Sunday, April 24, 2016

Producing Things

There's something that's been getting to me for a while. It started at AGC (Adorable Game Company) where I work when our CEO had a re-org and a new way the company is supposed to work. The re-org was after a major release, and he wanted to focus on certain areas of the game in order to make our player base happier.

The new way the company is supposed to work made my role sound a bit ...stupid. Any number of people don't think that it's true, but production leadership was also cast adrift, and it wasn't helpful for the rest of the game producers. During 3 months of not knowing how shitty to feel, right around and after the holidays which are coincidentally the worst months in the Pacific Northwest if you have any SAD at all.

So I took up the ukulele and I started learning to draw again, I studied some Unity tutorials, and I held myself more accountable for quitting bad habits and resurrecting good ones like bodyweight lifting for fitness.

But the issue remains. In my job, I create nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I produce teams as a producer. There are artifacts of running a team, a mishmash of schedules, JIRA, and agile methodologies. But I don't actually make things. Digital or otherwise. Avocational creation-oriented activities aren't satisfying when I'm surrounded by intelligent people who create smart and beautiful things full time, and who get to design and argue and code creative solutions, and I have nothing persistent to show for my time at AGC. I can see value that I add, but I don't want to add value. I want to add things. I want to have that "I did this" moment.

This feeling used to be easy to ignore when I was busy and being challenged, but now even with new challenges the siren call of freedom from corporate is in harmony with the self-doubt that tells me I do nothing because I make nothing - even though I know it's not true. I want to make something, just to make it, and giving my creative endeavors the tattered and dusty scraps of brainpower and willpower remaining after a long day at the office with a commute simply does not cut it.

I know I'm sitting at the top of Maslow's pyriamid and kvetching about my creativity options and independence being slightly off. Poor little V, she isn't getting self-actualization in ALL the areas that make her brain buzz with happiness.

Previously, I'm pretty sure I was able to ignore when this happened by switching jobs. My pursuit of financial independence also helped, since it was a huge goal and the journey consumed me, while still being 'easy' enough on my higher functions to do after a long day. And as long as we're all being self-aware here, I haven't been in any specific job for even 3 years since I started working. Now is about the time when I start to zone out during meetings, stare out the window more, and regret not doing more to be my creative self.

I create nothing. Is this the beginning of the end for my job?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Train of thought on the internet

Glimpsing Atlas Shrugged on a redditor's bookshelf in a decluttering post. Looking up the book summary, knowing that it's libertarian (or Objectivist? Whatever) but not much else, and it feels really familiar.
Like, really familiar.
Remembering this old Sword of Truth series I read. Turns out, the plots are scary similar over the long run, and people know this. It's neat to learn things you didn't really think about before.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Geeky flash read: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

I can't not read a palindrome-titled book by an author I follow.

Apocalypse and distant descendants. Some good fun what-ifs, which is all I need in sci-fi. I could have done with more exciting space travel time, but that's an addiction I have.

The level of scientific goodness was fairly high. The plot moved a bit quickly when narrowing things down towards the end of the "modern" era after dragging the apocalypse out.

If you're a slow reader, wait until you can renew your checkout at the library, this book is hefty. But a fun read.

What I'm reading (online)

Some of the many places I regularly read from these days:
I'm enjoying  aggregator blog sites that take the best of what's around and post it for me. This seems like a sound way to get people clicking through your site. Geek feminism does it regularly, and rockstar finance exists only to aggregate other content from what I can tell.

Of course, there are probably quite a few that aren't any good at all :)

What else should I read?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fuck stuff

Every now and then, the slow but steady "don't burn yourself out" 15 minutes every couple of days of removing useless shit just doesn't work. You've re-reduced again and again and there's that one little thing you just can't do for each space you have.

A pair of ridiculous pants. They still make you smile though.

Craptastic incandescent light bulbs in a box, that you've replaced and never intend to buy the like of again. City of Seattle will take them in the trash, "but they still work!" Who wants to waste their hard-earned money paying for all that extra electricity?

Desk drawers that you had nearly empty last year. But the top of your desk is finally clear, what can you do?

Books you never intend to read, or in some cases never intend to read again. But they're from family and you just know that someone would keep them, because other people have many shelves of books.

Stuffed animals full of memories (and dust. they kind of smell!)

