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Project Xandata receives an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games
May 13, 2022

We are thrilled to announce that we have received an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games for Project Xandata, the first-ever Filipino-made competitive first-person shooter (FPS) game powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine.

"Unreal Engine was a key part in bringing Project Xandata to life. We don’t think anything out there matches Unreal when it comes to building first-person shooters,” said Gene Gacho, creator of Project Xandata and Technical Director at Secret 6.

Launched in 2019, Epic MegaGrants is a $100 million program designed by Epic Games to support game developers, animators, enterprise professionals, creators, students, and educators creating amazing things with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community.

We are grateful to receive this support from Epic Games and we are honored to be adding a homegrown, Filipino-made title to the Epic MegaGrants community.

Once again, thank you Epic Games and Unreal Engine for recognizing Project Xandata! This support helped our development efforts, supporting our quest towards bringing this high-octane 3v3 FPS to life!

See you on the battlefield, Xandats!

Play Project Xandata now available in Early Access on Steam.

This article was cross-posted from the
Project Xandata website.

Secret 6 2021 Year-End Recap, Expanding Core Skills, 250 - Our biggest headcount yet, Secret 6 Gamescom Asia 2021, Secret 6 at Untethered 2021, BMO's Game Lab, Hope Tow Hero, Mad Devils, NFT Champions, L.O.L. Surprise! Movie Night, Diablo 2 Resurrected, Project Xandata (PXD) Early Access Launch
2021 in Review: Numbers that Shaped our Year
February 7, 2022

Despite the challenges that the world continued to face in 2021, Secret 6 remains grateful for the opportunity to learn from our experiences. We enter the new year excited to continue working on games we love.

Let’s take a look back at six notable figures that shaped our 2021.

250: Our Biggest Headcount Yet

250 - Our biggest headcount yet

2020 was a year of adaptation amid the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there’s no clear end in sight to that, 2021 didn’t stop us from thriving in what is clearly the new normal.

As we approach two years (and counting) working from home, we’ve continued to update our policies, processes and provisions, to match the needs of our teams and clients. All thanks to the efforts of our operations and development teams!

With over 60 remote hires across our teams in Manila and Madrid, Secret 6 now hosts more than 250 full-time employees working full-time to provide our biggest range of game development services yet.

Our Madrid team has more than doubled in size, expanding to have VFX artists working closely with our team in Manila on projects set to be announced or released this year.

2: Expanding Core Skills

Expanding Core Skills

As the needs of our long-time partners continued to evolve, so too did our offerings for game development services. We created two new teams: one for visual effects (VFX), the other for user experience (UX).

Our focus on VFX started as a small initiative to dive into how each class, weapon, and skill in Project Xandata could have distinct visual identities in the game. Now, the team has massively expanded its capabilities. Apart from working on our own title, they have also started working on projects for several overseas clients! We ended the year with nine amazing talents, spanning the Manila and Madrid studios.

We’d love to share more, of course! But for now, though, let’s wait until these titles are released. Once they’re out, we’ll be sure to let you know!

This year also marked the start of our dedicated UX design team to further improve the quality of our games. We’ve built our UX pipeline all the way from research to design and testing, and we are continuing to grow our capabilities in this craft. With this initiative, we aim to boost development and advocate for the value of good UX across the industry.

500: A Commitment to Our Local Industry

We share in the responsibility of putting Filipino talent on the map, as well as nurturing the potential of our local learners. This year, we reached over 500 students through talks and workshops thanks to our academic partners. We also got some decent media coverage, which was another fun way to share our knowledge and skills!

Secret 6 Gamescom Asia 2021

In October, we got to share the stage with speakers from Riot Games, EA, and more, at Gamescom Asia, for a talk entitled Reverse Engineering Established User Interfaces to Amplify Player Immersion.

Our senior UI designer, Mika Montano, showed attendees how he solidified the UI art style for Project Xandata well into the production timeline without requiring a major overhaul. He also shared how he built the style guide that allowed the team to balance functionality with aesthetic and scale UI art production without compromising on consistency— in effect, enabling better player immersion.

Secret 6 at Untethered 2021

We also spoke at Untethered 2021, a summit aimed at bringing together and educating professionals in the world of events.

