21 Oct Talent, Dreams, and Passion: The 15 Year Evolution of Secret 6
Whoa. It’s been a decade and a half since we’ve started this journey, yet for a lot of us, Secret 6 still feels like a young company ready to grow and learn more.
From our small beginnings as a 3D art outsourcing studio, to taking on multi-year collaborative projects like our work with Naughty Dog on both of their The Last of Us titles, it truly has been quite an adventure.
Along the way, as we expanded our team and our capabilities, we experienced a lot of breakthroughs. We learned new 2D and 3D techniques to best fulfill our clients’ vision, and developed our own games like Project Xandata, our very own first person shooter.
On a personal level, we all had our own treasured moments with the team, such as our favorite Halloween parties, moments of spontaneous team interaction, and even something as simple as teaming up for epic gaming sessions (outside work hours, of course).
Fifteen years pass by fast when you’re having fun!
More important than the highlights are the lessons learned and the relationships we built along the way. We’ve learned that pursuing your passion takes perseverance, being humbled enough to learn something new, and having the right people around you.
Today, at 15, we reflect on what it took to get us from there to here.
Team Learning is Key
Learning as a team has always been a strength for us.
Ann Galit, a 2D Creative Manager and a 10-year member of our team, muses about our trials over the years: “Secret 6 gradually changed with its ability to adapt in evolving trends and demands of the gaming industry and technology… And I would say learning by experience and failure made the team more resilient to challenges.”
In addition to increasing our capacity by welcoming new team members, we also added to our capabilities.
In our six-year project with Naughty Dog working on the The Last of Us Part II, we added a whole new team of concept artists and graphic designers under our 3D Console Division. They created the branding and graphic design elements that enhanced player immersion in the fictional yet realistic story setting of The Last of Us game universe.
They say one way to learn something better is to teach it, and our participation in different academic partnerships, with members of our team serving as resource persons for campus-based classes, conferences, and competitions, helped build and refine our internal knowledge base.
Not everything is hyper focused on work and our clients, though. Early on, “Game Design Fridays,” an internal activity where teams or individuals could present their own game design ideas based on a theme, were a regular thing at the office. These evolved from pitch meetings into internal Game Jams, held yearly within Secret 6 as game development exercises and competitions that fostered innovation and experimentation.
Our growth and learning are both tempered by the needs of our clients and their projects, and nurtured by engaged collaboration among everyone involved. The combination of this culture and our capabilities has been the key to our continued success in collaborating with and delivering quality work to our clients.
“We’ve definitely grown since then – not just in numbers, but in maturity as well. We’re more professional, no longer second guessing what our work should look like. We’ve weathered so many storms since then and are stronger because of them,” concludes Richard Locsin, our Technical Development Lead, who is ready to celebrate a decade with Secret 6.
Forged by Talent, Fueled by Dreams, Driven by Passion
Over the years, we learned that the secret to our continued growth is balance.
We took measured decisions alongside worthwhile risks. We managed both vertical and horizontal expansions within the organization. We also carefully maneuvered fulfilling the needs of our new projects, while making sure we had enough resources to take care of additional members of our teams.
In this pursuit of balance, we were able to work with what we already had, and grow in a way that always aligned the culture and environment with what we wanted for ourselves. As more people joined us, and more diversified interest groups emerged, “Fun Fridays” became a new thing at the office. Multiple groups interested in different types of games and hobbies, including one dedicated to our very own homegrown shooter, Project Xandata, naturally coalesced. These diverse groups became ways for our employees to enjoy their much-loved hobbies within the work and team setting.
Mark Rodriguez, our Lead 3D Artist who’s been with us since the beginning, describes Secret 6 as “a company forged by talent, fueled by dreams, and driven by passion.”
Much like our projects, it’s a combination of different elements that makes it work.
The growth of our team and our name in the industry has hinged on being able to balance all those elements in a way that provides value for both our clients and our team members.
Building a Team That Lasts
In retrospect, perhaps it’s the vision of our President and Founder, Ronald Schaffner, all coming together. He recalls: “From the start, I didn’t want the studio to be like a typical company. I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be more open… We want people to communicate, work together, and get ideas from each other. We wanted it to be a fun environment.”
And what that took was a 15-year balancing act that helped our team strive and grow—a balancing act that continues to this day.
Art Producer Dino de Guzman breaks down what that means very simply: “S6 is home and family to me. It welcomes you in, takes you under its roof, recognizes your potential, nurtures you and helps develop you as a person and as a professional… (Secret 6) does not restrict you as an individual.” If this kind of culture appeals to you, and you have the right set of skills, then make sure you heed our clarion call, and keep yourself updated with our openings.
With more exciting projects on the horizon, we’re looking to grow our team. After all, from a handful of employees, we are now over 200 strong, including our studio in Madrid. We grow by adding like-minded members who can contribute to the fun and engaging atmosphere that we have, and by learning—both as individuals, and together.
Our Upcoming Adventures
It’s been a great 15-year journey to where we are right now, and we look forward to more years working with our partners, creating relationships with new ones, and growing our team with you. We’re always looking to expand our team, so be on the lookout for opportunities on our site’s career section.
The rest of the site is also a great place to learn about our latest work and collaborations. Bring the talent, let’s forge a dream, and together, let’s fuel it with passion.
Here’s to more years down the road on this adventure. Hope to see you soon!