Aug. 25, 2021

Wait, That's How Much Game Dev Costs?!

Michael Vittiglio dropped some serious knowledge bombs about game dev on this episode of The HackerNoon Podcast 💣 Amy Tom asks Mike about the cost of game development - and not just money-wise. Amy and Mike chat about how to stay sane in a high-pressure ...


Michael Vittiglio dropped some serious knowledge bombs about game dev on this episode of The HackerNoon Podcast 💣 Amy Tom asks Mike about the cost of game development - and not just money-wise. Amy and Mike chat about how to stay sane in a high-pressure industry, how many people it takes to produce a game, and about some of the technical resources required. 🧑‍💻

On this episode of The HackerNoon Podcast:

  • What is the gaming industry really like? 🎮 (01:14)
  • Mike talks about his gaming career 👾 (05:00)
  • What makes a game shatter records? 🕹 (10:00)
  • How many people does it take to create a big title game? 🎯 (16:38)
  • What's the relationship between game developers and game investors? 🤝 (21:53)
  • How do you lose a customer in the gaming industry? 🥺 (27:50)
  • What did Mike learn from the gaming industry that sparked his interest in LaunchDarkly? ⚡️(33:50)

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Amy: Ooh. Okay. So I feel like music history was just made recently because I ride that Toria Elaine's sold his new album as an NFT. There was a million dollar million copies sold for a dollar each. And so people will just resell it. Album, this confuses me because now I feel like I don't know anything about NFC is because it's an odd exactly the same album, but a million copies.

I don't know. Here we go. So we're really rolling into the NMT world and seeing how that goes. But anyways, of course, this is the hacker noon podcast. And my name is Amy. Tom. Thank you very much for joining today on the podcast, we have Mike , who is the success and solutions engineer at LaunchDarkly welcome to the podcast.

[00:00:43] Mike: Thank you so much for having me, Amy. It's a pleasure. I

[00:00:46] Amy: am excited to chat with you today because I want to ask you some questions about game development, because your background is in game dev. So correct me if I'm wrong, but you previously worked at a Gora, which then became. WB games. And so your background is in game dev okay.

I have some questions about how this really works, because I want to understand what is the gaming industry like, because I've never worked in gaming industry and I'm not a developer, so what is it like to actually work in the gaming industry?

[00:01:18] Mike: Sure. So that question is a short question with a lot of nuance on the answers, but I'll try my best to.

And unfortunately it's going to sound like a cop out, but it's the truth. It really depends on where you are in your life, as well as what company you joined. I have, for example, one dear friend of mine who lives very close to me was completely Indy and lived in a tree house with an extension cord coming from his friend's place where he and his wife lived, where they worked on a game by themselves bottom to top.

They learned everything from scratch. We were really successful with it. It was in, I believe it was at someplace upstate, but I don't want to give too much away. It's kind of stuff that he shared with me during the development process. But, and so I would say certainly like some very Indian game, movie style, like origin story stuff, like really gritty kind of stuff.

But then you work at other organizations. I have some friends who wound up working at places like EA. Big label insert label here, and life is good, but it becomes this very kind of grindy, just like I work on weapons. So everyday I come in, I get my tickets in, I fill out stuff. And so depending on what you're into the game industry can be very grueling and painful.

And if you find the right job at the right place, it could be just coasting and very easy. The one thing that I'd say is very prevalent throughout for the most part though, is the level of pressure and anxiety with regards to how is this title gonna turn out? The deadline is always there. It's a, as much as some larger teams can say, Nope, it's coming out when it's ready.

Nintendo can pull that off. Should give me a modal, say, Nope, not ready, but for a lot of the devs down in the ground, it's like, Nope, I guess I'm not going to spend time over the winter holiday with my family. I got to fix this patch and get it out there as soon as possible. So ultimately what I recommend to anyone.

This day and age is the time where you could really learn to teach yourself whatever you want in terms of technology stuff. So if you're like, oh, I want to write video games. Don't just jump and get your loan and go to full sail. Like I did it worked out for me, but I've seen a lot of people where they just didn't understand.

They were just 18 years old and taking out this massive loan, it's look, go online. Now. You can't, we couldn't bend, but now go online, pick up an engine, whether it's unity or unreal or both or whatever. Take a couple of tutorial classes, but to the end and say, do I like this? And if you like it, great.

And if not good news, there's so many disciplines in game development as well. That I honestly feel like it's something we should be teaching in high school because no other discipline requires like audio. We need audio. I guess we need a Foley artist and music artists. Whatever, there's still a music, psychology marketing, you name it.

