About four years ago, out of impossible luck, I stumbled upon a fantastic artist and a stellar human being while seeking guidance over the internet. By the time we actually met in person, he had already spent many hours of his personal time teaching me everything I know about hand-painting textures. A year and a half after my first email to him, I built a 3D portfolio with a lot of help from him, and miraculously managed to become a developer in my most favorite game company in the world. My mentor became my coworker then. As we crunched together, we discussed stuff ranging from art to life, arguing at times. Our illustration styles differed wildly; however, when I needed help with my paintings, he always quickly pointed out the problems, made fun of them, then proceeded to help me fix them.
Our game has been successfully completed and shipped, and today was his last official full day before he goes on to join another company. It didn't come to me as a complete surprise. In this industry, people often leave at end of projects to pursue other challenges. This knowledge didn't help me feel any better when he left the office late tonight, though. He stayed behind after the sketchgroup party we threw for him, just to finish a last draw-over for my work-in-progress Warcraft card. I know that with internet and online games and everything it's not like I've lost a friend, but it certainly feels like it.
Workplace will be different tomorrow. I had thought of myself as a full-fledged developer for a while now, but I have always had the safety net to rely on when I have difficulties or doubt. That's no longer the case.
With the mentor gone, the pupil will have to grow up.