I’m currently between jobs! Here’s a history of what I’ve done so far:
Realtime Worlds (2004-2010)
I moved to Realtime Worlds in 2004, and had a great time, up to the sudden post-APB implosion!! Our projects were creatively and technically ambitious, which led to unusually rewarding and intellectually challenging work.
I spent most of my time working on procedural environment generation technology. Our first project was Crackdown, which used our technology for all the road layout. The software wasn’t complete enough to generate the final road geometry on the game disc (for example, it didn’t produce good UV coordinates), but it was used very effectively by designers to rapidly iterate on Crackdown’s roads during development.
After Crackdown, we had time to finish off this toolset (and add a building editor), which was used to build all the environments for APB. We effectively ended up building a modelling package around the procedural technology, for the artists on APB. It turned out that the “writing a modelling package” part was far more work than the underlying procedural geometry generation code, and the art team would have preferred, guess what, a professional modelling package! Still, we learned a lot in preparation for “Project MyWorld” [http://playmyworld.com] – which treated the entire world (initially, just the UK) as a playground for a variety of social games. This was always the ultimate goal of the procedural environment technology we built – we absolutely needed it to make an environment this big.
VIS Entertainment (2001-2004)
My first games job was at VIS Entertainment in Dundee, starting out on Tom & Jerry where I did special effects and level events. We actually had a surprising amount of fun considering it was such a cheesy low-budget game. We then moved onto NARC which had some promise for a while but turned out pretty awful.
I made truly great friends at VIS but the company as a whole clearly wasn’t headed for success. Finances were shaky, the games were mediocre at best, management was disorganised, and we got some pretty crappy treatment from publishers. They went under a year or so after I left. I thought I’d learned a lot from the mistakes of VIS; Realtime Worlds then showed there are many different ways to fail.
Data Connection (1998-2001)
While at university, I worked summer jobs for Data Connection (now “MetaSwitch Networks”). Their pre-university and summer student positions are tough to get into, but well worthwhile. They’ll teach you programming by dropping you into the deep end on real work on their projects, and if you’re lucky they might even sponsor you through university. It’s a good time living in the company house with all the other summer students, and they organise loads of social events so you feel that you belong pretty quickly. It’s an incredibly successful and professional place to work.