It's been over a year since I transitioned from game development to financial software work. I'm still realizing what a profound impact the pace of AAA game development had on me.
I miss crunch time. Not the hours per se, but the camaraderie of a group focused on a singular goal, the high-flying challenges of a looming deadline, and late-night saves to get a build out the door.
It's those things, and the recognition that comes from working on popular, public software projects. "I love the new interface on XYZ Financial's Loan Website" said no one ever.
Perhaps it's not a coincidence that I bought my Sportster and learned to ride in the part of the year that's always been filled by E3 crunch prep. I've gained a lot more time with my family. My health is improving too: I recently completed my first 5k race with a time of 30:43. A year ago I couldn't run for more than five or six minutes at a time, now I'm laying down sub-ten minute miles. Not a great pace by long time runner standards, but pretty good from where I was.
Between crunch and commute, I never had time for a fitness plan before. That's been a huge change; one I don't plan to lose moving forward.
Crunch taught me how to focus, helped me find out how well I can grind out a task across hours and days. It turns out those skills still come in handy when you're kicking a fitness plan into gear, and trying to work in more writing.
I miss some parts of my old life, but I've gained a lot more. I'm grateful for my time in game development, but there's a good chance that my life expectancy went up by ten years since I got out. It's been worth it.