2020 in review: Keeping It strong in our 15th Year

2020 Year End Article

2020 in review: Keeping It strong in our 15th Year

The year 2020 involved a lot of challenges and adaptation. Thankfully, our sails and our hull held strong, and we were able to navigate the year’s turbulent waters. We take the experiences given to us this year and make these the foundation of a stronger and better 2021.

Learning and Growing in the New Normal

Like most companies, we saw 2020 optimistically as the beginning of a bright, new decade. We started the year strong and aligned with our original goals, but the pandemic necessitated a new way to work and deliver to our clients. Thanks to careful planning and execution, the move to a work-from-home arrangement was swift, with practically no down time in terms of our deliverables.

Creating a stable work-from-home culture meant laying down strong foundations in communication, infrastructure, work processes, and relationships. The success of this setup has proven that the Secret 6 culture goes beyond the four walls of our Tektite office. With team members who are responsible, capable, and trustworthy, it remained alive even as we had to function from our own living spaces.

Camaraderie and our sense of community is something that we value highly as a company. Despite isolation restrictions, this was something we were determined to preserve and sustain. So, we launched S6 Expertism, a series of mini-workshops meant to encourage group learning. More than sharing our interests, it was a way for us to hang out, just like our very own Friday Gamenights at the office. From the comfort of our homes, we shared our hobbies, skills, and tips for maintaining wellness during the pandemic—encouraging each other to try new things. These casual sessions were well received, and we are looking towards a Season 2 of S6 Expertism for 2021.

A thriving community invites growth, and the pandemic certainly did not put a damper on it. We welcomed several new team members in 2020, adding more game programmers and artists to our roster. Secret 6 is a family that likes to welcome new blood and talent.

Treating the adaptation to the pandemic as a full adjustment (and not just a passing phase) helped us prepare for continued growth and expansion. For the first half of 2021, we have chosen to continue with the work- from-home setup for everybody’s safety.

Stand and Deliver

Despite the year’s challenges, we continued to take on and deliver on our projects.

For 2D Art, we worked on multiple endeavors, including pixel art and animation, for The Streets of Karamucho from EmptyClip Studios.

In the realm of 3D Art, the year saw the release of Naughty Dog Studios’ The Last of Us Part II, a long- term project with our long-time client. We also worked with CD Projekt RED on the in-game graphic design and 3D art assets for the recently released Cyberpunk 2077.

Meanwhile, Aphondo, our Game Quality Assurance services subsidiary, started new QA projects with the game Project Winter, co-developed by our long-time partner, Other Ocean Interactive. We also engaged our new client, developer Laguna Games, for their game QA requirements.

Secret 6 Madrid, our studio in Spain, has also been collaborating with Blizzard in some of their new projects, such as Heroes of the Storm. They also worked with RedThread Games— a company we have been working with for the past five years— on their upcoming title, Dustborn.

Collaborations between our Manila and Madrid studios saw us take on an untitled science fiction/horror title for Fabrik Games and As Dusk Falls, Interior Night‘s first original IP that’s set to release on Xbox Series X and published by Microsoft. 

New Frontiers

Sharing our experiences in the industry has always been something we enjoy doing. In 2020, we were able to explore avenues to continue those endeavors online

Puro Ka Laro Podcast hosted us on their August 6th episode, entitled Buhay Developer: Secret 6. We got to talk about what it’s like to be in a work-for-hire game development studio for those who aspire to become one. 3D Art Leads Jem Bernaldez and Rouie Macabitas, Nicole Ibrahim from Game Design, and Sarah Bernardo from 2D Art were all onboard to talk about their experiences at work.

We were also excited to be featured by Gawad CCP para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, one of the longest-running short film competitions in Asia.

Their new category, Emergent Media, focused on the world of games and game development. Here, Secret 6 was invited to showcase Project Xandata (PXD). Aside from having the opportunity to be featured in their 2D and 3D exhibit, we also had our Technical Director and PXD Creator Gene Gacho and Product Manager Mig Sevilla interviewed by esports personality Mika Fabella. This feature was shared on the Facebook page of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, bringing our game, our company, and our industry to a whole new audience.

Our Continued Commitment

Sustaining our endeavors with our academe partners through the pandemic, Secret 6 continued to participate in events and conventions, to share about our work and our industry.

We started with Build For Unity: a 48-hour game jam organized by iAcademy, held over the weekend of March 6th to 8th. Here, we had our 2D leads and Global Game Jam veterans Hya Lawas and James Pajunar mentor the groups, as the students worked on their entries. The judges panel also included our Senior Game Engineer, Luigi Bairan, who is, likewise, a seasoned GGJ participant and accomplished game developer. 

Next came Pros in the Know, an online meet and greet with interns in June that was part of the iAcademy Go Pro Internship Readiness Program. Our very own Isaiah Ilacad, one of the Leads of the Quality Assurance and User Experience (QUAX) Department, gave a talk about the internship opportunities available in Secret 6.

In November, we again had the privilege of participating in another iAcademy event. Creating the Foundation, an iAcademy Art Portfolio Talk, was a continuation of their internship readiness program. The event focused on Portfolio Creation and Personal Branding using Digital Platforms. In this event, Secret 6 2D animator Ric Coprada gave a talk titled Artist Talk: Personal Branding – Ric Coprada.

Towards the end of the year, we presented another talk at an event for the De La Salle Business Management Society (DLSU BMS). Our game design manager and head of marketing, Regina “Xiao” Supapo, shared an overview of the status and potential of the game industry. This was complemented by her co-speaker: one of our Producers, Mart Miranda. In her talk, Mart shed light into the processes and teams behind game creation to help DLSU’s business students have deeper understanding of the game development process. 

Helping Build the Games Industry 

We at Secret 6 are honored to be continually invited to game industry events and tech conventions in 2020. 

Over the course of two weeks in August, Devcom 365 held the New Green Virtual Indie Expo, which featured several Twitch shows and a podcast to their community of game developers. Secret 6 was there with our own virtual booth featuring Project Xandata. In late October, our President and Founder Ron Schaffner talked about the Growth of the Game Development in the Philippines as part of the Games Market Bootcamp presented by Gamescom Asia. This monthly online info session is dedicated to providing insight into the games industry in APAC and Oceania. It’s meant to showcase new trends, feature major players, and discuss current regulations as well as future opportunities in the industry.

Last but not least, the World Consumer Electronics Expo launched WOCEE WIRED in November, which provided an avenue for tech and electronics consumers to learn more about the gaming industry. This new platform aims to provide brands, companies, investors, associations, and digital practitioners a way to showcase breakthroughs, learnings, and new applications in the field of consumer electronics and digital transformation.

Secret 6 was there with our Game Design Manager and Head of Marketing, Xiao Supapo, sharing about both the current and future state of Games and Game Development—a very relevant topic as the industry underwent many changes during 2020 and the pandemic.

Ending the Year Right

This year was particularly significant for us at Secret 6, marking our 15th year in the game development industry. With our own party entitled Divided but United, we celebrated and brought our hearts together, even in the current work-from-home situation that we find ourselves in.

Check out all the details of our celebration at the Secret 6 at 15 section of our website, and learn about our 15-year journey, how we got here, and the future we eagerly anticipate. 

What the Future Holds

We look forward to a strong and stable year ahead, seeing 2021 as a continuation of our journey.

At junctures like this—especially after such a challenging year—it’s always good to ask: What do we bring forward? What do we leave behind? Our ship sails on, and this coming year, we look to our values as our compass, grounding us and guiding us through the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

We are eager to tell you another good story by this time next year.

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