A new job? According to Craigslist…

I got a new job. Personally, I thought I’d keep it quiet — you know, the first issue of the magazine hasn’t been printed yet, people have paid in advance, and they haven’t seen anything for it. We are going through a really, really long period of approvals, but my job is basically done — I’ve actually been just sort of on-call for the last two weeks and I’ve moved on to assigning stories for issue 2.

But at the same time, I was also entertaining this other job offer. And it’s something I’m really excited about, but I realized I should not go public with it right away, because I didn’t want to complicate things for the magazine. I figured people who are waiting for their first issue would take my leaving as a lack of confidence, even though, like I said, my work was basically done. I resigned quietly last night, and said I’d be happy to help with the transition and keep my mouth shut for the good of the project.

This morning, before my staff even found out, Future posted my job on Craigslist. (And people noticed — in addition to Twitter, someone asked me in IM before I even knew the position was posted.) So, um, okay — I will not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out!

Here’s the truth: I found custom publishing frustrating as hell. I’d done it before, between GamePro and GamesRadar, and I knew this project would be going back to that, but since it was structured like a more traditional magazine (as opposed to the catalogs and booklets that are the staple of custom pub) I thought things would be better. I was wrong; it’s still not a good fit for me. So when something else came up, I took it seriously.

It was also a really incredible opportunity. When I went to E3 this year, I asked Activision if they needed anybody in community management, thinking maybe I could help out on Guitar Hero from the RedOctane office in nearby Fremont. That didn’t work out, but a few months later, I got a call saying that they were looking for someone to do more than that — start a fresh line of communication to gamers and be a direct line to what’s going on within Activision. You know — blogging, podcasting, video stuff, and several other things that got me really creatively stoked. Ars Technica did a story on this kind of position the same day I handed in my letter of resignation, which felt somehow very right.

I’ve done this kind of stuff on a volunteer basis on other jobs (like GamePro and OXM) because I was genuinely interested in making that connection with our readers. I really do like having discussions in forums; I volunteered to start our Facebook group; I established our Twitter feed; I love podcasting with Ryan. This new position would let me do all that stuff plus some other really cool creative opportunities. So it’s an even dreamier dream job than the dream jobs I’ve already been fortunate enough to hold.

I went through the interview gauntlet over the last few months and talked about specifics, and it felt really right. So when they made the offer, I accepted. I am thrilled. We are moving to LA in December so I can start work in January.

Ironically, as I type this, I’m finishing the last of the bottle of Patron that Paul Curthoys bought me when I left OXM.

My 20-year HS reunion

I’m not going. Not out of protest or anything. I always said I would go, and I have heard great things about the 20th compared to other years — people have grown up by then, they’re happy to be alive, they remember the good times. I would kind of like to go. But I’ve decided against it for a number of reasons.
Continue reading

Borderlands

No longer in danger of getting freebies through my job, I went for the PC version of Borderlands when Kat showed an interest in playing co-op. Kat is a mouse/WASD person and is not comfortable with console controllers, but in a weird twist, Borderlands is not comfortable with PC interfaces. It’s a clear sign that the industry is building things with 360 and PS3 in mind, then adapting it to the PC audience; the opposite has been true for years. And while I am still proudly platform agnostic — if it’s fun, I’ll play it on anything — I was disappointed that I had to edit the .ini files to do simple things like remove horizontal tearing with vertical sync and change the field of vision, which was awkward but I couldn’t put my finger on why. These should really be in the options menu and I hope they will be after a patch.

That said, this is Kat’s first serious attempt to get good at a shooter. We bought Left 4 Dead on PC and she liked it but never felt comfortable; this was more of a fresh start for both of us, since I hadn’t done any previews or played Borderlands yet. She likes the art style and I do too. I’m playing the sniper class, she’s playing the token female character and trying to learn how to use her phasing power. Funny thing is, she picked up a sniper rifle in the game and now wants to snipe!

So far: good game, could use a little tweaking. The critiques I’ve read seem fair, and I hope a patch will help smooth out the rough edges. Until then, they’re not stopping our fun.

Kat vs. Plants vs. Zombies

When PopCap brought out Plants vs. Zombies, their cute take on tower-defense games, I was hooked like everybody else. Well, everybody else but one person: my wife. I got the PC version, and she played a little bit before grabbing the Mac version for herself. Then she played it a lot and finished the Adventure mode before I did. Then she finished it again. And a third time. Along the way she mastered the zen garden and racked up an insane amount of in-game cash. I regularly look over her shoulder in awe.

For reference, here’s a screen from a fairly typical session of the game. This is what a lot of people who have tried the demo or played the browser version experience.

This is a screen from one of Kat’s random sessions. I happened to look over and then asked her to take a screenshot.

I have since asked her for her advice on how to play.