Our senior events manager and brand coordinator, Hannah Donato, delivered a talk titled ‘Pivoting a Roofdeck Party To A 3-Month Online Celebration.’ Here, she shared how we, as a company, creatively celebrated our 15th anniversary and maintained our sense of community in the midst of the pandemic.

Our programmers were also busy sharing their knowledge and skills at local universities. Red Quito spoke at events with UP Cursor and with the DLSU Computer Society about starting a game development career. We also established a partnership with the University of Makati by speaking at their CSS Learning Camp, which we hope to be the first of many talks to help aspiring game developers!

Finally, we facilitated a comprehensive hands-on Unity Workshop in DSC Loyola’s Techfest 2021 led by one of our senior developers, Willard Torres.

8: Portfolio Additions

Throughout the year, our full range of development teams— from game designers, programmers, artists, and QA, all the way from Manila and Madrid— have been hard at work on so many projects. This year, we had the privilege of promoting eight releases from that slate.

We continued to work with a growing pool of AAA clients, including Ripple Effect and EA on Battlefield 2042, their latest and biggest entry in the franchise to date. Many of our artists’ works can be found in the game’s world— from weapons, vehicles, and environment props down to a number of UI icons and elements.

Diablo 2 Resurrected

We also enjoyed working for Activision Blizzard in bringing a genre-defining title back for both old and new audiences alike with Diablo 2 Resurrected, where we worked on several organic assets.

BMO's Game Lab, Hope Tow Hero, Mad Devils, NFT Champions

Apart from the game in the next section, we also worked on projects like Balay Kawayan and Hope Town Hero, launched an update to BMO’s Game Lab, as well as worked on VFX for Mad Devils and NFT Champions.

62: Our First Ground-Up Console Title!

L.O.L. Surprise! Movie Night

There are 62 quests for players to enjoy in our first ground-up Nintendo Switch title, L.O.L. Surprise! Movie Night. In a collaboration with Other Ocean Interactive and publisher Nighthawk Interactive, we solidified our full game development competencies by designing and developing the game from proposal all the way to post-production, and in a completely remote setup. Check out the launch trailer!

In this game based on the franchise’s new Movie Magic toy line, players go on a journey to become the biggest star in L.O.L. Ville while performing in a variety of activities and games, as well as meeting fierce friends along the way.

The game was released on October 26, 2021, which means you can already (and probably really should) get a copy today.

2022: Yet Another Beginning

Project Xandata (PXD) Early Access Launch

Our original first-person shooter title, Project Xandata, is all set to enter Early Access on March 22, 2022.

This opens an an incredible new chapter in our continuous pursuit of passion and growth— not just as a work-for-hire studio but as a fully-armed game development studio creating our own titles.

We want to thank everyone who lent a hand in making Project Xandata what it is today— from our in-house teams, to our external partners and testers. We’re excited to continue improving on the game and making the best version of Project Xandata even better every day. Beyond that, all hands are on deck to face everything 2022 has in store for us.

We’ve got projects to finish, an endless list of skills to add to our arsenal, and a renewed enthusiasm to play our favorite games. Fingers crossed we get to work on them too!

As always, we look forward to making bigger and better games for everyone this year.

Edited 02/14/2022: Changed Miks to Mika for consistency with the graphic.

Little Pockets of Happiness: The Secrets of Working Happily from Home
June 24, 2021

It’s been over a year since we started working from home because of the pandemic.

Work transitioned smoothly, thanks to our awesome clients and IT teams. But here at Secret 6, we all know that’s hardly enough. We believe in getting work done while still having a fair bit of fun. “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life,” or so the saying goes.

Taking this to heart, our teammates have found several ways to make sure they remain mentally and physically healthy through the quarantine.

We asked them about new things they discovered, habits and hobbies they've acquired, and all the other changes they learned to embrace during this time. Here are some of their answers.

Survival Kits

Working from home isn’t easy, especially over a prolonged period. And sometimes, that means getting or fixing up a few new things to make things more convenient or more comfortable.

During the quarantine, our teammates shared the things that helped them make a comfortable and enjoyable space to work in. We’ve called these tangible, material additions to our home workstations our own little “quarantine survival kits.”

Work Station Upgrades, and making sure you're comfortable in you space.

