Background

My Game Development Studies at the Kajaani University of Applied Sciences include 5 months of mandatory internship, preferably in a real company (though some students combine the internship with their own game projects). Last year, I spent 3 of the 5 internship months in Hong Kong. Since the internship in HK revolved mostly around marketing and social media, I wanted to spend the last 2 months in a video game company. As my luck (or sisu/persistence!) would have it, I managed to get an interview with Doppio Games through a contact back in Kajaani.

As it is, I got the job, and managed to manoeuvre the dates so that I could fly directly from Singapore to Lisbon, thus avoiding an unnecessary and expensive stopover in Finland. In the middle of September, I flew from Singapore to Lisbon with a short stopover in Doha. Too bad I didn’t have time to exit the airport and have a look at the city, which, in the middle of the night, looked very alluring with all the city lights. After arriving to the Lisbon Airport, I took an Uber to my dorm in the old city, and slept a couple of days straight, after which I started my internship at Doppio Games.

Work stuff

The internship was organised through the Erasmus+ exchange program. The workplace was located in the old city of Lisboa, in Startup Lisboa‘s incubator. The dorm, which was to be my home for the next 10 weeks, was located only a couple of blocks from the workplace, and was also hosted by Startup Lisboa. Cervejaria Paço Real restaurant, which is located right next to Startup Lisboa’s incubator, is where I purchased my lunch every day. Since I always chose the turkey, or peru, I became known to the restaurant’s staff as “the peru man”!

Doppio Games, founded by Jeferson Valadares and Christopher Barnes, is a Portuguese startup that makes voice games. Voice games are games that make use of speech recognition, which means that you can play them by speaking to the game with your own voice. Most voice games are available through virtual assistants, most often either as Amazon Alexa Skills or Google Assistant Actions. Since virtual assistants are available across a variety of devices, you can play voice games on smart speakers, smart screens, mobile phones, and other devices.

Since I specialise in video game production, which is essentially project management, my job assignments at Doppio revolved on the management side. I also researched various European Union funding opportunities and their eligibility criteria, which is already a job by itself! The workplace at Doppio had a nice and friendly atmosphere, and we used to play the card game Bang! each day during lunch time. My biggest takeaway from the internship was the subject for my thesis, conversational voice games, which gives me a good excuse to dwell deeper into this interesting subject.

Gallery

The pictures can now be found on my Instagram profile.

Extremities

During my travels, I have developed a habit of pinning places I have visited on Google Maps, whether restaurants, grocery stores, train stations, parks, or something else. If I want to go there, I’ll drop a green pin; if I have been there, I’ll drop a yellow pin. Currently, I have +750 pins on my Google Maps, though these cover only my most recent travels. Anyways, the downside of this, if you’re concerned about privacy, is that you’re pretty much giving all that information to advertisers to do what they want with. However, if you’re OK with this, it’s a pretty handy tool.

When looking at the map of Portugal, I didn’t cover as much ground as while in Singapore. Then again, I remember last year, when I arrived to Japan in the autumn after a busy summer in Hong Kong, I had a similar feeling of mostly wanting to rest and recharge my batteries while it was getting more dark and cool outside. Also, since I had *cough* ignored school work back in Finland while spending the nights out while in Singapore, I had plenty of catching up to do after arriving to Portugal. Hence, I spent most of the weekends working on my laptop.

The places furthest away from Lisbon that I went to were Sintra and Cabo da Roca in the west. Sintra has many beautiful castles, including Castelo dos Mouros, which towers over the town below. During my visit, the castle was shrouded mysteriously behind the clouds, so I decided to hike all the way up. Cabo da Roca, in addition to having a beautiful view from the cliff to the sea, is the westernmost point of continental Europe. In Singapore, I actually visited a small island off Sentosa, which claimed to be the southernmost point of continental Eurasia. From one extremity to the other!

Gallery

The pictures can now be found on my Instagram profile.

Life in and around Lisbon

Lisbon is a hilly city, and the old town appears to be cramped in valley of sorts. When moving around, it usually involves walking up and down steep roads, with long staircases here and there. There is also the Santa Justa Lift, which the locals used to use to get up the hill, but which is now a pure tourist attraction. Alfama, with its narrow, winding streets is an old district, and definitely worth checking out. Next to it, on a hill, is located the Castelo de São Jorge castle, where I managed to sneak inside early in the morning before the tourist rush.

Besides my excursion to Sintra, I mostly stayed around Lisbon. Since my dorm was located very close to the Praça do Comércio square, it was easy for me to put on my running shoes and head to the riverfront. I actually liked to do this several times per week and had my own route. The riverfront, however, was usually filled with tourists all the way to the Cais do Sodré station, so I walked to the station, and from there, ran close to the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and back. This usually took me around 45 minutes, 30 minutes of which was running at a slow pace.

You can, however, run even further, since the walkway, which is suitable for jogging safely, continues as far as the eye can see. On one weekend, I ran to the Torre de Belém tower, which according to Google Maps, is around 7.5 km west from the Praça do Comércio square. I ran under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and past Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or Monument to the Discoveries. I even had an ambitious plan of running all the way to Cascais, a municipality roughly 25 km to the west. My regular gym was Fitness Hut Santos, where I did my strength training plus some HIIT.

Gallery

The pictures can now be found on my Instagram profile.

Events

Late October and November came with many gaming and tech related events. One of my friends from work was an organiser of the Game Dev Camp, the biggest game developer meeting in Portugal. Doppio also had a booth there, displaying their latest voice game, The 3% Challenge. However, since I was conveniently struck by a feverish flu, I had the spend the whole weekend in bed and thus missed the event. Moche XL Games World was a another gaming event, which I attended on my last weekend in Portugal. However, I missed its competing event, the Lisboa Games Week.

The biggest event by far was Web Summit. I got the opportunity to represent Doppio at our booth, and introduce people to the new frontier of voice guided games. At one point in the afternoon, our booth was surrounded by a sea of people, including reporters and security people. It turned out to be the prime minister of Portugal. On a funny note, they had actually shooed my tall friend away from the picture! Anyways, as a Finnish person, it will be interesting to compare Web Summit to Slush, which I visited a couple of weeks later after returning to Finland.

Altice Arena, which housed many of the aforementioned events, is located in the Parque das Nações area. The area was revamped for the Expo ’98, and it has a more modern feeling when compared to other parts of Lisbon. After exiting the arena and walking to the riverfront, past the impressive row of flags, you get a nice view of the Vasco da Gama bridge, the second longest bridge in Europe. If you continue south, you will get a nice 1 km walk in one direction with water on both sides. When I was there, it was a low tide, so the sandy shores were exposed and made for some nice pictures.

Final thoughts

Now that the internship is completed, what do I have to say about splitting the internship in two parts? I suppose some students might be considering this. Well, if you’re ready to go through the trouble of finding two places relevant to your studies while doing twice the paperwork, then it could very well be worth it. As for myself, I got to experience two very different kinds of companies and cities, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything. Also, it was a big honour to be part of launching Doppio’s second game, The 3% Challenge, and to be mentioned in the game’s credits.

Next, I will return to Finland for a brief while before heading over to the Philippines for a couple of months. In the Philippines, I will have a well-deserved vacation with my girlfriend, and maybe time to work on my thesis. 2019 has indeed been a busy year for me. I have learned that while it’s good to be active and seek out new experiences, including opportunities like exchanges abroad, it’s also important to slow down and enjoy them. Also, it’s important to enjoy things on your own terms and forget the unnecessary fear of missing out.