Who are you and why should I care?
Hi! You probably shouldn't care. But if you do (most likely because of something I wrote long, long ago that made you livid), I'm Scott Jennings. I work in the computer gaming industry, and comment a lot here on my blog-type thing on massively multiplayer games, pretend to be smart about war and politics, and generally just mouth off, which is something you can do on these here Interwebs.
I've been a game developer for almost 25 years, the vast majority of which have been massively multiplayer games. My credits include:
- Dark Age of Camelot (tools, web, server programming)
- Aion (tools)
- City of Heroes (tools)
- Shroud of the Avatar (narrative design, programming, tools)
- Star Citizen (server infrastructure)
- like every other experienced developer, a dozen other titles which never shipped and you likely never heard of.
I've also been a snarky blogger for almost 25 years (you may detect a pattern, I promise I did have a life before 1999, it just wasn't so very online). That quarter century of blogging is available here for your perusal in a very badly indexed and thankfully searchable format. Hopefully you'll find something that makes you very angry. I started out at the turn of the century writing on a site called “The Rantings of Lum the Mad” (I was the aformentioned ranting Lum) which wrote a lot about MMOs and garnered quite a bit of attention, most of which ended up as line items on other people’s resumes. The community from the site (which I lovingly describe as rabid weasels) still exists in various places, many of whom I still keep up with. Web site communities are like MMOs, after all. Just the graphics change.
I read a post you made that I disagreed with, so I’m going to make sure your boss knows I canceled all my subscriptions to everything you ever worked on.
I’m sorry? I really do try to keep this blog as separate from my day job as possible, which is admittedly difficult when I write about my vocation, which is also what I happen to work on since I’m a really lucky bastard. One of these days I really need to come up with a great disclaimer. The problem is, no one ever reads them, and fewer believe them.
I am a really opinionated bastard. The way that I like to describe my conversational style is that I try to piss people off in amusing ways. Smiling helps a lot here. It also helps when you’re actually funny.
This piece describes how I feel about blogging, after many years gone by.
What have you learned from being on “the other side of the fence” after being one of those annoying ranters?
Making games is a political act. It’s the art of the possible. You do what you can do. You have limited resources, you have to herd cats to get things done, and you have to be a bastard to everyone you work with, but in a nice way so they don’t hate you. Oh, and you have to keep perspective so you don’t go insane, and as someone put it, little flecks of Lum-brain don’t explode all over the walls.
How do you get into the game industry?
I’m told writing for rant sites used to work, but now people actually expect you to have job skills and stuff. WTF, dude.
Make a mod for your favorite game. The experience in general will teach you much about design and implementation, give you a set for what working with tools is like (if any even exist) and will give you something concrete to show in your job interview. Having something concrete puts you ahead of 99% of the people trying to break into the industry.
If you want to be a designer and think deep thoughts, forget it and find something more useful to do. There can be only one Raph Koster and it’s really irking the rest of us since he got there first. Oh, all right. How to be an MMO designer? Play a LOT of games. Try to think on why they are the way they are. Think on their mistakes. Then think why someone made those mistakes. Try to avoid using the phrase “because they’re freakin idiots” even though that may in fact be the reason. Then, think of how you’d improve it. Then, think of how you’d fix it once the Internet stomped all over your first idea.
How do you get to DO all these? You get in the door, and you meet people, and you pay your dues. I was a programmer for five years before I got a shot at design. Others started as customer service reps, QA agents, artists, whatever. Some even didn’t get to work in design until they made their own company. But the important step is to get your foot in the door, and then make yourself known as someone who has thought these things through (a venue like a company mailing list works – if your company doesn’t have one, you can mark yourself as a smartie by pushing through setting one up!) so that when it comes time to give someone new a shot, your name is at the top of the list. And you probably still will have to kill several other people in a Klingon Rite of Ascension. I’m really not kidding. Design is probably the most competitive aspect of MMO production, because literally everyone thinks they can design and almost no one actually can.
What do you do when not on the web being sarcastic?
I play a LOT of computer games. MMOs, strategy games, RPGs, the occasional shooter. I really like the whole computer games thing. I’m especially fond of ancient Final Fantasy games. I also read entirely too much about Russian history. I dunno, maybe it’s all the potatoes and vodka. At some point I will make a strategy MMORPG about the Russian Civil War. I will be the only person who plays it. But I’ll think it’s fun, and that’s what counts, really.
Not much else, really. I’m your typical no-life geek who spends more time on Discord then talking to people in real life. I live in the live music capital of the country and have not yet been to a single concert. I am a philistine. Please read my opinions on things!