Friday, March 31, 2006

The Job

So, other than the occasional nightmare about self-doubt and trepanation, how's the new job going?

Not bad. Not bad at all.

First thing I have to say is that writing within a computer game environment is very different than that of designing a traditional RPG or writing fiction. In comparison, the other two are much more personal projects, both in terms of scope and control. Working on a computer game is really more akin to working in film or TV -– a balance of forces, needs, and sudden opportunities, handling of a variety of talents and a general herding of cats. Story, while vitally important, does not rule over all.

It also has a sense of speed that I am unaccustomed to, and I am a creature of immediate deadlines. Decisions are made and acted upon quickly. Several lines are started at once. As we are lashing up plot, art assets and missions are being generated, which then produce sudden opportunities for use to expand or change that plot. I am already agog at some of the stuff that is already in process.

The work environment is extremely pleasant. Our team is in a big room. Almost all the gang is younger than I am (a peril of my antediluvian nature), and all have been enthusiastic of helping me shed by Luddite shackles and join them on the bleeding edge of tech. (Translation – they got me to create a Microsoft Messenger account, and gave me the dev codes for our test server).

Our business is located in some lowlands near the Mercer Slough, a location so well-hidden, that if I ever want to create a super-villain start-up, this is where I would put my secret base (I'd take over the Amazon building only after I shipped my first Evil Product). Even folk native to Bellevue have no idea where we are. It is a nice area, overgrown with trees and wildlife. We back on a channel through the slough and I have spotted herons, turtles, and bald eagles on my lunchtime walks. Most of the buildings are up on concrete stilts. I refer to the place as "The Ewok Village".

It is the pace of the work day that has completely scrambled me. From my write-ups of the previous contract work in Bellevue, you know that at that time I would awake before dawn, slog through the morning traffic, and get to work around 7 AM. This is a computer game company, so arriving here at 10 AM makes you one of the "Early People". Now, this also means that if you get out the door before 8 or 9 PM, you are leaving allies in your wake, still working.

The good news is that I am having a chance to really have breakfast and avoid the worst of the rush hours up and back. The bad news is my usual schedule has been snarled up beyond all recognition. Lunch is about two in the afternoon, dinner is light and late into the evening.

This also means that my time for writing for me has shifted from early evening after work to early morning before work, and has left me a little rocky. I'm looking at my most recent stuff, and it is very vignette-based, with short segments as opposed to a more leisurely progression of plot. It is both frustrating and interesting, a sudden shifting that has left me scrambling and unsure.

And probably cuing the skull-sawing dreams in the first place.

More later,