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      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
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A New Chapter

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For the past several weeks I've been on something of a hiatus from GDNet. There are several reasons behind my absence, but it is now largely over, and you can expect me to resume haunting these hallowed halls once more. (And there was much rejoicing.)

So what's been going on with me? Why this mysterious (and yet somehow not unusual) period of silence? And what can we all make of the random tidbits on Twitter and Facebook, if perhaps we are one of the few people who cares about my presence on said social media?

The Cliffs Notes
I have ended my nine year relationship with Egosoft as of a couple of months ago. My time working on space simulation games is up, and I'm moving on. More details on that below, should you be interested.

I have accepted an offer as Senior Server Programmer for ArenaNet. I can't talk about what I'm working on, partially due to NDAs, and partially because I don't actually know yet. I start officially on June 6th.

The combination of these two things has produced a rather crazy result: I moved from Atlanta, GA to Seattle, WA over the course of the last week. This involved five days of driving, one moving van, half a dozen apartment prospects, and no small amount of stress, panic, and exhaustion.

I am alive, well, and looking forward to starting my new job next week.

The Move
It took several all-day-long drives to haul across the country. For those not familiar with the US's geography, I covered just over 3000 miles during the move. Thankfully, I have a relocation management company handling the bulk of my belongings, so all I had to do was drive my car. Still, I spent over 45 hours driving, which is no small accomplishment. Needless to say, I am sick of the inside of my car.

I was formerly located just northwest of Atlanta proper; I'm now looking into the Bellevue area in Washington state, specifically on the south side of town, between Newcastle and Issaquah. Apartment applications are pending and I should know by mid-week where I'll end up living.

Nine years is a long time to work for the same company, especially in the games industry. It was no easy decision to leave Egosoft, and in many ways it feels like a part of me is gone now. Egosoft and the X games have been an integral part of my career, and I will remain grateful for the opportunity I had to work with the excellent team there and the role I was able to play in bringing some fantastic space games to market.

I won't say much about my departure, because to be honest things got a bit rocky, and I'm not interested in badmouthing anyone or developing a reputation as a troublemaker. Suffice it to say that after many years it became apparent that my fundamental philosophies of doing business differed from those of the company as a whole, and we simply weren't all that compatible. It may seem strange that it took so long for that to be obvious, but such is life; often it takes a hefty dose of hindsight to realize exactly what's been under our noses for ages.

Put another way, I had to have time to rise to a certain level of responsibility and seniority within the company itself to see just how things were expected to work. Once I got to that point, it was clear that we simply didn't mesh. We had different visions for how to carry forward the game IP and the company as a whole, and there was no sense in creating excess friction or drama over those differences.

So now I'm gone, and I wish the remaining team all the best in completing and shipping X: Rebirth, which was announced a few weeks ago. They certainly deserve the success.

I quietly started my job search during GDC 2011, and spent a fair amount of time on the career expo floor handing out resumes and giving impromptu screening interviews to probably a couple of dozen different prospective employers. In the end, though, I ended up getting contacted by ArenaNet via NCSoft; it all runs together a bit but I think that, ironically, I found them online after GDC rather than making contact directly via the career expo. Either way, I had a quick phone chat with the technical director, and found myself shortly thereafter on a plane out to Seattle for a formal interview.

ArenaNet has an interesting (and, to my mind, superb) method of hiring. Rather than pigeonholing applicants based on their expected position, they interview for a range of positions, and then work out a solution of best fit with the applicant once the preliminaries are taken care of. As such, I went in having no idea what to expect or even what skills to try and highlight; I felt phenomenally unprepared, but as it turned out, things went pretty well.

The first chunk of time was spent on a technical test, which consumed pretty much the entire morning. I can't divulge the details, but it was a pretty good test that covered a variety of problem solving issues and skill sets, and provided a decent picture of the applicant's abilities to design, write, and debug code - under the kinds of interesting constraints and limitations often found in real world game development.

That was followed by lunch with several of the engineers from various departments, and then a review of the technical test. During the final meeting, one of the network engineers happened to be available, and almost as an afterthought we wound up talking network technologies. I happened to have some extensive low-level network experience from my first day job (which long-time readers might remember as The Job From Hell) so we actually had quite a bit of interesting stuff to discuss.

Apparently, someone was impressed; when my formal offer letter arrived a week later, I was offered the position of Senior Server Programmer.

Time to dust off the ol' TCP/IP, I guess!

Final Flippancy and Sarcasm
That pretty much brings us up to today. I'm still a little mindfucked by the three hour time change between here and Atlanta; I have to be really careful about when I make phone calls in the evenings. Hopefully the kinks will be worked out and I'll be sleeping on a sane schedule come time to start work next week.

At this point, there's not much I can do but wait out Memorial Day and sit around with my fingers crossed that I'll get accepted for the apartment. My Xbox is in a box somewhere between Georgia and here, so that leaves streaming movies via Netflix and endlessly pressing F5 on the GDNet forum listings.

So. Now you know what's up, and I'm still willing to bet a few bucks that you don't give a shit! wink.gif

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Congrats. Hope this doesn't spell the end for Epoch, but putting money in the bank is the priority.

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I don't give a shit, but welcome back anyway :P.

I second Aard on Epoch - in the end, it's always the money, though...

And ArenaNet makes Guild Wars, which rocks! I've played GW for years and my experience has always been solid: very few/almost no glitches, network code seems to run great, stable, excellent update system, etc. So I imagine they have quite a bit of technical excellence under the hood.

You'll fit right in :D.

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Congrats on the job and successful move. I look forward to hearing about how things progress from this point on...

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Wow...congrats on the new job mate. Hope your success continues in your new endeavor!

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I honestly dunno how I never got into the X series but I saw X-Rebirth and was like, wow that's pretty cool! And Mike works there! Oh wait - no he doesn't. Hahaha. Oh wells you wished them success so no hard feelings when I prob buy the series later on right ;)

Bummer you weren't out during LOGIN conference. Let you know next time I'm in the area if before GDC next year.

Good to have you back!

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