Game Boy

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.



I had quite a nice board game collection by the time I left Japan, and was organizing (mostly) weekly game nights at my place. When I did leave, I sold all of it to friends, and then put all of that behind. I did get a chance to play a few games since moving to Montreal with colleagues at work, and over the past couple of years bought a few small 2-player games to possibly play with my wife (we played some, but not that much). Recently though I started playing pretty much weekly with a few colleagues at work, and it gave me the bug again, not only to be playing regularly, but also to get some games of my own. I bought a few small things over the holidays and in January, but then I made the big jump, and got the most insane board game I’ve ever owned (well, the World of Warcraft board game is pretty close). Currently ranked #1 on BoardGameGeek, Gloomhaven is all the rage, selling out through its print runs (following the re-release last month, there’s already a new print run announced). I’ve liked this sort of hack-and-slash board game adventure style forever, from the 80s when I was playing Talisman (and that’s the only board game I kept, that original edition), to more modern stuff like Runebound. This of course promised to trump them all, with an insane amount of scenarios (95), legacy-style development as you play a campaign, and just so much stuff in the box that I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I opened the box. I’ve only played 1 session so far, and a lot of it was spent going over the rules with all the players, but we were already having a lot of fun as we started the first scenario, and I’m incredibly excited to play more (which will be this Thursday, and we’re planning weekly sessions).