Thursday, August 11, 2011

Something lost, something gained

After several years of hard work on The Agency, my designs on that game will probably never see the light of day.  I was one of the many SOE employees at Seattle who now finds myself working a new job.  I feel fortunate to have landed at Gas Powered Games, where I am now working on Age of Empires Online.  I started in June, but it seems prudent to wait a couple of months to post thoughts and impressions.  Gas Powered Games represents a new experience for me as it is one of the few independently owned AAA game studios left.  I've been a fan of Gas Powered ever since the original Dungeon Siege came out and the stars aligned in such a way that an opening was available just as I was looking.  While I once looked at independent studios as risky from an employment perspective, Gas Powered has been in business longer than the branches of THQ and Sony that I used to work at.  Staying at Nintendo would have probably been the most stable, but I've definitely had more opportunities as a result of exploring other companies.  I've also  learned the harsh lesson that working at a first or third party publisher can put unrealistic goals on the development of games developed there, and investors on Wall Street can play a significant role in what type of resources (or lack thereof) projects might get. I think that downside has more to do with the machinations of corporate America than 1st and 3rd party publishing, but it plays a serious role in how games are developed at those companies.

As previously mentioned, I've been waiting to post my impressions of Gas Powered Games for a couple of months, mostly because I'm still in awe of how efficient the company is run with barely a lick of overtime.  My colleagues are passionate, professional, experienced, mature, and fun to work with.   Age of Empires Online is an awesome game to work on and I'm excited about the areas I am working on.  I'm also enjoying a break from games with guns.  Now that I'm not hidden behind a corporate veil, I'm hoping I can speak about my work more openly, both my professional projects at Gas Powered Games and my personal part time projects.  My family has grown by one in the past month which has kept me both super busy and sleep deprived, but it has also given me time to reflect on life goals and reignited some of my lost passion.  Getting back to writing is one of those passions I want to get back to on a more regular basis.  On that note, I finally put together a comprehensive portfolio of my work here.  I expect my updates to be a bit irregular as I adjust to my new home and work life, but they will be coming.