With the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, I checked an item off the bucket list and shipped my first AAA game, it was an amazing, thrilling, terrifying, sad, joyful, stressful, keep-your-arms-and-legs-inside-the-vehicle-at-all-times experience, and I learned a hell of a lot. I had worked as a producer in previous companies before Treyarch, but this was really the testing ground where I truly learned all the fundamentals about what it means to be responsible for a team, leadership, accountability, and shipping a game.
Shipping a game should stand out on its own for reflection. You really haven’t been through it all until you’ve experienced what it means to button everything up, call it quits on adding anything more, playing the same game or level over and over again until you are reciting the VO in your sleep, being heads down in the blood and sweat trenches with everyone else to mark off every Jira, verify every changelist, and check and cross check again that you addressed every element in every feature (or you are comfortable with cutting it). I’m sure there are many projects that would go on forever with an infinite budget if they could keep adding more mechanics and creative ideas, but to actually stop and focus on a deadline is a whole separate set of skills. And going through that experience strengthens a team and bonds them together through the elation and the pain like no other. There is a reason why career websites list a specific number of AAA games shipped as an entrance requirement (side note: never let that number, or any of those requirements stop you from applying, apply anyway).
Having lived that, I feel like I have learned everything Treyarch had to offer me, and it is time to turn my attention to where I want to go and what I want to do with my career next. I never thought I’d make it this far at all, so to have the opportunity and the power to actually quit my job, and decide for myself to look for more challenges and opportunities for growth, is an extremely uncommon and lucky place to be in, and I wont take it for granted.
I look forward to sharing where my path takes me, soon.