Looking for Group

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 4, 2010

Filed under: Personal 164 comments

Fifteen years. That’s a long time to hold onto a job in this industry. Technology moves fast and companies come and go, so this has been a good run for me. But now my time at Activeworlds is over. We parted very amicably. But we parted. I might still do a bit of consulting-type stuff, but my 9-to-5 job is gone. (As well as the jobs of a few friends, alas.)

On one hand, this is a little scary. I’m aware that this is actually a terrible time to be looking for work. Everyone else is also looking for work. It’s also a terrible time for me to be out of work. We had already taken a financial hit a few months ago and things have been looking uncertain. Now I’m looking at our finances and concluding that if our household was a game of The Sims, I would seriously be thinking of abandoning the game and starting over, because this game is hosed.

But despite the ominous financial outlook, this is actually a bit of a relief. I’d been working for AW for three days a week. Then making comics, my column, and my Let’s Play during the other three. And then squeezing this blog in wherever it fit. And even Saturday, my nominal “day off” had to be spent playing games in order to keep up. I’ve been redlining for about nine months now. I don’t care how much you love your job, (and I love my jobs) you will get sick of it if you do too much for too long without a break. I needed this break. And I’ve been itching to do something new. Like I said, fifteen years is a long time.

I haven’t actually made up a resume or actively looked for work since 1993 or so. I’ve preferred finding and attaining jobs organically: Meet people, discover a common goal, and throw in with them. But now I might have to look for work the old-fashioned way. For a while I’ve been hedging my bets in regard to my career. Day job as a coder. Night job as a writer. But now I need to decide which way I’m going to go. Coding is what I’ve done the most, but (oddly enough) my writing is what I’m known for. I’m actually willing to go either way.

My hope is to find a nice small company that can use my rather esoteric skill set. I could take a standard job as a programmer, but in a perfect world I’d find someone who wanted to do something with procedural content, or specialized tools. Or maybe I’ll go the writing route?

I need to brush up on resume writing. The last time I did one was pre-internet for me. I imagine a lot of the standards have changed. (Or I hope so. I always found the standard resume to be 50% names and addresses, 40% boilerplate self-promotion, and 10% useful data.) If anyone has resume-writing advice (particularly on mistakes to avoid) it would be much appreciated.

Wish me luck.


From The Archives:

164 thoughts on “Looking for Group

  1. Nikos Saripoulos says:

    Good luck man. I’m sure these next few days will be difficult, because you’ll need to decide what you want for your future, but eventually -like everything in life- the storm will end and the sun will rise again. I can give only one advise, keep this thought in your back of your mind… the sun always rises you just have to wait and have faith.

    I wish you the best, you are a man that always impressed me with your different ideas, and i’m sure that you wont have trouble to find your sweet little spot to work in this world! :)

    1. Raygereio says:

      Just a FYI; having different ideas is not always a good thing when looking for a job.
      It’s often great if you’re looking at R&D’esque jobs. But established companies – in my experience – want safe, familiar things.

      1. Felblood says:

        It’s true that they want people who are looking for a specific job, but they like people with experience in related fields, who can understand the jargon from the guy in the next department.

        The thing is, you have to tailor your cover letter to the type of position you’re applying for, but the resume itself can usually be xeroxed, since most of it is standard stuff nobody cares about. Really, they only want your work history, so they can ask what you were doing between jobs (i.e. Did you go to jail?).

        Really, you have a solid 15 year block of employment in your history. Your resume should plow through the competition like a tank.

        I know that the fact that I’ve only ever held seasonal or probationary positions is what’s strangling the life out of my career, and without that monster to overcome how hard could it be? –Right?

        Good luck sir. As one of the hardest working, most incisive people I’ve had the luxury to run across, I’m sure you’ll be back on your feet in a couple of months.

      2. Coffee says:

        There is very little MORE safe and familiar than a middle-aged (no offence) white male within the technology field.

        Especially one who is recognised (at least within a certain circle) for being passionate about tech, programming, etc.

        1. Will says:

          And was steadily employed for 15 years in said field.

          That alone ia a huge green light.

          1. Raygereio says:

            “And was steadily employed for 15 years in said field.
            That alone is a huge green light.”

            Or it can be explained as ‘lack of ambition’ or ‘unwilling to change and/or grow’.
            I’ve seen people get refused for the most ridiculous things. A woman who’s more then capable uses the last name of her husband? Aha! That means she’s insecure.

            Edit: I didn’t meant to sound negative. It’s just that I’ve seen really stupid things when I was involved with handling job applications.

            1. Will says:

              My personal experience with the industry as it stands at the moment is reliability and experience trump all. The games industry and it’s peripherals have been burned badly in the last few years by jumpy employees who can’t hold a job for more than a few months.

              It’s having a really negative impact on the employability of university graduates too.

              Of course, that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get employed. People are often illogical creatures, just that a period of solid employment like that in an era and industry where such periods of employment are few and far between is a very nice thing to have on one’s resume.

  2. SeanR says:

    Best of luck to you! To be selfishly honest, I hope you take the writing path. You are an excellent critic, and the world – particularly the gaming community – is far too short on excellent critics.

    1. Teldurn says:

      ^^ This.

  3. Joel D says:

    Good luck!

  4. Mewse says:

    Best resume advice I’ve heard recently, from the Career Tools podcast.


    (grit the teeth to endure the almost frighteningly corporate introductory music; really good advice and information on the current status of the job market once you get past that.)

  5. some random dood says:

    Eeeek! All the best Shamus in that scary new world out there. It’s a shame to hear that this website is not able to cover your bills because that would be best for us (and maybe for you?).
    I’ve not seen any of your coding expertise, only your writing side – I definitely like that side. (Still remember your description of that lonely dwarf on the side of the hill in WoW. Now *that* is the type of quest I could get behind. Ahem.)

    Again, good luck and hope everything works out great for you and your family.

  6. Tom Davidson says:

    Seamus, I’m being completely serious here: find Notch, the guy who does Minecraft, and offer him your services. He’s currently rolling in money, he’s famous for writing procedural content, and he needs some direction and a guy who knows how to write.

