It’s the 8th of march here in paris, and I signed my departure deal more than two weeks ago. Which means it is now definitive. Well, there are still three weeks now where the administration can veto it, but it won’t happen. So I can talk a bit more freely about all that 🙂
I started a skills assessment plan as part of the deal I signed with ubisoft to leave the company. It wasn’t the main aspect of it of course, compared to the monetary arrangment, but I wanted to try this kind of program. A few colleagues have done one before and I was curious. Plus, it’s the perfect moment for me to detail what I know, what I can do, and what I have to learn or improve.
As part of this training, which is going over one and a half month, so it’s quite detailed, there was this exercise where I had to plot the satisfaction I got out of my work, on a scale of 0 to 10. It was supposed to be approximate during the training itself, but I made a more precise, month by month version of it later, which you can see in the picture. I tried inserting a mean curve of the values, which is easy enough to do with excel, but couldn’t find how to do it in google docs. Oh well.
So this is my level of satisfaction over more than 16 years of experience in the games industry. Apart from the first year where I was game designer, I’ve been a project manager or producer ever since (or something close to it). I’ve worked at Ubisoft for about 3 years, then left for Kalisto, Planet, was out of work for some time, then founded Black sheep studio, joined Microids, and was back at Ubisoft more than 10 years ago.
Doing this exercise made me learn a lot on the big picture of my career. First thing is, I love this job and this industry. I’ve had a great time most of the way. Almost all of the curve is above 5, and even above 7. The average over 16 years is actually 6.6, and I doubt many employees can be this satisfied. If I leave out the past year, which is certainly the worst I’ve had, it’s above 6.9.
Second point is the extreme variation of the curve. Life in the video games industry, at least for me, is not a smooth ride. Sure, I’ve changed jobs, projects, and even companies quite a lot, but there are many hiccups along the way, mostly linked with projects being stopped. However, it seems I’m bouncing back quite quickly, and I don’t stay low for too long. When things to wrong, I just leave and go somewhere else. It has not always been a positive choice, and I switched companies a lot between 2000 and 2003, but then again, it was shaky for everyone, and even for all tech companies at the time.
I was also stunned to see so clearly how long I’ve been in Ubisoft : more than 13 years, which is more than 3/4th of my career as of now. It’s more striking on the graph than just reading the value.
Finally, I had a fantastic ride working on Heroes of Might & Magic 5 and Heroes Kingdoms. From late 2003, when I started working on H5, to the release of HK late 2009, that was 6 years of bliss. The projects were ambitious, there was a lot of autonomy, I learned a lot and grew in my job, I opened a lot of new directions for the company, and H5 was very successful. Sadly, HK a lot less so, but still, it was the first free to play game for such a large company, and it was amazing that we were able to develop it (from our own concept), publish it and operate it for almost 5 years.
This is a really good exercise that I can only advise everyone to do.