How a 6 people team managed to release updates to 120 mobile games in less than 7 months – while keeping up with the regular development schedule at the same time.
Team Dragon, composed of 6 software developers, has worked with an important client in the gambling sector for 7 years. The long-term relationship between this team and our client is one of the keys to this spectacular outcome. Since 2015 they’ve been building up a relationship of trust and achieving great results, so the client knew they would be the ones for this challenge.
But let’s get back to how all this happened in the first place. The client is a worldwide established company in the gambling sector. Their games are available in diverse countries and jurisdictions. So this all began with legislation changes in some of these markets. And 7 months to bring the games into compliance with the new legislation.
“Mostly, it was about changes in laws to improve player’s protection. Measures to control gambling addiction.” João Ramalho, Team Leader
120 game releases in less than 7 months
A single game can be available in 7 or 8 different jurisdictions. “It’s not like we release a game to Germany, another one to the United Kingdom. It just dynamically adapts to different jurisdictions.”, explains João Ramalho, Team Leader. In this case, the law in force in some of these jurisdictions changed to promote more stringent responsible gaming mechanisms, so every active game in those jurisdictions had to be updated, one by one – all 120 of them.
The Team Leader explains that first, they had to generate new forced outcomes to see all the scenarios for each game. “Then add outcomes for wins below the stake, equal to the stake and above the stake.” They also had to add 3 or 4 more forced outcomes. And that was done game by game.
Initially, the timeline for such a thing was, according to the Team Leader, João Ramalho “a long shot in the dark”. The client knew it would be big, but no one really knew how much work would be needed before starting. This team had already been through a similar but smaller challenge about 2 years ago and everything went really well. So João Ramalho says he wasn’t surprised this job was trusted to his team.
“We started this between February and March and we knew we had to be ready by the end of September. It was a long time, but there were a lot of games, and we weren’t even sure if it would be easy to implement the changes or not. Many of these games had been made some years ago.”
How was this even possible?
Having a similar structure in all games was really helpful as well. This is true for recent games, but not for every older one, so the team decided to update these older games as well. “Every time we had to change an older game, we’d bring them into the new structure. Usually, it would take us around half a day, but sometimes we’d need up to 3 days”, explains the Team Leader.
The Team Leader explained how this wasn’t about the game’s math. This job was only about changing the games so that they comply with the laws in force. This means the main changes had to do with things like having the money/wallet balance always visible to the player so that the player can control what he has already lost/won or taking down celebration animations when the win is now lower than the stake.
Team Dragon strategy
The team decided to start by creating a “pattern game” for each big feature category. “We have Megaway games, Cash Spin games, Hot Spin games, etc. so we created a template for each of them.” Once the stakeholders approved the templates, they’d know they had a solid base for updating most games of the same category despite their visual/UI differences.
When updating each game, they would start with the logical part. Generate new forced outcomes – wins above, equal or below the staked amount, win lines, etc. and add new options. But João Ramalho will explain exactly how was the process. “We analysed all outcomes to see if the game was RTS (Remote gambling and software technical standards) compliant or not. Then we ran these forced outcomes right on the frontend to see if each game was in compliance with the new legislation. Almost Unsurprisingly none of them were. Then we’d see if new animations were needed. If so, we’d make the request for the art. Then we’d take care of the session win meter, which is something we put in the libs, common to all games. But there were games from a long time ago, that no longer supported the recent libs. So we had to update the games’ format so it would support the new libs. Then there were some more changes with information spins and so… It was really a game by game thing.”
A job of 2 men
All this was made by João Ramalho (Team Leader) and Ricardo Sacardo (Software Developer). Ricardo was new to the team when this started. So they think it was both good and bad for him. “It was good because he ended up working with every game and now knows almost all of them. So now he has a great background that will lead him to become a great developer on this team. The downside is that he joined a team to develop games and got almost 7 months of maintenance from the start.”
The Team Leader concludes that “Ricardo was indeed the most sacrificed, but he managed to get around really well. I even said to him ‘if you survived something like this, from now on all work is gonna be a piece of cake’.”
In fact, during this process, this team evolved in many ways. They welcomed junior developers and “it was challenging because juniors need close support – technical and business logic – during the first 6 months.”
In order to have only 2 developers responsible for this, the whole team had to make a greater management effort. Because everything else didn’t stop. The rest of the team kept up with the regular work. This excellent outcome is the merit of a closely-knit team. Without everyone’s effort, this wouldn’t be possible.
“It was similar to going to the gym. It wasn’t fun, but it was worth it. It was extraordinarily useful.” Although the team has more elements, this task was João Ramalho’s and Ricardo Sacardo’s responsibility. So João Ramalho, Team Leader, thinks “it gave Ricardo a lot of knowledge, especially business knowledge, which is often the hardest to get.” But the most important thing is that “at this point, the client trusts Ricardo to do critical work. Which is phenomenal for someone who’s part of the team for less than a year”.
“Looking back at all this is very gratifying now, in the sense that we were responsible for the entire range of online games for a big company with games all over the world. Looking back and thinking that we’re the ones to make it happen makes me so incredibly happy and proud!” João Ramalho, Team Leader
But now it’s time to get back to the most fun part of this project: developing new games and new features to keep captivating players. This year our client company was nominated for “Game of the Year” by the EGR Operator Awards with a reskin of a game that was developed by us in Lisbon, so we’re all so curious to know the result!
Would you like to have such a team working with you?
Feel free to set up a quick zoom call with our Business Development Team at https://go.oncehub.com/BizdevEurope.
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