    1. Lochiel says:

      Notch is hiring. Minecraft has exploded big enough that he is now busy hiring on people and forming a company, and thus has no time to code.

      Good luck finding a job :)

      1. Dys says:

        Yes, this. Definitely. If it’s possible.

        I can’t help thinking that a lot of the content of this site revolves around the idea that coding and writing should not necessarily be mutually exclusive. I imagine there are probably development houses out there who could use a guy able to write both solid code and cogent narrative.

    2. Rosseloh says:

      That’s not a bad idea.

      The problem is that he only wants to hire folks who are in Sweden, or are willing to move there on their own dime, as far as I know.

      Anyway, good luck Shamus. I hate resume writing; probably because I hate self-promotion. Still, with your experience it shouldn’t be hard to draw one up.

    3. Brendan Byron says:

      Minecraft guy lives in Sweden, unfortunately.

      Shamus, I hope things turn out good for your family. Those fifteen years of employment look good on a resume, and your skills as a writer are well and truly public.

      Have you thought, perhaps, of going Indie? You certainly have a good grasp of game mechanics from the years of doing this blog and the Escapist, and you can program as well. In worst case circumstances, you could at least tinker away at something while searching for work.

      Again, I truly hope that you can get back on your feet.

    4. ReluctantDM says:

      I just thought the same thing. When I first played Minecraft I felt it had your name all over it Shamus! I don’t know if he’ll hire remote staff but it’s worth a shot: [email protected].

      Either way, good luck! I know you’re very talented and if I had a relevant start up, I would hire you in a second!

    5. Fenix says:

      I thought the exact same thing when reading this.
      Shamus’s love for procedural content and Minecraft seem like a perfect fit.
      The Sweden thing is a bit of a problem but crazier things have happened than working long distance.

      And on a different note:
      Best wishes to you Shamus.

    6. Neil Polenske says:

      Yeah, the Minecraft thing is pretty good timing. I doubt the location would be an issue considering this is the age of the Internet. Don’t know how payment works when you work for an international company though…that might get sticky. So yeah, one more on the Minecraft bandwagon.

      Just DO NOT PLAY IT! AT ALL! You’re looking for a job right now and this game WILL TAKE YOUR LIFE AWAY. It’s like a single player WoW.

      I actually got my production computer up and running just recently and was planning to get back into buffin up my animation demo reel and then I caught sight of this game…all my time has been OBLITERATED.

      But I made a castle. :P

      1. Will says:

        Minecraft is far more entertaining than WoW. To the kind of person that likes making things at least.

  7. Stupidguy12 says:

    I hope things go well, and the minecraft idea isn’t so bad.

  8. kikito says:

    Good luck Mr Samus!

  9. Jarenth says:

    That does sound omninous. Best of luck to you.

    Here’s to hoping you find a job that lets you do both.

  10. CTrees says:

    SPAWAR (civilian corp that’s part of the DoD) is hiring good programmers, and they pay well, have great benefits, and incredible job security (being the government, and all). Of course, it’s very much 5(+) days a week work, and you need to be able to get a security clearance, but… eh, it’s out there.

    1. angelofrawr says:

      Security clearance isn’t that hard to get, long as you haven’t broken a major law in the last ten years or had too many trips out of the country. Just takes some time for them to run a background check and talk to -everyone- you’ve ever known.

      1. LunarShadow says:

        Depends on the level of the clearance. To get some of the higher clearances are a half ton bitch.

        1. Coffee says:

          But can anyone who’s read Snow Crash really take working for the Government seriously?

      2. RustyBadger says:

        Yes, but remember, Shamus is a Libertarian. Or sort of, anyhow. Makes getting a security clearance a bit harder sometimes. Or maybe not, I don’t know. Whenever *I’ve* applied for gov’t jobs, I’ve just lied and said “Personally, I feel the more people who work for the government, the better. So hire me!” But YMMV.

      3. CTrees says:

        Well, I don’t like to assume anything ;-)

    2. Ryan Manning says:

      I’d also stand behind the SPAWAR recommendation, just as an option – those aren’t bad jobs, and you aren’t going to lose it once you get it unless you do something exceedingly stupid. Another option I might offer is in relation to that – a lot of DoD-contractor firms like programmers, and computer science in general, and might be able to make use of you – JHU (Johns Hopkins University) does a lot with Northrop Grummand, for example, and there’s several companies like that.

  11. Mark says:

    You ought to take up writing code documentation! It combines the worst parts of both skill sets, but it does combine them. Maybe you could even find a way to generate it procedurally.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Procedurally generated documentation *shudder*. Given some of the code hackjobs out there, I shudder to think what a computer would have to say about the code.

      1. (LK) says:

        I’m sure it would simply be a disapproving onomatopoeia.

    2. Primogenitor says:

      Reminds me of the auto-generated computer science conference papers.

      1. Kdansky says:

        I still prefer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL_-1d9OSdk though those were pretty remarkable in their own right.

    3. Heron says:

      Some IDEs already autogenerate method comments based on the parameter names and types. Most programmers who use those IDEs don’t bother to change those autogenerated comments.

  12. Daimbert says:

    Good luck with everything. I’ve been at the same job for 14 years now, and look to be squeezing another couple of years out of it, but in the background I’ve been taking university degrees as a back-up, and so you having writing as a back-up should make you feel better.

    You might be able to think about doing writing by day and programming by night, which is what I was going to do if I had to quit to take a PhD (it turns out that I can probably keep my day job if I manage to get into a program). You definitely want to keep your hand in programming in case you need to go back to it, but doing it at night lets you do what you want to do and even learn new technology without feeling like you’re letting your company down.

  13. Novarum says:

    Best of luck Shamus!

  14. Chris says:

    Shamus, you’re a very intelligent guy, and I think employers will easily recognize that too. You know how to take care of yourself. Look at your competition: 90% of candidates for programming jobs have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. You’re only really competing with less than 10% of the applicants.

