More on the job front

It’s no secret amongst my friends that I’ve been a bit unhappy at work for a while (this Entirely Fictional Story may give you some idea about some of it)- I’ve not blogged about it much, though, because if I wasn’t going to talk about it at work, it was probably unfair for my boss to find out through my blog; I don’t think I’m going to say anything here that anyone at work doesn’t already know now.

You make a trade-off when you choose to work in the games industry: the pay is worse than nearly any other programming job, you put up with an awful lot of crap from publishers and it’s an extremely fickle and rapidly changing market; the tradeoff is that you get to work on games. When I first started, that was a tradeoff I was happy to make, because the work back then was quite exciting and interesting; I really enjoyed working on the Sega conversions, and the early prototyping work on Starship Troopers. It was challenging code, the challenges were interesting and required lots of clever techniques to solve, the team was small and relaxed and it was generally a good laugh.

Increasingly, though, as Starship Troopers ramped up into full development, the team changed – it’s grown, and as a result it’s needed more micromanaging and detailed scheduling. The office culture changed, too; it became much more formal and a less relaxed environment. The flexibility to do things our own way was hugely diminished. More than that, though, the code I was writing and working on wasn’t particularly exciting; I ended up getting bogged down in the audio code (even though I’m not an audio coder) for quite some months, and the other areas I wave working on aren’t exactly inspiring. It became Just Another Programming Job.

And when that happened, I had to take a step back and ask myself why I was still doing it. Was I still excited by the games industry? Did I have that passion for the game that made it worth putting up with all that stuff I was facing? And the answer, I realised, was a resounding no – if I’m just going to be doing a coding job, why not do it somewhere more convenient, for more money, in nicer offices and potentially on a much more interesting technical project? The spell of making games was broken.

Transitive grew out of a project one of my lecturers at University had been running. They employed quite a few people from my year at Uni, and as a consequence, I know quite a few people there already, and know quite a bit about the company. Around the time I was beginning to feel particularly unhappy at work, I went to the pub with a bunch of people from Transitive; this was the turning point, when I realised that, actually, I didn’t have to stick with the job I had, and that I my skills would readily transfer into another industry.

Trav, another ex-games industry type now at Transitive, got wind of some upcoming vacancies and asked if I was interested in applying. Hell yeah; I knocked up a quick CV and sent it off. A phone interview quickly followed, and from that, a formal interview was arranged. I went, it went well, and then I heard nothing for ages.

To cut a long story short, yesterday I got a phone call from Martyn at Transitive, offering me a job, to start as soon as I could, with a very, very attractive salary. And so, this morning, I handed in my notice.

I kind of feel a little bit guilty – I know Strangelite are kind of short on people and up against a very tight schedule, and my leaving is only going to make things more difficult for the guys I’m leaving behind. But I can’t let things like that hold me back; and if I stayed on, I’d only get more and more unhappy and resentful, and that couldn’t be good for the project or the team.

So. Yes. Onwards and upwards. I’ve got a notice period to work out here, but I’m hoping to get that reduced so I can start at Transitive before Christmas. I’ve enjoyed most of my time in games; I’ve had three published titles in three years, which is good by anyones standards – and yes, I’ll miss that frisson of exictement of seeing my work in a box on the shelf in HMV and Game. But that’s not enough to persuade me to stay. It’s time to move on.

4 Responses to “More on the job front”

  1. Chris says:

    Well I think I speak for more than just one person when I say that I’m sad to see you go. (I’m schitzophrenic you see)

    Strangelite will be a slightly less fun place to be without a fellow Chris to chat to. I mean, who’ll post endless links to Workers now? I guess that might be me then.. *sigh*

    If only there was something else I could do that didn’t involve computer games, I’d be gone tomorrow. Sadly it’s in my blood and I’ll be bitching about the crappy conditions, low wages and really empty shallow existance that is being a games developer is for a long time to come yet…

    Or I’ll buy that bar I always wanted… I’ll make sure we send you a copy of the game when it’s finished.. Remember, one can never have too many coasters…

  2. Lori says:

    I miss going into a newsagent and knowing I helped all those copies of The Guardian get there, but that wasn’t enough to make me stay there either. Good luck with the new job. And if you need someone to go car shopping with…

  3. Mosh says:

    You’ve done the right thing, fella. The company I work for has been downsizing a *lot* over the last 18 months and we’ve finally been assured that this has stopped.

    We’ve gone from roughtly 50 employees to 16. OK, we’re financialy stable and I really like the bunch of people I’m working with, but there’s always that niggly doubt about job security and so forth.

    I’ve been looking for ages for something new and *touch wood* think I may have one.

    It’s difficult upping roots and moving on, but when one of your own work colleagues actually helps you find the new position (as one of mine did) you know that everyone is in the same boat.

    Go where you’ll be happier. Good luck!

  4. Lyle says:

    Good luck, and I hope the new place brings a whole renewed sense of enjoyment etc.