There's so many ways. And all of it under an umbrella of teamwork, people multi-disciplined working in close quarters, making things happen. I find it in colleges. It's like, all right, they're taking their CS degree and just putting a, they're just painting with this brush of, oh yeah, you're going to make games.

And it's just CS. It's not really game design, but in a school environment, a high school environment, it's actually the reverse. You can get young kids into stuff like calculus. I learned calculus in 1990 something. And now, when I went back to full sail and I was learning, I was like, oh, this is how I'm going to figure out how light, what value of life.

Things have changed since, but back then doing basic shaders and stuff, it's oh, this is how I figure out what color to light this in the right lighting or which direction the vehicle should go. It all had a purpose. Thanks to framing it into game development. Correct. Set

[00:04:27] Amy: up. Okay, cool. So

[00:04:28] Mike: sorry, long answer, but I answered it.

I think

[00:04:31] Amy: I don't really, so it gives me some context about when you worked in the gaming industry and for how long.

[00:04:38] Mike: Sure. So I started I graduated on a full sail in 2008 and then found myself having my first, like I was still trying to work with my buddies. I worked at the school for a little bit work with some buddies, offline, trying to get various projects off the ground while trying to find employment.

There was a big recession back then. I finally got to work officially for a game company with a studio called chaos studios. They're now gone worked for THQ. They were a part of THQ anyway, on a title called Homefront where I worked in QA and. That was a lot of great fun, but one of the first lessons in terms of again, what I was saying earlier, where you are in life and what you're doing back then, I had no real, I want to start a family kind of stuff.

I was like, I just want to be in here. I just want to be a part of this. And so I didn't care if I wasn't. Fine. I'll test the game out. I'll start writing scripts to test, and it seemed like there was potential, but as we both know at the end of home, teach Q and chaos first and then teach Q eventually just disappeared.

And I wound up doing machine vision for a bit. After that though, I got a chance after about a year and a half, I got an opportunity to work at a company called at the time wireless generation. Now amplify education, I think is what's called doing educational games in unity. And that's where I really got start really doing gamey kind of stuff.

Yeah. Interactive entertainment. In my opinion, games are a weird adequate ism, but I saw a lot of potential for education and I was really excited to be a part of it. And we worked on these like different simulations for students to understand stuff from a variety of different perspectives.

I'm not sure how much I could share some of it was under contract, but it was a lot of fun. Starting a team, getting people together, working with developers every day, just crunching out Make something fun and educational at the same time in a mobile space as well. It was really super cool.

After that, I floated around again, just cause I had my first daughter. My first child, my daughter, Zelda, and got to so I went back into just working regular hum and drum developments, wherever I could find it. And then I landed eventually at a Gora where I got to work on some of their Gora works like a.

The company is provide service to other games. So I got to work on some of the backend services for some of the titles that they were pumping out at the time. I'm pretty sure I could say I worked on June, 2016 to some degree I'm in the credits anyway, and certainly put a lot of my blood, sweat and tears into it for sure.

And it was a great time. Let me tell you, the team had a Gora now the BB games were some of the, like the gold standard. I would normally join teams and feel like there was some things I knew better. Some things that I didn't, when I got to a Gora it was. I was surrounded by brilliant people who frankly gave me the worst case of what do they call it?

A imposter syndrome ever. And cause everyone was just so sharp and really knew everything that they were doing. And I really got to learn it quite a lot, made a lot of friends there and looked back on it rather fondly, honestly, in a lot of regards. Yeah.

[00:07:16] Amy: Yeah. So let's talk about the gaming industry then and Pressure of the industry.

Cause I imagine that the pressure of the industry is almost like this cooker for building really good relationships with your goal workers because they go through the same shit

[00:07:31] Mike: up and down. Yeah. I'd say that it's like any other high pressure scenario. There are some people who can't handle their, you know what, I can't even say something.

Depending on the scenario, even I can have a short temper and not be tolerant of someone's lack of capacity. There's also a tendency to for a lot of individuals to say, you know what? I don't want anyone to realize I am not good at this. So I'm going to keep on putting as much pressure on myself to make sure I succeed, and then I can be a part of the club.

And that's and I fell for that too. The pressure is serious cause you want to prove yourself. You want to be, you want people to believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. Sometimes you start to not believe in yourself. Especially for some of the younger folks who might might find themselves without people around them to egg, not egg them on what's the word I'm looking for?

