Dear Old Friend,
Two years ago, you helped me get a job down in your home town. It wasn't without some irony that I was the one that encouraged you to get the job you know hold, and now you were working to get me a job at the same company.
Up until that point, our closest point of contact was email. We'd met in chat rooms, communicated via ICQ and later MSN Messenger. We'd put our collective creativity together several times with great results. We communicated well, and on more than one occasion, had a clarity of creative vision that had not experienced with another person before. So, in working with you directly, I was expecting that sort of collaboration once again.
And it all started out very well. I should have seen the warning signs within the first few weeks, but I convinced myself it would get better. I could feel an undercurrent of fear, that questioning decisions made by some in management would either be seen as insubordination or grounds for termination. I even mentioned it at one point when we went out for lunch, to which I respond "Well, not at this point, but I certainly feel the undercurrents that I could be fired unless I fell into line even if I feel the decisions are bad."
It wasn't for another 8 or 9 months that the reality of the situation really presented itself. And when I was let go, I certainly was surprised, but to be honest, it was not unexpected. I was already looking around, and within a week, I had two phone interviews, within 2 weeks, I had my first onsite interview, and within 3 weeks, my first offer, and within a month, 2 offers, and another two onsite interviews planned. I've since moved on, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity I have now had it not been for your hardwork in getting me that job, so thank you!
The petty side of me is finding satisfaction that many of my major warnings are finally being heeded, after being proven in code that they were indeed bad ideas. I lament the fact that it took several months to illustrate just how bad those ideas were, particularly in how little time there was in the schedule for error, and that no one else had the balls or the conviction that push back with me, particularly when folks around the table knew they were bad ideas and that it was a waste of time. Which only serves to reinforce my opinion of the undercurrents in that company.
I made several good friends who I would gladly work with again down there, and I worked with others that, I can honestly say, that I would actively discourage others from working with, and would point people elsewhere who ask me about joining that company. I've already been asked my opinion by several folks getting ready to get out of school and I told them to look elsewhere or be ready to move on after the project ships.
There are great people there, but there are also...somewhat gifted amateurs...and the worst thing is: the benefits are terrible. For such a large company, the health benefits are a joke, the relocation package are laughable, and despite all of the rah-rah from management, nothing is done to keep morale up. And it's down, really down. Even in my first project, where we crunched for six months, Morale was never bad there as it is in that office. I'd expect that most of the folks that are working there that have worked elsewhere will leave as soon as the project goes gold, assuming it reaches that state. Not a commentary on the state of the project, mind you, but I've worked on enough projects to know that nothing is certain until it goes out for duplication.
But, you know, there is one discouraging thing that continues to haunt me to this day: your silence since the day I was let go. No email. No MSN. No XBL Voice or Text. Nothing. Silence. My email hasn't changed - I know you have it somewhere. My instant message capabilities have not diminished or changed.
That hurts, and I thought we were friends enough to not let something like this come between us. But, it looks like I was wrong.
So, I'm writing this as some catharsis (funny how that works here on a Blog). I don't think you'll ever read it unless one of our mutual friends points you to this humble bit of cyberjunk. I just want you to know I don't blame you. It didn't work out, and I likely hung myself by pushing for many things that was against managements wishes (and, as it turns out, I was right, and given the circumstances, I will say this: I told you so!), but believe me when I say: I was already looking to leave, and my dismissal simply showed me the door.
I will close with two things:
1) I learned a lot in my time there (see my previous posts), and feel I have grown a lot as a Game Designer.
2) I hope you move on at some point and see how other companies do things. I told those to many of folks down there, particularly those who were new to the industry and that was their first job. The company doesn't do a lot of things right, in fact, I can count on one hand the number of things they do right, and you and everyone else that has not worked elsewhere would be better served seeing how other companies do things.
I'll be the one that breaks the silence, and I'll likely point you at my blog so you can read this so I don't have to write it again.
Talk to you soon.
My GameUX Summit keynote: (Dis)Assembling Games
2 weeks ago