In this great blog post, game developer Maxime of Gingear Studios writes about working at Ubisoft on some cool video games like Prince of Persia and on multiple platforms like the PlayStation 3 and the Wii U and XBox 360. His unhappiness at the major game studio stemmed from project cancellations and from the fact that the higher up in the ladder you go, the less of a direct impact you can make. This is a very real struggle for programmers who want to work on better and bigger projects but also want to make the same impact that they had before, being able to say that they concretely implemented one module or the coolest part of the game.
As Maxime says,
Being an architect, I had a pretty high level view of all technical developments on the project. While it sounds cool, it has its disadvantages too. The higher you go up the ladder, the less concrete impact you have on the game. You’re either a grunt who works on a tiny, tiny part of the game (“See that lamppost? I put it there!”), or you’re a high-level director who writes emails and goes to meetings (“See that road full of lampposts? I approved that.”). Both positions suck for different reasons. No matter what’s your job, you don’t have a significant contribution on the game. You’re a drop in a glass of water, and as soon as you realize it, your ownership will evaporate in the sun. And without ownership, no motivation.
For some developers, working on a large project is awesome. For others like Maxime, it’s more fun to work on their own projects at their own companies. At Software Dev Group we appreciate both approaches and want all software developers to work on what they love doing and work in the ways that they love to work. If you’re at a big company and feel like a small company or startup or your own company would be fun, then you should find that awesome job at a startup. If you’re at a big company and happy, let’s make you happier and get you better benefits, salary, more vacation time, etc.
Congrats to another developer getting to do what they love!