Sunday, December 5, 2010

GreenSpeak: The Season Premiere!

Hey everybody! Welcome back to the Greenspeak blog! It's been a long break since the heart-pounding season finale back in September, and you may recall we left on quite the cliffhanger! I was heading off to the PAX convention in Seattle to attend a bunch of panels, and secretly to interview for a new job, though you couldn't have known it at the time. Well, I mean, I did. But you didn't.

So many questions were left unanswered in that finale! Did I even make it to PAX? How did my panels go? Did I get reamed by EA's lawyers and cadre of PR thought police for saying things I shouldn't? Did any PAX attendees accuse me of being their father?

Well, now. Here we are with a brand new season, and like any truly annoying television show, I'm not even going to begin to answer any of those questions, other than to say that, yes, I made it to PAX, and yes, I *did* get that new job, which, ya know, is the real reason there's been a season break anyway! Funny how that happens! (And I was just kidding about EA. They were just peachy. Ya know. Relatively.)

So I work at PopCap now. My official title is Director of Editorial and Social Media. Though honestly we kind of made that up. I mean, I didn't replace anybody. We created the position 1) so that I could work there and 2) to hopefully add value in areas that PopCap is keen to explore. My love affair with PopCap is a long and very public one. I'd written about them numerous times at Computer Gaming World, and blabbed enthusiastically on various podcasts and video shows about my love of all things Bejeweled, Bookworm, Peggle, and, most recently, Plants Vs Zombies.

So it should come really as no surprise to anyone who's followed my career in either a stalker-like way or even in a casual, disinterested way that I should end up here. Humor-wise, I've always felt a deep affinity for PopCap. There's always been a subversive, wiseass quality about all their games, even if it isn't always readily apparent to some of their core demographic. Clearly those dayglo, Teletubby-like cute animals in Peggle aren't meant to be taken at face value---or are they? And the quality of their games has always spoken for itself. Back when I was still a civilian and had nothing invested in PopCap, career-wise, I argued on the Area 5 show, upon the release of PvZ, that it was time for the gaming industry to start thinking of PopCap like the best of the AAA developers---the Blizzards, Biowares, and Bungies---who consistently deliver quality product each and every time out of the gate. And that it was only PopCap's position as a "casual" game developer that prevented it. But the truth is, at this point, when a new PopCap game comes out, everybody that *I* know who is a gamer gets just as excited--and addicted--as with games that cost 3 times as much to buy and 100 times as much to make.

Anyway, yeah. I'm here now. And if I sound happy about it, well, yeah--you betcha. I am. And really, it's kind of like this: Fucking finally. Finally I'm at a place where I have nothing but respect for the people in charge, and finally I'm at a place where I feel like they "get" me and what I have to offer. Because I'll admit I was gun shy. At the end of the interview/hiring process, they were doing a hard sell on me. Because I was a bit loathe to take another game company job. I had a pretty sweet press job kinda/sorta/almost mine (though we hadn't gotten to a formal offer yet), and for awhile there I definitely thought that's the way I was going to go. "Back where I belong" as lots of folks were telling me. I'll tell you, at the end of my time at EA, I was practically dreaming about being back in the press, I wanted it so bad.

But, as much as I think that press job could have been great (and I guess we'll never know), I think my desire to get back was less about that than about my utter unhappiness amd wretched emotional condition to my then-current status. And I'm not going to start belatedly ragging on EA now, because, well, who cares? It's over. The thing is, it's not necessarily that anyone there did anything "wrong", it's just that, in retrospect, and from the position now of being at a place I actually fit in and like, it's clear how utterly mismatched and out of place I was there. It was just such the wrong environment for me, both on The Sims group and later in the online group, that the real lingering feeling that I have is one of anger at myself for stubbornly trying to make it work for so long. I was there for 2 years but should have bailed, seriously, after 2 months. Because I already knew. I just kept trying to convince myself that if I hung in there long enough, somehow things would turn around for me there. Kids, it really can't be said often and emphatically enough: Your gut is almost always right.

