Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beyond the Final Frontier... ends up as Dallas

Hiya! Nice to see you again. 'member me? I'm the guy who was working on Ultima4 in Flash, and then I kinda dropped off the radar? You might have heard that I had to take down my version of Ultima? So what happened?
Ok, well let me walk you through what happened.

So I was working away on my Ultima game, and trying to set-up some side projects in Vancouver. Then I joined my wife Jean on a trip to San Francisco, and then everything changed. I happened to get my resume off to one of the co-founders at Zynga. One week later I had a programming job, and would get to relocate to the Bay Area with only about three weeks to pack up my stuff. Sometimes life moves THAT fast.

The funny thing is, that it was my work on my Ultima game that cinched me getting the job. When I had been working on my game I had NO idea that this would lead to me getting a job. I had hoped. But I had to just keep working on the project I loved. The three months for which I was developing Ultima 4, and the two for which I was debugging were among the most satisfying in my professional career. There you go folks, do what you love, have the passion to finish a personal project, and it might just lead you to a new horizon. If you can show that passion to a potential employer... well who wouldn't want to hire a self-driven and passionate employee?

In San Francisco, I would be working on a 'little' social game called CityVille. Heard of it? Yeah, a couple million people play it every day. I had so much fun learning the Zynga codebase, and working with the CityVille team. Ten months later I was then sent off to another project in Dallas Texas. They liked me so much that I switched over to THAT team (though I still miss the City people), which turned out to be CastleVille.

So I am now in Dallas. I'm working on a great game, and (for the moment) I am the only developer who has worked on both the #1 and #2 social games on Facebook: CityVille and CastleVille. What a difference a year and a half makes!

Here's another amazing thing about my time working at Zynga. For the first time in my 12+ year professional career, my father is playing one of the games that I made. He is an absolute CastleVille addict, and I love him dearly for his passion with the game. I just got back from a Christmas holiday visiting my parents in Ontario, and he wanted to know every little detail about the game, and spoilers for what was going to be happening in the CastleVille world in the coming weeks. Just amazing. I loved working on console games, PC games, and now social games. I'm still coming to terms with the pervasiveness of Zynga games. I'm amazed where I can be standing on a street corner wearing my CityVille shirt, and a little girl (probably no more than 10) looks at me, waves, and then smiles and points mouthing "Great Game!" as her mother drives her to school.

Oh and one more thing. I have to give a shout to a great guy who I almost got the chance to work with again: Scott Henshaw of Kibble Games. I had worked with Scott at Electronic Arts Canada. Well he's started up his own development studio. Before the Zynga job, I was really looking forward to working with him again and helping him to get his project off the ground. I never got the chance to wrap things up with him. (Jeez I only had three weeks to pack up my life to move to a new country.) I hope to see great things from Kibble Games in the not too distant future. If I'm ever travelling back to Vancouver then I'm hoping to have the time to reconnect with you guys. All the best Scott.

Well I was going to write this as one big post, but I've only tackled one of the topics I was hoping to share. So in my next post I'll shed a little light on why my Ultima 4 version got pulled down, I'll share some of my experiences in playing Skyrim, and let you know what I've got planned for my future CRPG projects.

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