Christmas is over for another year but Will Ferrell brought us this gem earlier this month.
Just before midnight I was sitting at my computer when I noticed my apartment started to shake. In the first second I wasn’t too worried because it’s quite normal to feel the occasional slight vibration if my upstairs neighbour drops something on his hardwood floor. It was in the next second that I knew this was different. The shaking got worse and the chair I was sitting in began to rattle back and forth. I’d never felt anything like that before. Then there was a loud creaking and groaning that seemed to come from my ceiling as my whole apartment seemed to be moving all at once. It was at this point I stood up and wondered what the hell was going on.
The shaking stopped after just a few seconds thankfully but I was bewildered at what had just happened. Was I the only one that felt that? I began hearing people yelling outside and then I realized that other people had felt it too. It dawned on me that I had just felt a mild earthquake. As most people do these days, there was an immediate rush to social media to see if anyone had shared the same experience. I quickly discovered this was felt across the entire greater Vancouver area.
After the excitement died down, I remembered that I prepared my emergency kit during the summer. If the circumstances called for it, I have water, food, candles, a heat source, light, and first-aid all available to me. Then I remembered that I’m still short on a water purification device and a portable radio. I’ll probably want to pick these up soon.
I went to work today as management requested the software engineers come into work on Monday. They expected QA to find a significant amount of bugs over the weekend but that was not the case. At this point of the project, bugs are prioritized into categories. The most important bugs are the ones that have to be fixed before the game ships. Another category is for bugs that can be fixed with the first downloadable update, reserved for after the game is released. I had one bug that was in the first category but then got reclassified and put into the latter category. That meant management was no longer standing at my desk, waiting for the bug to be fixed. You don’t want any of those bugs because it’s stressful. The release of the game will be held up until you fix that bug.
With the pressure somewhat off, I decided to roll into work around noon. Pretty much the entire software engineer team was already at work but I did not feel bad. At least I showed up. They served us lunch and I spent the whole day tracking down the root cause of the only bug I have left to fix (for now). It took about six hours for me to finally discover what the problem was. I probably could have done it quicker but I did watch a lot of cat videos along the way. I had to leave before I could implement my fix but I know what needs to be done.
Barring me being called in this week for a new bug that pops up, I’ll go back to work next Monday and finish up my current bug.
I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens today. I felt a palatable sense of relief when walking out of the theatre as I could once again go back on the Internet without the fear having the movie spoiled for me. Relief isn’t usually a feeling one has after watching a film but after having avoided all trailers, promotional images, and for the last two weeks, all social media, it just felt so nice not having to tiptoe your way across the Internet.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and technically it’s a work day for me. From a practical standpoint though, there will be very little work done by anyone is who at the studio. Most people are going to roll in late and leave early. I’ve told some people that they should go to lunch and not come back until January.
I worked pretty late this evening so I’m going to sleep in a bit, run an errand, go to work, have lunch, and then probably leave. Many of my fellow co-workers are already on their holidays so no one is going to mind if I take off a bit early.
Let the holidays begin!
When I woke up this morning I knew something was off. My alarm had woken me, which doesn’t seem weird but it felt like it had roused me from a very deep sleep, deeper than usual. Then I noticed that while I was awake, I was in a daze of sorts. I’ve woken up tired before and I know how that feels. This was different. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.
I had taken a sleeping pill the night before (like I’ve done many times) but I began to wonder if I had lost track of how many I’d ingested. I only need one but maybe I had forgotten I had already taken one? This was a strong possibility because nothing else seemed to make sense.
In any case, it took me a while to get through my morning routine. I managed to wash various parts of my body, get dressed, and eat some breakfast. I was still dazed though and here’s how off I was. When I got in the elevator to go down to the Skytrain platform there was another person already in the elevator car. I went to press the button for the platform floor but I was so out of it, I didn’t notice the button didn’t actually light up. Not sure why that was. I stupidly then stepped back while the elevator was going down, still not noticing it wasn’t going to where I needed to go. When the doors opened, I noticed this wasn’t the floor I was expecting and we had gone down to the floor where my fellow elevator rider was going to. I instantly realized I’d screwed up the simple act of pushing an elevator button. I felt so stupid. Anyways, the other person got out and I just went back up to where I needed to go.
Luckily, I didn’t make any other boneheaded mistakes on my way to work. I felt much better after getting my first cup of green tea and the rest of the day was uneventful. I hope this doesn’t happen tomorrow!
I avoided having to work this weekend which was good because I was very tired and still recovering from my cold. The two days of rest allowed to me to feel much better. I think I am about 95% back to normal.
I only need to work until mid-day Thursday which is a relief. Of course, I’ll be on-call for the duration of the holidays. I just hope QA doesn’t find any nasty bugs that need my attention. For the other people at the studio who aren’t facing a deadline, many of them have already taken off for the holidays. A co-worker said that the parking lots at work have been sparsely populated and that you could get a decent spot even as late as 11am.
Anyways, I can’t wait for Thursday to arrive!
If you ever try to ship a game for February you should know that will definitely impact your Christmas holidays. Since the game is scheduled to be out in late February, we need it to be essentially done the first week of January. This is to allow enough time for first-party certification (at both Microsoft and Sony), manufacturing, and distribution.
Today we received notice about what our holidays will look like. We’ll be expected to be at work until the early afternoon of 24th at which time there might be some boozing and taking off early. The team will then be on holiday break until the 4th of January. There are exceptions to this however. First, our QA team only has Christmas Day off and will be right back to work starting the 26th. I expect they will be compensated for this so at least they’re not working for free. Second, the rest of the team will be on-call for the holiday break. If QA team finds a bug that needs to fixed, certain individuals will be called in to fix it. Obviously, some areas of the game are in better shape than others. My guess is that some people will be invariably called in. The good news is that we’ve been told we will be compensated for our time. I’m not sure what that means as that might just amount to a hearty pat on the back.
I am anticipating that I will be called in at least once. My area is still a bit fragile so it just feels like QA will find something that needs fixing. Hopefully that won’t be the case but time will tell.
The last two years have been good for Electronic Arts, especially from a financial point of view. Now that they’re profitable again, they can loosen some of their purse strings. To that end, they’ve decided to renovate parts of the campus in Burnaby. The campus as a whole is composed of two parts: phase I and phase II. The first phase was opened in 1999 and at the time, it seemed massive but the campus doubled in size in 2006 when phase II was opened.
They’ve decided to renovate the oldest parts of the campus first, which is phase I. The lobby, reception area, meeting rooms, the security desk, company store, library, arcade room, the atrium, and last but not least the cafeteria will all be either moved or completely re-done. They are doing the renovations in two stages with the lobby, reception area, atrium, and associated first and the mainly the cafeteria last.
The first stage will be done in March I believe but I won’t be around to see it. My contract ends at the end of February. It will be interesting to see what happens when they shut down the cafeteria. It’s impossible to renovate the cafeteria while maintaining the ability to prepare, cook, and serve more than a thousand people. The company has said that they will figure some way to continue to feed people while the cafeteria is being rebuilt but exactly how that will be done has not been revealed. Not only will the kitchen be out of commission, the seating area will be renovated as well. Even if you could magically get food to people, there’s no where for them to eat it. I guess people can just eat at their desks for a few months?
Anyways, I’ll have to drop by when everything is finished. I hope it’s impressive as the first time I saw the campus with my own eyes!