WFH Necessities

Having a survival kit means addressing the necessities of working from home. First, getting a stable internet connection enhances both work and play. Next, upgrading the workstations with comfortable seating and a desk you’re happy to see every day really makes a difference. Then come the small things: disinfectant spray bottles to keep things sanitized all the time, snacks on hand for keeping energies up during long working (and gaming) sessions, and finally, some new gadgets and peripherals – for a more pleasant work experience (including matchy-matchy aesthetics!).

Online Shopping Apps

Let’s admit: the past year was a great time for online shopping. This meant filling in the gaps in our collections, and spending on things we now have some extra time and funds to enjoy. For most of us at Secret 6, this meant video games (of course!) and our various hobbies.

More collectibles and an increasing gaming library helped us fill up our WFH environment with things we enjoy.

We're more than just games!

Hobbies and Personal Projects

It’s not just acquiring things that made the difference, though. Hobbies can help maintain motivation and interest when you’re stuck at home. We've made discoveries through different experiences that gave us new things to learn that kept us engaged for the long-term.

Some of our team members got into things that they otherwise might not have had the time or interest to get into. Arvin Pantollano and Marc Cruz from our Art Teams started taking care of plants and learning gardening. Meanwhile, 2D Animator Ric Coprada got to work in his kitchen and learned how to cook.

“During the lockdown, I found that the candles also help me when I'm feeling stressed, or to take my mind off of things even for a little while.” Our Producer, Mart Miranda learned a lot by trying out different scents and really understanding which profiles she enjoyed and how each made her feel. She continues, “I've also learned the verbiage that comes along with the interest, such as ‘hot throw’ being the scent of the candle when lit, and ‘cold throw’ for when it is unlit, or ‘tunneling’ when your candle continues melting with a ring because of a bad first burn.”

Hobbies and interests can bring joy to your life.

Communication Apps and Digital Calendars

Discord has been essential in keeping in touch with our friends and work mates. Be it during or after work hours, it helps to know that our team is just a message away. Sarah, our 2D Senior Project Lead shares: “With my team, we used to have an activity at the end of the month. Since working from home, we now started having it twice a month, usually at the start of the day.”

Scheduling regular meetings or events with dedicated time to catching up works. Marren of HR recounts: “We prepared our own lunch and did a virtual lunch out via Discord. We talked about topics that are non-work related and also I prepared a list of random questions and put it in a digital spinning wheel while we ate. For example: 'hashtag ng buhay mo ngayon' and 'during out of town trips, name a thing na hindi mawawala sa bag mo'. It was fun and refreshing!"

Video calls and meetings don't always have to be about work!

Connecting online also allowed a lot of our team members to fall into one of the more widespread hobbies in the office. We have regular sessions for roleplaying games, including the classic Dungeons and Dragons. Often held every Friday, after work hours, the DND sessions are even streamed online by our resident Dungeon Masters.

Shifting Perspectives: From Surviving to Thriving

Shifting lifestyles positively was a crucial part to maintaining our well-being during this period. These were simple things like improving our sleep schedule, integrating new healthy habits, or finding more time to enjoy with family members.

New daily routines that involved exercise and healthier eating, as well as getting enough rest daily became more common with our work mates. A greater emphasis on self-care, both physical and mental, became par for the course as people found their balance and settled into their new rhythm.

Here we feature bigger shifts—a change in mindset, environment, schedule, or priorities—that made our lives better during quarantine.

Personalizing Space

For some, shifting meant investing into their own personal space. Hannah Donato, our Senior Events Manager and Brand Coordinator, shares about how she gave her childhood bedroom a makeover: "I've always been into Konmari but aesthetics weren't my strong suit. But when I moved back with my family because of the pandemic, my boyfriend somehow talked me into repainting my childhood bedroom. This escalated into de-cluttering our terrace and transforming it into my home office/gym. Now, I enjoy my new spaces more and I feel very settled.”

Ever get the urge to redecorate? Hannah sure did.

Healthy Routines

S6 Production Lead Stephen Cruz found himself spending his time more intentionally, consciously transitioning between work and rest. He sums up the reasons for shifting nicely: “We cannot stress enough the importance of self-care in the current context. Most people allow themselves to be consumed by the blurring of the line between work and life, when this is a reminder that those things used to be separate for a reason.”

