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Tired but Happy

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Wow, I can't believe how busy I am lately! We're getting ready for an internal deadline and the whole team is working furiously, including me. It's really exciting being part of a team like this - like a well-oiled machine running at top performance. I haven't been a part of something like this since the beginning of RealArcade. It's a wonderful feeling!

Of course, I've been working pretty hard lately. It's a damn good thing I enjoy this job, or I'd be hating life right now. I can honestly say, though, that I'm doing it because I'm a perfectionist. I'm putting a lot of pride into my work and I want to put out the best damn product I'm capable of. When this game comes out, these Sims are going to look incredible! (Hell, they already DO!)

It's funny, actually. I can understand some of the bad reports I read about EA before I came here. I can understand why people would feel overworked, underappreciated, etc. If I wasn't absolutely having the time of my life and pouring my heart and soul into this work, I might feel overworked too. All I can say is that it's all about where you are in life. The way I look at it is that it's a tough industry - you either love the work and WANT to devote your heart and soul to it, or it's probably not the right industry for you.

I realize I'll probably incite a few arguments with that last statement, so let me clarify a bit. I do believe that it's possible to still maintain a balance in life while devoting your heart and soul to a project. "Crunch" time is NOT all the time. We have crunch time for very logical reasons caused by external deadlines that cannot be changed ("Oh, hey, we're a little behind in our code this year, would you mind postponing Christmas for a few days please?"). But when we don't have crunch time, we SHOULD take time off for the rest of life - see our families, go jet-skiing, play some games, get our oil changed, etc. Life doesn't have to be balanced ALL the time, but it does need to be balanced in the long run. A sacrifice of a few weeks here and there to put out a good product is very worthwhile, in my opinion.

I will also put forth my opinion that crunch time is not caused just by bad scheduling. Crunch time is caused as much by engineers like me who want to tweak every detail to perfection as designers and managers who want every little feature possible to get into the game. Ultimately, we all want the same thing - to put out the best game we possibly can. Personally, I'm going to get a huge thrill seeing this game go on the store shelves and knowing that part of it is an example of my best work. That will make every extra hour I've put in here worth it for me. No regrets.

But I also guarantee that when all is said and done, I'm going to be just as fanatical about spending quality time with my family. I firmly believe that it's possible to have sporadic crunch times and still have a high quality of life outside work - you just have to be vigilant about knowing when to stop tweaking and go home. Sometimes that's pretty hard for us obsessive/compulsive software engineer types. That whole "just one more turn and then I'll go to sleep!" (or in Everquest terms, "just one more bubble of xp, then I'll go to bed!") is a phenomenon that happens to many gamers. In our hearts, game developers are gamers too and just as susceptible to the problems. We have to be vigilant in taking care of ourselves and our own needs.

What I do know for sure is that I'm being paid good money to do something that I've wanted to do all my life and would do on my own anyway. How could I not be grateful for that kind of opportunity or not want to give it my all? After many years of waking up in the morning and half the time dreading going in to work, I now wake up every morning cheerful. Having literally dreamed a solution to something, I can't wait to get in to work and code it. Every time I walk in to the lobby at work, I can't help grinning. That kind of satisfaction in life is so hard to achieve - I'm amazed that I've found it, and I have no problems working hard to make sure I continue to have it.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. Hopefully I won't be tarred and feathered too badly for having an opinion that probably doesn't match that of many others. Realize that it's just that - my opinion.

In other news, I had a really wonderful weekend when Karen came down and visited. We ended up shopping a lot and buying a bunch of stuff to get my new place all set up. It was good to get away from work for the weekend - I needed the break. This coming weekend, I'm flying home for a long weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing my son and my friends and taking another break. Besides, my bosses are giving me the evil eye and telling me to get the hell out of here for a few days, so I guess I can't argue with that =)
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I agree--spend time away from the things you normally do. Who knows? You might actually find out there are other things out there you like. Of course, don't do it so much that you lose your job or else you will go crazy and end up drinking all day and begging for money and then climbing a large crane and... err i've said too much. :)

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What I do know for sure is that I'm being paid good money to do something that I've wanted to do all my life and would do on my own anyway.
You're an inspiration. Keep up the good spirits! [smile] [smile] [smile]

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