  15. Gale says:

    Hasn’t The Escapist had some openings? Probably no use to you if the location’s no good… Well, you’ll think of something. It’s a harsh climate, but someone with your skillset should be attractive to employers.

    You’re a good man, Young. You’ll be OK.

    1. Ian B. says:

      Harsh climate? Pah.

      Shamus hails from western Pennsylvania. The yearly temperature range in this area is something like -10F to 100F. I don’t think anyone from around here would have a hard time adapting to other climates. :)

      1. RustyBadger says:

        Huh. I thought he was referring to the job market climate.

  16. Gaukler says:

    Good luck to you! I’m also recently in the “looking for new employment before my family has to eat government cheese” boat, so I’m feeling the pressures as well. I just wish I had your resume! 15 years of deep experience sounds better than 2 years writing web apps.

  17. Factoid says:

    Keep it to two pages. Focus on concrete accomplishments. Your portfolio of web work will make you stand out above the crowd to make sure to mention that you’ve grown a regular following of X readers on Y projects, etc…

    If you are applying for work with companies that are jealous of their privacy you might want to mention that you never discuss work topics on the blog.

  18. Guthie says:

    Yeah, like Gale said, the Escapist is hiring. They just put up a position this morning, in fact, for a web developer, and the other day they posted another position for a non-games editor. Dunno how much either of those are up your alley, though.

    Sucks to hear even the best of us are getting hit by the recession. I scrabbled to find a job for three months before I found something not even in my field, and that was only via an offhand joke my wife made to her supervisor (whose supervisor is now my supervisor ^^). Best of luck to you, though. [nod]

  19. froogger says:

    Welcome to the layoff-boat. You’ve got your government cheese buffet in the dining salon, mandatory biweekly info-meetings in the aft, pointless paperwork all day long, and don’t mind the rising waterlevel. This baby floated through the 2001-layoffs so I’m certain nothing can make it sink.

    15 years is a heckuva long time. I know the future may seem scary, but all your private projects alone is golden stuff. Employers love active go-getters like you. As for your skillset, I would think the need for a combo of writing and programming should be out there. Not being a developer I can’t say where though. Try help from a career coach, it’s the latest rage and with a little luck and effort may help you as it helped me focus.

    Tip of advice though; adapt your applications to what they’re looking for. Being a swiss army knife is great, but don’t sell it to someone who just needs a can-opener.

    Be bold and daring and you will succeed. Best of luck :D

    1. Kdansky says:

      Also don’t forget to sprinkle the other stuff in there though. It helps immensly to say: “You are searching for a programmer. I am good at that, see here. But I am also a decent writer and I speak four languages.” I got hired for the part of my resumee that wasn’t boring Qualifications. Those are required, but not interesting, the other guys have those too. Best of luck, but I think you’ll do well.

      As for suggestions: Procedural (Swiss company), RPS, Escapist.

  20. NickR says:

    Good luck Shamus, although I’m sure you don’t need it. I’ve been through the same situation as you before and honestly, sometimes it’s a good thing. It takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow. Whatever path you decide to take you will do well at and you will be an asset to any company that decides to hire you.

  21. Henebry says:

    As Factoid suggests, your achievements on this blog are really quite remarkable. I should think they are in themselves the best possible recommendation of your character and talents. In the past five years here you have demonstrated an exceptional work ethic. You’re able to work productively from home. You have shown exceptional talent as a web designer and programmer. And throughout you have written with verve, clarity and persuasion. If I had a job to offer you, I’d hire you in a moment””geography be damned.

  22. Irridium says:

    Wow, thats heavy.

    I wish you the best. Hell I got my job basically how you described. I met someone, they were the manager of a local video-rental store and were opening a games section, so they needed someone with games experience. I came along, I know about games a lot, I get job. Its awesome.

    Anyway, enough about me bragging, hope you find something. And the only real resume tips I have is to keep it all on one page.

  23. Meredith says:

    I don’t have any advice, but good luck. You’re a driven, talented person so I’m sure you’ll land something good soon; hopefully it will be something that combines your programming know-how with your creativity.

  24. eri says:

    Good luck to you. I’m in quite a different situation myself – I’m out of university and I’ve been looking for work, especially in game design and development, but I have hit a brick wall simply because I don’t have prior experience in the industry. At this point I feel like I should just cut my losses and put my general arts education towards something else.

    I imagine that, for you, things will be much easier. Getting a mature, experienced programmer can be a huge win for a company, especially in a world where people often have to be retrained for every job they undertake, and I’m sure that someone will recognise that in you. Having the ability to write also means you’re a good communicator (unlike a lot of people in the same profession, as I understand it), so that also gives you a big leg up.

  25. omicron says:

    Best o’ luck out there, Shamus.

    As a similar member of the unemployment brigade (although fresh out of college), I’m hoping you get hired right off the bat – any job we’re competing for I’ve got literally no chance at.

  26. silver says:

    I’m glad I’m not looking for a job with a resume like Shamus’ out there to compete with.

  27. Adam says:

    Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear that.
    Know that you’re in my prayers, and if anything opens up here that could use your skills (Long shot but hey, who knows) I’ll send you an email.

  28. Jep jep says:

    Good luck out there. I’d imagine with someone of your skillset and experience they’d at least have a better chance than most in landing a job.

  29. mneme says:

    Good luck!

    Personally…you’ve got a nice big following as a writer; I think you should run with it!

  30. Inwards says:

    Shamus, you seem to be at the age when most people are transitioning (some willingly, most…less so) out of programming. The reasons for this are simple; right now, unless you network your way into a good position, expect to take a 50% pay cut and a 100% increase in workload. That’s just the way that PC coders are treated in this industry. If you want to maintain your non-coding projects, you’re probably done with being a full time programmer. Even if you choose to become an independent contractor, you’ll have to put up with someone else’s schedule.

    If your goal is to be reasonably compensated for your time and not to put in 60 hour work weeks for half of what you’re making now, you’re probably best served to find a company that let’s to meld your communications skills with your technical background. Like being a technical team lead with a possible career path into management.

