Saturday, May 23, 2009

Enjoy being a beginner

That's a quote that stuck with me from an interview I read about Nolan Bushnell, and I've always thought it was something to aspire to. Because I find as I get older, it is can be easier to just stick to what you already know professionally. Inertia can settle in if you're not careful, and if a particular task is already in your wheelhouse, you tend to gravitate toward it.

The last year at Midway I was exclusively doing graphics tasks, and it was nice to completely focus on one area for an extended period after having hopped around to whatever systems fire was highest priority on Stranglehold. Even then, I'd done a fair amount of graphics work before over my career. Some of the things I'd worked on were areas I wasn't familiar with at the time (spherical harmonics), and in the process I learned a lot.

Now, though, I'm doing something completely different at the new gig. Unfortunately the project is still top secret and I can't get into any detail lest I inadvertently give something away. But unlike graphics, this is an area where aside from a handful of toy projects over the years, I haven't done anything before.

These kind of opportunities are a big reason why I like working on games -- the breadth of the work available is really wide, from the lowest level shaders to the highest level tools. I'm sure there are some other programming gigs that have this kind of range, but I can't think of many. Sure the expectations in terms of what can be done, how long it takes, and how many people it will take to do it can be pretty high, but every once in a while it pays to step back and remember that the work can be very rewarding in its scope and variety.