So after two days of work in Yaletown, I have come to the conclusion I don’t know Yaletown from a work perspective. I have walked through Yaletown on numerous occasions and have patronized their restaurants and bars. Knowing an area from a work perspective is a completely different thing though. When you work in an area, it’s absolutely vital to know the location of different services and businesses. For the most part, you don’t really care about the hottest place for drinks or the restaurant who has the best chef from France. What you do want to know is: Where can you get a doughnut (preferably a Timmy’s)? Where can I get custom made sandwich for cheap? Where is the nearest post office? Where is the nearest dry cleaner? Is there a dollar store around? Where is the nearest food court (don’t tell me it’s Pacific Centre)? Where is the nearest convenience store? What are good places to get good takeout for lunch?
When Black Box was downtown near Canada Place, I knew the answer to all those questions, which made working life a lot easier because in a span of five minutes I could get a coffee, doughnut, seafood sandwich, a bubble mailer, my silk underwear, smokes, a screwdriver, and Chinese food without breaking a sweat. Now if all I wanted to know was where to get a $30 salad, Yaletown would be pretty easy to figure out. As it stands now, I need to figure out all that stuff again. The UFG welcome package contains a few tips for where to get stuff, like the location of bank branches and some dry cleaners but I’ll have to do some exploring on my own. WTF? The near Tim Horton’s is six blocks away?
The first two days of work this week were a bit tough but it was not the fault of any of my coworkers nor the studio itself. On the contrary, the people I work with are great, friendly, welcoming. In general, the studio seems like a great place to work. No, the root of my problems was of course being ill from day one. I haven’t had more than six hours of sleep in each of the last two nights and that doesn’t translate into a great work day. Feeling fatigued and achy from head down to my toes all day sucked big time. Luckily, the team took it real easy on me and didn’t feed me to the sharks right away.
The other piece of good news is that my first week of work is over! Yes, that’s right, I have a four day weekend. The reason for that is my team just reached an important internal milestone for the game and they’ve been pulling some long hours for the last couple of weeks. To reward the team for their hard work, everyone is getting Thursday and Friday off. Since I’m now part of team (two days!), I get to ride on their coat tails. I’m really glad I get those days because I’m hurting. I’m tired and I feel like poo.
As another example of UFG’s welcoming ways, I was told by two different co-workers that I should attend the company holiday party which is being held on Saturday. Apparently it’s open bar with a nice dinner. I would love to go to a company holiday party because EA canceled theirs for the last several years. I am a bit hesitant, however, for several reasons. First, I’m not even sure how I’ll be feeling on Saturday. I hope to be a lot less ill on Saturday but who knows. The other thing is, I’d feel a little bit weird showing up at the party and drinking and have a grand old time having just two days of work under my belt at the studio. I feel like I need to earn my place at the party. Sure, I know a lot of my new co-workers from previous jobs so I guess it wouldn’t be that bad but there’s still a lot of people I don’t know. Who knows, maybe I’m just thinking about this too much and no one would really care.
In any case, I am looking forward to the next four days, party or no party!
I really wasn’t sure I was going to get through the morning when I went in for my first day of work at UFG. I woke up and felt terrible. Somehow I managed to get dressed and got going on my commute. When I walked through the front door of the studio, I still felt awful. The onboarding process started immediately and the first thing they did was take a picture of me! I didn’t feel like smiling because I was so sick. They wound up sending the photo out to the whole studio later in the day and I look like I want to be anywhere else in the world other than at work. That was not a good first impression. I was also led on a tour of the floor I’m working on and got to meet several new people. Unfortunately, some people went to shake my hand but I had to refuse and tell them I was very ill. Again, not a good first impression.
Things got a bit better when I shown my desk. I was able to sit and catch my breath. Getting a cup of green tea helped as well. My old lead at Backbone sits next to me, so he was the one who showed me all the different tools the team uses and he gave me a tour of the code base. Fortunately, I felt much better as the day went along. I spent most of the day filling out forms, reading the internal wiki, looking at documents, and playing the game. I hit the proverbial wall around 3pm though as I realized my four hours of sleep the night before had finally caught up to me. I felt really tired and it was a struggle to make it to 5:30pm when I decided I needed to go home and get some food and rest.