    Personally, I don’t expect to enjoy my job; I just try to squeeze the most money out of whoever I happen to be working for. The days when you can expect to find fulfillment in your day job have long since passed for the vast majority of coders. So if a company is going to eat my life, I will sell myself dearly.

    I am well aware that my view comes from accepting the role as principle provider for my family, and with it, the fact that happiness as it relates to my career has no relevance compared to my obligations. Perhaps this does not apply to you. For myself, I don’t have the qualifications to follow my dreams.

    Money cannot bring you happiness, but the lack of it will make you freaking miserable.

    1. Heron says:

      I think it’s quite reasonable to look for a job that is enjoyable and provides the salary and career path you want, with a reasonable workload. In general my employer provides that (though under my current manager, not so much).

      I don’t have any good advice, Shamus, but I’ll wish you good luck along with everyone else :)

  31. PinkCoder says:

    I, too, wish you the best of luck. As for resume advice, my opinion is to write the kind of resume that you would want to read if you had to hire someone to replace you. Don’t try to bend yourself into some predefined ‘resume’ mold, because the person reading will get a sense of insincerity. Be yourself and note what is important to you and those skills will shine through to the right employer.

  32. Knut says:

    Good luck to you on finding a new job. I’m sure it’ll turn out fine:)

    And for a tip, when I was searching about a year ago, I heard that attaching a photo of yourself to your resume, so potential employers will remember you more easily. But maybe not the “dork->” one ;)

  33. Mari says:

    If I had a job in your field, I’d hire you in a nano-second based solely upon your strong work ethic and ability to communicate with others. Sadly, I don’t :-( I’ll be sending my best wishes your way, though.

    If it would help any I also have cash I would be willing to send your way. Seriously, if parts (or all) of your blog content went subscription-based I would actually pay for it. I think you’re about the only blogger that I read I could say that about, but there it is. I’ve been here since about half-way through DMotR and I stuck around once the (obvious) funny was gone because you’re an intelligent, insightful commentator upon things which interest me. And you have a certain kind of – charisma? – that draws other intelligent people to you (which is rare – easy enough to pull in the idiots, but by sheer force of who you are you’ve built a civilised following of people who have discussions rather than flame-wars for the most part). Those seem to me to be valuable skills and traits in a workplace setting, but then I tend to avoid workplace settings in part because they seem illogical and counterproductive more often than not.

    Anyway, best of luck whatever way you go, Shamus.

    1. Viktor says:

      I’d recommend a donate button rather than a subscription-based system. It’s less likely to damage the climate built up here.

      1. Keeshhound says:

        I’d have to agree, and with the viewer base you’ve built up, a donate button might even bring in a greater income than subscriptions.

      2. Mari says:

        Oh, I assumed it was a given that a donation button would get cash out of me. Frankly I’m one of those people who is more apt to part with money when asked nicely than when blackmailed with content. So if I would shell out for a subscription, OF COURSE I would just donate voluntarily.

    2. Ryan Manning says:

      Well, darn, Mari got to it first, but I’d say all the same things. Primarily, you’ve got a great skillset that is going to be very valuable in the right position, and, granted, that’s a bit esoteric, but I think you ought to be able to find it. And, in the short run, you do have a lot of support here and I’m sure in other communities you’re a part of. Keep up the spouting of interesting and intelligible things, Mr. Young.

  34. Kennet says:

    I interned at Telltale a few years back so I got an itch to check their page for jobs when I read this. Turns out they are actually hiring. I doubt I can put in a good word or anything like that, since I lost contact with them… And they are probably on the other side of the country… But, you know, it’s an option.

    EDIT: Also, I see they started using QT so I guess that’s another notch on the not-so-much tally.

  35. Pickly says:

    In the spirit of yesterdays (Or Friday’s) escapist article: microtransactions.

    $5 to follow the link from here to the escapist article
    $6.50 for one hour of viewing time for an article here.
    $2/comment, or $3 for “premium commenting service”, which provides whatever those pictures in the upper right corner are called.
    $5 for a lets play article, or &35 for a series of lets play articles.
    $55 to view the DM of the Rings entire series, or $4 for a panel
    Plus similar prices for anything else I may have forgotten.

    Sure, people will complain about being nickel and dimed, but will pay up anyway.

    Unfortunately, if the escapist gives you trouble, you probably won’t have money for suing them, so you’ll just have to remove your articles from there for the time being until you get that money.

    Good luck.

    edit: And, of course, make sure to announce this as “a monetization opportunity to allow more content delivery to our customers.”

    1. RustyBadger says:


  36. Macil says:

    I wish I were in a position to work with you, Shamus! There aren’t a lot of people out there whose opinion I agree with almost 99% of the time. Alas, I am but a humble employee myself for the time being until my dreams of running my own business come true.

    I think being able to code and write is a great combination. That’s the perfect role for a great game designer. Why pick a path? Maybe you’d consider trying your hand at your own business/game?

    I’m sure fortune will find you in whatever you do!

  37. Groboclown says:

    I’ve been in those unemployment shoes, with a family to feed, and it’s not a pretty thing. I really do wish you the best of luck.

    But, to keep things in the right attitude…

    Perhaps you could talk to Activision about what you could do that Kotick can’t.

  38. Brandon says:

    I hope you weren’t too blindsided by this Shamus, it sounds like it was a rather sudden layoff. Good luck getting back into whatever niche you want to work in, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a good place for yourself, whatever you decide to do in the end.

  39. James Walker says:

    Good luck, Shamus!

  40. Gothmog says:

    Luck, brother.

    I’ll be praying for ya.

  41. SolkaTruesilver says:

    If somebody came to you with a project and funding, would you be interested in trying out game design?

    1. Shamus says:

      “Funding” sounds like “a paycheck”. So yes. :)

      I’ve been thinking about this very thing. I’ve got pages and pages of game design around here for projects I’ve never had the time to pursue. Some are big designs for if I ever found myself with a team and a duffel bag full of money. Some are small one or two person jobs. If we had the cash to coast for a couple of months I might take a crack at one of the more modest designs and see how far I could go with it.

