Things that should not be

July 2nd, 2009

Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to pick up the film rights to the classic Atari video game "Asteroids."

There are so many things wrong with that sentence. Four studios, in a bidding war, for Asteroids?

The game where you spin, shoot, and then eventually get bored and hold down the Thrust key to watch your flickering triangle ship race around and around and around the screen until it finally hits that last little rock-shaped outline?

Now, while you, I, and every other sentient being on the planet might think that the complete lack of a storyline is something of a problem, other, less sane people see it as a feature:

As opposed to today's games, there is no story line or fancy world-building mythology, so the studio would be creating a plot from scratch. Universal, however, is used to that development process, as it's in the middle of doing just that for several of the Hasbro board game properties it is translating to the big screen, such as "Battleship" and "Candyland."

Oh, yeah: Battleship. That's going to be awesome.

    "Where is he, sir? Where is his last destroyer?"
    "I...I don't know! We've attacked every square! And he's     almost...sunk our battleship!"
    [ensign runs onto the bridge] "Captain! I know where he is...he's     at E2! He's gone vertical, sir!"
    "My god...he's a genius! All hands! ATTACK E2!"

Not bad, huh? And I'm not even a professional screenwriter! It's obvious that I have potential, though, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get started on my script for "Pong."

I'm back. And tanned.

July 1st, 2009

We're back from Hawaii, which was pretty damn nice. Although the big island is much, much nicer than Oahu. Honolulu/Waikiki is just too damned crowded, and not really the sort of place I enjoy vacationing. More on that later.

I also accepted a job offer, with some reservations (due to the commute). I felt a bit pushed into it, not by any person, but by circumstance: Talking to former coworkers, now at different companies, I heard multiple stories of mass layoffs, department cuts, and hungry bands of tech writers roaming the streets of Silicon Valley.

I only sent out a few resumes while I was on vacation, but I didn't receive any response about those, or about dozens of others that I sent out before I left. Well, except for a couple of messages from game company recruiters saying that they don't have any tech writer positions open, and those, at least, were polite. I filled out a long application form for one company, then never heard back from them. I would at least appreciate a "you don't fit our current requirements" note, but most recruiters just can't seem to be bothered. Or they're just flooded with resumes. Or they've been replaced by computers.


June 23rd, 2009

I'm on vacation. Did I mention that?

Yeah, um...I'm in Hawaii, in fact. We spent less than a day in Honolulu, then it was off to the big island...which, I read, is properly called Hawaii, and really shouldn't just be called "the Big Island".

So there for a few days (guests at a wedding, then some exploration), then back to Honolulu for a few more days.

Some positive signs

June 15th, 2009

One interview this afternoon in downtown SF. Two possible contract positions (but just possible, not anywhere near definite). Plus a couple of other signs of interest, but also somewhat tentative.

At the same time, I'm trying to clean out the garage. I finally put a few things up for sale on craigslist (selling one item so far), and cleared out a carload of old computer gear. Which is getting me closer to the blissful state where going to get a few tools won't involve risking serious bodily harm, and maybe, one day, one glorious, shining day, we'll once again be able to fit two cars into the garage.

More info

June 10th, 2009

I see the news of layoffs has made the gaming press now.

So: Yes, I was laid off. Fortunately, I got a decent severance package, and I had a fair amount of PTO saved.

I was assured that everything came down to the budget, and the lack thereof. A lot of talented, experienced people were laid off. I was shocked by the quality of the people they were letting go. I don't think this bodes well for the studio, since it seems like someone is trying to cripple it. When one studio is being cut back, and another, in a less expensive city, is seems reasonable to assume that the trend will continue. I hope I'm wrong, though.

But now it's time to dive into the job search. I started looking, half-heartedly, last month, and I've already had one interview. They decided not to hire me, but I can't say I was very enthusiastic about them, either. (Actually, I might have been too enthusiastic during the interview, and they wanted someone with much less energy.)

Today a recruiter told me that for a recent tech writer contract job they posted, she's received about 150 resumes. That certainly doesn't get my hopes up, but, on the other hand, from personal experience I know that about 5-10% of those people are qualified. And by "qualified" I mean "Able to write instructions more complex than you'd find on a shampoo bottle."