Most blogs I read I tend to forget about shortly afterwards. They might be interesting, give useful advice or be funny but pretty soon I’m doing something more important. Then, every now and again there’s one that stands out. One that immediately gets bookmarked.

The Further Adventures of Oddbloke.

My lasting memories of the games industry will always be the people, good and bad. Its really quite a unique environment that we’re privileged to share. Maybe we’re all ‘Lost Things‘. A bit .. different. Non of us quite fit in conventional society yet in a games company your idiosyncrasies, your individuality are what make you valued, part of the team, important.

My absolute favourite part of a project is the last few days of crunch. That’s when the team really starts pulling together. When you’re sick from tiredness, having to crawl over sleeping bodies to get to your desk, looking for the next bit of polish to add, the next bug to fix. Its a strange form of masochism and there’s always a core part of the team who’ll relish it. Who’ll resist falling asleep or going home. Who’ll be first in line for bacon butties in the morning and first in the pub when its all finished. Its a loyalty to the team and a pride in the project that I don’t imagine you’d get in many other industries. (Actually I’m just struck as to whether there’s a big games industry in France ? Surely they’d constantly be on strike! .. am I allowed to say that?)

Strangely enough shortly after the game is finished is the worst time. The anti climax can be crushing. The lack of direction, of focus, of meaning, the exhaustion and the inevitable colds and illness. Your immune system takes a pounding during crunch and the sudden loss of adrenaline can floor you. Its also the time of most redundancies. Just after you’ve given your all for the team, after you’ve proved your worth to the directors and big bosses, the team, this talented, creative, highly focused tight knit bunch of friends, get dumped. Usually just before royalties come in or for many, just before they’ve been there two years.

As crap as that is its also inevitable and shouldn’t be surprising. No company can keep paying 100+ staff £25k+ a year to sit around doing nothing. Thats £2.5million a year just in wages. It needs to reduce the company down to the core numbers needed to design and start the next game before taking on staff again or it needs multiple projects, timed to be able to switch staff around. I didn’t accept this for a long time. Especially the many times I was on the receiving end. Maybe its age, or maybe experience, or maybe just the fact that someone pointed it out to me but eventually it just makes sense.

Perhaps the ideal situation would be for all the games companies to be clustered around, say, Liverpool (as its a veritable pool of creative talent) and there to be a veritable pool of freelancers or contractors. Then we can work in a similar vein to the post production studios in Soho. People can continually move from job to job as the work dictates but since all the companies are in the same area they’re all accessible to the staff who live locally. Technologies, techniques and friendships can be shared and grown. No more ripping families apart, no more lost homes, new schools, missing friends, bankruptcy. Perfect.

Until the whole of the UK games development is shipped out to Malaysia. Sadly, since tax incentives have just been refused by the government (unlike for the film industry) that could well find that to be a reality.