      I’d actually like to blog about a game I was developing. It would make for an interesting read. And talking about problems tends to help me think about them in different ways. (As opposed to just staring at code.) And when the game is done, there’s already a queue of people interested in it.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Investment in small-business and such financial project is what I want to do in my life, and it’s the main reason I put money aside. Video-gaming can be a lucrative and intellectually rewarding business.

        And I know a few people who might be interested in shelling out some money for a well-presented project that has interesting possibility of return. Do you mind if I write to you privately about it?

          1. SolkaTruesilver says:

            I already have it, a simple “yes” would have sufficed :-)

            Will get back to you.

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              If you reach the point of seriously considering such a project then please let it be known. While you would no doubt get a lot of timewasters I’m sure there are some of your readers (eg me) who might be willing to invest a non negligable amount of money in an appropriately commercial project (ie one that has a realistic chance of a positive return!).

              1. RustyBadger says:

                Um, also: Kickstarter. Put up a Paypal button here, so we can painlessly send you money on our credit cards. But then go to Kickstarter and throw out a project. Even if it’s just “Raise $10K so Shamus can fart around and be creative for a couple months”.


                1. Mario l. says:

                  I second this. Besides, it seems that there are already several people interested in buying the program you use to make the comics. That could be a beginning.
                  As Steam proved, even with small amounts of money you can get to a considerable figure, and I am full willing to pay you my part.
                  Good luck Shamus.

              2. ReluctantDM says:

                I have trivial amounts of money I can throw in the ring too!

                1. Elm says:

                  If you do wind up going this route, I’d be interested in putting some money on the table as well (I hesitate to call the amount trivial or non-trivial, since I don’t know how much total money you’d be needing) – assuming the concept is compelling enough that I can sell it to my wife, that is!

  42. Daran says:

    Best of luck in the job hunt.

  43. radio_babylon says:

    consider combining the two (writing and coding)… write a “pop-sci” type book about the magic that happens beneath the hood in games, and how that has progressed since the early days through today and a look forward at the future.

    these kinds of books (technical/scientific subject matter written for laypeople with an eye towards being entertaining as well as informative) tend to do fairly well… “readers” generally like to learn about things, and also like to be entertained, and often eat tech-lite books up. theres no shortage of examples of what im talking about, but an example i recently read is “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson.

    self-publishing is easier than its ever been thanks to things like amazon’s digital text platform, and other industry competitors, and more than one independent author has received a print book deal after success self-publishing digitally.

    however, if you do self-publish… do yourself a favor and get a professional editor. it makes a world of difference, and the polish really shows. i know one in particular that would probably be able to do the work quite reasonably if you decide to give it a shot.

    i cant speak for the world of readers in general, but i can say with certainty that this is a book id like to read, so youve got one sale sewn up already :)

    1. Ben says:

      Scribd offers 80% of earnings from online sales to authors (compared to Amazon’s 70%).

  44. Mrsnugglesworth says:

    Good luck Shamus! I hope you the best in all your searching. Some people posted about you joining the minecraft team. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know how good of a coder you are, or even if you can define coders by being good or not, but you, sir, are a good writer.

  45. Michael says:

    Mistakes to avoid, eh?

    Well, taken from personal experience, if you ever decide to print that sucker off, please take care NOT to sneeze on the copy you’re handing over to the company you’re prospecting employment from. Even if you only get the front page, things will not look good for the Homestar Runner*.

    *That would be you, by the by.

  46. Noah Gibbs says:

    On the plus side, bad job market or no, this is a *great* time to be looking for a job as a coder, based on how feverishly the headhunters are after me. And the companies I’ve looked at are all definitely hiring.

    No clue how it is for writers, though.

    1. Calli says:

      Depends on the kind of writing. Fiction is definitely a competitive and unglamorous career, ever-invoked examples of J.K. Rowling and Stephen King aside.

      Shamus, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but when you say ‘writing’ are you talking about fiction or nonfiction–or about something else?

      1. Felblood says:

        Um, he writes editorial non-fiction, here and on The Escapist.

        I guess there was that fanfic novel about System Shock too, but I don’t think that’s what he’s getting at, when he says he has experience as a paid writer.

        1. Calli says:

          The fanfic novel was exactly why I was wondering, but you have a point. I misread the ‘paid’ part (well, folded Stolen Pixels comic writing into it too, and that’s really a whole other kind of writing altogether), and the last post mentioning writing I read as referring to possible fiction, too. (Specifically, I think it mentioned the System Shock fan-novel, and the possibility of doing fiction (of any kind) again, but I’m probably reeeeeally misremembering.)

        2. Megabyte says:

          I want to commend you for the complexity you gave the villain in your novel. You gave a character with a seemingly one-dimensional evil a real origin, motivation, and resolution. It was quite sad to see what might have been if the hero had the foresight and responsibility he develops during the story.

          BTW, where did you get the idea for the drive and inhibitor chips?

  47. Mischa says:

    You will have thought of this, and I can understand if you don’t like the idea, but a ‘donate’ button on this site may generate some revenue as well, should you need it. With all the content you deliver: people are willing to pay for that, even if they can get the same content without paying.
    I don’t know how many people, though. I don’t expect it will be enough to make a living.

  48. Scurofiamma says:

    Hi Shamus, i wish you good luck!
    I wish also I could do more to help you..
    Maybe it’s just words, but i really hope they can be of some meaning: if I had to pay you 1$ for every hour of entertainment you gifted me, I’d owe you a couple of weeks of paycheck.

    You’re one of the brightest people i (don’t actually) know, I have faith you will be fine!

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I was wondering how many people would like a nice casual game for 1$/month on a portable device, with a sparkling of multiplayer, and maybe a well written storyline.

      … that would probably involve emo vampires and sorcerous teenagers….

      Okay, scrap the “well written storyline”. We just need some cheesy stuff.

