Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MVP Award

This year I was honored with an MVP award. This is the tenth time in a row and I am very excited about this. I would like to thank everyone for supporting my nominations for the last 10 years.

Here is my MVP page:

A lot of things that I do during the year do not find their way onto this blog. Most of the time I am too busy doing these things, that leaves me with not much time to blog about them. I also consider this blog more an offer to provide advice or insights into things I am working on in my spare time (outside of Confetti). On top of that with Confetti growing more and more over the last more than six years, my programming time including spare time decreased.

In general I do not give myself much time to reflect what happened during those ten years as a MVP. I am still trying to understand the dimension of being active in a highly volatile industry like the game industry for 10 years. Obviously I am already much longer in the industry.

10 years ago a new console generation launched with the XBOX 360 / PS3. We considered that launch a major event because these two platforms together with the PC were considered the main gaming devices for the next seven years. Only two years later, mobile games started to take off after Steve Jobs changed his mind about not supporting native programming on the iOS devices.
Today we have devices like the iPad Air 2 and the NVIDIA Shield that offer performance close to the XBOX 360 / PS3 and the big console manufacturers have a serious challenge in competing with the many mobile devices that people already have in their homes. It became so easy for companies to launch their own consoles that now many companies are launching mini consoles that use more advanced mobile parts.

The production models in the industry are rapidly changing. Similar to the movie industry, parts of the industry move away from the monolithic model of having large dev-teams on games to more flexible strike teams, where they hire companies like Confetti to come in and take care of graphics and tools instead of having a group of people permanently on staff for those tasks for a long time.
This is an exciting development for Confetti and I feel like we are in the middle of it.
It will be interesting where all this will go ... one thing I know is that we will become better every year. We will always strive to make the next year better than the previous year, improve efficiency, learn more.

With the companies that haven't adjusted to the strike team model, there is the unfortunate development over the last 10 years that they keep flooding the news with large layoffs, they send out press releases saying that they had to reduce workforce out of reasons like "aligning" expectations, budget, lack of success etc.. Many of those press releases express a snide view on the treatment of humans that remind of the darker time of slavery.

One more unfortunate development with sharing information over the last 10 years is, that most of the information that is shared on conferences now have software patents attached to them. So in case someone wants to implement them (obviously without knowing it: every employee is told that they are not allowed to read patent descriptions) his / her company might have to pay for them in the future. The system of freely sharing information and helping other developers to succeed with the difficult technical implications was turned upside down in favor of companies with large law units. The willingness of developers to help their peers is used by companies to secure future economic advantages.
On top of that middleware companies like Unity and others have a hard time to open-source their engine because they are concerned that they violate various patents and therefore would run into huge economic risks when they share source code.

Apart from the "strike team" model, the most exciting development is the new breed of developers that adjusted to the new economic pressures of the App store model and make a living from new and innovative games. We had the pleasure of working with some of these and it is an awesome experience to feel the creative and positive energy that is flowing in those companies. They remind me of the development in the middle of the 90's when what we call now the game industry booted into "big" games that reach millions of people. This new generation now reaches hundreds of millions of people. You could say this is the third wave of game developers, being the first wave the developers of the 80's, the second wave the developers of the 90's.

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