Game Boy 008 – Terrace

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

I’ve now worked at Ubisoft Montréal for just over two years — my first day on the job was February 15, 2016, which is an easy date to remember since it was exactly a year before the release of the game I was hired to work on, For Honor (which released on the heart-filled February 14, 2017).

I quite enjoy working at the studio. After my first year on production, I moved over to a service team, which has also been a great experience — and it gives me a chance to work alongside a great many of our game projects, both in and out of Montreal. But the studio itself is also quite an interesting place to work in. Up until January of this year, I was working in the studio’s “main” building (yes, the studio is so big that it covers a collection of spaces in the Mile End neighborhood), called Peck. In January, our team moved over to one of the floors in a 12-story building on De Gaspé avenue.

One of my favorite things in this new space — apart from the great view we have of the city since we’re on the 12th floor — is the big open area that’s located near the location of my desk (and pictured above). With all those giant tables (and there’s another even larger one that you can’t see, in the foreground, along with a comfy couch and chairs), it’s just perfect for us to play various card games and board games either at lunch time or after work. I run a Magic: The Gathering league inside our team, and so most lunch times we’re using those long tables to play our matches. We also play other card games, as well as board games, like Gloomhaven, which I organize on a mostly weekly schedule. But I’m lucky not just for the nice space we’re afforded to play in, but also for the fact that I have so many colleagues I can convince to play with me — which I guess is not incredibly surprising when you consider that we work at a game studio.

But going back to Peck, the best feature of that 5-story building is the rooftop terrace. It’s open all summer (or rather from late spring to late fall), and on top of being a nice place to go hang out or to eat your lunch outside, the studio often organizes happy hours there — and for some of them, you can even bring a friend or family member along.

The reason I bring this up is because this week it was time for the annual winter happy hour, when they open the terrace for one special drink-up in the cold and snow. This was my third one, and although it was still pleasant — and I downed quite a few mugs of hot cider — I was a bit saddened by the lack of snow this year, although 0 degrees Celsius was definitely more agreeable than the -20 we got last year.

Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest

I’ve been playing Magic pretty much since its inception, and I was a huge fan of the original Puzzle Quest game, so seeing that there was a game (on iOS) out that combines the two, I was wondering if this would be the Reese’s Pieces of games. Well, it sure is fun, that’s for sure. I really like how they integrated the Magic spells/creatures with the match-3 play of Puzzle Quest – in terms of the gameplay and strategy, I’ll say it becomes a much better game, because there’s more to think about in terms of what spells you want to cast (you can’t exactly select them, but as you draw them, you can arrange the order in which they will be cast, which becomes very important). The only thing I miss is the inclusion of some sort of storyline to tie it all together – sure, the campaign in the original Puzzle Quest wasn’t incredible or anything, but I liked having that context for all the battles.


I never thought I’d get into this damn beta, but lo and behold, early last week I received my beta key, and so was able to give it a try. I was really excited to play this, and have to say that they’ve done a really fantastic job of creating a card game for the digital world – meaning, you’re not stuck with the issues affecting bringing Magic: The Gathering to digital, mostly when it comes to having to wait for another player to react to your plays. And it sure looks good, with really wonderful sound design too – I crack up every single time I hear “job’s done” at the end of a turn. I really can’t wait for the iPad version of this to come out though, because that’s how I really want to play this game.