Ten years ago I made the best spontaneous decision of my life, but let’s start at the end…
My wife and I and our two cats are moving back to Germany. No need to worry though, because I’ll continue to make video games with the talented and nice folks at Double Fine.
When I first moved to San Francisco in order to join LucasArts I thought I would only stay for a year or two before going back to Europe, but here I am many years later. In hindsight it’s no surprise though, because the Bay Area is an amazing place to work and live and the best part about moving to San Francisco is that I was able to meet amazing people and that I’m fortunate enough to call many of them my friends today.
Never would I have dreamed to work with Tim Schafer on a brand new adventure game or that I would be able to help to resurrect my favorite game of all time: Monkey Island. I’m certainly very grateful for these opportunities! Looking back at it now it’s hard to believe that none of this might have happened since I originally didn’t even plan to move abroad.
While I was finishing my studies in Dresden (Germany) I started to look for jobs as a programmer in games or movies (e.g. visual effects). The job market at that time was very limited and it was tough finding a company that was willing to hire somebody straight out of school especially within Germany. I started expanding the search radius and eventually I found a small company in Scotland that offered me a position.
I made the spontaneous decision to give it a try, packed a bag (yep just one), booked a flight to Scotland and reserved a room in a hostel. I still remember sitting in the train to the airport thinking to myself “This is crazy! Why am I doing this? What if this doesn’t work out?” One of the most important lessons I learned since then is that it doesn’t really matter whether or not a plan works, since there is always a way forward. Being able to experience life somewhere outside of my comfort zone was definitely worth the risk and I wouldn’t want to miss a single second of it.
I didn’t end up staying in Scotland for too long though and after working in London for a while I decided to move to San Francisco by accepting a job offer at LucasArts where I joined a group called Team 3 (we didn’t work on Star Wars or Indiana Jones and hence we were the third team) to work on a really cool sci-fi game. Unfortunately management was very unstable at the time and our project was cancelled just months after I started to work at LucasArts.
Our team (see photo above) decided to use this time of uncertainty in a productive way by digging through the archives. We found the source code and some assets for the classic point & click adventure game Monkey Island and started porting it to modern hardware; mostly because we had nothing better to do. I’m still super proud of what we achieved and I have to say it was fantastic to be able to work on the favorite game of my childhood.
The reoccurring layoffs at LucasArts became very exhausting after a while and I realized that it was time to move on. A friend of mine who worked at Double Fine invited me to check out the studio and I immediately fell in love with the creativity and the general vibe in the office and so I came back for an interview. The rest is history…
My time at Double Fine was wonderful. I mean just look at that awesome bunch! Everyone is incredibly talented, creative and passionate about what they do and I’m very proud of all the games I was able to contribute to. Now that Broken Age is done though it’s time for me to go home and while I’m sad that I won’t be in the office anymore I’m happy that I’ll be able to continue to work with these amazing people in the future.
Coming back to Germany after being away for a decade will be strange for me and I think I’ll probably feel like a foreigner for a while, but I’m definitely looking forward to be closer to my family and friends who I haven’t seen that much in the last couple of years.
In a way I feel like Bilbo Baggins returning to the Shire at the end of the Hobbit… only with a laptop and the internet… Alright maybe this analogy doesn’t work all that well, but I’m excited about the future nonetheless. Let’s make some awesome games you guys!