Living a double developer life

The introduction to a series of blog posts that describe what it's like to work full-time in the games industry while running an indie studio on the side - a rare privilege that most in the games industry are not afforded!

As a long-time reader of Gamasutra blogs, I've always enjoyed reading stories from the perspective of others within the games industry and also those part of the indie scene. My interest in these two related, although sometimes disperate, groups comes from the fact that I currently have one foot in both worlds, so to speak. Although I work as a full-time gameplay programmer with Next Level Games (a company you may be familiar with through such hits as Mario Strikers and the recent revival of Punch-Out!!), I also run an indie studio in my spare time, Eden Industries.

Despite living this double life for over two years now, it only occured to me recently that the privilege of doing this is quite rare, since the common rule while working at a game development company is that anything you work on (even at home in your spare time) belongs to the company you work for. If you'll bear with me for a quick diversion, I've worked at companies where the following activities were not permitted:
-Doing any sort of programming, animating, or game design outside of work (unless you acknowledge that anything you do is instantly and irrevocably owned by the company). This one is actually very common. Although, in my opinion, a lose/lose for everyone involved. But that's a story for another blog post.
-Playing in a band. I suppose somehow the company thought that producing music somehow competed with the music in the games they made? 
-Painting and selling Warhammer figurines. Although not a personal hobby of mine, I knew several co-workers who enjoyed Warhammer and painting the figures, and one of whom liked selling them on eBay. Until he was told he wasn't allowed to.

As you can see, working conditions at game dev companies are usually pretty strict; at least when it comes to extracuricular activities. And since I've been able to secure such a rare privilege, I realized that perhaps other people would be interested in hearing about my experiences with it. Thus, this blog is born!

I'm going to cut this blog post short here, and just leave this one as an introduction to what this series will be about. I'll go in depth into the lifestyle that I've had to develop, such as how many early mornings I've worked and how many weekends I've taken off (hint: not many), and how I deal with managing a team while working at a different company for the whole workday. And I'll sprinkle in my experiences dealing with the "legalese" of it all, since even though I have permission to do what I'm doing, that doesn't mean there haven't been wrinkles along the way. And of course I'll explain the pros and cons of living the double developer life, just in case anyone else is thinking of doing the same thing. And has permission to do so of course!

For now, let me leave you with this: the experience over the past 2 years has been very rewarding, and incredibly demanding. I wouldn't have done it any other way. 

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