Fool on the Hill

So let's make this official. I'm quitting my day job - Friday is my last day at the office. (pause for exclamations). Why? That's complicated. :-) The short version is that I want to try writing full time and see if that works for me. This is a good time for me to take a year off to pursue something crazy, so I'm going for it. If a year from now nothing is clicking . . . well we'll regroup and see what's what.

I'm a little unsure how much of the longer version I really want to get into in text, in a public forum. I feel slightly compelled to say it has nothing to do with my current job or my current coworkers. This has been brewing under the surface ever since we closed the doors at Circus Freak. I (involuntarily) spent some downtime - the first significant downtime I've ever had since going to college. And during that downtime an ugly fact began to emerge - I was tired of the game industry. What didn't emerge then was anything I wanted to do instead, so that wasn't a very constructive piece of data. I've done "regular" programming and it didn't much appeal. So when Crystal called for me to do work on Whiplash I said yes. Whiplash was a strange situation, so I didn't count it as data points on my radar. So that got us to Snowblind (although it wasn't called Snowblind for another six months or so in my narrative here). I thought, let's see what another game is like (and also, if I'm being brutally honest we wanted to buy a house - and I needed full time employment for that). And Snowblind was better than I would have thought it could have been - good enough that this wasn't an easy decision to make. But during 2004 I figured out what my "dream job" was - and that I wanted to take a crack at writing fiction. NaNoWriMo was a glorious experiment - if I could write a novel under huge time pressure (while pushing towards ship as well) and still want to go full time then I'd have some faith this wasn't a flitting fancy. (Clever people will notice that I acquired a Mac in just enough time to use it as a writing tool as well - a year ago I would have been unwilling to own a machine that didn't run DevStudio.)

So I like Crystal, and I really like my current team. But the fact remains when all the dust settles that I want to try something different. The industry has zigged in the last few years and I want to zag. Bigger teams, bigger budgets, and bigger business makes game programming a different place then I found in 1995. And an upcoming generation change is only going exacerbate all of that. The thought of having a human scale construct - one I can wrap my head around and say - "Look. I made that. It didn't exist before, and it wouldn't exist without me." is very appealing. Games used to be that way, and they aren't really anymore. And it has to be that way, and I don't want to be Canute ordering the tide out to keep my feet from getting wet. But damnit, I don't want wet feet either! (Sadly when looking for links to backstop my literary allusion I find that most sources say Canute actually was showing fawning courtiers that he was not all powerful. Which destroys my paragraph. But I like it, so I'm going with the "Canute as megalomaniacal maniac" version.)

So there you have it. Next week I'll be working full time on a few different writing projects. My "Fiction Ideas" folder is beginning to fatten up - I'm getting really excited at the possibilities. Wish me luck!