May the flower within me bloom and dance~
In My Plain Apartment
Another day has passed and I’m still here in this plain apartment in the Desert. As I swivel my Ikea chair around, I see many unoccupied spaces and walls. It makes me feel thankful; less shit to move or sell. I knew I wasn’t staying here long term, but I didn’t expect to worry about moving so soon. Just 8 months since I moved here for my first real job that I failed to keep. Now that I don’t have to wake up early for work, I can spend more time in bed contemplating. When did it all go wrong? I ask myself. As I dig deeper and deeper, I realize perhaps I was doomed way before I even started. I can no longer ignore my reeked habits.
I probably continue the cynical tone if I were to write this a few weeks after I got fired. However, it’s been more than a month since then. The path ahead for me is still hazy, but at least I am much less salty ^^ You guys probably wonder what happened. Well, like my very old last blog, I’m writing this blog to record my reflecting and thoughts… so that I can look back five years from now and laugh at myself. Thus, anyone expecting an epic office drama, sorry to disappoint
A Humble Beginning
So what exactly happened? Let me start from the very beginning. I’ve always love making games. So as I was about to graduate from college, I applied to a bunch of game companies. I had some internship experience and made some personal projects, but I knew it’s gonna be hard to get in anywhere. After countless rejections and empty replies, I got a call. I got lucky that a company is actually interested in me. They make games for casinos. Not my dream choice, of course, but that’s probably the best I’m gonna get as a noob. After passing the most non-technical interview ever, it’s decided. I’m moving to the Desert.
Yet Another Airbnb Weirdness
The move was interesting in itself. I decided to be crafty and got an Airbnb room for a month at a deep discount (no one wants to visit the Desert in the summer) so I would have more time to look for an apartment. When I arrived at the place, the owner was moving a pc, which his previous tenant left for some reason, to give away to goodwill. We talked for a bit, and once he learned that I know a bit about computers, he decided I can keep the pc. A free pc, why not? So I turned it on and it didn’t even have a password. The spec is decent, older sli gpu and fast enough cpu; it could be a good server computer. Then I decided to look inside the case. I found at least hundreds of orange pills in a ziplock bag. Those were probably not Vitamin C. I wanted nothing to do with that so I took the bag and threw it away in a neighbor’s garbage can. Few days later, the pc was gone. The previous tenant came to take it back… and I probably ruined his day.
At this point you probably think the owner seems pretty chill. However, he made an odd request a week before my check out date. I was hastily walking out with my bike as I was going to be late for work. Then I noticed that my bike has a flat tire. As my mind was occupied about that, the owner approached me and asked the weirdest question I’ve even heard in my life. “Did you pee in my cooking pot last night?” he asked. I was more concerned with my flat tire to keep an eye contact as I said “no.” The owner took that as a sign of weakness, and since he was going to kick everyone out anyway, I wasn’t able to convince him to let me stay. At least he let me keep my stuff there for a week before I move into my apartment, but I received no refund for the days I got kicked out. To this day, I’m still not sure if someone actually peed in his pot, as it might be a ploy to get everyone out for some legal or tax reasons. And that concludes my first Airbnb experience.
Perhaps I Should Have Persevered
Getting back on track, let’s talk about the job. I was spoiled during my summer internship with a more established mobile game company. Since the company in the Desert is expanding and transitioning from flash development to Unity (a tech upgrade from ancient era to modern era) it lacks many things I expect out of a game studio. No producer, no agile methods, no code review, no QA person. Their backend casino and math related tech are pretty cool, but I don’t get to work with that. I’m making Unity games with minimal support from leads who don’t have much Unity experience themselves. And we’re essentially making potentially expensive to play arcade/casual games. There’s definitely a lot of money in it as that’s considered pretty mind blowing in a casino gaming industry. But you can see that I’m not too excited for it. However, the company is growing, so things might improve; it’s too bad that I’m not gonna be there to see it.
When It Starts to Go Wrong
When there’s no code review process, it’s very easy for anyone to push up changes that could destroy days of work. I drew the short straw. I was assisting one of a bigger project and I noticed that there’s an unnecessary folder (Library folder for those who know Unity ^^) in the source control, a repository where everyone sync their work to. Since I was too lazy to cover my ass and go ask the lead if it’s alright to delete the folder, I just went ahead to delete it. If there were a code review process, the change would not go live immediately and some communication is forced to happen. But that was not the case. Now deleting that folder should not break anything. However, one of the artist was not properly pushing up his work to the source control so his work is all fucked up and there’s no way to revert. Weeks later I got called in to discuss how much I fucked up. Some are 100% my fault such as me changing a base gun code and broke an ammo UI (could have been ten minutes fix if the lead actually tells me about it). And the others are more because I failed to communicate such as deleting the folder. I got off with just a warning but it’s not ideal that the management might start to view me as a troubled employee. A day later I tried to get the lead to code review my shit. He said it’s not necessary… sigh (to be fair, code review is a pain to do with our outdated source control software).
