Schizo Sierra

Joe Stratiff has a very interesting take on recent goings on at EA games.

One poster responded to his blog with this comment:

With the Silicon Valley meltdown, EA's apparently gone from bad to worse. Ive never worked there (and never will!), but the sweat shop stories now rival what Ive heard from Sierra Online vets long ago. Insane.

Now, I'd reply to this in the blog itself, but Joe has closed comments (after all, 443 comments each triggering an email, and you have to draw the line somewhere). So, given that I can't reply there, I'll ask here...

So just how long ago was this? I worked for Sierra for 3 years (up until Jan 2002), and I had a great time, with a great salary, and (being the lead) managed to control the working hours so that we scheduled 40 hour work weeks and kept to that with the occasional 2 week crunch. Morale was great, work product was great, and me & my team repeatedly shipped on time and on budget.

Sure, there was the occasional crunch, but I (as lead) tried to bear the brunt of it.

Must have been a different part of Sierra. Either that, or we were a special case and didn't know it. I guess that goes to show what you get if you put together a good match between lead engineer and producer - really good results.

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Interview time again...

Well, I had an interview with Surreal Software (the guys who did The Suffering) today, and I think overall... well... I blew it.

I stormed their pre-interview programming tests. Those were easy - 100% on the first 15 questions (Math & Physics), 96% on the second (C++/Programming)... don't know how I did on the programming sample code test, but I think it was pretty solid overall (certainly, the code left here with unit tests and everything, and I tested it before sending it out, so I'm nearly 100% certain that it's all good).

So I dropped a single programming question. I'd love to know what the question was that I missed - probably a typo on my part (yeah, I know, it sounds like I'm boasting, but no really, I'm pretty sure I got them all right).

Fast forward to the actual in-your-face interview, and I blew it. I got all the other questions right... but when it came to the 3D Math part... well... I sucked.

Which sucks really. Normally I have a whale of a time doing interviews - they're fun, they're typically no sweat, and it's always good to challenge you brain with time-limited puzzels.... but this one question threw me.

Partly, the question was oddly phrased - but that's no excuse. Mainly, though, the thing that threw me was when I was drawing out a graph of a cosine plot to figure out part of the question, I ended up misreading my own graph. I repeatedly treated x and y, and y as x. Not good. Not good at all.

So, this whole experience leads me to believe three things...

1. The whole interview was riding on this one question. Presumably that meant that there was a whole chain of questions leading off that one which I would have got if I hadn't choked.

2. I need to review and refresh my knowledge of 3D vector math. It's not difficult stuff. It's just a matter of familiarity - and if you don't have that hands on familiarity in an interview setting, you're going to choke no matter how quickly you could figure it out in a real life work scenario.

3. Hindsight is entirely 20-20.

Damn. I hope I get another shot at interviewing there. It's either that, or I just have to bite the bullet and set up my own games company. And that's more complicated - because to do that, I need to get financing.

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#Surreal Software
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Argh!

Halo 2.

Ending.

Damnit.

Cliffhanger.

Just ... got ... to ... not ... screaaaaaaaammmmmmmmm!!!!!!

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Halo 2 Released...

Well, Halo 2 is now out.

That's all I have to say on the matter. Other than that there appears (at first glance) to be over 450 people waiting to pick up their copies at the Redmond Town Center EB Games.

A quick back of the envelope calculation indicates the following:

30 minutes to give copies to 5 batches of 10 people (50 people).

450 people = 9 batches of 50.

So, 9 batches, at 30 minutes a piece means...

They should be done handing them out some time around 5am.

I feel quite ill with a cold right now, so I'm going to bed. No way in hell am I waiting in the cold in that queue. Yikes.

I'll pick my copy up tomorrow. They'd better have it. Not only did I prepay, but my receipt says that it will be held for me for 48 hours after it arrives. Not only that, but I have a saved voicemail on my phone stating that the game will be ready for me tonight at midnight. So alls I'm saying is... it had better be there. Or, in the best of Robocop ways, "There Will Be.... Trouble."

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More on the Auroras...

The Seattle Times has some beautiful pictures of the Aurora Borealis from last night.

I'm guessing that this is what the Vikings thought was the rainbow bridge from Midgard (the lands of men) to Asgard (the lands of the Gods).

I'm including one of these just because. Hope the link still works later :)

BRANDON POLLOCK / AP

The aurora borealis lights up the night sky north of Dunkerton, Iowa.

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