I'm really only good at playing games and writing code
Like a lot of technically-oriented people here, gaming came before - and inspired - programming for me. At 12, Age of Empires II hooked me. After Diablo II, Dark age of Camelot, SOCOM, Starcraft II, and too many others to list, I knew this was something I'd love forever (d'awwww). I loved competing, I’d made deep friendships with my teammates, and I quite literally feared a future where I’d have to let it go. I ended up choosing Computer Engineering as my college major, with dreams of making games.
Starcraft II is pretty cool, but I, like, really miss random maps and more resources and open build plans and stuff yaknow
Starcraft II, TL, and college
I made some Flash games (lol) in college. It actually worked pretty well - it helped me learn programming, made me some money, and I really enjoyed it. It still didn't feel like gaming, though. I remember seeing the SCII announcement and being hyped beyond belief. I had never played SC I, but I knew SCII was going to be awesome. Blizzard only makes awesome games (remember, this is the pre-D3 era).
Starcraft II was an absolute blast for many years, as most RTSes are. The constantly evolving meta in a new competitive RTS is something that, sadly, is not something we get to see often anymore. As fun as it was, this is the first game and the first time in my life where I was starting to think that real life and gaming are incompatible for me. If not incompatible, then at least have a parasitic relationship. The more I play SCII, the more my grades drop. The more time I spend on school, the less fun I have on SCII, which I only enjoyed when I could play it several hours a day*. I sat in a perpetual grind between 150th-40th place GM, and I could feel how directly it correlated to how much I was able to play. After a nolifing weekend, I'd end up near 40. When I took days off to practice for a test, I'd drop around 150.
I thought that the ability to play casually and have fun while sucking at the game would come with age/maturity, but for whatever reason either that feeling or the maturity didn't come.
*Q: Chill out a bit? Just play when you have time and enjoy the game without being so hyperbolic Fair point, but no. Getting worse feels bad, and it seemed uniquely hard to climb up in GM in such a mechanically-intense game without putting in the time. I fully recognize that it's possible to enjoy SCII without playing it all the time, but I had a hard time doing so.
I can’t play games anymore: post-college
If anyone who I used to keep in touch with here wonders where I've been, this is that part. When I picked my major, I didn’t anticipate that market forces would be so good at convincing you to stay away from gaming. On one hand, at major tech companies, you have the opportunity to make more money, have a better work/life balance, and get a better name on your resume. On the other hand, if you work in the gaming industry, you have the opportunity to make less money, work all the time on volatile projects that are likely to be arbitrarily cancelled, and gain experience that is more likely to lock you into the industry.
I chose the former. I love gaming, and I love making games - but do I love writing code for someone else’s game? Making your own games sounds fun. Making gaming-related-sites sounds fun. I'm not sure if working on someone else's dream does. I’m open to criticism that I suck/am a sellout for this. Now, games are now really not fun*, because now I have even less time. It's been a long time since I've played now, and I miss it.
*I should give a shoutout to the AHGL, which was an exception here. I hope to see the AHGL return in full force soon.
Coming full-circle: working on gaming projects full time
I’ve come mostly full circle this week. A while back, I left my FT job and decided to devote my time to launching gaming projects until I waste all of my money. I’m launching Guilded (www.guilded.gg) today, as my first (only?) project. I’d really like to get honest thoughts/feedback from TLers on this (inb4 someone takes "Liquid").
It's meant to fill what I see as a hole in the current esports/gaming scene. There are awesome tools like Discord for communication, great communities like TL for individual games, and a smattering of different in-game tools for connecting your team - but there is not a yet (afaik) a unified/free/lightweight service for teams that does all of the things that teams and players want to do - strategizing in long-form, recruiting new members, scheduling and discovering events, unifying your persona across platforms, and competing in deeply-integrated tournaments and leagues. I think that as esports and gaming grows, this is a void that will need to be filled by something, and this is my proof of concept.
Questions remaining to be answered
Is making gaming stuff as fun as gaming? Is making gaming stuff as fun as making games? Is it viable to just work really hard on whatever you feel like will be useful to gamers, and see where it goes? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I thought it’d be nice to have somewhere to post more candid thoughts and updates on this journey somewhere. Somewhere like Medium, but less pretentious. Somewhere more gaming-focused. Hi again, TL (if you remember me and we haven't talked in a while, send me a PM and say hi!)
I kept this pretty brief, but if this post is interesting to anyone or anyone feels that they can relate, let me know here or in PM. I’ll be posting updates and thoughts here from time-to-time. If this isn’t interesting to anyone, I’ll probably still do it, but at a decreasing cadence, which will give the impression that people enjoy them, allowing me to save face and act like my blog posts aren’t bad.
TL;DR I share the journey how I'm trying to keep gaming in my life as a professional programmer, and would like to hear TL's perspective and give thoughts/feedback on the first project I've created as part of this journey