Sunday, October 05, 2014

Bicephalous Monster

Hello blank page, hello white page ... long time no see.. well I should correct myself... I saw you a few times but did not see what you are turning into now ... a non blank page .. oh yes... you are changing with every press of my fingers ... hmmm... goodbye white page ... goodbye blank page ... it happened again, wanting to write about everything and many things and ending up writing about nothing at all .. I'm just going to be cool with it and let if flow this time... lets see how it goes..

Where should I start from ... hmmm... ok ... I know ... I will just start ... days are good... these days are good ... I don't know how long they will last but they are good ... and they aren't good because of any specific thing or event ... they are good because I don't believe in the infinite chain of causality being real .. well this statement had some contradictions in it apparently but I will let it pass for now since this post is about letting it pass... a free form brain dump ...

Work is still a major player in my life ... we are experiencing the new office with a slightly larger ecosystem .. ecosystem of developers ... making sure one project lands well in Steam airport, trying the best to make sure another takes off ... supporting a third project with a brand new team and dedicating any available time to a fourth remote project with great friends ... oh and at times mourning on a few dead opportunities ... embracing the high low waves of reality. The situation while being very challenging is extremely fun to be in and something to remind you that you are alive. Balancing this with "Memento Mori" will bring the ultimate joy.

More projects would mean more interactions with people, the most important part of every project. Now I am absolutely sure that great people will deliver great product and mediocre people will deliver nothing! The biggest challenges however seem to be two things: First knowing what to do, also knows as project/product validation (a very hot topic in lean startup methodologies) and the second making sure the team morale is what it needs to be. Knowing what to do refers to "Are we building the right product" as opposed to "Are we building the product right". The second is the topic of numerous books, articles and academic research but the first is probably hidden somewhere in black magic books and accessible to the inner circles of the high rank freemasons only. Which you and I are not part of and our only chance is to learn it the hard way.

The second challenge is the challenge of the century! From the outside, it appears that creative projects require developers that are highly skilled in various fields and know their craft inside out. This is what I believed in before getting serious about game development but as years pass and you get involved in serious development, you become to realize that somethings are much much more important than developer talents and skills and those are the attitudes and team morale. Three good developers that are highly motivated, trust in one another, are honest and work passionately can do miracles that teams of 50 with low morale can never even think about. This is probably my biggest understanding today after having the company founded for 11 years now. The biggest assets for a company are its people and you need to care about two things on a daily basis: 1 - Are they doing the right thing? 2 - Is the morale high enough? I think the reason small companies often do great things that leave the big giants in the dust are because of these two factors.

In order to make my attempt at caring about the above two points, I had to change course a bit in the past few months and distance myself from technical tasks and coding. This has been extremely hard to do since I really enjoy working on technical challenges and losing myself in the zone wrestling various programming related issues but that would directly translate to a major absence from seeing where we are heading as a team and how satisfied and happy the other members are. A great analogy for this situation is the Player/Coach position in athletic teams which I have had some experiences and know how destructive it can be. I am not sure how successful I have been regarding the two issues but I have recently found an area to devote some pure programming time to recently and I hope the big euphoria I get from the little dopamine rush of it is enough to keep me alert and alive for focusing on the two main issues.

I recently read the wonderful book by Ed Catmull called Creativity Inc. where he talks about how he changed his role in the company to make sure they can continue and work on great products and found it very much aligned with what Gabe Newell always talks about regarding his role in Valve and the people that work in there and how all this is very much inline with how Walt Disney operated at his great company as described in his biography, The Animated Man. Reading about all the great leaders and how they handled their great teams further reiterates the fact that what is important for success in such teams is very much related to the above mentioned issues.

I really wanted to write about many other things in this post but since it somehow ended up with this two very important points, I would rather keep it like it is and pretend this is a post that focuses on the two grand challenges for any creative project. There is always time for the other stuff, or is there? Memento Mori!

Now all I have to do is find a proper name for this post, oh, you have already read it? Well ... thanks to the nonlinear feature of digital media! ... I can scroll up there and add a title for this post ... lets see.. hmmm.... ....... oh.. I have an idea ... google ... hmm... wikipedia ... hmm... ... yup .. I have it .. scroll up ...

Good night! 

1 comment:

Ashkan said...

Awesome! When I read posts like the beginning of yours here I get a little less worried about the state of mind, I see that others have minds which are similarly like a two year Old's one.
The morality thing is damn true, skill is required but for turning it into action and probably more importantly care and motivation for perfection, you need this vague thing called morale.