I thought I'd do the "usual" retrospective of the year. I don't normally do these, but this year I have stuff to talk about. So here we go.
I started the year new in the role of Database Architect for a credit referencing and marketing company. I'd basically spent years climbing up this big old ladder to get up somewhere high in the company. Hell, I'd been there 8 or 9 years, I'd been learning everything in my field, going to big events, doing exams and really trying hard to be someone to go to in my technology area. I love SQL Server and the data platform behind it, I spent so much effort learning details and getting into the really dirt of it all. I loved it... until I realised what my company thought of the role of "architect".
Instead of being the people who're involved in projects and helping with the hard, finicky stuff, they put them in the role of "clerk". Basically someone who plans at only the highest level without getting their hands even remotely dirty in the detail. I found that everything I'd spent learning to get to this acclaimed position basically meant letting it all fall away and dealing with a level of detail that was naught more than boxes on a chart.
Anyone who's followed my journal (journey?) over the years will appreciate that this is not who I am. I like technical stuff. I like the dirty things in development. The high level, the abstract doesn't work for me when it's the sole focus of my job.
So at some point early in the year I got a LinkedIn request from Simon Sabin, one of the SQL Server GODS. I accepted, looked at his profile and saw an advert on the side - an advert from Microsoft, doing stuff with data for a game. I clicked it out of intrigue more than anything.
Fast forward a few weeks. I'd quit my old role. This job I'd spent so much effort getting to, I'd walked away. Wow. Who'd do that? Me, I guess.
I'd left because the role I saw on LinkedIn turned out to be working for Lionhead Studios. I laughed when I saw it - I was like "yeah, me, working at Lionhead Studios - I've played their games like... forever, right? I've never worked in games either, they won't take me". I applied anyway. Interviewed a couple of times, got an offer. Took it...
I LEFT MY ENTIRE LIFE.
This sounds odd, but I did. I left my house, I left the town I'd lived in for 10 years. All my friends. My job. Everything. My partner stuck up north with my cat, waiting to see if it worked out.
It did. I now work for Lionhead Studios. Microsoft Studios, EMEA. I've been here 6 months. I'm still here. And I see myself being here for quite some time.
Lionhead is quite frankly an excellent place to be in. The studio is really just a breeding ground for brilliance - every day I see stuff that makes me think "wow, I work with people who can do this?!". I love the lunchtimes, playing MP games against (and with) each other. I love the SCRUM reviews where you can see stuff that people have been working on. I love Creative Day and the side projects that people have put their time into. I love the random chats with people I've only just met. I love feeling like I've known these people all my life. I love the passion, the energy and the enthusiasm of the people in the studio.
Yet we're part of a much, much wider team. I've been working with people from loads of other studios too - 343, Turn 10, Rare, the new London studio and others. I have regular contact with the Xbox LIVE Team and a whole load of other awesome people at Microsoft. We're all in this together. We're part of a huge team of people who love games. Lionhead and Microsoft Studios is quite frankly an awesome place to be in. You can see the future being made, and it's amazing.
This year has been a year of huge change. I have literally changed my entire life. Career, place of living, even friends. It's been hard at times but it's been totally worth it. I feel like my focus has changed completely. I'm working in an area I care about, for a team I care about, for a project I care about and for a company I care about. It's a good feeling.
Now just to get my partner and cat down to Guildford and I'll be happy.
Looking forward to 2013.