Time-Shift: Veritas liberabit vos
The truth shall set you free

What You Leave Behind

I’ve long since reported about the happy and encouraging parts of my move to Hamburg and my starting as a game developer. Today seams to be a rather fitting day to also talk about the downsides. The beats I’ve taken since I started on this journey and the Problems I had to (or still working on) overcome. You should bear in mind reading, that though I always try to be as objective as possible, the events that this day has seen (and will be laid down to you here) might in no small amount color my judgment and lead me to take a rather harsh view of reality.

First of all.. when I started my journey in Dec. 2011 two years ago I had (if only a few) dear friends and was in a long term relationship with my now (as of today) ex-girlfriend. On the other side of the story I was jobless for a month and a half (after my contract with EA had run out) and my girlfriend and I where having quite some trouble to begin with. My then rather new employer wished me to move as quickly as possible to Hamburg (which was basically on the other side of Germany) to begin working on our current project (Kartuga) and I have to say that I was rather enthusiastic to get back to work in the gaming industry (There is nothing more boring then sitting at home doing nothing but writing applications all day). I had about 24H to decide whether I would decline or accept the offer. And since working in the gaming industry was the one thing I’d be trying to do for years the decision was practically only an overcoming of my fear of moving away so far and being all on my own in such an instant. I talked to my girlfriend about it. We both weren’t very happy since she had to stay behind for now. But I promised to come home at least once a month ( you can’t imagine the costs of that) and we agreed on talking as often as possible on the telephone. So I went.

If I had to decide whether I should do all this over again and what I would change then I must clearly say that I would and the changes would be cosmetic in nature if any at all. None the less the costs where great to me (other people might have fared way better). I’m working now (as you’ve read in my posts in the past) in a really good company. I’m paid reasonable and I have quite some freedom in my working habits and the surrounding stuff.

As you’ve read before though my girlfriend just left me. The distance put quite some strain on the relationship (as was to be expected) and since we had some problems before, it did not survive the change. Atop of that I’m having quite some problems finding friends. I’ve good colleagues, but they never became more then that (apart from one instance maybe, which might give some hope). Coming in late (and thus leaving late in the evening) I find it hard to find a good work / life balance. Additionally I had to put in quite some over hours lately to “keep the game running”. I don’t really care (since I have no private life anyway) but it doesn’t make it easier getting out finding friends. Also there is quite some employee flux in the game industry. Its always problematic putting too much hope and friendship into a person because the chances are good that he / she will be gone the next month. Most times those changes come so quickly and unexpected that you’re rather shocked if you’ve grown fond of that person. So you begin to get even more introverted (which makes finding new friends even harder). Chances are, even if you’ve been closer to a colleague, that he / she will forget about you fast.. this business is so fast changing that it often is hard to keep up.

One thing that also is quite putting a strain on my mind is the fact that any time a piece of your work¬†(anything from an hours to a weeks) could be thrown away because some (no question genius) mind decided that the feature XY does not work as expected or needs to work completely different. This part can of course come from any direction if you work as a coder (be it a designer, producer, publisher, <put anybody here>). So long term planing is nice (for you) but utterly most of the times useless. They call that agile development and I’m pretty sure its superb if its done perfectly on every level. Only that I’ve yet to see a company that actually knows what it is and how to use it (I’ve not been in that many but other people tell story’s :-P). So eventually its a more or less planed chaos (which works impressively fine considering its chaotic).¬† So if you’re done with a feature. And everybody’s happy. And the designers, the QA, the producer and the publisher has actually given their OK it goes “live”. Doesn’t really mean it will stay in.. a month.. a week.. even a day. One needs to kind of stop caring about ones own work in a way.. otherwise one might get aggressive over having stuff kicked out. You learn to live with that. Its part of the deal.

I hope my description wasn’t to harsh. But as you’ve read I’ve quite some stuff to digest. Apart from my girlfriend I also had another personal loss today which makes me rather sad and unhappy. I just hope this episode of sadness will pass and I can soon write about better and more cheerful stuff. But right now its all rather bleak to me. If you’ve any questions whatsoever don’t hesitate to write a comment or an e-mail. I know how hard it is to get into the gaming industry (If you still want to after that :-P) and I’m glad to help in any way I can (if only by advice).

Daniel

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