I, Migrant IT Worker, Part 4
I go where the games development is
Peter Molyneux, once a legend known for innovative game design. Now a legend known for promising the world and delivering Florida, instead. He called me a ‘knob’.
During my corporately mandated 100 day exile to the wilderness, I determined to move even closer to the source and wanted in the same room as decision makers. Eventually, I interviewed with an awesome Test Manager lady who brought me on as one of two testers on the team. I recall the pay rate was around $22 hourly with time and a half on overtime. And there was overtime.
The gig gave me access to the developers of the thing. Close access. As in, the canned chili stuffed office they shared was next to mine. Our offices were modest broom closets suited to a modern prison complex, but we all made them work. The developers rarely left that office, living the games development dream of 100 hour work weeks with sleep a sinful extravagance. The reason they stacked cans of chili should be obvious. They loved the stuff and didn't want to have to leave to get it.
To their credit or my own restraint, I never once filed a complaint. We were fellows working together and one does not squeal on a comrade. Not when they've been coding for sixteen straight hours with poor ventilation. It’s not like I couldn't just go outside.
Developers producing a steady stream of code means Testers have to get going. Not a single line of code should go unexecuted prior to launch of a product. This rule gets fudged sometimes depending on how overbearing the Project Manager is but we didn't fudge it at Carbonated Studios. So, I spent most my time there.
Good thing, too, as my future ex-wife arrived one grey Sunday morning with a moving truck to steal all of my things she said were her things. She’d conscripted some dumb teenage boys to carry things formerly known as mine for her. They looked embarrassed and mortified to be involved, probably wondering how they found themselves batting for the wrong team. They’d been enlisted to steal from a stranger by someone they didn't know was cyanide packed into a rough facsimile of a human body. But they were learning.
Hungover, considering I had been celebrating my birthday the night before, she and her droogies systematically removed every single item she suspected I might make use of. She justified this by claiming she, “Needed to protect herself.” But she never explained how my possession of a mattress she didn't use or need harmed her in any way. We hadn't lived together for a year; she lived three hundred miles and two hundred pounds away.
But I’m not holding a grudge against the fat bitch. I only fat shame her because she's scandalous. And look, I’m not an upstanding citizen myself. Whenever I read a news article about kids busted downtown with firearms and drugs I check my pockets. But I don't tell people I need to protect myself from a couch.
If it doesn't make sense that’s hardly my fault.
All of this is to say my home life was now fairly drab. Each paycheck I’d grab another trifle for around the house. Frying pan, shower curtain, a banana, my self-respect, replacing anything my ex felt I could somehow use against her at some undisclosed point in the future. The best revenge was a cupboard of dishes.
I grabbed what the seller claimed was a leather couch but was in fact mostly dog spit for $30. Saliva and Febreze aside, the frame was also quite broken, sporting bars relentlessly questing out your holiest of holies. I slept on that bed of bars for a month before my bed of mattress I bought arrived. I sat on that couch another year before burning it. If I close my eyes I can still smell it.
In any event, I had time and motivation to invest into work and I spent the next year doing that almost exclusively. First up was a collection of gambling games for Xbox 360.
Fable 2 Pub Games was a standalone downloadable title. For the kids reading, you used to have to buy discs most the time before the old timers got around to digital downloads. These games were also ingested into the full Fable 2 game. So I worked on both during my time at Carbonated Studios.
Pub Games would release a couple months before Fable 2. It was intended to get people excited for Fable 2 and allow them to earn some scratch before the game came out. Rewards from Pub Games could be imported to Fable 2. So naturally, we missed a bug that let users win most the time at the slot machine game and amass wealth at a speed that would embarrass Jeff Bezos if not Elon Musk.
A little after this I met Peter Molyneux. As I made moon eyes at the man and fantasized about rubbing his back with a properly oiled Populous Sega Genesis cartridge, he took the opportunity to yell at us all about destroying the economy in Fable 2. I considered asking him about some of the Fable 2 features he promised at E3 that weren't ever real, but by now I’d learned a semblance of tact. So I didn't.
He was there to yell at us for our perceived shortcomings, not to justify his own. Anyway, never meet your heroes.
So, as already planned, the studio moved onto making Uno Rush and I found myself both responsible for the lion's share of testing and tasked with the messy business of growing from mistakes. It is always stressful but I’m of the opinion human beings learn more through failure than success. We come out the end of failure better people for having done so. We know what didn't work. This doesn't mean we’ll get it right next time, but at least it means we'll fail in exciting new ways. This is the philosophy of a tester. It also means I am deeply wise.
Also right around this time in what I’m confident is a coincidence, I made sure the divorce papers were signed and filed and sealed and sweet fucking legal liberty at last.
That isn't to say divorce is pleasant. Or the kind of thing one does for fun. The process itself is awful, even if one keeps the happy outcome at the end of the thing firmly in mind. I demanded the divorce, I wanted it with every one of my frayed fibers and during that time I never drank or snorted more in my life. Fear a man during a divorce. He isn't predictable and he would not say no to an eight ball right about now.
But I came out the other end of it alive, broke, and clean as a summer day in the Colombian jungle. Like Andy Dufrane, but without the beach, the boat, the couch, the TV, the bed, Academy Award, Morgan Freeman, or anything resembling kitchen ware.
Eventually, once I got hold of a bed anyway, I dropped the nose candy. Too much work and sleep was easier suddenly. I also cut back on drinking just as a matter of course. I was tightening myself. Getting my shit together. My shit together. Not hers. That meant work and I dove into it.
During my time at Carbonated Studios I shipped Fable 2 Pub Games, Uno, and Uno Rush. Uno, at the time, was the best selling Xbox Live Arcade game around. Most with a smashing hangover and all with a deserved sense of accomplishment.
The most dominant personality in my personal sphere was my cat. He was with me for all the poverty and drug abuse, never complaining. Just looking at me weird whenever I went too far with something or slept face down on the floor in my own sick.
One fun day at work, it started to snow and didn't stop. I was still used to this kind of thing, having hailed from Spokane, Washington where snow is a fact of life. But in the Seattle area, the locals view snowfall as apocalypse. Even just a half inch of snow is enough to paralyze the city and that day it snowed eight inches. The eight hours it took me to drive the three miles home were punctuated with bumper to bumper traffic crawling passed abandoned SUV’s in my little Mazda 3. It was my first look at collective madness on the left side of the state. The first of many overreactions and beliefs the sky is falling.
My time at Carbonated Studios ended. My ostracism of 100 days awaited once again. I said my goodbyes to my fellows, had drinks and such, and wandered off into unemployment once again. This time with some savings. What an odd thing to have for the first time, savings. With Queen Harpy out of my life, I could enjoy such luxuries, finally. Even if I did have to start all over.
But before a month could go by I gotta call to interview for a position I could take right then. I guess that’s what references, persistence, and systematic, sustainable drug abuse can get you.
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy a collection of my humorous travel journals available for hundreds of pennies here.