Support them show him like, yeah, you got this man. It's good. If they don't have a good sense of self, a good sense of self-esteem, it's easy for it to start whittling down. And then you start to believe in the lies that you're telling yourself. I don't belong here, this isn't right.

Or whatever. I was really lucky. I had a great person that I became friends with a couple actually I don't wanna start single anyone out, but I'd say my buddy Graylin over WB game now. He's w he's still there at WB games. Is we still talk to this day? He's a really great guy. And there were a lot of times I was in the middle of a fire and he really helped me out.

And then a buddy of mine who passed away recently, Andrew, he was like, we'd go out and have beers and talk about life and stuff like that. Again, it depends on where you are. I hope everyone that goes into wherever you're working, but especially in the game industry can find those buddies to remind you like, no, it's okay.

That's just how they talk. They're not, like isn't a jerk. It's just, they're under a lot of pressure. Don't worry. You're doing fine. You just don't see what, how much you're actually trying to pull off. But the pressure is there because as I mentioned before, the game's got to release contracts, needs to be handled and that's just the nature of business.

And frankly, compared to any other business, the game industry is inherently gambling because unlike most in unlike any other industry outside of entertainment in any entertainment industry, I should say. It's all a crapshoot. You can have the most polished album puts so much money into it. And then the artist doesn't sell a single copy.

Meanwhile, the one that they made with a four-track in their garage was like the breakthrough. Same thing with games. When I look at one of my favorite games from. Whew, like 10 years ago, it was like ex-com they did the reboot of ex-com. I was a fan of it growing up in high school. So when I saw it, it was coming out on tablets and it was like, every, I was like, this game is going to be great.

It did fine, but it didn't blow the doors open. It wasn't like, it didn't shatter records or anything. It's yeah. Whatever good job. Meanwhile, you take a game like Minecraft, which was like effectively like a four Chani cube world rehash. That was like just, just a crapshoot and it turned into this amazing thing.

No one can really pray that. I think they bought it for $4 billion. Whoa, I didn't know

[00:10:13] Amy: that whole

[00:10:14] Mike: league. Look, check, check, check. I'm sure it was with a, B, maybe it was 2 billion, but either way, all I'm saying is that like it's a crap shoot. And so basically from a business standpoint, if my margins are in such a variable state, you're going to squeeze as much as possible your employees, and try to get the most out of them, which can PR can generate a lot of negative kind of bad mojo, bad people practices work-life balance suddenly becomes like a, yeah, we said that when it was nice now we got to release it next week.

Keep working kind of stuff, but that's not unique to the game industry. I'm sure that people working for NASA have those days

[00:10:47] Amy: as well. Yeah. So why is the gaming industry like this where it's so high pressure? Is it because there are so many game developers or is it because the deadlines are so tight or something else?

[00:11:00] Mike: A mixture of both because game development is real time development across multiple disciplines. And so trying to find someone who can develop on your team is. For one, you're probably going to be looking for someone very good. Who also has a passion for games. And what I've discovered coming out of full sail was like, not everybody's into games growing up.

Evidently I'm like this Relic of a, like a, as my wife calls me sometimes man-child, but that's just the, like I just have a passion for the industry. And because of that, there are people who are. Perfectionist or going to work all day, all night. And it creates this sense of I that's what we are that we're going to be passionate and put everything into it.

And if you ever want to take a break, you start to feel like you're ripping off your cohorts. Like I shouldn't take a break. My buddy's still working. I gotta keep working. But besides that also, if you're a, I know people now outside of the game industry who, as developers are one-trick ponies and are very well compensated to just no, I write stuff for Salesforce.

I write Salesforce code all day, that's it. And they get paid six figure salaries and get to call their hours. And. But you go to the game industry and it's Nope. Now you're going to learn in this life to do this because technology keeps improving and we've got to keep up with the consoles and the latest and greatest and Gogo logo.

Retention, like burnout is a big thing because it's eventually you start saying I want to spend time. My family and my buddy gets to have a vacation and a regular nine to five, which becomes a dream. Once you start to get a little bit older and. For some, no, some people, I like the Clif Luzinski if you get high enough, actually, I'm pretty sure that the cliff was in skis and all of the, top notch can, I'm showing my age stack that cliff is the guy.

