Life of Sol, condensed radio edit
After finishing my mandatory military service and finding that my highschool papers were outdated while I was there, I found myself in a position where I had no school to go to (as I failed in the university entrance exams - a year in the army does magic to your math skills), I started to seek for work.
This was in 1998. As a guy who had some demoscene background, couple years of summerjob and highschool degree, plus no idea whatsoever what makes a good CV, I had hard time finding any kind of job. I only got into a couple of interviews, and nobody was interested in the fact that I had been programming, as a hobby, for about eight years back then.
Summertime started and I didn't even have a summerjob (the people I had been working for earlier acted as if they had never heard of me, again much to my surprise). I coded a little game for a game design contest and got to the finals and everything, but apart from the nice press coverage (only in domestic papers though) it didn't bring me anything.
Still posting my embarrassing CV around I started to work on our assembly98 demo, 'gateways' with other trauma folks. It became my full-time job then. You can read my rant from the 'gateways' infofile for some details. However, what happened is that instantly after winning the demo contest I got three job offers, couple from new media companies and one from Ericsson (I found out later on that the Ericsson one had nothing to do with assembly, but they actually wanted to talk to me based on my cv, the only highlight back then being the programming hobby).
One of the new media companies was aggressive enough to practically drag me to an interview with them, and they hired me before I sat down. Actually, one of the people in that company was Hammerhead of Hysteria, and old friend of mine; he was just as surprised to see me in the interview as I was to see him. Thus started my 18-month adventure in the new media land.
I was underpaid, naturally, but since I was still living with my folks I didn't mind, and it was really a learning experience. Everyone should go through some new media madness. Projects managed by people who know nothing about software projects but do know about marketing. New technologies to learn every month or so. Techies scrambling to make reusable code in order to stop redoing all that work over and over and over and over and over again. (And in most cases failing over and over and over and over again).
Another Assembly passed and we made another demo called 'Traumatique', and apart from the music that it was. After working on the demo for two weeks (and suffering food poisoning on the side) we got it wrapped up just in time for assembly, and got there only to find that the tickets had sold out! Luckily we knew some Remedy folks who were sponsoring the event and we got passes, on condition that we'd help watch the Remedy booth at night. Well, sure thing, why not. As it happens people were invited to juries and all sorts of things, and I eneded up guarding the Remedy booth alone with Gore of FC, the then-CEO of Remedy. I sincerely don't know how he tolerated all my questions, but at least we managed to stay awake and stopped all those brats from stealing the balls off our mice. We came second with the demo, and the winner was Maturefurk.
Back at work I finally had enough and actually shouted at my boss that my life sucked. I regret doing that, for he wasn't really responsible for it. He doubled my pay at the spot, which didn't really matter to me. I talked with couple other companies in Finland (including a certain unnamed benchmark software house) but they were only interested in the fact that I could do new media stuff, and didn't care about the fact that I could code real programs too. In retrospect, I found that I was a bit to blame too as I didn't know what I wanted. People who don't know people like me (ie. most managers) find it difficult to hire a person who can be interested in just about anything, or who could enjoy all sorts of work.
Then on IRC Adept of Esteem asked if I wanted to come to work in Israel. I shrugged and figured what the heck. This impulsiveness was really not like me at all, so it really scared the heck out of my friends and relatives, but nevertheless I thought I might spend a year or two in there.
First things I asked there were design docs and such, and found that there weren't any. Or there were, but they were outdated. And oh, there were no comments in the code in order to save time. Again in retrospect I probably should have left back home right there and then, but I had come a long way, and didn't know enough to read the signs. Well, I got paid more than four times as much as I was in the earlier company. And while my work was to code in Java, at least it wasn't new media stuff, and hey, I was a lead coder!
My roommate was Aggrav8d of flipcode.com fame, who still wants to make a demo but just can't seem to get one together. As far as I know, apart from Adept and him, there weren't any other demoscene people in that company.
Six months churned by and lots of code was made. I worked on a hobby engine in home, mostly in the weekends due to the 10-hour days at work, but I got a demo done to assembly2k in any case, called 'stuff I whacked together while I was bored', and flew back to Finland to attend the party. Asm2k had this oldschool area and that had brought back tons of old cool demogroups and the level of the products was downright scary.
I met with Gore again and he talked about maybe starting a new company, but it was too early for him to say what it would be about. I said that whatever he cooks up, I'd be interested to hear about it. I came seventh in the demo compo (I had even done all of the graphics; Teque did the music) which was surprisingly good, considering the quality of the demos in the contest.
Back to Israel. The project was advancing and pieces were actually coming together. We were going to have a product after all! Unfortunately, at the same time the net bubble started to burst and the marketers had problems finding someone to sell the product to. I didn't care, since we were promised that the israeli investors would extend the company's lifetime enough for us to get the product out. And then Gore called me and told me about the plans he made. I was in conflict as I wasn't one to desert a project I'm commited to, but on the other hand the new project sounded so cool.. I promised I'd leave in six months. As fate would have it, the trouble in Israel started and my relatives started calling me daily begging me to come back home. What could I do?
So I gave my notice and made my plans to go back home. Before I left I could see that the product was starting to be in a shape that it might actually resemble something sellable, and I hoped they could find someone to sell it to. Unfortunately some four months later the company was finally folded.
Nevertheless, now I work back in Finland, I'm well paid (by Finnish standards), I actually code in C++, there are more scene people in the company than other folks, and things are pretty much looking up.
So yeah, I could say that making demos is dumb waste of time that makes no sense and all that.
Sol of Trauma