  49. RichVR says:

    Why don’t you consider whacking the bugs in your comic creation software and selling it?

    1. porschecm2 says:

      Now that is a good idea.

    2. Irridium says:


      /scruffy, the janitor

    3. Mistwraithe says:

      One suspects Shamus was fishing for feedback with this idea in mind when he posted about his comic software last week ;-)

  50. Ian B. says:

    Oi, I know what it’s like to be out of work during these times.

    Best of luck to you, Shamus. I hope you find something that’s a good fit for you.

  51. DmL says:

    I hear Keiron just switched jobs. Maybe his old spot is open?

  52. NotYetMeasured says:

    Best of luck, Shamus. As has been said here already, you’re clearly a very thoughtful guy so some lucky company will definitely grab you soon.

    My resume advice: always send a cover letter.


  53. Eric Taylor says:

    Best of luck to ya.

  54. Davie says:

    Good luck to you. Let’s hope you’re hired by a small but capable developer and become the authority on gimondous procedurally generated game worlds.

  55. Alan says:

    Hey Shamus,

    If you ever needed it, I think that this page of comments should help convince you, not that you will be able to find a job, but more, what kind of job would you like?

    Sorry about the long post, but I thought that I would try and be helpful, in case you really were looking help, rather than commiserate…

    It might be worth going right back to basics and having a page for writing, a page for coding, and a page for other.

    On each page write down a list of all the things that you like, dislike, and experience / qualifications for each thing.

    Advice for writing roles:

    I don’t know how much you are being paid at the Escapist, but I suspect that you would need a lot of little jobs like that to fully pay the bills, which means that you will probably be looking for some kind of contract work.

    Perhaps if you took all those kooky ideas that you have knocking around, and submit them to game publishers out there to see if you can get any interest.

    Also, if you have an idea for a full book, it might be worth contacting paper publishers, because with this blog, the escapist, plus whatever contacts you have publishers WILL be interested. If you are willing to self-promote, the book almost doesn’t matter, because I heard that they are willing to look at any author who looks like they are capable of selling as little as ~1000 copies.

    Depending on the subject and the publishers, they my even give you an advance which would pay the bills.

    With regards to coding:

    I have read your blog for quite a while, and I still can’t shake the idea that you are a “coder who can write really well”. I don’t know too much about the industry, but with your skills and experience, I think you would probably be a walk-in for most jobs.

    You could also take a look at elance.com or craigslist.com and get some small jobs to tide you over, plus get some specific pieces to put in your portfolio (In case you don’t have enough :-) ).

    Several people have mentioned minecraft, but there is another indy company which shares what I perceive to be your philosophy on RPG games:
    They have good writing, big worlds (Care to tell them about procedural content?), and in depth stories.

    Like I say, I don’t know about the coding industry, but it seems like that kind of thing is more of a traditional “Look for job, apply for job, get job” kind of thing, but writing is more the organic kind of thing that you describe above.

    It just depends on the kind of lifestyle you are looking for – the starving writer thing isn’t just a cliché.

    In any case, serious offer: if you get into real trouble, I have some low volume, low skilled writing work that pays about $8 per page if you need quick cash.

    In a way, I hope that you don’t need it.

    Good luck.

  56. Zak McKracken says:

    Ohh… sad to read that!

    I think I’d seize the opportunity to do some things that have been waiting to be done for a long time. And then go get a job. Quickly, because I’ve just witnessed what one year of unemployment can do to a person.

    OK, so your qualifications: Gaming, coding, writing, strorytelling, drama, fun …
    two obvious choices:
    1. You should go find a small nice little company that makes games. Like 2D boy. or … no idea, some small indie company. Or a start-up. That’d be just the place for your talents.
    2. Teaching others about coding and games. Using witty words. You’ve done some really good educational work on this site here, at least I found it really educational

    On the whole, I bet it is extremely helpful if you can just point someone at this site and say “look, I’ve done that just for fun”. That should make writing a resume a lot easier.

    Right now, on my side of the large water, engineers (including software engineers) are in scarce supply (but that’s industry programming, not games). You’d have problems choosing which company to go with. Maybe there are some willing to accept someone working for them via internet? Or willing to pay relocation? OK, now I’m dreaming :)

    I’m wishing you lots of success. Not luck, you won’t need much of that.


    Ohh, that comicpress thing … why not make it a real thing? I bet some people would pay for it. Or some webcomic syndicates or authors might pay for the development (and then you make it open and free to use…)? The web is full of business opportunities unimagined ten years ago.

    I’m just hoping Twentysided won’t fall victim to whatever job you find. That’d be a shame.

  57. uberfail says:

    It’s unfortunate that since your comics are screencaps you don’t have the option of selling Merc like others do.

    1. NotYetMeasured says:

      I was going to suggest T-shirts too. It’s possible that you could come up with something non-trademarked and/or centered around one of your own taglines. My ideas:
      1. Your own design of a star on a chest. Did he have a catchphrase? put that on the back.
      2. “No, uh, these are the same goblins.”

      You could even turn the process into some sort of a vote, so you would know you were starting with the biggest possible market for your chosen design(s).

  58. DarkLadyWolf says:

    Good luck, Shamus! With your skill set I’m sure you’ll find something.

    I’d hate to see a resource like you go to waste.

    Oops, I think I’m thinking in HR terms again (If I’d played it, maybe someone would suggest I was thinking in Civ V terms).

  59. ThaneofFife says:

    Shamus, I would definitely be interested in investing a few hundred dollars (maybe more) in whatever project you thought would be successful. I know that’s not much, but hey, it’s what I can offer.

    Just brainstorming here–good projects might include those small-medium game ideas you mentioned, or further development on your comics software you showed off a few days ago.

    Whatever you end up doing, please keep blogging! Reading this is always a highlight of my web-surfing.

  60. Irridium says:

    A thought occurs, you should join Valve’s Steam team. And fix all the obvious bugs they seem to leave in there. Then when thats done, you quit, join Bethesda, and school them in good storytelling techniques. Then you quit and move on to Obsidian, and show them how to fix bugs. Then you quit and go on to the next one…

    You’d be like Batman. Only instead of fighting crime you’d be making the industry less dumb.

