Back in the Saddle

Looks like it’s been a while since I posted anything that wasn’t mopey. A rough few months will do that to you.

I’m pleased to be able to deliver happier news: I am once again gainfully employed, at the place where my career in games began: Sony Online Entertainment. I lead the design team as Creative Director on Vanguard, which has recently been converted into a free-to-play title.

It was an unexpected turn of events that led me back. Truth be told, I’d accepted a position at another company in a different state, but an old friend called with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Though I’d been away nearly six years, the folks at SOE have made me feel very welcome–a fantastic feeling.

So, why SOE? And why Vanguard?

Though being part of an epic collapse after years spent working on a large-scale MMO tends to have a negative effect on one’s psyche, ultimately I love this genre and couldn’t bear to stay away from it. There’s simply no challenge in game development like it. And yes, it’s risky, but when it works it’s very satisfying. I loved my time at SOE and made many great friends, so being asked back was a true honor.

As for Vanguard, I have a certain personal history with the title. I was community manager on EQ2 while Vanguard was in development, and I heard from a lot of people who told me how the latter was going to stomp all over the former. But despite some initial hard feelings over that flack, I couldn’t help but root for Vanguard; as an old-school EQ fanboy, it sounded like the type of game I really wanted to play. I was genuinely disappointed at the state of the game at launch and how it dwindled soon after.

But things change. After surviving with almost no development support for years, the conversion to free-to-play has breathed new life into the game–enough that SOE has made a serious commitment to it. Thus the hiring of folks like me, as well as bringing back some others who’ve worked on Vanguard in the past. It’s a lean, dedicated team made up of people who love the game and want to see it live up to its potential. Especially after the events of recent months, that’s the kind of redemption story I can really get behind.

Working on a live game again feels good, and making my way back to the forums is exciting too. I’ve even got FanFaire–er, SOE Live this week!

So here’s to homecomings… and happier days.

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