Cliffy was the guy who I grew up being like, I want to be like that guy. Folks get to that status and then they can just chill and say this is what I want to do because there are these like Uber designers, but anyone the further down that chain, you go, the more it's yeah, I want to do gameplay code, but I'm just doing, user generated, content storage and management and end point writing and stuff like that.

It's not very often. Game design-y, but you're a part of it, and it feels good at the end, but it is high

[00:12:58] Amy: pressure, right? Yeah. So I want to ask about what kinds of resources actually go into developing a game I guess specifically in your experience, how many people are involved in producing.

[00:13:12] Mike: I would say as I started with some games, take two people in a in a tree house and during their best it really, the scope really varies on how big of a product. For example, if you're going to go sell shaded and very few characters and it's more about the gameplay is doing something similar to say Steven sausage.

I don't know if you ever heard of that game. Really cool. A puzzle game. Very hard, but very fair. Probably wouldn't take a lot of people, you just need a, you could probably even fiber your way through some of the graphic assets and such. And not a big deal, but once you're talking about no, we want to put it on multiple platforms and we're going to be using this particular, we're going to use the unreal engine.

So some of the plugins may need to be customly written around it. And if now you're going to go console even more, that starts to really scale up. And so we could talk about hundreds of people working all the time, and then if you. Really big enough, then you could start investing into and the gambling gets even higher.

Now your investors are talking millions of dollars. They want to see billions in sales. They're going to want to see a QA department and they're going to need a networking team, and let me tell you the backend resources to serve any kind of game that has nearly every game has an online presence.

Even if you're not aware of it behind the scenes, someone's storing your data regarding when you log in, what's your account, how much credits you may have your safe state and stuff like that you have, someone's gotta run. The game has to, we'll speak to some end point, but that end point has to be a computer running, some software that will store and manage.

And when you're talking the usage time, like when a game first releases its spikes, very rarely do you see a spike later in the life of the game? If anything, you're lucky because you can grow with it. But oftentimes you're just kinda like sitting there waiting for a, like an earthquake. Like here we go release time and you're looking at the clock and then the concurrent users numbers start to go up.

And those servers. You could, if computers could make sound like a submarine underneath it'd be like, you could feel the pressure of your systems. You're looking at your memory usage CPU, just hoping they stay up. Sorry to not give a definitive answer, but the fact is because there's so many different organizations to so many different targets, different game types.

It really could vary a lot.

[00:15:15] Amy: Okay. But we're going from two at a low end to what is like a high end, like hundreds.

[00:15:20] Mike: Okay. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, if you want to include contractors and stuff like that. And then people who would another great little caveat is, oh no, we want to sell it in Japan for example.

And of course, and we want it to be in Japan. We don't want to have them just, read an English. We want them to read, like we want to localize it to that region, make it relevant. Maybe even changing some of the story content, because it turns out in this country, this is rather offensive. We can't talk about this.

So we have to rewrite this part of the game. It becomes very similar to movies. In fact, in that regard, if you want to make an indie movie like Blair witch project style get a camera, go out into the woods with your friends and make it up as you go. But if you want to, you want to make.

Some Marvel cinematic universe, like end game, end game or infinity war. It's going to take, you're going to see those credits for awhile. You're going to need to end credit scenes. You need a mid credit

[00:16:07] Amy: scene. Yeah. Okay. That's interesting. Cause I imagine too, that like when you get up to these instances where you have hundreds and maybe even thousands of people working on one game, there's just so much to develop.

There's so much to think about there. Like how many months does this take?

[00:16:27] Mike: Oh years. You wouldn't even really talk in months. If you look at our games like destiny, for example that's out there Bungie has this MMO, a FPS RPG kinda thing. It's never really ending, strictly speaking.

 I guess that's part of the hard part too, is that you have product leads in a product manager and people in charge of the overarching product. Say look, yes, we did want to have a certain feature in there, but we can't do it. We have to release it by Christmas. Cut it out kind of stuff. So the definition of done is another one of those like enemies of of doing great things.

A small skunkworks team doing whatever you gotta do. And this is a passion project it's not done until you're ready. But when you take a look at you have the option to go that route, I should say. Whereas when it's no, the decision makers are not even gamers. They are investors. They want to see their money back.

The decision is all pretty much business. One goal, no soul. I don't mean that sounds very negative on the decision makers, but it is business. And unfortunately, Yeah. You can't be like, ah, but it's going to be great when it's done. They're like, dude, look, we're talking millions of dollars here.

