They don't warn you when you get hired to work on an awesome MMO like EQ2 that leaving the job isn't like quitting McDonald's; it's like ripping out your heart and stomping on it! But today is my last day on the EQ2 team and it's been nothing but the best times, the best of co-workers, and the best of players, all of whom I'll miss ridiculously much.
On the day I wrote my resignation letter, I ended up bawling my eyes out on the shoulder of my long-suffering ex-boyfriend, to the extent that a lady who passed by as I was crying into my lunch saw my tears and misheard something I said and thought my pet dog had died. When I explained that no, I quit my job, she looked at me as if I was a bit crazy; but my ex (also being a game dev) understood. On my last day at SOE I was so sad, I couldn't even manage to stop by and say goodbye to Smed or Smokejumper or several others because I knew I'd just dissolve in tears and be unable to stop.
As most know, I was an EQ and then EQ2 player before being a developer; now I'm back to being a player again, and still logging in regularly to check out the new content and chat with friends both old and new. Of course I never stopped playing while I was working on the game, but now folks know I'm the former dev known as Domino, whereas before I was just another person in the crafting and homeshow channels. So I've spent the last 2 months trying -- and I think succeeding -- to reassure the crafters and the home decorators that the world is not in fact ending with my departure, that the game is in excellent hands under Windstalker and Smokejumper, and that EQ2 is still the best, most content-rich MMO out there and will continue to be for a long, long time. (I am clearly a little bit biased on that last point of course, but I think you can make a pretty good objective argument nonetheless when you look at the wide variety of gameplay options, the independently leveled crafting system, the amazing house decoration options, and just plain 7+ years worth of content! And did I mention the tradeskill questlines and the house items? Two of my personal pet projects of course so they must be awesome.)
Despite being sad, I don't regret my decision to go learn new things; it's a fact of life that doing the right thing isn't always the easy path. But my new co-workers are also a great bunch of folks, and my new project, "Defiance", is very interesting and will present a lot of unique challenges in terms of platform as well as game/TV coordination, and I'm already learning a ton of stuff that I wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to. It's a very different type of game from EQ2 and I think it will appeal to a completely different audience, but it's fascinating to work on so far, and will definitely help me to continue to grow my skills, experience, and knowledge to become the best industry professional I can be. If you haven't been keeping up with the press releases, Defiance is both a shooter style MMO and a TV show in collaboration with the SyFy network, and I'll be doing everything in my small power to make it as good a game as I can also. Some links: TV show info, interview talking about the transmedia collaboration, and latest gameplay trailer:
Still, despite 2 months passing, it does still feel like there's an aching EQ2-shaped hole in my heart. (My friends laugh that I still keep saying "us" and "we" by mistake when talking about the EQ2 team.) I suppose when you put that much of your heart and soul into a game for so many years, a bit of you just stays there forever, even as you look ahead to what's in the future. And I guess that's okay; if I have to leave a piece of my heart somewhere, I can't think of a nicer place to leave it than in the magic lands of Norrath.
However, to end this post on a lighter note before I start sniffling again, here's the very first fan video I made, long before I was ever hired to work on the EQ2 team; I think this was made in the lead up to EQ2's expansion 3, and sent over to the dev team (who I had met at the previous fan faire) to give them a smile while they were hard at work crunching. Enjoy!