Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'd rather be coding (in quiet)

..but I'm not ! (I had to be social and come back home for the night)

I would have liked to spend the night in the office, doing the real work, because during the day the office is sometimes too damned loud.
We have this open space meeting room and my desk happens to be very close to it. Once or twice per week some people go there for a meeting and somehow they feel compelled to laugh like horny monkeys. A few (1-2) are extremely loud.

I complained on that regard to my bosses. I said that maybe there should be an order, a policy to keep things quiet in the R&D area. Their answer was: "that's right ! Please, point them at me when you hear them". But of course my bosses are almost never there, and when they are, I'm pretty sure they can hear the crazy laughter themselves. They know who the loud monkeys are.... Why should I specifically go there an point the issue ?
And also, how in the world do those people not even imagine that other coworkers could possibly be annoyed by their jolly laughs ?
Japanese society is based on respect.. but I guess there are exceptions.

Speaking of work, I wish I had a laptop with VPN connection to bring at home and continue my work there (here 8). I've been working 12-14 hours everyday regularly, and then some more. Sometimes I stay in the office for two days straight (30+ hours).
It's pretty harsh, but nobody is forcing me (not directly at least). I'm the one that decides to stay long hours because I want to succeed.. but at the same time, how can I possibly tackle tasks that should multiple people be working on ?
No matter how big the company is, Japanese game companies have this thing about loading people with 2-3 times the normal amount of work.
The people above will either say that all other coworkers are already busy and that's the end of it.

In game dev related programming jobs, there is never lack of new things to do, or new ways of doing things. Because what's out there is never enough and productivity is never good enough. This is all very exciting, but then comes the business reality which tells that one should schedule things.
Scheduling is very important. Without a plan it's hard to make progresses. At the same time, because things are so dynamic, plans don't really make much sense.
Right now I'm working based on some schedule that I predicted out of thin air.. because I had to. The schedule doesn't include my summer vacations (gave up on those) and, most importantly, doesn't include all the other things that need to be done. What was not predicted, the priorities that change, etc etc.

So, the pressure is pretty heavy, to come up on time, with some pretty daunting challenges. Thankfully I have a few very skilled coworkers. But, not nearly enough.. and that makes me wonder: could I be more efficient ? Given also the fact that my problems need novel solutions that would normally require a more relaxed and creative state of mind. Is it humanly possible to be sensibly more productive ?

...A quiet environment at work would be a great start ;)


  1. The joys of Japanese game development :)

    What I have found in my companies is that the more work you get done, the more work you will get.

    If you fail/are slow (but not obviously!) on your tasks people will count less on you and you will have less work floating your way. The more you are able to produce, the more work will float your way.


  2. Well, in Japan if you are an active engineer you are supposed to be under 35 and single, right?

    So what else can you possibly be interested in besides work??!! =)

  3. Henk !!

    My favorite strip is the one with Willy's head stuck inside a glass bell and Dilbert demonstrating: "this is what our product would look lke if we didn't have to waste time doing demos" 8) ..I can't find that strip !!

    I guess the problem is when one wants to do as much as possible. Perhaps instinctively I'm always looking for recognition, improvement and a better paycheck.. but on the other hand, I should be at least well off with all the effort and hours I'm putting in.
    Instead, last year, after much begging, I got a 50 bucks pay raise 8))

  4. Rince,

    I'll soon be 36 8) I remember the 35 years old thing from last time I looked for jobs. I'm not sure why.
    Personally I think it would be a waste if I stopped being an "engineer" and I started being a manager.
    Recently there was a mere prospect of me getting more involved with managerial stuff and I clearly complained to some boss (there is a lot of them 8) along the lines: "Please, don't make me waste time with this stuff, make me do what I'm good at !"

    I don't think I'll ever submit to the manager thing, not completely at least ! The real stuff happens in the code.

  5. If thats the prevailing work culture, you can only resist it for so long.....

  6. I think that there is still room for people that want to be closer to the more technical tasks. Because those are the things that really matter.. at least from how I see it !