Which ones will end up going?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

7.5 Years

This was written in December 2013!

Due to the limits of my lifespan, I've only lived in a couple of places for over 5 years, let alone worked at them. And yet, I find myself having worked at Microsoft for about 7.5 years. This is a lot of time to some people, and very little to company-man careerists who stayed in one company for 25 years.
I am leaving for ArenaNet to try being a technical producer instead of a publishing producer. I'm terrified and hopeful. All normal job stuff.

Things I learned: 
  • (large company) Form friendships with people you don't work with directly. If you have to make an effort to see them now, you're more likely to later when you leave.
  • No matter what you sign, you have a right to discuss your salary. See "sec. 7".
  • (Microsoft specific) Sort your email with rules. And then, once a quarter, sort your sorting. Get off of noisy distribution groups, delete irrelevant email rules, and clean that shit up. It's a mess when you finally leave anyway, but you can mitigate this. So many DGs and SGs. :)
  • (Microsoft specific) Read mini-msft but never ever comment. It's frequently cynical, often not applicable to your group, and quite dated.  That said, I've read all of the posts and I started reading them before I worked at Microsoft. I don't find that the blog aligns with my experiences within the company, but I can sometimes tell who does when I meet them and that in itself is valuable. 
  • Spend a bit of time with the company review system, whatever it is. At the least it will provoke conversations with your boss about what you can do to progress. 
  • Hard work should be rewarded, but hard work and a little visibility is much more likely to be rewarded. If you have a boss who rewards hard work, 
  • Love the company. Microsoft, especially, is fucking amazing. Not so hard, see?
  • Don't burn bridges. You leaving is about YOU. For example "I would like to try another company, specifically a game dev, as I have never done this thing before. I have also never really worked anywhere but Microsoft." This is my genuine reason for leaving. Anything negative is probably temporary and stupid to mention. Avoiding working at Microsoft ever again? Fine, but you can still be nice.
    If something terrible is part or all of your reason for leaving, then make something boring up, like "I would like to take my career in a new direction." You can silently fill in the "A new direction not full of assholes" if you like. Silently.
    Shh. ;)
  • (large company) Get to know some of the majority type at your company (eg. white dudes are the majority type in many software companies in the USA). And don't be disingenuous just to fit in, it doesn't work. Luckily I love beer and pizza. But I never pretend to love sports.
  • Try to know more non-majority-types than majority types.
  • Nothing is personal at work, even though it feels like it is. If you are taking something too personally and turning red or about to yell, it is ok to work from home because you're not feeling well. Because, hey, you aren't.

The journey ahead will reveal a lot about whether any of this is applicable anywhere else.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fast fast fast review: John Varley - A Slow Apocalypse

Why why why do I keep reading post-apocalyptic scifi!
A gang of dogs in the street - No.

Varley takes us on a painfully slow tour of LA from the perspective of a McMansion'd middle class poser while he power-trips for his family.
Oil is gone (this is the second book I've read with oil disappearing for similar reasons) and LA goes to shit for various reasons that aren't altogether unexpected. How can things get worse? And they do.

I waited for a revelation, for a war, for a turning point. Perhaps the book was too much like normal people for my geeky taste. I prefer amazing worlds and wars to human interest.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Geeky fast reading: Timothy Zahn, A Coming of Age

Children can do things that adults can't.
They don't want to lose this ability, and their value to society changes with education once their abilities are gone.

I couldn't tell that the book was written in 1984, so it would seem some things are timeless.

Decently absorbing, character development is a bit shallow but world building and plot are pretty good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Geeky reviewing: Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Conclusion to a gritty story I have been waiting and waiting for!

Spoilers, spoilers.

Things conclude nicely, however!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Geeky thoughts reviewing 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Explorations of environmental exploitation and 'improvement', with a heavy focus on gender fluidity.

The plot was not all I might have hoped for, even though the world building was quite interesting. I didn't find the romance that compelling, but the book may have been too socially progressive (vs. my own brain) for me to maintain sufficient suspension of disbelief.

I would like to learn even more about Terminator, the Mercury colony, or any of the terraformed asteroids herein, but I feel more like I was taken on a whirlwind tour of the solar system with the exception of a painfully slow but realistically compelling underground 'falling in love' story.

Not bad, would lend to friends without embarrassment, if I weren't a library nut!