It's funny, because on paper it was a fairly minor change. At the time, Looking Glass was owned by Averstar (nee Intermetrics, now a small cog in the aptly-named Titan Industries), so I was technically just switching divisions; indeed, it was technically just a six-week consulting gig. (Which I simply succeeded in never leaving.)
But the reality is that it was a sea change for me. Prior to that day, I'd been at Intermetrics for over ten years: I'd settled into it like an enormous, comfortable beanbag. I was developing a fair amount of metaphorical backache -- having fun, but generally feeling like I was standing still. But it was such a pleasantly squishy job that it was difficult to imagine leaving it for the insecurities and hustle of the small-company world.
Once I switched positions, though, there was no going back. Working at Looking Glass was utterly insane, of course -- the hours in the game industry are brutal, the technological demands are more or less impossible, and the whole thing took place in a sort of caffeinated jag. But for the first time ever, I found myself actually enjoying my job. Doing the impossible on a regular basis is strangely addictive, and the ego rewards in the gaming business are dangerously so. The folks at the high end are practically rock stars in the (less and less micro) microcosm that is the gaming world.
LG went under, and I probably could have made my way back to Intermetrics and found my cushy old job again. But I found that I couldn't contemplate the big-company world any more: it's simply too dull. By now, I'm a battle-scarred veteran of the small-company world, with three failed firms in my past (only one of which deserved that fate). But I find myself almost phobic about the idea of going back to the stable and dull world I used to inhabit; knowing what I was missing, I think I'd die of boredom.
It's odd, really. A major part of my psyche prefers that things be calm, predictable and stable. But the part of me that's been in ascendance these past five years needs to live more than that, and the result is that I've changed a lot, deep down. I sometimes wonder who and where I'd be today, if Looking Glass hadn't accidentally become part of Averstar all those years ago, and made it easy enough to finally get out of that beanbag. I suspect that, without the ambition that the past five years have bred in me, I'd have wound up roadkill in the current computing recession...