    1. Blake says:

      And once you’re done schooling the studios and publishers, you can become a university lecturer making sure the students know what they’re getting into ahead of time :P

      Good luck in your quest anyway. I hope this helps http://goo.gl/dB0x

  61. DaveMc says:

    Just adding my voice to the chorus of sympathy … Amicable parting or not, I’m sure it must be a very anxious time. If I were a betting person, I’d be betting in favour of your finding a suitable position: yes, times are tough, but good people are always in demand, and you’re good people. Best of luck in your search!

  62. Glenn says:

    Good luck. You’re intelligent, experienced, and talented. You’ll be fine.


  63. MogTM says:

    This Atlantic Blog post has some great advice about beginning a job search — much of which you seem to already be taking.

    The tl;dr version is not to let up; from day one, start looking and working to make yourself more marketable, no matter how tempting it is to take a break.

  64. Franco says:

    Good luck, Shamus!

  65. lplimac says:

    Good luck with the search :)

  66. brashieel says:

    Good luck man. Rough time to be looking for work, but you are more qualified than most, which usually helps.

  67. Aldowyn says:

    Someone else may have thought of this, but…

    What about that new position available at the Escapist, the non-Games Editor? You’ve got enough non-game geek credentials, and they already know you, so why not? (Except that you’d have to move to Escapist HQ… which could be really bad or not matter at all. Definitely a factor, though)

    Just throwing that out there, no idea if that’s a good idea or not, but in any case good luck, and I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for.

  68. Joe says:

    When it comes to procedural content and story, you could do worse than Runic Games, the Torchlight people. They’re developing an MMO right now, so they might have a need for people who can hold up both ends.

  69. Old_Geek says:

    In a strange way, I envy you Shamus. I’m not happy in my current field, but am too scared to quit in this economy. Being pushed out the door would be terrifying, but it could also be the impetus I need to move on to something bigger and better.

    I hope that is what this ends up being for you.

  70. Doug Sundseth says:

    Resume 101:

    Don’t spend much space on lists of responsibilities and tasks. Recruiters know the sorts of things that people in your position(s) do, you don’t really need to recapitulate at length.

    Instead, spend your space (2 pages, 10 pt. or larger, reasonable margins) explaining how you’ve made your employers money. Be specific:

    “Lead a team responsible for creating a (…). The $4M project came in 6% under budget and was delivered two weeks early. The project went on to generate $38M in revenue and $2.7M in profit in the first year.”

    “Inherited a bug that had been uncorrected for at least six months and had generated 6K customer complaints. Within 8 days found and corrected the problem. After correction, no further complaints have been received.”

    The key is significant, quantifiable results.

    If you’re sending the resume through some sort of electronic screening, add a list of keywords at the end (tagged as such). According to the resume coach my old employer hired when I was laid off last year, that’s pretty standard, and it doesn’t distract from the important information.

    Don’t mention a target salary; it never helps and it can hurt, either by disqualifying you or by hurting your negotiating position.

    A resume is a sales piece. Explain your value proposition in a way that will interest somebody that you want to work for. Do that and you’ll be miles ahead of almost everybody else you’re competing with.


  71. thebigJ_A says:

    I work in a supermarket, cutting meat in a deli. My place is always hiring.

    Mostly because they treat people like dirt so they quit…. but still…

    You want I should talk to my boss for you? I’m pretty sure I can get you in.

    Oh, but don’t pop any balloons. Some kid just got suspended for that.

  72. RichardB says:

    I wish you all the best.

    FWIW *every* developer I’ve shown Procedural City to has *without* *exception* been breath-taken and I’m sure you could be hired purely on the strength of that. I also think you could make a product of Comic Press.

  73. Skeeveti says:

    Oh dear brother of mine…. I DEMAND YOU WRITE A CAMPAIGN, NO MORE EXCUSES BECAUSE YOU HAVE NONE, DONT GIVE ME SOME CRAP ABOUT ‘oh i wont get paid to be your DM and i need to in order to support my family” OK I AM YOUR FAMILY…..THE ONLY FAMILY THAT MATTERS

    1. Shamus says:

      I have this campaign I’ve been working on called “Rocks fall on Skeeve and he dies, revealing a hidden treasure trove for the surviving party members.” I don’t want to spoil how it tuns out, but I think it will be pretty fun.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        I’m betting on ‘More rocks fall 3 seconds later’.

      2. Jarenth says:

        Possibly a side trip to whatever afterlife Skeeve ends up in, to watch more rocks fall on him.

      3. Irridium says:

        Rocks falling on you and you die?

        I swear this sounds awfully familiar…

      4. Aelyn says:

        Sounds like a DM we ran campaigns with for a very short time. It went something like this:

        Player: “I open the door.”
        DM: “Roll 3d6.”
        Player: “What for?”
        DM: “Strength stat for your new character.”

        Good luck Shamus. You’ll do well. If we were hiring and I thought you’d be even remotely interested in writing boring code for financial systems I’d hire you. For what it’s worth and stuff.

      5. Skeeveti says:

        GOOD GREAT Lets do it. I dont care. Im about to join a LARPing group. Do you want that for your little brother…well DO YOU. Save me Shamus Young your my only hope

  74. Scholar4582 says:

    I also wish you the best. After years of following your blog I’ve come to appreciate and respect your many skills, so I am fairly optimistic about others recognizing that too. I think that in the end everything will be fine.

  75. andy_k says:

    Good luck!

    May I suggest in the short term an android / iphone app perhaps based on previous stuff you may have done (was thinking specifically along the lines of pixelCity, which still runs on my desktop) I would pay cash moneys for that on my phone. But I appreicate that there are probably technical, financial and temporal barriers to this which could make it harder than it sounds and looking for a proper job thing is a time sink; and you did say that you have been crazy busy for a long time. So… maybe not.

    Anyway I bet a pound to a penny that you will be able to find something quickly.

