So what is this big news I alluded to earlier?
First of all, on October 1st I moved to Lyon and started working for Arkane Studios as a producer on a title they are developing with Electronic Arts. If all goes well, I will permanently move from Vienna to Lyon at the beginning of 2009.
This is a big, big step for me. Ever since Rockstar Vienna closed down in May 2006, I have had many offers to work abroad, including offers I would have jumped at only months before. But the death march of Manhunt 2 made me question why I would even want to move abroad.
The simple fact is that I love Vienna. It's a great town to live in - one of the top three cities in the world, in fact - and I have many, many friends here. I have lived here for over 7 years, which makes it the longest I have lived in one place since I was 13.
At the same time, there is an immense amount of bullshit in the games industry that is keeping us from making great games that advance the medium. If the company is not directly or indirectly plagued by bozos, it is probably making boring, "safe" games. I realized that I literally couldn't think of more than a handful of companies in the world that I would like to work for, that would maybe make it worth leaving Vienna. I didn't want to take any more jobs because they look good on my resume. After 15 years I felt I had paid enough dues.
So I said no to everyone. It wasn't easy. Even if part of you knows you no longer want the same things you wanted last year, another part is still yelling that you can't say no to this. I became a free-lancer. Of course this didn't necessarily mean I worked on great projects either, but it gave me variety, spare time, and a healthy emotional buffer between me and the bullshit. Freelancing has its own set of disadvantages, but I don't regret my decision.
Then, just as I was getting used to the free-lancing life and was planning to seriously settle down in Vienna, I was contacted by Arkane (by Harvey, in fact - over Twitter), and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. And, this being 2008, I can't tell you anything more about it, except that it's very cool, and I had to accept or always wonder what would have been.
That offer came in early June, and the whole interview process and negotiations weren't fully completed until the middle of September.
In the mean time, the second bit of good news happened, which is that I met a wonderful woman on the 14th of August (hi Andrea <3), and we fell in love, and now we're officially marked as 'in a relationship' on Facebook. Very modern, I know. This is not a very personal blog, so I will not go into too much detail. Which is a good thing for everyone involved, believe me: Our Skype log would make love-struck teenagers puke. But in any case, I love her very much, and she makes me very happy.
Of course, the timing was terrible, and me being away is not easy for either of us. But I am very grateful that we had enough time to get to know each other, to fall in love, and to both decide that it was worth pursuing this relationship even though we would be living in different countries for some time at least.
So, that's what's been going on in my life. How have you been?