Well, that was a bit fast.
At the beginning of last April, I started working at Playdom, the social gaming division of Disney Interactive. As part of the Central Tech team, I wound up working on maybe a dozen different games, from Star Wars to Pirates of the Caribbean. I’d usually just go on to a game team for a short time to help out with something specific – build process, some library integration, optimization, implementation of some specific feature, etc. – then I’d move on to some other team that needed some help.
A couple of months ago, there were some big internal reorganizations and a couple of key execs left the company. Then, a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal posted a story claiming there were going to be huge layoffs from Playdom. I didn’t hear about the story until the following week, which was after the supposed layoffs were allegedly occurring. Although I was told it was an unfounded rumor, I felt that there was probably some truth to it. Maybe the timing was off, but I suspected something was in the works. Lots of internal factors, such as major reorganizations, shifting production schedules and shifting technology decisions, made me wonder what a lot of employees were going to do.
So last Thursday, when New York Times announced that Playdom had laid off 700 employees, it didn’t come as a huge shock. Well, the fact that they used the past tense, and nobody in the office knew anything was a bit strange, but obviously something big was happening that day. It was an odd day to be a remote employee. But eventually I got THE CALL. And so, now, I am unemployed, along with 700 or so of my former coworkers.
As it turns out, it seems like Disney took pretty good care of the people it let go. I can’t complain at all about the deal I got, especially considering I’d been there just under one year. Without getting into details, it works out that I’ll be taking the next two months off. That sounds extravagant, but it’s not just me being lazy. It’s just how it’s going to work out, and it’s the only logical option. So I’m pretty psyched about that. In my 11 months at Playdom, I didn’t take a single vacation or sick day. So I feel like I’m ready for some time off. Two months to chill out and reboot and do some soul searching about what I want to do next. I can do some other projects or small contracts though, so if anyone would like some help on a project, let me know.
Some thoughts: I’m not sure I really want to go back into a production coding environment. Yes, I can track down and fix bugs in my or someone else’s code. Yes, I can implement new features in existing code bases. Yes, I can optimize and convert existing code. But I’d much rather be building things from scratch. And with my recent Coding Math series, it’s become clear to me that one of my strengths is in education. I’d love some kind of position where I could write documentation, tutorials, do videos, seminars, workshops, sample apps and implementations. So if anyone has a line on such a job, let me know!
Some of the projects I plan to work on during this “sabbatical” are:
1. Playing With Chaos. Several people have been asking for a non-Amazon version of the book, either PDF, other format, or print. I’d started the conversion of this a while back, and got back onto it recently. It’s mostly a lot of formatting work. The Kindle/mobi format is basically reflowable HTML, but PDF and print are page-based, so I need to go over each page and look at how it lays out – code line breaks, image spacing, etc. Anyway, I think I should have some alternate versions available very soon. And then I’ll look at a print version.
2. Coding Math – I was doing three videos per week, which was getting to be a bit much. I was about to post something saying that I was going to cut that down to two videos per week. But now that I have some free time on my hands, I think I’ll keep up the three-per-week schedule for a bit. Last week I only got out a single video due to the drama at the end of the week.
3. I’ve had a couple of game ideas floating around my head. I may try to get those out the door finally. And I need to do some updates to Falling Balls.
4. Woodworking. This is a recent hobby I’ve picked up. Still in the noob stages, but starting to create some half decent items. I have a small basement shop, so I’ve been concentrating on small boxes, toys and puzzles. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. After so many years of making virtual goods, it’s quite a change to be creating physical items. Here’s some of my stuff. https://www.etsy.com/shop/SquareKWoodworking
6. I also started learning a bit of Unity at the end of my Playdom stint, as it seemed like we were going to be doing a lot more with that. I may spend a little time continuing to look at that stuff.
7. I’ll probably reboot my running activities. Since my third marathon last October, I’ve been in a real rut. Just can’t get into a steady running schedule for more than a week or two. Maybe with a little extra time, I’ll be able to get back into it.