Friday, May 15, 2015

The great adventure.

I left 22cans because it no longer made sense to be there. I loved the idea, and I signed up to create a slew of creative experimental games or applications that would eventually culminate in a final product that would be great, if not one of the greatest games of all time. I felt like I understood where Peter Molyneux was coming from, what he wanted to do, and why he wanted to do it.

I think I wasn't wrong at the time. I think Peter wanted to make something great, grand, and successful, but his goal evolved over time, and for me, in a different direction than I had hoped for. We shared a need to make something people cared about, and to begin with, we shared a desire to experiment on a large scale. I enjoyed my first two years, working on curiosity and then working on Godus, but as we moved to free to play, I became uneasy. It's not something I signed up for, and though I'm not dead set against games that are free, such as dota and world of tanks, I don't feel right making a game with wait timers or feature pay walls that don't actually make the game experience any better. The longer we spent working on free to play mechanics, the less excited I felt about the company, and the more time I spent becoming enthusiastic about the technology.

I love working with hard technical problems, and there was no end of them with Godus. I worked on rendering landscape stuff, stuff that was dropped, stuff that made it into the game. I worked on networking and multiplayer, which was at times totally impossible (I think even provably so) but we pushed anyway. I worked on save games, and that was made harder by having to make it work with networking code (that wasn't tested, and in the end turned out to be feeding the game duff data). I worked on making things that were broken and impossible to fix, fixed. I enjoyed the successes, got annoyed at how only the failures were recognised, but in general, I think I made the most of working on Godus.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the direction the company took in early December 2014, when I was switched project away from Godus. I didn't like the game design (I won't explain the design as it is still kind of meant to be a secret) and I felt like it was completely misaligned with my values. It made me very sad. I felt depressed over Christmas, and started to look around to find another place to work. I never thought I'd leave 22cans. I didn't just feel sad about feeling like my morals had been ignored, I also felt sad about being disappointed in the company progress in general, and how maybe it could have been better if it hadn't gone the way it did. I felt like I had no power to stop the company from doing things I felt were not helping move it forward. I also felt like my professional experience was being ignored, and generally, the company direction couldn't be affected without being part of some group of people rather than being able to back up your ideas. Maybe realising that also hammered home the feeling that I was along for the ride, and not actually part of the company.

I guess I've always been attracted to the crazy and the risky. I looked around Guildford because I don't want to leave the area. I have too many friends nearby. I wanted Media Molecule, or Hello Games, but ended up with a pretty sweet offer from Epic, who I'd previously thought were too big a company for me. I like their style, they seem like good guys, and they have always made awesome games. I handed in my notice, which didn't surprise my lead. He understood my stance on f2p, and even told me he had expected my resignation earlier. I was then given a 6 week notice period, and was allowed back on Godus. I thought being back in Godus would be cool, but the problem with being on the way out was that my opinions and desires were pretty much ignored. Still much better than Rockstar, who once I said I was leaving, took my entry fob, and told me to not set foot in the building again. But then again, that did mean that I got a month off to do whatever I wanted with.

Just as I was all settled into the idea of working at Epic, an ex canner posted about how cool it was working on VR, at nDreams in Farnborough, a place I hadn't thought to apply because it seemed a bit far. It woke me up, made me double take what I was doing, and I jumped at the opportunity to do something exciting. So in a matter of less than a week, I went from becoming safe secure, working as bug fixing and tech support at Epic, to doing crazy new things at nDreams.

So what really happened? Peter Molyneux was, and still is, a constantly driven man, heading forwards, but strong enough belief in himself to define what forwards means and be able to ignore the detractors. I thought he had the same values as me, maybe we did for a short while, but I haven't the guts to admit that a company can have values a simple as making as much money as possible, and that's probably why I should never be given the chance to run a company. I wanted to, and still want to be challenged, and want to be famous for the right reasons. Right in my opinion anyway. I want to do VR because it's cool, it's on the rise, being here at nDreams at this point is great because it's like buying Google stock in 1990. It's like discovering the last bit coin. It's either great, and going to lead to something amazing, or at the least it's going to be a really interesting ride.

So I guess I left 22cans because I just didn't want to be part of just making money, and not make anything cool. Working on VR at nDreams is almost the opposite of how I felt after Godus. I now feel like I'm doing something that is risky, cool, interesting, ground breaking, and rewarding.

It's an adventure, like everything else in life, and new technology like this is the frontier.

Oh, did I mention we're hiring?

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