Pingle Studio shares first impressions of what it’s like to be a gamedev company in a middle of a warfare
There's already a good selection of important dates in our 15 years of operating as a game development company: first AAA project released, the first office in another city, first next-gen release, first conference performance, and many others. But there's now a date that changed Pingle Studio more than anything else.
Photo: Street destroyed after shelling in Kharkiv, taken by one of Pingle Studio team members.
On February 24th, 2022, Russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine. Despite them saying it's a "special operation" and "they only hit army objects", 2 out of 3 cities we have offices at — Kyiv and Kharkiv — were heavily shared since the first day. Dnipro also had a few missile strikes, but it mostly landed on the outskirts.
Photo: Bruning house of Ruslan Anati's (C++ developer) family, Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russian soldiers shot the attic for fun.
150+ people from Pingle Studio team were living in Kyiv and Kharkiv and saw everything on their own. It was obvious that staying in Kyiv and Kharkiv was dangerous. So we started implementing a plan we developed in advance.
Relocation. We organized evacuation for Pingle Studio employees and their families on the following routes: Kharkiv - Dnipro, Kyiv- Kamenets Podilsky, Kharkiv - Lviv region, Kyiv- Lviv region, Dnipro - Lviv region, and Dnipro - Kamenets Podilsky. We also moved all the devkits, servers, and other hardware to the safe spot in the first few days.
Video: Kostyantyn Krymov's basement workplace, Kyiv, Ukraine.
New office and accommodation. We've been planning to open the Lviv office for a few months, but the invasion made us do it faster. At the beginning of March, we opened our fourth office in Lviv. It's our biggest location so far — 1300+ square meters. The majority of Pingle Studio teams from Kharkiv and Kyiv are already working on the projects there. We're organizing accommodation and finalizing workplaces for the rest of the team. All the devkits and other hardware are safe and operating.
We also joined Lviv IT Cluster. It's one of Ukraine's biggest IT communities. All the membership charges are being donated to Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Financial help. Speaking of donations, Pingle Studio donated UAH 500 000 to the Save Life foundation — Ukraine's biggest army and refugee support organization. We also donated various staff from our offices — from PCs and power banks to clothes and food. Pingle Studio employees send dozens of donations for army and refugees every day.
Salaries and workplaces. Pingle Studio also offered a support package for all the employees with various needs, especially those who joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces. All ten brave men from Pingle Studio will receive their salaries in full, and we will keep their workplaces until they come back. The same works for those who can’t work properly due to war. We also keep hiring people, Check the available positions at our Join the team page. Obviously, locations are now Lviv and Dnipro.
Mental health support. Our People Partners do their best to help our employees and their families struggle with the state of stress. Some families suffered losing houses and even worth things, so we try to help them as much as it’s possible.
For now, Pingle Studio operates on full force from Lviv and Dnipro. Some people decided to stay in Kyiv and Kharkiv, but they stayed in relatively safe areas. Other team members work remotely from a bunch of safe Ukrainian cities. And yes, Pingle the Chameleon is alive and well.
Photo: Pingle the Chameleon, our office pet, at Oksana Khachko's (PM Lead) house.
One of the greatest things that helped us stay in line is our partners' enormous amount of support and understanding. All the projects we've been working with are still with us, and we receive multiple offers for new projects every day. Thank you for trusting and believing in us!
To sum up, we're coming back to everyday life, as much as it's possible. We keep working, that helps to support our economy. We keep volunteering to bring the day we win closer. And we keep praying for peace and our victory.