Is that going to really do it? And sacrifices are made. It's really sad actually, when you see the games that really should have been one way and they turn out another and you're like, that was a business decision that totally hobbled what could have been something great. But no, thankfully we're just talking games.

We're not talking like cancer research or anything like that. It's just, a crappy launch, right? Whatever. Yeah.

[00:17:47] Amy: So in this like development of the game and like all of the moving parts and all of the developers that are going into to producing this, like how is this organized? You know what I mean?

And be like, there's just so much going on. Like how does it go from the start to the end? There's just seems like there's so much,

[00:18:09] Mike: oftentimes what'll end up happening is so let's just disregard the smaller company. Yeah, works a little, because for them it's really just people getting together, they come up with an idea and then they work with what they got and they build it out.

That's fine. But with large AAA studios, oftentimes they already have IPS or teams who have created other IPS come out like, and similar to, for example, I have no insight information regarding the new WB game back for blood, for example, but it is the old studio that basically the same people who made left, left for dead.

So that's an example of not an IP being bought, but you get a team and you're basically making a spiritual successor imagine picking up team IKOS core creator folks, and then having to make a iOS game on the X-Box. For example. Not saying that's going to happen. I would love to see it happen, but it'd be a, so you start with just like a, what can we sell?

So they'll find a lot of the same thing in Tendo does all the time. Just, Hey, people like Mario. And it's not a whole lot of that's oftentimes why you see if you want something different, you have to fish out into the indeed, like not AAA, but single a as a ACG is made in one of his videos, talks about games that are just a little bit below that threshold because those organizations are trying to basically put their money on something new and fresh.

So Yeah, I feel like it was a little bit more prevalent back, 10 years ago when we had this explosion of indie kind of desert, like super meat boy braid Fez, all of these like interesting ideas were starting to come out and now we're going back into this very kind of repetitive Sandy kind of stuff.

But eventually those numbers will start to not look as favorably and maybe they'll invest into new ideas as well, but, it's just risky. You don't want to put a lot of money into something and. For the love. Yeah. That just doesn't

[00:19:50] Amy: really happen. Yeah. And when you're dealing with a millions of dollars, the investors need to turn around.

That makes sense. Yeah. That makes sense.

[00:19:59] Mike: Don't say, no, you know what? This isn't gonna work. This isn't gonna work. No, one's going to like it and they might be totally wrong. Like at, for example, when they made the team that made. And this isn't firsthand knowledge, this is pretty well known in some of the circles.

The original SQL to portal was going to have no portals in it. But when valve went around talking to folks and said Hey, so check out this new game. They're like, eh, I want more. And the irony though, is that what got portal to where it was at for those remember the orange box from like 2007.

It was totally out of nowhere. I remember playing through all of Portland, like an evening after I came out, I, I finished class and then played through it. Actually, I was in one of my first like team projects and we're all playing the orange box. I beat it, heard that Jonathan Colton song it's still alive.

This was a tribe. And I was like, oh my God, They're talking to me, this is amazing. It's an amazing game. And it was amazing because it came out of nowhere. No one knew that this product was coming out and it was gonna do it. But the irony is that once you see that something works, you're reluctant to try something new.

And the irony though, is that what got you to be familiar was when it was, so it's and again adds yet another layer of risk for the big players, because now they've got a very important IP that all the fans love, but the team behind it wants to do something totally. I think kinda like when you see authors decide to write books under a pseudonym, because they're like, ah, if I got to write one more book, like the last one I'm done, and then studios don't get that Liberty.

[00:21:19] Amy: How much do does the operations cost? Like how much does it cost to produce a game?

[00:21:26] Mike: Oh I can't give any specifics on any particular game, but if we're talking AAA it's, it goes well into the. Easily tens, if not hundreds of millions. And if the game is ongoing, like it's gonna have an online presence.

Infrastructure is expensive, like investment where you are like. So when I was talking before about you get a QA team, for example, and now you've got imagine you're this team you're making this first person shooter your designers and your developers are working. They make like a gun shoot a certain way.

And the gameplay works a certain way. Great. Okay. How do we know if it's fun while you hand it to a bunch of testers to sit down and play with it? And if you're really big, you're going to have multiple teams of testers all playing now, what is this all being hosted on? You have to have an environment similar to what the people are using it production for your QA team quality assurance.

And then on top of that, you may have another piece of infrastructure, like what they call staging that acts as like this eat intermediary, it's like a dress rehearsal for releasing into production. Those machines. To make this happen easily can go for like thousands a day. We're talking hardware that is just massive drives, massive amounts of stuff and they're necessary in order to like, you could build them yourself if you wanted to.

