Howdy. This is Bob. The Bob of Bob Blog. This blog contains about five minutes of my thoughts each day. A record. A history. And occasionally worth reading.
Monday, March 31, 2003
Do Not Call Pre-registration for California . If you live in California, you will like this.
I didn't learn my lesson after yesterday. I'm still writing in the blogger editor.
The lost blog (which definitely will be better than the lost episode from Sponge Bob) was a realization that I was actually pushing the blog to a live server someplace. Nothing I've written needed to be changed. Just the "shock and awe" of the realities of the persistence of the Net.
I think writing is a good call to action. I believe in what I write at that moment. Afterwards, I cannot promise I still hold true to the words. Not to waffle but rather growth and change.
I was almost trying to avoid war new yesterday. Overloaded. Instead I walked, and hung out with friends, and worked on some tangible things like a web page. It was good to avoid work too.
Save often, don't lose the blog
Sunday, March 30, 2003
Do you know what kils me? Losing a blog.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
After reading the war reports this afternoon my most overwhelming desire is to know the truth. To know the risk is acceptable for the result. If life was like that, it would be much easier.
Sophia is off to Monterey today. She returns Tuesday evening. And her friends Amy and Todd arrive on Wednesday. My main task between now and then is getting the wedding web page framework done. That and playing lots of video games. But the reality is that we are about a month away from the Gold Master (GM) and need to start cranking out bug fixes.
I envy PopCap games and other places that can make little puzzle games. I don't envy the construction guy who is sawing tiles in two outside to replace the frontwalkway at work.
I had fun pulling weeds in the garden today. We still have another couple of hours to get the bulk done. And probably an hour every weekend for the rest of the summer to get it right. But there is a sunflower almost ready to bloom.
Back to work.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
A lost day -- the morning went to something unknown. Lunch happened to be a two hour break due to thinking I was supposed to meet Amy for lunch, not knowing the time or the place, and hoping my luck would hold out. And a 4pm SWG playtest that turned into conversations with people that turned into Russ and Ian and Nick stopping by my office around 6 and leaving at 8. So instead of starting at 8pm, I am going home to rest.
Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
A quick note. Tensions seem to be running high on the programming team. I guess that means people got their reviews...
I'm beginning to see the trouble of closing out the project as more significant than I ever imagined. And I think the problem results from not bringing in QA and better process early -- resulting in lots of bugs and more being uncovered. And then a again, we lack documentation that might help with them validating the game. And lack tools to help automate testing. And...
So I'm beginning to play around with early dev team sizes and roles:
producer: schedule, motivation, triage, conflict resolution, upper management negotiation
lead designer: vision, balance, fun
lead artist: the look
lead programmer: the implementation
lead QA: testing and documentation
early key contacts:
I think the process starts with a designer (or two) coming up with the top level design.
Then I think you bring in the team core team. The tasks need to be clear from the start and concrete milestones (early and often.)
I expect a prototype, technology, and a clear direction for the art. Perhaps a few additional people need to come on board to help the design, art, programming teams. These people should be capable of being leads later.
Expect the full documentation when Technology tries to write it. My ideal is allowing teams to be flexible except on some key points.
I was a little inspired by reading some other blogs tonight. Mine still doesn't have a good rhythm yet, my voice. Time. Words. Then it will come.
Yesterday (?) I had my review. I was a "high commenable". Right below distinguished. Shouldn't matter much. No concrete discussion of my next task or when I'll leave PlanetSide behind. Probably after launch. No talk about me working from home. And I didn't really mention Nov-Dec on holiday.
For land. For power. Forever.(TM). That's the new Planetside tagline. Besides the ever popular: Whose side are you on? PlanetSide.
So yesterday I couldn't image working until midnight. I left at 11:30.
So this morning I claimed I wouldn't waste time surfing the web at work. I created a Star Wars Galaxies character for the playtest tomorrow instead. And filled out an IEEE salary survey. And a few more games of bounce out (a brilliant yahoo game.) And followed a bit of the war news. And watched the new Planetside trailer a couple of times. And saw that the Lakers won again. And tried to figure out who was playing in the NCAAs tomorrow. And...
I went into Planetside for a bit -- to test a squad bug that I didn't feel like bring my server and two clients up to test. I had to have someone invite me into a squad. I felt like saying: "You won't believe it, but I'm a developer." after the other player said "I'm a newbie..." Ten minutes to test something easy. I hate it when I have to go onto a server to try something. And all day was testing the trading interface. I feel bad that it is something I created.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
And from the news...
"Cpl. Benjamin R. Richardson, who was among the engineers who went to the bridge, said he saw two civilian vehicles with armed Iraqis drive straight toward Americans. A tank drove simply over one of the vehicles without firing a shot, while a Bradley raked the other vehicle with gunfire."
All I can say is that yesterday I was run over my a tank in PlanetSide. Long live the Republic (TR that is...)
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
OK. I think I'm getting the hang of writing everyday. At some point though, I expect the quality to improve and the good nuggets to start appearing. But it may be like any rant, only occasionally and in hindsight is there anything valuable. I hope I'm being true to my vision.
An open door policy is two ways. The door leads out of the managers space as well as into it. I think a manager should talk to everyone everyday. I think daily status reports are essential but the big picture won't be in them.
