What is Manticore?
Manticore Games makes the Core platform. "Core is a free-to-play online video game with an integrated game creation system." So when you play Core, you're really playing some other game that some other user made using Core's game-creation tools. If you know what Roblox is, it's sort of like that.
Manticore Games is another remote-first company, so I'll still be working from home.
Why leave Bungie?
DISCLAIMER: I love all the people I worked with at Bungie and Bungie as a company! I was just not satisfied with the game or the tools I was working on.
Most of these are super common problems with any large game (or any large tech company!). And I would be happy to deal with a subset of them. But the net problem is greater than the sum of its parts, since each problem makes the others less tolerable. For example, if I was more excited about Destiny as a game (which I think most folks working on it are!), then I'd be much more motivated to deal with the slow tools and tech debt.
- Slow tools
- The game/editor/engine are slow to build.
- The editor is slow to open.
- The game is slow to open.
- When you make a small change, you have to repeat all of the above slow steps.
- Tech debt
- Destiny is a very complex game.
- Also, Destiny is a very old game.
- Destiny 1 was released in 2014.
- Halo 1 was released in 2001. Destiny is built on top of the original Halo codebase, and some of the original logic is still there!
- There are many layers of systems built-up on top of one-another over time.
- So, of course, most of the code was written by people that aren't at the company any longer.
- Consequently, it can be hard to fix old code, since oftentimes no one really understands how it is supposed to work (or how it actually works, which may be quite different!).
- Poor documentation
- It's hard to know how systems are supposed to work when they aren't documented.
- Slow pace of development
- Because there is so much tech debt, and there is not enough good documentation, the only real way to understand how the code works is to run things, set breakpoints, and check-out what's going on.
- But, because of the slow iteration loop with Bungie's tools, it can take a long time to debug a simple issue!
- Not my favorite kind of game.
- Live-service game
- I get why live-service games are the future of the AAA gaming industry, but they make me sad. For all the same reasons that the sequel is never as good as the original, a live-service game is never as good as a stand-alone game with a well-defined and intentional narrative arc.
- First-person shooter
- I get why people love them, I just never was as excited about them.
- Very grindy
- If you consider where you actually spend most of your time in the game, you might consider Destiny to be an inventory-management game with shooting elements.
- No greenfield development.
- I want to create cool things! That's my passion, and that's why I left Google in the first place.
- Destiny does not have much capacity for engineers to create new stuff (although it's probably more exciting for designers and artists!).
- Instead, most of the engineering work in Destiny involves adding a new small feature to a preexisting system and then fixing the countless broken edge-cases that arise from it.
- Bungie is a remote-first company.
- For most people, this is a perk. But I really miss seeing folks around the office. I have found that I am much more efficient and motivated when working with my teammates in the same physical space.
- Even though Bungie does have a (sparkling new!) office that I could choose to work at, there isn't really any benefit to me working at it when the there isn't a critical mass of the rest of my teammates.
Why Manticore Games?
- I liked everyone I talked to, and it seems like Manticore has a really good team!
- They seem to have a lot of greenfield development opportunities, while also having a solid existing product and userbase.
- I really like user-generated content (UGC) stuff, and Core seems to have a really good flavor of UGC.
- Games on the Core platform seem like fun things that I would normally enjoy playing!
- They use the Unreal engine instead of more-proprietary tech.
- I still intend to post occasional updates here, such as when I do another game jam or have general career updates to share.
- I was going to be doing the Ludum Dare 53 game jam next weekend, but... I bought a new house instead! Between juggling a new job and a new house, I don't have the time for a jam right now! :( This will be the first Ludum Dare I've missed since starting 3 years ago!