So now I'm at PopCap and I am fucking loving life. As I've said to friends and family, for awhile I kept waiting for a "shoe to drop" after I signed on. Like, okay, they SEEM cool, but, really, there's gotta be a bad side, right? But we're up to 2.5 months and I haven't had one single bad day--or hour, or meeting, or conversation--yet. Everyone is as cool on the inside as their games appear from the outside. This is why their games are cool.
The stress I feel now--and the reason this blog has been on hiatus---is the stress of wanting to give it my all and show them I am worthy of belonging. I've got my hands (and brains) in a dozen different projects, and they're all ones I *want* to be working on, and they're all with people I *want* to work with. Not many people ever get to say that, and lord knows, it's been a long time since I have. Some of these are just now starting to see the light of day, like the live videostreams I started doing, but mostly they're all works in progress still that I can't wait to reveal. But it's been draining--even physically, as I'm commuting weekly from Berkeley to Seattle and back---and it hasn't left me time for much else. I've wanted to give my all to a job that I'm truly thrilled to have.

I still am going to do that. But now that the dust has settled *a little* and I feel a bit more sure of myself (I had been telling my boss and others that I was like a battered dog for awhile, flinching and twitching until I was sure they weren't going to bite my head off every time I, say, posted a tweet), I am ready to cue up the theme music to this here blog o' mine (What is the theme song anyway? The Hustle? Mr Roboto? I'm open to suggestions.) I have a lot on my mind these days and more shit to get off my chest. So I hope you all have had as good a three months as I have since I last said hi here. Welcome to the new season!

25 comments:

Keith said...

I think the theme song to your blog, at least for this season, is "Found A Job" by the Talking Heads. I was always really inspired by the CGW column you wrote that started with a quote from that song.

ryanmarkel.com said...

It's great to see you've landed somewhere you really want to be and somewhere you love working.

Isn't that a great feeling?

Congrats, Jeff.

Pavan Rajam said...

Hey Jeff!

It's great to hear you are finally somewhere where you are actually enjoying yourself. It's nice to see you've landed at AAA developer, as opposed to a large corporate-style Publisher. PopCap is a great studio, and I'm sure you will do some amazing things over there.

Hopefully I'll have a chance to catch up with you at E3 again next year. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to playing Peggle/Plants vs. Zombies/Bejeweled/InsertPopCapGameHere instead of working on a presentation I need to submit to my group in two hours.

Good Luck and Best Regards,
Pavan Rajam

Jeff Green said...

Keith:

OMG you're so right. :) I even remember the verse I quoted by heart:

"Think about this little scene.
Apply it to your life.
If your work isn't what you love,
Then something isn't right."

Changing my blog header appropriately now. :)

ATC 1982 said...

Way to go Jeff and glad to hear your happy ... Now can you help with the following

1) Express that popcap needs games on the nook
2)Gyromancer needs to come to console
3) More Bookworm Adventures :)

oh and most importantly
4) Continue to be doing what you can as you want to and not what other people say (except to look into the three above)

:) Have a good one

Anonymous said...

HHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEE'SSSSSSSSSS BACK!

Drew said...

"The stress I feel now--and the reason this blog has been on hiatus---is the stress of wanting to give it my all and show them I am worthy of belonging."

Jeff, I can't tell you enough how much that sentence resonated with me. After a few jobs that weren't all that personally fulfilling, I've recently started a new job that gives me that exact same feeling.

With a few old jobs, the stress came from just existing, going through the motions as part of the daily grind. With my new position, however, the stress comes from wanting to do as good of a job as I can and showing people how much I want to be there and contribute to my company's success. Congrats on everything!

Cheers,

chris said...

I'm thinking the press job was at PCG and while it would have been weird to see you in those pages I've sorely missed your writing since CGW died.

That said it's great you're happy at your job and would be even greater if you have the time to throw something up here every now and then.

Looking forward to the new season.

Tom said...

Hi Jeff, always been a big fan of your work, so I hope you don't take this the wrong way, as this is not a knock on you but more on PopCap.

It just seems wasteful to me, with the unemployment rate so high, to fly and employee in and out every week and put them up in a hotel room during the week. (This is assuming that PopCap picks up the bill for this, which may not be the case) I don't live anywhere near Seattle, but I am sure that there are a lot of people desperate for a job in that area like everywhere else.

