Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What should I do?

Well... as I work a day as a linux admin I keep having all sorts of fun ideas for something that would make a great game.

Then there is of course all the games that I designed that will never see the light of day.

I was wondering, what should I do with this blog?

1. Leave it here to get bit-rot, the knowledge it contains is worth something but without constant updates it is worthless.

2. Post your game designs so that all 5 to 10 of us can read them and either steal them for our own or by our collective might finesse them in to something truly amazing that nobody will ever program unless they steal the idea off this public forum.

3. Go back to flexing my imagination at http://www.sect.net/ instead. "Nathan, your insight and clever wit were fun for a while but you just don't have the stuff to be in the game biz."

4. Stop talking to myself, nobody reads this anyway.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thoughts on keeping things the same.

I left my position at Skill City feeling a bit downtrodden that I was departing what was basically, at it's root, my dream job.

I had left a position of comfort and power (and paycheck) to start Skill City, or at least to chase some unformed dream that during my resignation I hadn't yet named.

It is nice to know that the responsibilities I held at Skill City were not totally wasted. I earned quite an education working there.

I walked away from it with the sense that I needed to go find work right away to pay my bills, and to pay the bills of the now dead Skill City Inc. because it was about 900 bucks overdrawn. I said was, because I paid that now.

I also walked away from that endeavor having gained a sense of command of my own destiny. I wasn't just being buffeted by the winds of chance any more, my own personal success or failure was totally up to me. Even the people I rely on because I lack skills they have, I am still responsible for hiring them or keeping them on.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and hopefully I can shore up the limb with some boards... maybe some bits of string and tin foil.

I think failing at a startup business taught me more than being successful. I got to learn all about the negative side of the business world. Some people say "Well my boss is jerk, I know all about the negative side" but they are stupid because they aren't running a company, they don't know the real despair you can feel.

I entered a new job, but I still had that empowerment that I found by working at my own business and falling flat on my face. At times I think I felt a little like a drug addict who has hit Rock Bottom and realizes they have nowhere else to go but up, or dead. I met death once, and he was wearing expensive shoes.

I climbed up and got myself that new job but I see it through a different lens, and I know that it is just a waystation on my climb upward to try chasing a dream again. I will chase it with much greater care this time, and attention to all the spiky bits that tear at skin along the way.

To that end I saw my new job in a state that was similar to me, I sensed that decay that was setting in here like it was at Skill City, only this was a slower doom here at my new job. I went to the CEO and shared with him my thoughts and perspective and was amazed at the response I got. He agreed, 100%, and now I'm the manager of the IT department here.

I honestly think that without the wisdom gained from Skill City imploding, I wouldn't have had that meeting, and I certainly wouldn't be the department manager after only having worked here for 3 weeks. Some perspective for you, my co-admins have been here for years, one of them for over 5 years.

So I have carved out a little niche of happy again, and when I am not gloomy I tend to think of ways to entertain people with games. Ideas for systems of rules and colored things start to fill up my brain. I even had another dream last night about a puzzle game.

Ok because it was a dream I was actually IN the puzzle game... and that was kinda freaky and unpleasant but I still woke up feeling quite good about it.

I wonder if I should just start posting game design docs here and do something like give away all my game designs to the public. Just to see if anybody makes them.

/me goes to find the GPL rules on releasing IP to the public...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Need a job?

My friends over at Gameshastra appear to be hiring. I thought I would do my part and spread the word out anybody interested. It's a really good chance to get in to the game biz with a company that won't treat you like dirt.

You would end up working with some of the coolest and smartest game developers I have had the pleasure of knowing.

Company: Gameshastra
Job Title: (1) Technical Lead - Console Games and (2) Technical Lead - PC and Casual Games
Description: To apply: Please email your cover letter, resume and comp requirements to devjobs@gameshastra.com

Job listing (1)
Department: Game Development
Position: Technical Lead – Console Development

Gameshastra is currently looking for one additional Technical Lead with a focus on Console Development for our US and India game development operations. In addition to being a brilliant senior coder on AAA titles, the ideal candidate will have several years experience as a Senior Developer for “current-gen and next-gen console hardware” in a midsized or major development studio, ideally with a recent specialization in Xbox 360 and/or Nintendo Wii development.

Showing expertise in a broad range of development areas – such as understanding console specific hardware issues, memory optimization, managing PC-to-console downsizing and porting issues, expertly wringing the most out of console rendering and graphics pipelines, physics expertise, AI knowledge and most importantly – having the ability to communicate efficiently with your team members – all will be key to your success in this position.

Job Responsibilities:
• Manage all key technical decisions in one or more 10-20 person development teams, each working on different aspects of various titles for different publishers.
• Have the ability to communicate clear standards and provide direct coaching and mentoring to individual developers as well as to large engineering teams.
• Solve the peskiest problems when they show up in the game development pipeline – no matter what they may be.