Expanding Our Craft

Our artists and programmer revisited different approaches to their craft, or explored and learned new ones. Some found self-expression by sharing more of their works online. This was what our Lead 2D Animator, Grey Cayetano, did. He stepped out by creating his own branding and art page: @helvirion

The love for art goes beyond work!

Meanwhile, Erin Llamas, also part of the Art team, took self-expression a step further by joining the KR Pearl Abyss fan art contest, and got herself some cool consolation prizes!

Congratulations, Erin!

A lot of our artists also started offering art commissions, providing a new creative outlet and source of income. Utilizing all the extra time available to improving their craft, or finding new avenues for it, is a great way they thrived during quarantine.

Sometimes, a small addition opens up new ways to enjoy art. Trina Laya shares: “I bought an Apple Pencil and started learning how to make resin craft! The convenience of the iPad Pencil made it very convenient to create art and it really boosted my confidence.”

Connecting with Family (Furry and Otherwise)

Finding something or someone to pour attention over is one way to spend the time during quarantine. It helped shift focus away from ourselves and our own anxieties. For some of us, working at home meant more time with family. Reconnecting with them through social activities, or taking care of them. This proved to be a fulfilling way we spent time during quarantine.

Sometimes, that means getting them into our hobbies as well. Andy Bañez from our 2D Art Team shared that she taught her mom to play Animal crossing. Now, her mom has taken over the Switch (it's with her 75% of the time), playing the game while Andy is working.

Sharing the love and passion for games!

A lot of us also took on new pets during quarantine, getting a new roommate in return, and sometimes, a new conversation partner.

furrrieeends! <3

Investing in the Long-Term

On a totally different scale, Aira Manansala from our 2D Department sold off their Nintendo Switch, iPad Pro, plus their Tamagotchi and Gudetama collections(!) to contribute to finishing their for-rent apartment. While she says she'll miss her gadgets and collections, it was also worth taking on this project as an investment for the future.

Others took advantage of this time to fund and complete other long-term projects of theirs. Including upgrading our WFH equipment with new purchases like laptops, building their own desktops, or purchasing new tablets or peripherals.

In it for the long haul!

Finding What Makes Us Happy

At the end of the day, maintaining your own well-being and happiness while working from home isn’t just about buying more stuff or doing more things. It’s not even about big, long-term projects.

image credits from reddit

Whether it’s that small new addition to the work desk, or another step towards a personal project, the important thing is finding small little pockets of happiness. That means knowing what makes us happy, and contributing to it. Borrowing from wise old Gandalf—it means being kind to and loving yourself.

Along with self-care, this means making time for family, friends, and even pets. Staying engaged in healthy relationships was really beneficial for us too. They say it’s in giving, and not always in receiving, that we can find fulfillment.

These were the things that kept us happy working from home during quarantine.

If you think working and hanging out with these people is something you’d enjoy, consider joining our teams by checking out our Careers page. We’d love to have you over.

Great Reasons to Get into GameDev, According to Secret 6
April 15, 2021

Picking a career can be daunting, especially if you don’t have all the information you need.

Are you a student with a budding interest in game development? Or are you simply considering a change in careers? Maybe you're passionate about games but you're not sure if you'll enjoy making them.

If you’re still on the fence, here are 6 good reasons why you should consider getting into game development.

1. You Want To Make Something People Will Enjoy

“Why should you GameDev?”

Secret 6 Technical Developer Red Quito sought to answer this question during his talk entitled "Starting Your GameDev Journey", presented at UP Cursor’s CSS 5.0 last January.

One of the reasons he gave was simply "to entertain." Most people use games as their primary source of fun and entertainment. Meanwhile, others use it to wind-down after a long and tiring day.

"Being able to sit down, fire up my PC and spend an hour (or five) playing as a bumbling bean person slipping and sliding around is an escape that I am so thankful for," he shares. Game development allows him to share the same escape that he enjoys so much, to others.

Games give a level of interactivity and immersion that few media can match up to.

Giving people an experience that they can truly interact with is a feeling unique to game development. If you're passionate about creating and sharing things that people will enjoy, making games might be right up your alley.

Popular games such as the 2020 release Fall Guys provide hours of interactive  entertainment with friends. As a Game Developer, you can create worlds in which thousands of  players can have fun in a game world that you created.