I know that PopCap is a business, and wants the best and most talented people (Jeff is most certainly both of these). But to spend extra money, a lot with airline prices these days, to constantly fly and employee in and out seems wasteful.

That's my two cents, and again, no disrespect to Jeff, he is one of the best.

David said...

Jeff,

While I'm glad that your blog is back and happy for you that you've finally got a fulfilling job, I'm waiting for the day when you finally start or join another gaming podcast.

Garnett Lee is using "Weekend Confirmed" as his title, and PC Gamer continues to open their podcast with "hello and welcome," but it's just not the same without you.

Brain Blurbs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brain Blurbs said...

Good to hear you are loving your new job so much! Although it was kinda obvious already ;)

You know what: so you put 2 years in there. Not a loss. If after 3 years you would have loved your job at EA, you would have said: put your teeth in it and you will be rewarded!

Anyway, lots of woulda coulda. Like you said, who cares now!
Had to grin when you mentioned writing for GCW (only....) Way to go, GFW was shit. Not the mag, but the branding. You and your kinsmen were all about GCW!

Guess I will add your blog to my favs again! Glad there is a reason for that again!
Grtz
Almonde from old GCW forum :)

Keith said...

Happy to help you remember. =) That column has been hanging next to my desk for too long to recall as inspiration to try to always find the things I love to do in life. Glad to give a little inspiration back. =)

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home buddy!

Boothe said...

Thoughts on the Project Runway?

You were down with Mondo, right? RIGHT!?

Anonymous said...

its great to see you back jeff!

James Callaway said...

Holler back! Jeff Green Returns: With a Vengeance!

Glad to see you're doing well at your new job, and of course I look forward to anything the Black Dragon produces!

lowlight said...

If you have ANY clout at popcap, please get them to port some games to Android!

Jonah said...

I am very happy to hear things are going so well at Popcap. I would hate to hear one of my favorite companies ended up being run by a bunch of fools that didn't realize how good of a thing they had going.

Does this mean more "Out of the Game" in our near future?

Felix said...

Wow! I clicked on the Greenspeak link in my Favorites today thinking "Okay... if he hasn't updated this damned blog-thing, this 'favorite' is getting deleted. I've got all sorts of other Favorites waiting for this spot, and I can't justify this dead-weight Greenspeak thing any longer".

But there's a new post and now it's not deleted, so I guess www.tsamolestedme.com will just have to be on the outside looking in at the Favorites list.

In all seriousness, congrats on the new gig. Can you get me a code for Peggle Nights?

David said...

Ning Po Mahjong (favorite popcap game) has consumed more of my hours than Dragon Age and Medal of Honor combined (and that's saying something. So glad you're back, Jeff, from a long-time reader and fan. Thanks too for the inspiration regarding trusting one's intuition job-wise; I needed to hear that. Looking forward to the New Season!!

Michael "Denatus" Åström said...

I used to loathe Pop Cap for their lack of creativity and blatant copying of others ideas/games.

Then played Peggle and really liked it, part due to being a great game but also due to it's creativity.

What really turned me around was of course Plants vs Zombies. And due to those two games I now consider every release by Pop Cap since it might be another gem!

Chris said...

I'm so glad you're back. I'm a 58 year old gamer and have been "stalking" your career for a few years now. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Mike Barrett said...

It's great to see some new blogs, try not to ignore us so much! =)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I remember one of the blogs you wrote during your early months at EA, in which you highlighted the word 'need'.

You wrote: "I need to make this work."

I took that to mean you were concerned about meeting your responsibilities as a husband and as a father (probably more as a father, I'm guessing).

Whatever happened at EA... or maybe I should write whatever didn't happen at EA... in the end you did earn a steady paycheck. You deserve praise for having provided for your family during a difficult personal period. I firmly believe that our work is what defines us, which is why it can be hell on earth when we have to get up in the morning and head off to a job that doesn't satisfy us, or utilize our skills... you end up feeling like a real nowhere man.

People who work for the sake of earning money, for their families, are as good as bread, in my opinion. What you did wasn't cowardly - it was noble, and that's how you should look back on that period... not regrettably, but with pride.

And no I'm not trying to put a positive spin on things - I really mean it, taking care of your family is a big damned deal.

Well done, Jeff.

The Goose