The End of an Era

Well I guess with a title like that I should start with a little back story.

Many of you will already know this, but for the last 5 years my day-job has been as a developer for an MMO known as Omerta. It’s a small web-based Mafia MMO but it’s certainly been an interesting place to work.

After 5 years my journey there is about to come to an end. I have recently been offered a new job, with interesting new challenges which I have decided to accept. My time at Omerta will officially end on the 5th of March, after that I will no longer be involved in the project beyond occasionally offering a brief bit of guidance to the remaining development team.

It has certainly been an interesting few years overall. When I started at Omerta, I had actually never played more than a few hours of the game. I also did not know the language the game was written in all that well, but they gave me a chance to see what I could do.

It didn’t take me long to pick up the language or to learn about the game itself, I guess playing MMO’s for so long in general helped me there. As the years progressed I created and altered many features of the game as well as rising in the pecking order of the development team to my current position as the lead developer of the project.

One interesting feature I worked on in the early days was a flash shooting range for the game. At that point the game included a character stat known as kill skill, and the idea was that players would use the shooting range to increase that stat.

The reason it stands out in memory is that it was a challenge  for me personally. At the time I had only been involved in the game for about 3 months, I was still brushing up on my PHP skills and I had NEVER played with flash at all. So having to make a flash application that linked into the games database was interesting to say the least. I kinda like jumping in at the deep end.

That feature was ultimately removed from the game in a later version due to the fact that we also removed the killing skill stat from the game. So many of the games bugs and balance issues were linked to killing skill there was just no way we could keep it.

Another time I jumped into the deep end was when I got assigned to the companies second game project Roswell BC. This was a very interesting project to work on as it was being built completely from scratch and this allowed me to get involved in the design side of the company. I had the opportunity to alter and guide certain elements of the games design.

Unfortunately that project is now on hold, but once it’s completed it will be great as there is still nothing like it out there.

It was around that time that work on the next major iteration (3.0) of Omerta was in full flow, so it was all hands to the development pumps, thought I did keep my hands in the design side of things. I had developed a bit of a bug for design. It was a mad crunch the final push to 3.0 but it was worth it in the end.

After 3.0 finally launched and we finally worked out the balance out all the changes and nailed down all the bugs, there was a bit of a lull in development. This allowed me the opportunity to really flex my design muscles, I came up with the ideas that would later become the core of the Deathmatch version of Omerta.

Deathmatch is however what I will remember most fondly, as this was where I had the opportunity to really use my design skills. Deathmatch had been a long running faster version of the game, but it was taken off-line for about a year. When the then designer left the company, I took over the role of lead designer and well as my role as developer.

It was then that I resurrected Deathmatch, but this time it was also to be the games public test server. Here I would launch several experimental features & test changes to already existing system, without the risk of disturbing the main game.

All of my experiences in design were blogged over the months in Thirteen1 Magazine and appear here on this blog. I will not bore you by going over them again, you can just look in the Game Design category if your interested in knowing more about that.

SO as you can see its has certainly been an interesting journey over the year and there are a lot of things I will miss, but times change and so do people. I am ready for a new challenge in my career and that is what has lead me to move on.

My new job is different, It will still be as a developer but on software for the Higher Education sector and not on games. While that may sound boring in comparison to working in games from the development standpoint it not all that far removed. All it means to a developer is that the database of facts and figures I will be manipulating will be a students personal details not the stat’s of a player’s character.

The design side of things may by a little dryer, but there is nothing to say that I can’t redirect my creative energies elsewhere at the end of the day. I’ve always had idea for other games running inside my head, perhaps now I’ll be able to get some of them down and finished. I have a couple of XBLA ideas that have been semi brewed for at least 2 years now.

So yes its the end of an era, but it’s also a very interesting looking future.

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  1. V.glad you mentioned roswell maaan, even today that game is a beast! A designer and two mmo experts on the project, wow, almost…
    Best thing has gotta friendships tho, its easy to forget how omerta was when we started – proper social and so much fun. I wouldn’t have been best man for the big day without us working there first – proper legacy that’ll last a lifetime, you inrbriated bastard

    • oh yeah the friendships that have been forged as a result of my work at Omerta are great, the only reason I didn’t mention them is that i really don’t expect many of them to change an overly great deal.

      The only real difference is some of them I will not see as often as I do currently as I no longer share an office but at the end of the day when it comes to proper friendships that shouldn’t matter one bit

      A true friend you can only see once every few years and still instantly drop back into conversations and old habits as if you only last saw them yesterday, not see them for months on end and still ring them at the drop of a hat and ask for a favour knowing it will instantly be granted because you would do exactly the same in their place.

      So yeah things will change with them but they will in no way be ending so were not right to include in a post about what was no longer going to be

  2. yeah the tribal office is based out in hessle, so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. it just means that i have to change my 30min walk to the office for a 10min walk, 10min train, 10min walk to the office

  3. I remember the shooting range very well and the design bug which was in it. But 5 years already, time has gone too fast.
    Good luck with your new job, may you enjoy the new challenges that are waiting there for you.

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