• Expert C/C++ developer and problem solver (7 or more years of professional C++ experience preferred)
• Uncanny ability to find problem in other people’s code – and the grace to communicate these discoveries efficiently, and to turn every one of these instances into a learning opportunity.
• Ability to lead, manage and direct technical development teams full of strong minded and creative development personalities.
• Very deep console hardware system programming experience.
• Game physics expertise
• Rendering and 3D API mastery (D3D and OGL) across all kinds of hardware.
• Infinite patience with everyone in the team.

Job listing (2)
Department: Game Development
Position: Senior Developer or Technical Lead – PC, Mac, Casual and Mid-Core games

Job Responsibilities:
• Manage all key technical decisions for each "mid-core" or episodic title that we bring to market – including engine decisions, development and OO architecture approaches, and the ability to these decisions through to the final delivery.
• Have the ability to communicate clear standards and provide direct coaching and mentoring to individual developers as well as to large engineering teams.
• Solve the peskiest problems when they show up in the game development pipeline – no matter what they may be.

• Expert C/C++ developer and problem solver with 5 years of C/C++ experience.
• Extensive experience with at least one major game engine (UE, GameBryo, Tringy etc.)
• Exposure to Casual C++ game development frameworks (PopCap, HGE, PlayGround etc.)
• Some exposure to online casual games (AS2, AS3, Lingo etc.) is also a plus
• Knowledge of various server side technologies (.NET/PHP/Ruby) can be helpful
• Game physics, AI and Networking/Sockets experince strongly desired
• A clear understanding of graphics rendering pipelines and 3D APIs (D3D and OGL)
• Ability to lead, manage and direct technical development teams full of strong minded and creative development personalities.
• Infinite patience and a good attitude.

If you are interested then you can email me for the contact info. This way I can screen out the evil time wasting headhunters who will see this listing and then call people claiming to be a rep of the company just so they can extort a finders fee once you get hired.

I fucking hate recruiters. I have never in my life gotten a job through one, or hired any of the dross they bring me when I am hiring. I don't know why they even exist any more, with the prevalence of do it yourself job hunting tools on the internet nobody needs these people to get in the middle and charge fees for no real value added.

Recruiters are the spammers of HR. Shun them.

Anyway these jobs for Gameshastra are located in El Segundo (thats near Los Angeles for those out of town) and requires a lot of travel to their HQ in India (which is freakin awesome).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We are back!!! ok not really.

Well sorta.

Drew has taken the machine that was at one time my workstation and set up the Skill City game servers on it, and the database, and the dispatching server, and the chatting and world and banking servers...

You'll have to be a little bit forgiving if the machine seems slow. It is anything but idle now that it's thread cup runneth over.

Oh did I mention its running the games on a cable modem? Yeah ultra slow. You got some lag issues before when we were on a t3, just you wait.

But the good thing is that Skill City actually runs again. You can like, login and play Explodinator again, which is honestly something I have been thinking about a lot lately and not just because I want to explodinate a lot of the idiots I work with at my new job.

I thought about all the "I'll share more reasons why Skill City died" promises I made to you, all 15 of my readers, and then I decided to just let that lion sleep. It is over.

However I will say this: Do you have marketable skills? DON'T GO IN TO VIDEO GAMES

Drew put it to me one day when he said "I'm not doing this for the fun of it, I'm doing this for the money." I was mostly in it for the fun of it, honestly I was having a blast, but I also could move at my own pace.

I look at job postings that places like Big Fish post and decide that being a professional producer is actually a shit load of work (omfg I cussed). The thing is, you would expect that to come with a big salary to make up for it right?

Not so. The video game industry is very very lop sided. Nobody makes phat salary, the hours are long, and often your product is forgotten as soon as something else shiny wanders across the vapid gaze of your target consumer.

I went back to being a Linux administrator and once again realize that not only am I good at this job which makes it tolerable and often simply easy for me, but it pays really really ridiculously well. Like six figures well if you are keeping track at home.

Nobody in the game industry makes a salary like that unless you are the CEO of something doing crazy well. A small games studio, even a medium one, won't be paying anybody salaries that big.

It's ok though, you aren't in it for the money. Just pay your rent with what you make, walk or bike to work, and gaze through my window at night wishing you too were drinking an obscenely tall glass of very expensive bourbon. All your friends will be jealous because you "make video games" and thats good enough for those 12 hour days you work.

Then you will turn 30 and realize the best years of your life are gone, you have no money, and you are ultimately replaceable by any high school kid willing to work 80 hours a week for peanuts just because he wants to "make games."

Yeah I know, I'm so harsh.

I'm also the only person who is telling you the truth.