2. You Want To Tell Stories

More than a captivating plot, telling a good story involves good execution.

Video games are naturally interactive. This gives players agency over what's happening and provides a unique way to engage your audience. This allows them to be more immersed and invested in the story you want to tell.

Some successful titles like the Uncharted series, and both parts of The Last of Us have shown how video games are a viable medium for storytelling. Being part of the process of game development could allow you to help bring great stories to life.

Being a Game Developer allows you to create a whole game world and scenario to play  through, much like a Dungeon Master would with his gaming group.

3. You Want To Make A Difference In The Lives Of Others

In June 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing for the first game- based therapeutic.

EndeavorRx is a video game that helps children who have been diagnosed with certain forms of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The app is now typically prescribed to help young patients improve attention function. Games have evolved into mediums that offer more than just entertainment.

Aside from the previous example, several other industries have taken notice of the power that engagement can provide as gamification takes the app industry by storm. This was discussed by our Game Design Manager, Xiao Supapo in her talk called "Pulse Check: Games and Game Dev in 2020 Onward."

Gamification works by taking elements found in games (such as progression, player feedback, reward systems, and etc) and using them to enhance user interaction in apps. Apps like Plant Nanny, Khan Academy, and Habitica all use these different elements to motivate people into doing previously boring or mundane tasks.

Games such as EndeavorRx, the first FDA-approved game-based therapeutic for children  with ADHD, can help encourage positive behavior.

4. You Enjoy Learning New Things

Game development involves both creative solutions and technical skills. While it is not expected that a single person would be good at both, the process of game development pushes for these two aspects to collaborate. And no one has all these at the start—it’s an ongoing learning process.

Secret 6 Game Engineer Japam Mateo shared about the process of how video games are created in his talk, "Beyond Playing: An Entryway to Game Development."

Broken down, the process he shared included the following phases:

  1. Determining your goal. Figuring out what the project wants to achieve and identifying the parameters for success.
  2. Conceptualizing the Idea. Brainstorming genres, art style, and gameplay.
  3. Building the Team. Identifying the roles and responsibilities of each member of the Game Dev team.
  4. Planning. Breaking down the multitude of tasks involved in the project and checking for feasibility of resources and timelines.
  5. Execution. Actual work on the project, including monitoring and collaboration techniques.
  6. Submission. What needs to be shown at the end of the project, including complete documentation.

Game development is a complex process with a lot of stages. It is an environment where you are constantly exposed to new technologies, new processes, and different kinds of people. This pushes you to always be on your toes, looking at new ways of thinking.

On this path, you'll end up learning a lot not just from exposing yourself to new trends and tech, but also from your teammates.

If you want to be part of an industry where you will have to not just acquire technical skills, but also be more organized and effective in managing projects, all while collaborating with and learning from different kinds of experts, game development may be for you.

Game Development is a long and complex process that involves a lot of moving parts, as  well as the collaboration of different teams and experts.

5. You Want To Collaborate With Passionate And Engaged People

The game development industry is a collaboration-heavy industry where specializations are celebrated, but everyone can work cohesively as a team.

It’s an industry that’s constantly evolving with new platforms, game types, breakthroughs, and game engines. Great results are achieved by passionate people who are great at what they do.

Getting things done as a team, and being able to successfully work with other teams are all part and parcel of working in game development. If working at a job where collaboration is key—where everybody’s contribution is integral to the result—there’s room for you here.

Working on big things means working with teams. Game development gives you the  chance to meet and work with different kinds of people.

6. You're Looking For a Strong And Fulfilling Career Choice

Deciding on which career path to take is a serious choice to make. Game development may initially seem like a frivolous choice, but that’s not the case at all.

In her talk, Xiao Supapo also discussed the state of the industry during the year of the pandemic, as well as what we can expect moving forward. Her take, based on the data: It’s booming, with more people enjoying as well as getting involved with games. She also observed that locally in the Philippines, we are growing alongside the global game industry.

If you want to challenge yourself to succeed in a booming industry, Game Development  might be for you.

Global growth means the industry is open to creating a lot of new careers: from programmers and game designers. 2D and 3D artists, as well as Producers, Product Managers, and Marketing experts. It takes a lot to bring a game project to fruition, and with market trends indicating a bigger demand for engaging and accessible games, this only means more opportunities for those who are up to the task.