Oh one more thing before I drag my sick ass to bed. A friend of mine recently sold her extensive “My Little Pony” collection online on Ebay. Her days of transporting those little toy horses to conventions are now over. The good news is she’s now $2000 richer. The problem is, she doesn’t know what to do with the money. My first suggestion was to buy some things for her 15 cats but she takes immaculate care of them already so I think the money could be used elsewhere. Now since she’s not a dude (she’s got boobies), I can’t use my standard answer of hookers and booze. I have no idea what chicks spend their extra money on. Usually females buy smart things like RRSPs, bonds, or pay off their debts.
Do you have any suggestions for her? I think she’d be ok with buying stuff that can only be used once and using it involves explosions and/or loud noises. Let’s hear you ideas!
All my life I’ve had awesome luck and this streak continues as I managed to come down with a cold the day before I start my new job. Today was supposed to be a fun day, filled with adventure, exploring caverns, and getting some One-Eyed Willie’s gold but it was not to be. As soon as I woke up I knew something was wrong. It was painful to swallow and it felt like I had walnut stuck in my throat. Instead of getting up at 9am and getting a good start to my day, I decided that if I was sick, I’d could probably use some more rest. I didn’t get up until around 11:30am.
Other than a short trip outside to pick up groceries and throat lozenges, I basically stayed in all day, watching Netflix on my couch. I’m really not sure how I’ll feel tomorrow morning. I hope I’ll be well enough to actually go to work. Who calls in sick on their first day of work? That would be a bad start.
Since I start work again on Tuesday, Monday is my last day as an unemployed bum. It’s good to have a job again but I admit I’ll miss having all this free time to do whatever I wanted. Of course, I was able to be basically stress- and worry-free this entire time because I got a decent severance package from EA. Had I been living paycheque to paycheque and received a small severance, then my experience with unemployment would not have been as pleasant.
My time off wound up being around five weeks. Five weeks sounds like a lot of time to do whatever but a substantial portion of that was taken up doing things that were related to job searches and networking. In retrospect, I had goals and actions that were not exactly in sync with each other. I was mentally preparing myself and hoping that I could have time off until around the end of January or sometime in February. That would have been the ideal time to get another job as I would still be living off my severance but I’d have a good chunk of time to relax and fit in a trip somewhere. Now while that was a goal, I also expended effort to send out resumes, applied for jobs, and networked. Had I really been focused on taking that time off, I would have just gone silent and not even done a thing about getting a new job until the new year.
In the end, I guess I played it a bit more conservative and hoped that whatever job I was applying for now wouldn’t start until the new year or later. There were possibilities to that end but I played it safe. Now the thing to keep in mind is that since this is a contract job I’m starting, I might still get my desired time off at the end of the contract. Who knows what will happen at the end of the four months? For now, I’m off to enjoy my day.
In a previous post below, I wrote about my mixed reaction to the introduction of Netflix to Canada. The one month trial yesterday which I totally forgot about on that day. That means I just paid Netflix $8 for another month of access. There’s nothing I can do about that, so tonight I decided to watch a little of Predator and an episode of Man Vs. Wild. In that episode of Man Vs. Wild, Bear of course had to eat something gross. See the above video for an example of what I saw.
I have procured short term employment with United Front Games in Yaletown. The length of the contract is short, about four months. I am helping them finish up True Crime. It may lead to further work with UFG but then again it may not. There are no promises beyond this contract. Nevertheless, I am finally getting my chance to work at UFG. I’ve been wanting to work there for quite a while now. The studio is in a very cool location, right above the Yaletown Brew Pub. There are many, many people I know and like at UFG whom I’ve worked with before. A large contingent of people there are ex-Black Box, from both skate and Need for Speed. There are also people whom I worked with at the now-defunct Backbone Vancouver. In fact, I’ll be sitting right next to my old lead programmer from my very first game way back in 2005.
I’ve been told how being a contractor is different than being a full-time employee. For one, I need to apply for a business number apparently. I also don’t get any medical nor dental benefits. The money I receive isn’t directly deposited into my account, I get old-fashioned paper cheques which have to physically deposited. Apparently no tax is deducted from my pay so I have to account for that at the end of the tax year. I was also told I can now write off things as tax deductions because they apply to my contracting job. For example, any video game I buy can be written off because it can count as research into the current state of video games. A new HDTV counts as well because you need the new TV to conduct the video game research on. Some things aren’t deductible of course but I’ve been told to keep all my receipts going forward just in case.
In any case, I am excited to be working on my first game that has guns, bullets, and explosions! Though the ESRB rating is still pending, it’s looking like this will be my first M-rated game as well. Yay! I start next week and will be doing my best to get True Crime in the best shape it can be when it goes out the door.