But goodness gracious. What we've learned thankfully as an industry is like, as much as I'm blown to see I don't like seeing big companies just taking over an environment. The guilty pleasure of it is that they're very convenient. And I couldn't even imagine how much more expensive it could have been if people were still just yeah, we just ordered a bunch of Dell boxes and then we're going to have, a team of it.

People built each and every single one of them. And maybe by the end of the week or two, we can have it ready to try instead, go to AWS clickety clack. You can even run a Terraform script, spin on the Bill's going to be big. But in terms of turnaround time it's much more instantaneous. Yeah.

[00:23:10] Amy: Okay.

Cause yeah, equally expensive. So can you help me understand how environments actually work? So like the idea of having multiple different environments. If we were to go back to an example, you said like developing a different story line for the Japanese game versus the American game. Is that going to be another environment?

Is that how that works?

[00:23:39] Mike: Not really no. And that's more of just like making a specific build the way it is now, when a day comes where I think other technologies become more prevalent in the industry, like feature flags and stuff like that, maybe we can rely on that tech to do it, but usually it's just a different build or some internal, like it maps to one file or another to generate can be more, more complicated.

Depends on the scenario. But excuse me. What an environment. This is trying to imagine if I'm going to use a metaphor here for a race car, you got a team, you have these engineers working on this race car and they're inside. It's like very big, not a clean room, but it's like this one giant garage where they have all these tools and they're working on it.

And maybe a little tiny circular track where they can at least turn it on and go around the circle. That's the Devon. And then you've got a QA environment where they actually have this inside track. That's similar. Like it has all the major terms that you would see, but it's not like any particular racetrack.

And then you have the QA team sitting in those, in the car, driving it around, letting you know, like a test, giving it a test, run saying, Hey, it looks like we've got a bad suspension on this term. Maybe we should, whatever they report back to the dev teams. Whatever fix that right then staging would be like a facsimile of the next big race where like a certain, like you can expect to try to test it against what's going to really happen there.

And then production is the actual race itself. So as you can imagine, all of these different, like the closer you get to production, the more expensive and frankly, more numerous. Kind of dummy environments whose jobs is to satisfy a level, to give a level of confidence to the team. I guess it's ready for prime time.

They're still extremely expensive, but that level of confidence, it's better to never need to ask for forgiveness, because we're in a physical world in the game industry, again, because games are not a necessity. If someone. Like I have since dropped out of destiny because of some design choices they've made that simply are incompatible or I've changed so much that their design decisions are no longer compatible with me.

So they've lost me. So in that same regard If you want to do whatever you can to make sure you don't lose that prospective customer. And for me, it was personal. Thankfully was my decision to, get back some time of my life. But if you, for example, put out a patch, actually, it's very similar to what happened in destiny.

I remember at one point destiny two had come out and they had changed some of the drop methodologies. So people were getting more stuff all the time. They were getting more. New drops everywhere. And it over time at first it was super exciting cause it never happened. But then eventually you're like, now I've got all the things I don't really care to play.

And that kind of mistake is how do we fix that? And again, you don't want to have to get there. You would rather never get to that position. Now, granted, that's more of a design choice and that's not, it's a little tricky to anticipate right away when that happens, but regardless you still balance it, the deploy process and whatever, the last thing you want to do is accidentally put out an update and it wipes.

People's user credits or all your progress. There was, I was playing a game. I don't need it cause I don't want it. It's a great game and I don't want to disparage the team, but I played it on my Xbox and I was getting some really on my Xbox series X. I was really happy. I got to unlock a certain number of weapons.

It felt great. I realized that the save goes across to like my my windows machine. So I played on my windows machine and it wasn't there. And I was like, oh, that's weird. I don't see any of my guns. So I went back down to the series X to get all my get all my goodies and whatever. And it overwrote my save with the save from windows and I lost everything.

And I was like no, I don't even care anymore. Like all 40 hours of my time has been wasted. Yeah. Fair enough. And out I go, that's like a level of problem that maybe they can't save my time, but. See that, and then address it sooner than later, it saves them from having the pain of until that release happens.

And then that's where the pressure comes back in. Like now some developer out there has to identify the problem, fix it, do a rollout. And because they can't control that's state of the software until a new release goes out, the pain lives on the fire continues. Yeah.

[00:27:32] Amy: Wow. Okay. So yeah, there's just so much going on with.