Game development is more than a passing fad. It’s a legitimate and booming industry that’s here to stay. It can be a gateway to an exciting and fulfilling career.

We were glad we got to share this quick roundup of good reasons why game development can be an exciting and viable career path.

It might be daunting at first, but developing your skills and learning more about the industry can open up opportunities for the future.

Over the years, the industry has proven itself to be more than stable. It’s rapidly growing in terms of consumers, revenue, and jobs. It’s in need of both innovative ideas and reliable technical skills to sustain that growth.

This means that opportunities are everywhere, and there is always room for people with the passion, the skills, and the capacity to learn.

Similarly, we here at Secret 6 are looking to expand our roster of teammates. We are always on the lookout for skilled candidates who also happen to be enthusiastic learners, so keep checking our Career Page for opportunities that would fit and interest you.

See you all out on the learning road.

Getting to Know Madrid
Al estilo de Madrid: The Story of Secret 6’s Madrid Studio
February 15, 2021

The growth of Secret 6 as a game development company doesn’t just extend to different aspects of the field. It also extends geographically beyond its original studio in Manila.

Established in November of 2018, Secret 6 Madrid SL is a premier game studio initially focused on 3D art for AAA titles. Today, they have expanded in number and in art services, and have become an essential in supporting our international clients and growing projects.

Off to a Good Start, Thanks to Voxel School

Within its first year of operations, Secret 6 Madrid has already taken on high profile projects such as Red Thread Games’ mystery-adventure, Draugen, and Sony’s classic remake of MediEvil for the PS4. This has been sustained through a solid foundation of talent, robust growth, and a passionate team of local game artists looking to leave a dent in the game development scene in Spain.

Behind the success of the Madrid Studio is Secret 6’s unwavering support for the academe. Our partnership with Voxel School in Madrid in 2017 was key. The school is a PlayStation Talents partner, part of a global initiative by Sony Interactive Entertainment Spain. Sony aims to bring together all the company’s initiatives from the past decade to develop talent and local content for worldwide distribution. Voxel School, being an advanced institution focusing on digital arts for video games, gave access to the pool of talent that would become the core of our new studio.

This was the first ever international partnership for Secret 6, and it involved setting up a game art lab on campus. This facility provided graduates with on-site production training and allowed Voxel School faculty to experience, learn and teach current game development production methodologies. To this day, Secret 6 Madrid continues this partnership with Voxel School, providing educational and career opportunities to its students and graduates.

The Local Profile

Currently, the team consists of 28 people comprised of 2D artists, 3D artists, Producers, Tech Artists and Art Leads. But it was not always so.

Carlos Lorca, a pioneer 3D artist for the studio, remembers: “S6 Madrid started out as just 8 people, 3 years ago, in a small room within the school where we finished our Masters Degree. I belonged to that small group. We had just finished as scholarship holders of Secret 6 Madrid. The studio had just started and had not yet even been considered as a headquarters for the company.”

Despite the current conditions of the pandemic, work has continued in this fast-paced industry, made possible through the efforts of the company to set up comfortable and efficient work-from-home arrangements.

The Madrid Horizon

As for its current direction, Studio Head Joaquin Otazu remarks: “Secret 6 Madrid has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent months. We are hoping that this is just the beginning of a long future of growth, since the team is facing it with a lot of vision, desire, and hard work.”

The team is currently looking forward to improved production capabilities, as the team welcomes new talent and upskills its current roster. The Secret 6 Madrid team is always growing, and is always on the lookout for new talent.

At its heart, Madrid Studio is a group of highly trained and passionate artists who can adapt to different clients and projects. As they continue to improve their processes and refine their craft, they get better at bringing to life different art styles to match each project’s vision.

The success of Secret 6’s Madrid Studio is testament to its team, the inclusive culture of the company, and the nature of the videogame industry. After all, playing games is a cultural phenomenon that crosses borders. As we continue our now 15-year long journey, we acknowledge our growth and the addition of like-minded talents into the Secret 6 fold.

2020 Year End Article||2020 Year End Article
2020 in review: Keeping It strong in our 15th Year
February 2, 2021

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 Kamurocho 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.

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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