meet the specific needs of the product. Today, I’d like to give you a “behind-the-screens” glimpse into the various roles that make up our development teams – here’s a quick overview of each and their respective expertise:

Game Design

Our game designers are responsible for the design concept and narrative for each of our projects. The design team also serves as client advocate on projects, working with clients to ensure consistent alignment of goals between the client and developer. The client advocate is responsible for translating client needs into our internal Agile development processes. We work on extremely unique and innovative learning game ideas that require an additional layer of learning design work not required by consumer game genres. The design team has a long history of producing award-winning learning games that meet these objectives.

Software Engineering

The software engineering team applies their versatile, bleeding-edge programming chops to each project, ensuring our games are snappy, dynamic, and functional. Filament has extensive software engineering experience, having developed single-player, multiplayer, 2D, 3D, platformer, physics, simulation, MMO, role-playing, Facebook, and puzzle games. We have programmed in Java, C#, Python, PHP, ActionScript, JavaScript, Lua, and C++, designing custom collision, acoustic modeling, quest, inventory, dialog, animation, rendering, sound, and effects systems for many of our projects. Our team has developed an in-house game engine for HTML5 and most frequently develops in Unity.

User Experience (UX) Design

Each development team at Filament has a dedicated User Experience (UX) Artist who is responsible for designing the look and feel of each project, also serving as the technical liaison between programmers and the illustration team. Filament has a deep commitment to player experience in each project and the UX team members are constantly iterating towards usability, clarity, and quality in all player interactions. Our UX team creates experiences that eliminate unnecessary complexity, reduce the number of steps it takes to perform any given function, and reduce on-screen clutter, all while being robust enough to give the player all the tools they could possibly require within the reasonable limitations of the game design.

Illustration and 3D Art

Filament’s in-house art team is used as a flexible resource across all projects. The team is allocated to apply their breadth of styles and skillsets to each project in the studio as illustration demands rise and fall. Our art team is broadly versed in all kinds of digital art, from retro pixel art to custom fully-rigged 3D models. They’re constantly researching and exploring new styles to meet the evolving demands of our project workload and our prospective users’ tastes and preferences. With thoughtful considerations towards tone, mood, age range, and subject matter accuracy, our team works diligently to ensure a pleasing aesthetic experience based on our client’s content, audiences, and budget.

Audio and Sound Design

Our Sound team provides custom voice acting, narration, sound effects, and original soundtrack compositions for each of our games as required. This team also provides video production support as needed to both Filament Games and its clients. Unlike many educational game development shops, Filament has an in-house composer in charge of sound design and effects. We produce songs in a vast variety of styles to fit the aesthetic of essentially any game. Clients benefit from this capability by receiving wholly-owned custom content which does not require any third-party rights management.

Production/Project Management

At Filament, our approach to production starts with a belief in full transparency both internally and externally with our clients. At the contract level, we will agree to a specific set of Release Criteria which are the conditions we agree need to exist to deem a Release Accepted. There is a formal acceptance process for each Release. At the project level, we manage all of our projects using JIRA, an industry-leading online project management and collaboration tool. Clients have access to JIRA during implementation so that they have up-to-the-minute insight into our progress at all times. We formally meet with our clients every two weeks for a Sprint review during which we discuss progress to date. Our teams are also available for ad-hoc meetings and communications on a daily basis. 

Quality Assurance (QA)

Filament’s Quality Assurance (QA) team is involved from the beginning of product development and are present in key meetings to maintain a working understanding of the product’s intended behavior. Filament’s QA team is experienced at compatibility testing, defect triage and verification, and test case documentation. Our QA team is focused on leveraging their principles of curiosity, objectivity, efficiency, and communication to observe and enforce International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) standards in each project that we test and ship.

Account Management

Filament’s Account Management Methodology is integral to how we engage with our clients. We believe that every client should have a direct line of contact with one of our founding partners, so our clients get the benefit of the insight gained from developing 160+ projects over the past 15 years. We ask our clients to pair our Account Manager with their most senior stakeholder who has a direct line of sight into the project we are working on together. Most often, this is the client’s Executive Sponsor. Executive Sponsors are not involved in the day to day activities of the project but are most likely the senior person to which each team reports. Clients are assigned a Filament Account Manager for the lifetime of our relationship and that person will be the Account Manager for every project we do together. 

And that just about wraps up my list! As you can see, making educational video games is no easy feat – which is why I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many talented and capable individuals here at Filament. If you or your organization would like to explore the possibility of creating a digital game for learning or impact, I’d love to hear from you – get in touch with me directly for a free consultation!

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