Ready at Dawn – Hop, Skip and Jump
As I was saying at the end of my last article, I had some real concerns about working for Ready at Dawn, one of the first being that they were not willing to relocate me closer to the studio.
Now it’s not uncommon for a game developer that is located in the same state in which you live not to offer help in relocating, but it tends to be a different issue when that studio aggressively recruits you away from another developer, which was the case for Ready at Dawn.
It was also why I took the job, so I could move down closer to my 6 year old son, who was still living with his mom in San Marcos California.
As a temporary patch to the situation they agreed to put me up in a hotel, just around the block from the studio for a few weeks, while they see how I worked out.
It was a bit strange living in a hotel, but it wasn’t the first time, for while Midway was arranging my move down from the bay area they also moved me into a hotel around the block from the studio for a few weeks.
So with this worked out I started to work on the game play designs for Daxter.
Now for those who don’t know, Daxter was to companion character in the successful Jak and Daxter franchise from the game developer Naughty Dog. Daxter for the PSP was to be his big debut as a stand-alone character in his own game.
My job on the project was to come in and define his player character mechanics and to head up level game play designs, seeing my long history in designing platform games and coming off the successes of Maximo Ghost to Glory.
This was going along really well, but there continued to be friction between the President, the VP and myself over the games progress, a concern I didn’t share and neither did most of the people in R&D at the time, but later I would come to realize that it wasn’t so much a concern over the progress of the games design as much as it was about how many hours a day I was working.
I guess when you go to work for a studio called Ready at Dawn, they really expect you do be there at dawn and don’t leave for home until its midnight, and work weekends, although, for me this wasn’t practical seeing I was a father and the whole idea of taking the job at Ready at Dawn was to have more time with my son.
So I wasn’t shocked that right after I sent the President an email saying that I would only be able to work 50 hours a week and not the 60+ that seemed to be the norm at the time that I was let go.
My fears of being right back in that big studio mentality came true and I was out of work again.
Although this time, it wasn’t just my wife who had enough of the video game field, I was there myself.
From the early age of 13 I have always been into making games and this wasn’t going to change, but I was going to have to change how I approached it, if I wanted stability for myself and that of my son.
That’s when I decided to return to my home town of Big Bear Lake, California to raise my son.
I would still work on game designs for companies but from now on it would be as a contractor, or until I could find a work situation that was truly stable.