The release and there's so many different ways. Let it get go wrong. I'm sorry. I can feel the pressure. I'm like, oh my gosh.

[00:27:45] Mike: Okay. Yeah, honestly, it was a big part of one of the release I had leaving the, leaving gaming in general. It's not really behind me, but it's more of a hobby now for fun.

I like doing it. I still feel very passionate with it, but it was such a relief to think I can just say, look, I'm going to take the weekend between Christmas and new year. And not have to be like but, or it's no, yeah, no one works around that time. Why would you even ask? Don't even take the time.

Just it'll be quiet days, and yeah. Game industry, and most of the time holidays are just as scary as anything else, because if something does go awry and Nolan's around, it's rough. That's it. My, to all of them.

[00:28:21] Amy: When did you get out of the gaming industry?

[00:28:23] Mike: Around. I'd say four years ago, I think about four years back.

I I walked away from it. I don't know, just you get to a point where you're, I was commuting quite a bit and just lost that, that loving feeling, like I was just like, I got into this to make my dreams, to make my games and stuff, and it was good enough for a while to just work on other people, oh, I got to work on doom and I got through it.

It's yeah, but there was still so many things I wanted to make sure. Wasn't gonna it just wasn't gonna happen. And I've come to terms with that. Maybe one day I'll play it on a million dollars or something and they make those try to make those dreams happen. But in the end, I would rather spend time with my daughter and child, my son and Fe no, my whole family.

How about that? Just spending time with the kids and relaxing and the working from home thing really worked out to my benefit. I hope that the industry overall after COVID People start to realize like work from home is actually a very viable and robust and resilient kind of model. It does take a different discipline, but it gives people so much more time and flexibility as well as helping to re resuscitate a lot of the small towns around America.

Like I live in a small town in upstate New York. And I get to bring an extra income into here that frankly, like you wouldn't find a local business offering, but a company San Francisco thinks that I'm the cheapest thing that they've got on staff. Yeah, I shouldn't have said that out loud.

[00:29:42] Amy: You're fine.

And when did you start looking at LaunchDarkly?

[00:29:47] Mike: LaunchDarkly came up after I, so after I left after I was going to say gore, after I left WB games an offer from a dear friend of mine, This is old as me. I think Dan Papandrea, he reached out to me and said, Hey, would you be this great company called cystic?

Would you want to come check it out? And I was thinking, Hey, I'll try out. I want to learn some new stuff. This container stuff seems neat. And I really wasn't getting a lot of time to look into that where I was. So I went and worked over there doing support, but things got a little bit as time went on it, I got.

I just really wasn't as into it as much, basically what happened was a recruiter reached out to me and said, Hey, you should check this out. And what sold me the most was that it was so weird. I looked at LaunchDarkly and I was like, okay, so it's like a Boolean, but it's online. I don't get it. And then as I was.

Just running, I was making a basic app to use the platform, just to check it out. I realized that was the answer to a lot of the fires that had occurred in my past. There were situations where I remember at, I'm going to say, I could say one, but it could be at any of my old comp anywhere in my past life of my past lives.

There are situations where the fire went off and all we have to do is just turn off what was going wrong. But in software, there's no real valve to turn off. All you can do is redeploy restart or, get people up. And when I saw that I was like, wait a second. This is if implemented in all of those problems, I could have been spared from being woken up in the middle of the night or having to have, ruined an entire holiday weekend because someone deployed something that no one wanted, and that's what I was like, this is great. This is amazing. And then on top of that, they were saying, yeah, we're looking for a solutions engineer. I was like, so wait, what is. So I don't even have support anything. I just have to tell people this stuff's awesome. That's so easy. Okay. I already think it's awkward, so I'll do it.

And that's how I wound up in LaunchDarkly leveling Sinsky. My the one who hired me and Steve glass have been the ones who got me in. And one thing I love about working here, I'm sorry, this is a little bit off topic, but I just, it bears saying it's I felt so appreciated and like it, and like a part of something and it was.

No. It's amazing how it's kinda like that scene in the office that I don't know if you've watched it, but there's this one where the accounting team is like, they're upset because they're not getting a cut of the commission from the sales team they find out, and then they decide to have this like a big get meeting to talk about negotiating, how they're going to split up the commission and they have this whole spread out.

And then the accounting team comes in. It's this is all we want. We just want to, the spread. And then they realized like, oh, we don't have to offer them anything. We just got to make them feel happy. And that's. It really speaks volumes. Honestly, it's the same thing that happened to me as launched.