  76. Zaxares says:

    Did the parting with AW come as a surprise, Shamus? Or could you see the clouds on the horizon? You said it was amicable, but it still may or may not have been a shock.

    In any event, I hope you do manage to find something soon. Worrying about a mortgage while you’ve got a family to house and feed can’t be a pleasant experience. Some of the others here have made some really great suggestions, and I think you definitely have the talent to make it in a writing career. :)

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, I saw this coming a long time ago.

  77. (LK) says:

    You worked a technology job for 15 years? Are you kidding?

    That’s longer than a vast portion of people have even been using the internet.

  78. Manny says:

    How about embedding an ad on your website that people will actually be able to see and click on?

    I have adblock disabled on your site and I have never seen a single ad, but I heard that there should be one?

    Also, people should hire you as a consultant for game design. They could make a lot of money just by listening to you.

  79. Chilango2 says:

    “I always found the standard resume to be 50% names and addresses, 40% boilerplate self-promotion, and 10% useful data”

    Call me cynical, but let me reassure you that the digital age has not changed this about resumes in any meaningful way whatsoever.

    1. Keeshhound says:

      Other than increase the likelihood that your prospective employer can find dirt on you that you didn’t even know existed.

  80. Dys says:

    Also, you have like a hundred positive references right here, I’m sure any employer would value our opinions highly. :)

  81. ooli says:

    As F. Nietsche once said “If you do not have 3/4 of your day to use as you wish, you’re a slaveman”
    Gratz for your new freedom.
    Just put a few ads and a donation page on your website to pay the bill, and enjoy life.

  82. Nidokoenig says:

    Lots of luck, Shamus. Hey, if you can’t find anything, can we use you to start a golden age?

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I actually laughed out loud in my office, thanks to you.

      Thanks :)

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        You’re welcome, dude.

  83. Specktre says:

    Hey Shamus. Long time reader–first time commenter.
    I want to wish you the best of luck, and I’ll be praying for you and your family. You’re a cool guy and have played a major role in the expansion my geek-data bank in a medium I love.

    The best of wishes to you!

  84. krellen says:

    Right at this moment, I’m just a little bit jealous, because not having to work right now sounds really good.

    The next time someone demands money from me, however, I’ll probably change my mind.

  85. Dagnal says:

    Sorry to hear that. It sucks donkey. Haven’t got much useful advice on how to write a decent letter/cv; I’m always struggling with those myself.
    But I wish you and your family the best of luck.
    Hang in there!

  86. Vekni says:

    An unfunny man once said:


    And you can. And shall. And must. And etc.

  87. (LK) says:

    Huh, how about that. XKCD’s new map of the internet includes a mention of Active Worlds


  88. Klay F. says:

    I’d jokingly suggest that you send an application for CEO to the Activision board of directors…

    But that would be in bad taste, so I will add my vote to the whole “Put up a Paypal donation button” so that us regular readers can give you money so you can sit around and solve the game industry’s problems.

  89. Varewulf says:

    Best of luck, Shamus. I hope you find something you like, or failing that, at least something you can tolerate.

  90. MOM says:

    Hi. Did you get that new job yet?

  91. Sills says:

    Best of luck, Shamus. The market is relatively good for a coder/IT person with proven experience, but it’s still rough being unemployed now.

    If you want someone to help with traditional job searching stuff (given some comments in this thread you may not need it) then I recommend https://www.ldsjobs.org/ers/center/find_center.jsf. They’re the career-focused arm of a religious group, but they’ll happily help anyone who wants it, and the help is usually pretty good. I had a great experience when I went for a job-hunting workshop at the center near me, and again when I came back later and they spent 5 hours helping me rewrite my resume (they’re deadly serious about resumes). The people will probably be different at whichever center is near you, but the materials will at least be the same.

  92. spiralofhope says:

    There are some excellent suggestions about starting a fund raiser-project or allowing donations.

    Also, reaching out directly to your audience will gather a surprising number of contacts.

  93. Mark says:

    Sorry to hear about this Shamus. Best of luck finding a new job or expanding upon your writing gigs:)

  94. Jason says:

    You could try tossing in with Runic. They are doing a procedural world, and they are really unsure about how to run a multiplayer rpg. they also only recently hired their first writer, so they will be interested in adding someone else who can write stuff to their team. They also don’t have a dev blog, which is something you would be uniquely suited for. Good luck Shamus. Microinvestments would work great.

  95. paercebal says:

    I wish you the best of lucks in finding as soon as possible a job that will make you happy to work for (and then get home from).

  96. Rick says:

    Also worth noting that as well as a customised cover letter for each different job, you might want to change the focus of your actual resume for each different role too.

    Eg for a programming job expand information related to that one instead of writing.

    I ended up with two different versions of my CV… A programmer one and a general one that didn’t scare people off with programming stuff if I was going for a “normal” job.

    For the cover letter, read their ad a few times and understand exactly what they want. Mention that you understand that role and why it is important because of X, Y, Z… and say you’ll be a valuable addition to their team.

    Employers love when they hear the word “team” and will like that you’ve taken time to actually read the ad and understand the advertised role instead of just firing your resume off in response to every ad you come across.

    Also, good luck with the job hunt. I know it can be scary to lose that security and suddenly realise “hey, I’ve got no reason to get up each morning”… but it’ll get better.

  97. Alan says:

    Just a random thought about getting more income from existing resources.

    Since you have quite a lot of traffic, and tend to be one of the early people to break the news about new games, is it worth putting affiliate links on your posts about specific games?

    There are several companies such as Amazon which offer affiliate programs on games, so maybe if you sign up with that and put an affiliate link at the end of any post about a specific game.

    People on this blog know the situation well enough to know that you aren’t selling out on this, and even if it only makes you $50 per month, that will help with hosting / bills etc.

    -Just an idea.


  98. Matthew says:

    If you end up having to go the route of job resumes and interviews, you should check out “What color is your parachute?” It is a really good book about refining the job hunt, not how to write a resume.

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