It’s 4:43 AM and I can’t sleep. It’s a mixture of fear and excitement and now, since I’ve accepted my fate, a cup of French Vanilla coffee. I haven’t felt this way in seven years, so I guess it’s only fitting I bookend this chapter of my life with insomnia. Anyway, by now you’ve read the title of this blog so let’s get to it:
After seven years and nine games, I’m leaving Insomniac.
At one time, a few years back, I told myself I was a video game lifer. There was no future I could see in which I would not be an Insomniac. This is a studio that allowed me to break the space-time continuum and ravage post-apocalyptic Chicago. It allowed me to write for Captain Qwark and record dirty pirate songs. It sent me to PAX, where a fan ran up to me quoting Orvus because his cheesy jokes made her smile during a dark time in her life. These are the kinds of moments that stay with you forever and make you grateful for every second of it—even the rough times during crunch when it’s midnight and you still have 50 bugs in Devtrack. For all of those experiences, I’ll be eternally grateful.
When I came to Insomniac, I was a newbie in Los Angeles who had never worked as an in-house writer before. Insomniac taught me about game writing, voice recording, and the video game pipeline. At the same time, I was writing feature scripts on the side (it’s a good way to cleanse the palette when Captain Qwark’s voice is stuck in your head). Finally, just this past year, I had the privilege of jumping into the feature world with One Night on the Hudson and the Ratchet & Clank movie. Despite the rewrite deadlines, story meetings, and note sessions, I told myself I could manage the workload—all while working on two games in simultaneous production on opposite ends of the country (And you wondered why I had all those energy drinks by my desk!).
Recently, I was offered a feature assignment at Disney, at which point thirteen-year-old TJ reached through a time vortex to high-five me and ask why I still wear the same Mighty Mighty Bosstones shirt. I knew at this point I had taken on too much work for any one person, but I was having trouble pulling the trigger. The studio meant a lot to me, and had been my second home ever since I came to LA looking to build a career as a screenwriter.
Then, as if fate had noticed I was having a difficult time leaping, my phone rang again. It was my manager, telling me I’d sold another script to New Line. Two projects, two days. And more projects rolling in. Now I’m tallying up hours in the day and figuring out how I’d be able to get my pages done on time, and it became immediately clear it was time to make the leap.
To be offered the opportunity to craft a story, in any medium, is a privilege. There is no hierarchy of relevance when it comes to art. Other than the aforementioned scheduling gymnastics, my moving on is about searching for a new challenge. I can look at my time at Insomniac and feel like I’ve done what I set out to do there. As for other mediums, I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m excited by movies and television. I want to get back into graphic novel writing. I want to develop different projects with new characters and stories and worlds I can explore. Right now I have the opportunity to try all of it, and when you’re handed a gift like that, you have to grab onto it with both hands.
So why does the title say “sort of”? Because my relationship with Insomniac and the Ratchet & Clank franchise will continue. As a producer and writer on the movie, I will still be helping to shepherd Ratchet & Clank into the feature world. I’ve also made sure the North Carolina studio has everything they need to finish Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus, a truly awesome game I hope you all love. My relationship with Insomniac will continue, as will my involvement with the video game industry. How it will all coalesce is something I’ll work out along the way, but I could never abandon the industry that has given me so much.
For those of you who have supported me as a game writer, I hope you stick around and support me through the next phase of my career. At the risk of sounding cliché, I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for the supportive tweets, the fan mail, and the encouraging feedback on the forums. It’s rare that writers earn such a loyal following, so know that I don’t take a single one of you for granted.
And with that, I’m off to begin life as a free agent. I’ll post more here as I can, and will stay active on Twitter. Can’t wait to show you what I have cooking up!