So, as of last Friday, I’ve left EA.
I greatly enjoyed most of my time there, working with incredibly talented people like Doug Church, Randy Smith, Jeff Lander, and the whole amazing team they assembled. Yet the chaos, layoffs, and project cancellations of the past few months have been too much for me to take.
As I went around talking to folks to see what other work was available, I slowly came to realize even the projects that I might have found some nugget of interesting-ness in, earlier in my career, no longer did anything for me. They no longer aroused that same flurry of creative ideas that I know drives me all the way through to complete the product. I just felt I really needed to be captain of my own destiny for a while.
So, I’ve got a couple game ideas, and a few weeks before I do anything else to get them started. I’m going to be pursuing some contract work to pay the bills, like helping Dave Mark at Intrinsical Algorithm with some AI consulting.
I’m going to attempt to finish at least one of the games even if I’m full time contracting – one of the demotivating factors working on something in your spare time while at a big company is that they typically own all your work. It’s funny how just formalizing the relationship between studio & worker such that it is clear I am working on someone else’s game, and afforded all the rights implied, can feel incredibly freeing. I’m also talking to a handful of promising startups, so it’s possible I’ll be someone else’s employee again, but we’ll see.
Regardless, moving forward I’ve decided on two things I will insist on in formal work agreements to:
- I own the work I do in my spare time, or I own a piece of the profit from the game. I refuse to give up the former without getting the latter.
- Any contract will include a very simple crediting requirement for work done. I’m not sure yet how this would fly with an employment agreement, but I think it’ll be easy to get for a contracting agreement.
Batting around a few game ideas, but there are two at the top of the list currently. The main requirements are that they deal with at least one issue I talk about on the blog, can take a short timeframe to make (2-5 months or so), and allow for a distinctive art style:
- A top down game set in the streets of Tehran during the election riots. It’s not about the politics directly per se, you play a parent looking for their lost child. So some stealth, a little bit of combat, and some hand-holding Ico-esque mechanics.
- An emergent narrative experiment, for a lack of a better description we’ll call an adventure/RTS hybrid. It takes place in a SoCal diner.
While I leave behind a host of talented, great people at EALA, I know for me, for the foreseeable future, smaller is better.