11 September 2018

What To Do When You (Suddenly) Have Lots of Free Time

It's been less than a week since Carbine shut down. I can't say I've been particularly productive. I've been listing old RPG items on eBay, hoping to raise enough money to pay for my hobbies once all this other crap gets sorted out.

One thing I need to do is work on my knowledge of Roll20, the virtual tabletop that I'll likely be using to run games... eventually.

I also need to get a freelance project to work on, add some more doubloons to me olde coffers.

Eh... it's not so much being bored, though that is part of it. It's more about not seeing the people I'm so used to seeing on a daily basis. I don't exactly live around the corner from the Carbine office, either. I should see someone of those folks tomorrow, though. We'll see how that pans out.

07 September 2018

Rest in Peace, Carbine Studios

I haven't posted here in almost exactly four years.

Blogging has always been something of an on-again, off-again thing with me. I'll go steady for days, weeks, months, and then... I'll stop. No reasons cited. I guess my attention shifts. Maybe I'll pay better attention this time around.

The game studio I've worked for over the past 6+ years, Carbine, was shut down yesterday. I've been in the computer games industry for over eleven years now. This makes for my third layoff. Being honest, I have trouble considering 38 Studios' implosion as a proper layoff. Maybe we'll say that I've been laid off twice as well as completely vandalized once.

I don't take it personally. There's no bad guys. It's a fact of life and folks like me accept it. There's a dream, of course, that you'll find the perfect product or the perfect team and make a perfect career out of it. That happens, but it's not common. The fact I survived at Carbine for six years and through two other layoffs is something of a minor miracle.

The first layoff I was swept up in was at EA Mythic. I was a designer on Warhammer Online. The game wasn't doing well, and in the end they cut just about everyone (including me). It was right before Thanksgiving. There was a severance package that would keep us afloat for two months, but I came to see that as a lit fuse rather than a safety net. It wasn't going to take long for it to burn away.

I went home that day, told my wife the news, and then I sat and cried. My family and I were across the country from our starting point in California. I didn't know what I was going to do. I had no idea if I'd find a job in time. Christmas was two months away. I was terrified.

I was also a relative freshman in the industry. I had a pretty good list of freelance writing credits to my name, but only 2 years and 5 months of hands-on computer game development. Not only that, but writing jobs were (and still are) hard to find. Recruiters weren't going out of their way to send me messages about openings at their companies.

It ended up working out for me when 38 Studios made me an offer just before Christmas. It was a good offer and their future looked bright... but that's another story, and probably one I've told before. Even if I'd known the outcome ahead of time, I still would've taken the job. I learned a lot from that experience and grew as a designer and writer.

I know I'm going to survive this, but there are so many others who don't have that comfort. At least, not yet.