Archive for January, 2008

Morning of the walking dead

Posted in Industry Rants, Links from the In-tar-web, Tales from the grind-stone on January 28th, 2008 by MrCranky

Or so it feels – I can barely keep my eyes open. A combination of a very long couple of weeks and a cat who my girlfriend has somehow trained into believing that scratching on our bedroom door from 3:30 am onwards is a good way to get food has left me more than a bit bleary. And today was the day that I was supposed to try out some decaffeinated filter coffee in the machine. Yes, I realise it’s breaking the cardinal rule of programming, but I can’t seem to get the balance right between coffee that’s so strong it makes my teeth jump by mid-afternoon and weak watery rubbish that tastes of nothing. Anyway, I just can’t see that happening, so it’ll be the regular coffee today, at least until I can perk up a bit.

We kick off on the second of our work for hire jobs this morning, so now we are splitting our time between jobs. Not many details to share as yet because I haven’t cleared it with our clients, but I hope to rectify that soon and have something to say here about it. Still not heard back from our licensed developer application yet, but I’m putting that down to applying over the holiday season introducing an extra delay. Admittedly, we’d have little time to do any solid work on it right now, but I’m hoping that things will settle into a more forgiving routine soon.

Interesting piece here with quotes from Jon Hare (ex Sensible Software) that popped up in the Google Alerts for my name (yes I know, how vain is it to be searching for myself, but it throws up the ‘other’ Chris Chapman as well). Two major points I agree with:

1) the quality of programming has dropped with the move to larger teams; I think that is somewhat inevitable though, you just can’t sustain the same team dynamics that you get with less than a dozen team members. Personally I think the approach of scaling up not by having a larger team, but by using multiple small (<12) teams has merit. Of course, the ability to do that hinges on being able to break up the development effort into tangible pieces that can be tackled by the teams.

2) British developers are continually being forced to ‘globalise’ (i.e. Americanise) their products in order to try and maximise sales in the North American market. But to do that, I think we are selling ourselves short – not just in terms of making the most of the British sense of humour, but also the culture we have here. There are a lot of stories to be told, and game ideas which could only come from a British team – but I think they are being passed over because the publishers think that they won’t sell in the broader marketplace. I’m very hopeful that reduced barriers to market from downloadable content will help the balance shift back towards interesting titles (and not just be an excuse for more shovel-ware)

Working from home

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on January 18th, 2008 by MrCranky

Pros:

  • 40 minutes saved walking to and from office = 40 minutes extra work time
  • Hot tasty food for lunch instead of just sandwiches
  • Can use break time to go out and do much needed food shopping

Cons:

  • Cats alternating between walking on my keyboard while I’m typing, and lying nearby looking grumpily at me because I’m not playing with and/or feeding them
  • Harder to concentrate (see point about cats)

Well, I think it’s about even on those. Never mind – back in the office tomorrow, so Bertie won’t starve to death in my absence. Working on a Saturday you say? Well that’s down to the sheer volume of work we’ve got on at the moment – the quiet time from before Christmas has been replaced by a deluge, and never one to shy from a bit of hard graft, I’m working a bit extra. I’m pretty confident we’ll settle back into a normal routine once both contracts are established, but for now it’s a little chaotic. Certainly I’m well aware of my previous rants about 9-5, Monday to Friday being the only sensible way to work, but at least temporarily I’m happy to push a little more if it means we deliver what the clients need.

Oh, and with regards to people who have emailed me lately about recruitment, I apologise for the delay in getting back to you, but paperwork has been somewhat shuffled to the back of the agenda. The situation will be rectified soon, I promise.

Brand New Year

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on January 4th, 2008 by MrCranky

Hurrah – we survived another holiday season. No, not holiday season, that’s a bit too P.C. Christmas damn it! We survived another Christmas. It doesn’t just have to be for the Christians. It’s a holiday all about giving, receiving, and generally keeping the happy little consumer driven market afloat for another year. But I’m certainly not going to complain, as I came out of it with Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid 3 and Zelda – enough to keep me going for quite a while.

Regardless of how much Christmas is about buying of things these days, its still nice to see family, share a little happiness, and generally over-indulge a little. But once it (and the inevitable drinking too much on Hogmanay) are out of the way, I’m happy just to get back to some sort of routine. The new work that we were supposed to start before the holidays has finally kicked off, and we can get stuck in and get some solid stuff produced.

Work on our own technology has continued apace over the holidays though, and we’ve romped through the preliminary work we were doing to test out our engine. We’ll have to see how things balance out with external contracts, but I’m hopeful we won’t have to shelve our own work entirely, and can continue on prototyping our little game ideas to see what’s fun and where we can go with them.


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