I think I'm heading down the road to trying to be a manager again. I think I may want to wait until January though.
I slept in until 8:30 this morning. I just couldn't roll out of bed. And I didn't even stay up all that late. Strange, the thought of working until midnight almost seems impossible. I don't know if it is the moral issue around me, my own fear of my review, exhaustion, or just that I'm getting smarter (older/wiser).
Monday, March 24, 2003
Monday. A focus on bugs this week. My mantra: one bug at a time.
Platform seems to be a place of revolts lately. I guess reviews will do that, especially if everyone is paranoid that their job is the next one to go and that the review is merely an excuse for documenting the firing. Find a good manager -- hire them. Pay them as much as they want. It is worth it.
I guess today was a quiet day in Iraq -- a sandstorm has made things hard to see. The first US budget has the war laster 30 days. I think there will still be plenty of fighting after that. What proof does the US want that Saddam is still alive?
I found a cool site: look up puppetmaster.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
Sunday... Comics in bed. And then Sophia and I went out to the desert to look at wild flowers. A necessary distraction.
And then we went off road to Font's Point. This place overlooks the badlands of borrego. And holds a special place in my heart.
A good day for us. A sad day for the forces fighting Iraq -- including TV images of US POWs and dead. The Iraq side may not be fighting by our rules but it probably is fighting by the only ruleset that might allow it to be competitive -- and winning may only require dragging out the battle long enough. Covering land doesn't mean you "own it." And our supplies lines may be at risk. But I think the conclusion to the war will be the same as when it started : a coalition victory. But the path will be much more dangerous than the US miltiary anticipated. Easy to say now. And the path will be much more difficult than the Iraq government ever expected.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
A producer: towards and during beta is in charge of a triage center. The most important thing a producer can be doing is directing the flow of traffic and making sure that the issues being solved are the most important ones. The success of any software project depends upon having good leads that the producer can point towards a task and it will get done. The producer doesn't have time to second guess or get involved in micromanagement.
Bug tracking software is everyone's friend. Use it from day one.
Morning. The news on this end is that my current bug count is 60. Yep... I took the easy route and closed a bunch of ones I could not reproduce (and hopefully had fixed -- not just the repo cases were non-trivial) and fixed some trivial things (like adding tooltips.) Today, I hope to go back to the radar screen and actually get the buildings and SOI and other layers working. And find another 10 easy bugs.
Of course, on Monday there should be another 20-50 new bugs from the playtests this weekend.
San Diego lost in the NCAA tournament and SDSU lost in the second round of the NIT. A lesson: don't pick your hometown favorite in a bracket just because they are your hometown favorite. But my bracket killer was listening to everyone who said Mississippi would go far. Knocked out in the first round and I lose with them all the way to the semifinals.
Of course, that bracket doesn't really matter with the war. Iraq has threatened to behead our soldiers. Nice.
Friday, March 21, 2003
I almost didn't make it into work today. Tired. Drained. The motivation all lost. The world events are taking their toll. The long hours and lack of leadership is worse.
But I decided that I could manage to get some things accomplished today. My bug list is at 81. Expect it to be closer to 50 by early next week. 10 a day is the goal.
The bombing campaign has really started. I heard a radio report on the way into work. The speaker was scared, and completely understandably. We expect a certain amount of constants in life -- and dying on a hotel roof reporting about a war in a foreign land problably didn't seem to be the way he wanted to end it. I suspect that the propaganda machines on both sides are at full force.
However, my current concern is Korea and the French. And getting a stable release for the playtest tonight. Well, so much uncertainty.
On the other hand, Smedley said we'll get our bonus in late May.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
As the President's aide put it "He will not give a play-by-play commentary." Nor shall I. But the oil wells have been ignited and the war shall soon begin in earnest. Pray for everyone.
Did I fail to write as soon as a day after deciding I would write everyday? Yep.
The Planetside playtest yesterday had about 400 people logged on at once. Everyone at SOE was told to participate. I think we found a couple of fairly serious bugs. I haven't seen the email of what I must fix for today, for Friday, or for next week yet.
In the other war, it has started. But not for real. I expect that to be about now. Or sometime during the night over there.
I'm either going to watch some basketball or an Argentine animation to forget about the current reality. The truth is, I have been trying to catch up on sleep and so I'm most likely to come home (before nine) and try to get extra sleep.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
I tried earlier today to resume blogging. Magic of technology lost the input.
The orginal blog title was 5 minutes or something like that, to inspire me to spend just five minutes writing everyday. Who has the time for that?
I'm going to split time for the next few months between war and war games, PlanetSide in particular. The target audience is me in six months and me in six years. So ignore the ramblings.
Yesterday the President announced his intentions to "free" Iraq. I hope we find what we are looking for. I fear we will find more than we are looking for. And I dread this becoming a hundred year war. Go read "The War Prayer" and then start praying.
Friday, the release date for PlanetSide became public (beyond the previous speculation.) I'll start writing down the lessons I am learning. But first, I need sleep; lots of it! I'm going to go playtest a bit, sort my 80 open bugs, and then go home -- and hope I have more energy tomorrow.
But in about 24 hours, I expect the next World War to begin. And I won't be so eager to write a game about a never ending battle.