There´s only one last week left of the batch 3 programme, so it is about the time to introduce two teams that have not been in our blog yet. Let´s start with the only team who has no „secret language“ (being native speakers of English) and when they don´t want others to understand, they just have to move somewhere where nobody can hear them. They are Tyler Coleman, Zachary Robinson and Brendan Erquiaga – Retora Black, the first American team in GameFounders. Even though they have already left Tallinn by now, here is a little overview about their past months in Tallinn.
First of all, this team is by far the most talkative and loud of the whole batch 3. They even can´t work at the open office because they make too much noise. True story! Fortunately there are separate Skype boxes and meeting rooms available for those who don´t want to be disturbed (and for those who don´t want to disturb others).
Retora guys still like the office though. Working hard on their game called Kateas, they have spent more hours in the office than in the apartment they rented nearby. „I think we spent like 8 solid hours a day at the apartment, rest of the day we are usually at the office” says Zak. There have been a few cases when Tyler has even brought his sleeping bag and spent the night in the office just to get more work done. As he has to manage also work stuff in US, the time difference makes him work at nights as well.
They are one of the few lucky teams who had the luxury of living in an apartment. In their case, the apartment was situated conveniently near the office, but unfortunately too far from the city center for after-work activities. Funny story is that there was basically somebody living in the flat already before the Americans moved in. He´s name is Frank and he is a squirrel. No kidding.
Talking about how Retora Black was born, turns out that like most of the teams that have been in the programme, they have known each other for years. All three went to university together in Phoenix, but recently Zak moved back to New York while other two guys stayed in Phoenix. When the team was selected to GameFounders, they needed an artist who would be also willing to go to Estonia and as they had done some projects together with Zak already before, he was the one to turn to. Retora Black is actually a branch concentrating on mobile games of the formerly established US company called Retora Game Studios.
Tallinn has left a good impression to them except the cold weather which any of them really likes. “I could stay here longer or even forever if it was warmer,” admits Tyler. Well, there´s nothing to blame on them since they moved here only in September (which was suprisingly nice this year though) and have no idea about Estonian summer, therefore it´s difficult to convince them…
The biggest differences they have noticed here between US and Estonia are following: less places where to grab something to eat (less variety and shorter opening hours), restrictions on getting an after-work beer after 10PM, the almost missing segment of people from other races and few other things. All previously mentioned is so natural to have in America and therefore they notice it maybe more than other teams. At the same time food is cheaper here and according to their experience, people are nice in Estonia. Except an unfortunate incident with Zak that involved a drunk guy kicking him. But probably this can happen anywhere anytime. If you want to know more about their adventures, you can read their blog where they write about life in Estonia.
During the programme free time is what they were really lacking of. Zak says that for them “free time” means the time when they go out with the mentors – it´s nice but also exhausting. “At the same time you don´t want to miss that because it is the best time to do the actual networking,” he says. All three say that they didn´t have much time to read books or do some other activities that they are used to do back home. Zak for example really misses doing some outdoor activities, because he is a fan of all sorts of climbing and biking etc. In Tallinn he hasn´t had any chance for doing any of that.
Time difference with the people who are back home is hard for them too, being exactly the opposite – here is evening when the day only starts in US. That makes it difficult to talk to family and friends because finding the suitable time for everybody is hard.
Concerning the programme, Brendan describes that there were way more mentors and after work events that they imagined, therefore he hardly got any coding done in the first month at least. But they all bring out the fact that they got to meet many cool mentors and also bring out the events like for example playtesting days, study trip and pitching practice which turned out to be very useful for everybody. Having almost graduated the programme, they are right people to give some advice for the newcomers: „Get as much work done as possible with your game before coming. And make a budget for your stay in Estonia, that will help you a lot!“
Retora Black (frome the left): Tyler, Zachary and Brendan