My Bad Habit
I’ve always been a procrastinator. I remember playing Osu when I was supposed to study of an ACT, and waking up at 5 to finish a paper due that day. However, I was never heavily punished; maybe I got a B- instead of an A. But looking more closely, the biggest effect of my procrastination is immense: lost opportunities. I lost contacts with many of my friends because I procrastinated on sending them a chat message. I lost my few chances to try for a relationship because I procrastinated on making a move. Of course, I’ve always recognized those lost opportunities. But it’s easy to tune them out when they don’t exactly impact my life negatively. Getting fired due to my procrastination, however, is a slap to the face I need; I’m quite stupid, so I have to learn from my own mistakes.
It’s hard not to be resistant to change~
My Second and Third Strike
It’s finally time to tell you how I went full retard. For months I have been getting away with watching Youtube videos and browsing 9gag at work on my downtime. It didn’t help that I was the only programmer on that project so, with no aggressive deadline and a producer/lead on my ass, I pretty much got to decide how much I can procrastinate. Don’t get me wrong, I always attempted to get quality work done within deadline, but I was not too motivated to go ask for more work. Eventually, the manager took notice and called me in to warn about my excessive internet usage. Since she probably viewed me as a troubled employee from the previous incident, she said if she has to call me in again, that would be the last day of my employment. Of course, I went extremely low-key after that; Youtube only for music and talkshow in a minimalized window.
A month after my second strike, the boss and the manager had to leave the office for two weeks to attend a conference. Their parting gift was assigning me to make a hundred more levels for a match 3 game. I don’t mind making levels; I’ve made a hundred before. But I’m running out of new mechanics to introduce and don’t have time to implement new ones, making all levels I have to create very repetitive to design, playtest, and balance. So I had to rely on Youtube to recharge my already limited willpower. And since the management was gone, I didn’t bother to be discrete. A foolish mistake. A few days after the management came back, I got called in. Someone has reported them that I spent 50% of my work time watching Youtube (yeah, I procrastinated that much making boring levels). They had me sign a release form (so I guess I didn’t exactly get fired lol), and that was the end of it.
I Have to Keep Grinding
I don’t have much time to be depressed after that. Although saying I don’t feel bad about it at all would be a lie, as this is probably the biggest failure in my life so far (I know there are others who have it way worse, but everything is relative right?). Couple nights of feeling like I’m sinking in my bed and weeks of self-wallowing were enough. I’m on an optional training program with a student Visa which allows me to stay in the US and work in my field of study. However, I can’t be unemployed for more than 3 months. I already used up a month before I got my previous job and getting a tech job with little experience in two months can be quite difficult. So I also have to look for a more reliable option: graduate school. I applied to two of the top three graduate video game development program. I actually just got accepted to U of Utah today and now waiting for a response from Guildhall (had to update this part cuz I started writing this blog weeks ago lol). At least I don’t have to go back to Thailand.
Before I graduate from college, my parents are very willing to pay for my graduate school. It can be anything even game programming; I’m so thankful for my Asian parents. But I decided against it because I figure I would learn much more in the real world. With this company, I did learn a lot; not about game programming, but rather about myself. I have not changed at all; I’m still a lazy, complacent fuck (if my behavior at work is not evident enough lol). The only few things that I’ve improved in past 8 months are my easy, big batch cooking and fitness; I can finally do pull ups and a full L sit :D. I have not started any personal game project nor gone out to make any new friends. When I come back from work I would fill up my Tulip glass with craft beer, watch some anime, and grind Overwatch games. Of course, this is not particularly bad; my lazy side love it. But it was obvious that my life and work became stagnant.
If I had a tiny bit more willpower on some days or the chain of events at work were to happen just a bit differently, such as I decided not to delete that Library folder or the management didn’t leave as I was assigned the most boring work, I’m probably happily playing Nier Automata or MassEffect right now. I would not have to worry about moving. I would have still been independent and saved at least 70k in the next two years instead of relying on my parents to pay just as much for my graduate school. However, can I trust myself not to be complacent? My goal is to work for games that matter; not casual casino games. Would I teach myself the skills I need to get hired by a more recognizable game company or start an awesome project on my own? I’m not so sure.
But that’s enough rationalization. The die is casted and I have to keep going. I’ve learned my lessons and vow not to repeat the same mistakes. I will no longer waste any more opportunities as I will actually try hard both professionally and socially. I’m too young to live a carefree life.
For those who have read to this point, thanks for taking the time to read my long ass blog. I apologize for a lengthy exposition with little payoff. I hope my music choice or story entertain in some ways and I hope you won’t make the same mistakes like I did!
Pretty much what I did at work. As I roll in my bed the day I got fired, I thought wouldn’t it be funny to make a game about it. Now I can work full time on this office simulation game with incremental mechanic like cookie clicker that you can play in VR with your phone. Hopefully I can get a prototype out for feedback in couple of weeks!
TLDR; Lost an easy, well-paying job due to my stupidity. Now have to try again with renewed vigor and a bit more self-understanding.