Last week, I mentioned that I had joined the One Game a Month challenge. For my May game, I decided to dust off the not-quite-finished Blak & Bloo (I still need to write up that whole experience and why it ultimately failed), and reuse some of its code with the latest improvements I've made to my in-progress Tangle game engine. The idea I came up with is to eliminate physics (which turned out to be more of a pain than I expected), and make a simple pattern-matching game.
I'm calling it "Quilt", and you can follow my progress here. Next week, I plan to blog in more detail about my approach, and how I'm going to avoid the Blak & Bloo problem.
I'd forgotten how busy working from home can be. That, coupled with the fact that the stuff I'm working on is pretty fun (more on that soon, I promise!), means that recreational coding has taken a back seat these past few months. :(
It doesn't help that my next entry in the "Let's Make a Canvas Library" (LMACL) series is way too much to cram into a single post, and I've been having a lot of writer's block over how to break it up.
Sooo.... here's what I'm doing about it: I joined the One Game a Month challenge. Like its founder, Christer Kaitila (aka @McFunkypants), says on the site: "Starting a game is easy. Finishing a game is hard." Hopefully this very visible commitment will give me the swift kick in the rear that I've been needing. I've got a couple of half-finished games on my back burner, plus a simpler one that I think might help me detangle (heh) the code roadblock I've hit with LMACL and TangleJS. I also plan to blog at least once a week, on Saturdays, to report on progress. Otherwise, it's back to making games and not so much on the talking about making them. :)
So... no other way to say this than to just say it.
My last day at Novetta Solutions (formerly White Oak Technologies) will be this February the 28th.
This isn't a decision I've come to lightly. I have grown tremendously in my 4 and a half years with WOTI, have worked with a ton of great people, and done, I hope, a lot of great work.
... a lot of which, sadly, I can't really talk about. :|
Honestly, that's one of the reasons I feel it's time to move on. Due to the nature of most contract work for the Unites States Government, there's very little I can actually say about what I've done over the past four years. I can say I'm a Senior Computer Scientist, and have been working on standards-based web development, but that's about the extent of it.
For a lot of people, that would be fine. "Leave work at work," they might say. I'm not defined by my profession, any more than my Dad is defined by his career as a truck driver, or my cousin by his law degree. And that's true.
Except if I'm going to spend 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, doing something, I want that "something" to matter. To make a positive impact in the world. To leave a legacy. There are certainly things I've been part of at WOTI that have done this, and I'm grateful to have had a role, however modest, in those accomplishments. But outside of a very small circle, nobody knows about them.
I'm not saying I need public adoration for the work I do. But I really want to be able to share my successes with my wife and kids. They are so much a part of who I am, it pains me a little to have to exclude them from nearly a third of my waking life.
When my sweetheart and I were newlyweds, we got involved with some friends in a network marketing venture. Although we never really built it up much, the vision it instilled in me, one of being able to include my family in my life's work, has stuck with me. Now that our kids are growing up, they're wanting to be more involved in the interesting things I'm doing on the side (Fenjin, casual games made with my Tangle library, that kind of thing). I'd love to be able to share the "day job" stuff too... my daughter's only a few years shy of being able to intern somewhere, and I think it would be pretty neat doing that together (almost a "take your kid to work day" kind of vibe).
Challenges and Growth
Something else I've been keenly aware of lately has been my need to grow, to tackle the next big challenge. There's been some of that over the past 6 months or so, but when I look objectively at my team, and at the company as a whole, I haven't seen the kinds of challenges and opportunities for growth that I feel I need, personally or professionally. Don't take that as a reflection of the company—far from it, they're on an aggressive growth path right now. Rather, it just feels like we're moving in a slightly different directions, and the distance will only get further with time.
Better that I walk away while my head's still in the game.
Thank you, WOTI
I've never felt like my feelings and opinions weren't important. The company leaders I've worked with have always made an effort to stay tuned in to what was going on in my head. I want to specifically thank Chris Hagner, who, from my first interview up to now, has always gone out of his way to make me feel like an important part of the team. Mind you, he's like 3 or 4 levels above me in the org chart (depends on the reorg), but I've never felt like there was any kind of unreachable gulf between us. Despite his many responsibilities and very busy schedule, he'd occasionally make time to talk with me one on one to make sure that any concerns I had were being met, and that I was feeling good about the role I was playing within the team.
He also sometimes stopped me in the hall to comment on things he'd read on my blog, so I've always known that at least someone thought there was value in what I had to say here. Thanks, Chris.
I wouldn't be the person I am today, personally or professionally, without everything I've learned these past few years. Nor would I have had the opportunity to work with such a talented group of crazy-smart people on such crazy-hard problems. For that, I'll always be grateful.
I'm going to miss my team. You guys are great, seriously. I'll be watching to see where you all take things from here.
So, what's next for me?
Ironically, given everything I just said about secrecy, I can't tell you yet.
Last month, I was approached by a very early-stage startup in the Silicon Valley area, who were looking for a couple of people to start building a front-end team for a platform they've been building in stealth for a few months now. It's an incredibly ambitious idea, with far-reaching implications if all goes as expected, and the more I talked with their team about what they're doing, the more excited I got. Expect me to talk more about this soon; I really think it has the potential to be huge.