Friday, May 05, 2006

tip#1 - Keep your staff

I looked at some old code from about 6 years ago today. OH MY GOD. I used to code like a blind rabbit on cocaine. God knows how it all compiled, let alone sold a few copies. Anyway.... when I started in the retail games biz, I was a fairly average coder. I learned a lot at Elixir. Then I worked at Lionhead. I learned tons more. I am now at the point (esp after coding Democracy), that I really have my act together. I don't really think much about how to code anything, it's second nature. I know exactly how to approach problems, my code is 100% structured, debuggable and maintainable. I'm writing good quality code at maybe 10 times the rate I could do just 4 years ago no problem.
And as I said, I learned most of this whilst being paid by someone else. Yes I've read a few books, but mainly its from experience working on big projects.
What I'm getting at is that big companies with budgets, accountants and full carpeting throughout, have basically put all the costs into creating a decent programmer, and I left just when I got good at it. This isn't peculiar to LH, its the whole game Industry. The minute someone gets really good as a coder, they leave. My inbox is crammed with emails from people who have also left their jobs, often they are experienced, talented guys.
This is insane.
Why spend tens of thousands letting your employees develop and get better and better, then when they finally get good, do you let them leave over a fairly trivial amount of money? I bet you any games developer who went to his boss and asked for a 20% pay rise would be told to f**ck off, yet a big chunk of them can probably trivially justify it in terms of experience and work rate. I am literally worth ten times my industry starting salary now, without a doubt, but I dont recall hitting 6 figures salary wise, nor do I know anyone on a six figure coding income. I guess this is because to a non-coder, a l33t developer seems to be hitting the same keys as the fresh-from-school n00b. Paying one even five times what the other earns would make no sense right?
Kudos is going really well. Started on romance today :D

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