Friday, December 18, 2009

Fast Forward

It's been a while since I posted something useful on this blog, so evidently a lot has happened since. Instead of making this a four and a half page long discourse of recent (and not so recent) events, I'll try to keep it short. I've had a weird run-in (or should I say 'run-over') with a cat, bought a new car and a new computer, and lost my job.

About the cat, I'm currently trying to write this story down, so in a while you might see it appear on this blog. It's worth the wait, believe me.

Our old car was not going to pass the safety inspection, so we got a new Opel Zafira TD 1.7 family vehicle, and it's a joy to drive around in. The more buttons in the cockpit, the happier I am.

My old computer was slowly dying on us, so we got a quad core 2.33 GHz with 6 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce G210 from Hewlett Packard. It looked like a nice piece of machinery, except for the fact that it didn't have any wireless network controllers built in (which I only discovered after purchase at home). Not a big problem 'per se' because I still had a PCI wireless card lying around, were it not for the fact that this particular HP model didn't have any PCI slots. At all. I was baffled. So I had to drive around looking for a PCI-Express wifi card, which exists but was nowhere in stock -- nobody uses these anyway. I came home in the end with one of those shitty USB wifi sticks, which cost me another pretty penny on top of the new PC. But hey, we're online again and we've got a pretty decent loadout that can run all my favorite 'oldies' flawlessly at maximum graphical detail (Thief 3, Oblivion, Unreal Tournament 2003, ...), albeit with a considerate shortage of available USB ports.

And the job at Larian Studios, well... Suffice to say I got my 3 months notice and a load of crock to justify it. I was 'unwilling and unable to do enough overtime' and I was the 'most expensive developer at the company', so I've learned. I wasn't trustworthy enough anymore to start on a new project. Well, here's my side of the story: I've dedicated more than three years to that company. I've neglected my son, my daughter, my wife, and my own health for Larian. I've spent more than 8 months straight in crunch mode, which was 2 months longer than any of my colleagues -- despite the fact that I was the only one with a wife and 2 children (one of which was in pediatric intensive care for a week, by the way) and I was the only one suffering a daily 4-hour commute all that time. There were times when I left for work at 7h45 in the morning, to come back only after 23h00 in the evening, catch a little sleep and leave for work again -- for days in a row without even seeing my children. Deadlines kept being pushed back, so we basically had one each week. I was way short on sleep and stressed beyond recognition, but apparently that still wasn't enough. That's what I put into this company, and now I got my reward. And to top it all off, I got official word that the company was moving to closer quarters (after me lobbying for it for three years) that would have reduced my commute from 4 hours to 1, in the EXACT SAME conversation in which I got fired for not being able to work longer. Go figure.

However, I am really grateful that I no longer work at Larian Studios. Sure I miss the colleagues and the coolness of 'making video games', but I haven't been more relaxed since I-can't-remember-when. I'm extremely relieved that I don't have to deal with the bullshit any more -- all the broken promises, last-minute feature changes and plannings turned upside down are now behind me. I won't have to be dragged down any longer in the low morale that's oozing in those hallways after finishing Divinity II. Despite not having found a new job yet, I feel a hell of a lot better!

It sure feels good to get this off my chest. The ranting's over now, I promise -- no hard feelings anymore. I do wish the best of luck to all the guys and the one girl at Larian Studios for the next Divinity title (or what else lies in wait), because they are definitely going to need it in the years to come. I look forward to buying and playing their future games and I wish to thank Swen for giving me the opportunity to live my dream, even though it was a short one. Thanks guys, and so long!