LaunchDarkly something I believe in, I like, I really appreciate everything about the platform or what it's going to do it transformatively to workflows and such, but to also be at a place where I sincerely felt like I was a part of something, like what do you think? I like, I think it's great.

[00:32:31] Amy: Okay.

If there are any business owners out here listening to this that are like, why does he believe in this so much? Or why does he love this so much? What was it about what they did that made you so happy?

[00:32:44] Mike: Whenever I would try to contribute an idea, I didn't feel like I was swimming upstream.

There were times where I would try to get people and organization. Do things as simple as like adopting a good strategy that is now commonplace today at three different organizations. I try to say look guys, I read the manual. We're all using either. They're using SVN and we're stuck in it or we're using it, but we're using branches.

That was a thing at least one place and I'd get shot down and they do. And I oftentimes would feel now that you've put yourself out there, we're going to make you sound like you're that goody good guy. That's trying to make everybody do things their way when I'm like, look, I'm just trying to be held.

And instead, I would just crawl into my shell and yeah. And then eventually just give up I don't really want to, every time I talk, I feel like I have now like the Scarlet letter, so yeah, so we'll come into LaunchDarkly I started, say Hey, what if I made a SDK. For unity engine or the unreal game engine.

And they were like, that would be amazing. Can you do that? And I'm like, no debate, no fight. I could just do it. And that's how actually I wrote the I wound up writing the unreal engine unity plugin for the client, and then also the unity counterpart and just finished making a game board, actually a game called launch.

Now we're working on some other stuff. Not really getting it. It's a big explorative thing. It's just me and a lot of great volunteers helping me out along the way. But to definitely be good to the people that you meet in your life because the people in my one of the people that came out of the woodwork to help with that game, that I was working on launch a lunar Lander clone was an old friend from full sales.

He was in the audio, the thing, he went for audio production and got great guy, Dean Krzyzewski. And so I reached out to him. I was like, dude, yeah, he lived right around the corner from me. I was like, dude, are you still doing music? He's yeah, man. And I said, here, can you make this. All right. In two weeks, he gave me a couple of tracks and my game had music.

Yeah. So again, good to have a diverse set of friends and discipline. Cause it makes things easier. Yep. Definitely.

[00:34:34] Amy: Yeah. one of the articles that just got submitted to hacker noon that I edited the other day. He gave some advice and it was make more friends with lawyers and I was like, yeah, that's nice.

That's nice.

[00:34:46] Mike: Nice. Hey. Talk about multi-discipline in terms of intellectual property, law and other legal stuff. Yeah. Having a lawyer handy. Cause I'm a developer. I can, I'm not saying I'm a genius, but I'm a pretty smart dude. I could figure stuff out. And when I look at legal, I tried to start a non-profit about a year ago and it totally floundered.

If it wasn't for this pro bono lawyer, that's been helping me through this. And even he was like, I don't know how you would have gotten out of this if they, how they could have expected anyone, like just yourself to figure your way through this. We're almost out of it now. So yeah, definitely like never look at someone and be like they're not relevant to me.

Yeah, because they can provide insights that you couldn't even begin to imagine. Think about how most of the game industry got sideswiped, when in Tendo released the least powerful console, the wi and managed the trouts on like the 360 and the PS three, which was still lagging behind anyway, because they just found this yeah, no, we're going to be friendly old ladies who want to play tennis in their living room with their grandkids, it's so yeah.

Keep your keep your team diverse and. Good and good good

[00:35:50] Amy: skirts. Yeah. I definitely, really great. Amazing. Mike, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. If we want to find you and what you're working on online, where can.

[00:36:02] Mike: Sure all my work is primarily for my, is with LaunchDarkly as I alluded to earlier where I'm working on these interactive kind of demos for them but also, evangelizing and helping to sell the product to would be consumers.

Yeah, if you want to see what we're up to feel free to check us [email protected] We have a great blog ongoing blog there as well, and a lot of great information, so perfect.

[00:36:24] Amy: Thank you very much.

[00:36:24] Mike: It's a pleasure. Thank you for having me Amy,

[00:36:26] Amy: if you liked this episode of the hacker noon podcast, don't forget to like it, share it, subscribe to it, and you can find us online at hacker noon on all these socials.

This episode was produced by hacker noon, hosted by me, Amy, Tom, and edited by your lovely audio wizard, Alex, stay weird and I'll see you on the internet. Bye-bye.