Always Get Better

Posts Tagged ‘games’

That’s Not My Job

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Most companies seem to have a group of people who gravitate to either front-end or back-end development. I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around this because it doesn’t seem like a useful dichotomy.

It’s a fast-moving field, do you really want to carve a niche as a Unity programmer? An ActionScript expert? A Sharepoint developer? If you specialize to that degree, what happen

s when your technology of choice moves on?

How many of these have you come across:

“Front-end” developers who don’t understand the HTTP stack.

Companies that don’t have centralized source control.

“Back-end” developers who believe front-end code should be unit and performance tested just like server code – who don’t understand why squeezing maximum performance for one user on one machine would be as challenging as constructing a web app that served thousands of users at the same time.

Web designers who don’t know HTML, CSS and jQuery.

Anyone who takes a laissez-faire approach to security.

Project groups that don’t use Continuous Integration.

Understand More

Everyone has an area of interest where they excel and you should definitely pursue yours. Never forget that yours is a piece of the whole, and the more you understand of the whole the better you will be able to create value with your work.

If Photoshop is your bread and butter, learn how programmers slice your designs into HTML. Understand the technical limitations and get inspired by what the web browser can do for you.

If you’ve been slinging awesome responsive webpages, use your JavaScript skills to learn Node.js and understand where that server data is coming from and how it is stored. Expand your ability to write front-ends that scale as beautifully as they present.

If you are more comfortable in the bowels of a Linux server, download Cocos2d-x and experience the thrill your front-end counterparts get when their math turns into gorgeous sprites on-screen.

Everybody’s Talking

Every time you learn something new you open up a world of people you can network with and understand at some level.

Whenever someone asks how to get into the field, what do you answer? “Just do it!”

Living With First-Person Shooter Disease

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Some ailments have no cure…

Microsoft to Xbox Owners: Don’t Mod Your Consoles

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The BBC just discovered that Microsoft has been banning the Xbox Live accounts for users it discovers attempting to play using modified Xbox consoles. According to Microsoft, modified consoles are an enormous problem because they are often used to play pirated games, costing the video game industry more than $1B annually. Mod enthusiasts counter that they have every right to make alterations to hardware they have purchased legitimately.

What do you think – are Microsoft’s actions necessary to protect fair play within the XBox Live community?

Minesweeper: The Movie

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Hey Sony: It’s The Developers, Stupid

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Sony is interesting in a “I can’t turn my head… I must watch this grotesque traffic accident” kind of way. At one time the de facto standard for the Playstation 2 and other high quality electronics, it is now burdened with the Playstation 3 and its laughable sales performance. To be fair, the Playstation 3 is an engineering beauty and an elegantly powerful machine.

For the first time in 16 months, the Playstation 3 surpassed sales of Nintendo’s Wii console in Japan. While Sony is spinning the news as a sign that their console has finally become more popular than the Wii, the fact of the matter is gamers bought the PS3 in order to play popular new game titles available only on that platform.

Ironically it was Sega’s Yakuza 3 that drove the latest surge, hearkening back to the early console war days and highlighting the exact same issue: like the PS3, consumers didn’t really care that the Sega systems were more technically advanced than the Nintendo offerings. As it turned out, players bought one or the other because they wanted to play Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog.

The key takeaway? The platform is worthless unless there is great software to use with it.

Sony is in a bizarre spot: they have an excellent platform upon which developers can and want to develop mind-blowing content. Perhaps their platform is the most advanced and capable – so much so that learning to harness its full potential will take years. Rather than proactively encouraging development, however, Sony is coasting on the success it had with its PlayStation 2 offering and treating developers coldly rather than as partners. Rather than fight Sony for the “privilege” of developing for the PlayStation 3, many companies are simply focusing their efforts on other systems such as the Wii where larger install bases mean bigger returns on investment.

We’re very interested in the PlayStation 3 and sincerely hope that Sony doesn’t screw this one up with their arrogance. A sampling of their hallucinations include:

The PS3’s Blu-Ray Player Justifies the Machine’s Cost

Too bad the component costs Sony $100 per unit. Sony may be looking ahead to mega-games that require the storage capacity offered by Blu-Ray, but in the meantime they are marketing the PS3 as a top-of-the-line Blu-Ray player.

Problem: They don’t include a remote control, and they don’t have an Infrared receiver. If you want to watch movies you have to use your game controllers or an optional bluetooth remote control – forget about compatibility with your existing home entertainment system.

Sony is the Official Leader in Gaming

Sony believes that the Wii is in a different market and the XBox lifespan/failure rate is going to mean wider adoption in the future. Regardless of sales (it trails the XBox and Wii), Sony believes the PS3 makes it the “official” leader in gaming. We stress once again – hardware is worthless without software.

The Sony Doesn’t Compete with the Wii

According to Sony, the Wii is not a next-generation console because they don’t target hard-core gamers. Therefore by reducing prices on the PS2 (which Sony considers to be the actual competitor to the Wii), they will be diluting Nintendo’s ability to deprive them of PS3 sales. Because it makes sense to move the PS2 and leave the PS3 sitting on the shelf.

Get Your Boss to Do What You Want

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Communication Overtones asks “What do you do when you are sure you are right about something but your boss won’t listen to you?” Any manager worth his salt knows to surround himself with talent that will compliment his own skills – he will draw from the experts around him to formulate his plans and direction.

Experienced managers also learn to trust their own instinct even when the advice from the experts is contrary. So what do you do when your manager has decided to go with their own judgement even though you are sure they’re wrong. After all, you’re being paid for exactly what you are bringing to the table, so where is the sense in overriding your recommendation?

There are a few ways to proceed:

  1. Insist on your course of action and hold your ground until your manager is forced to reconsider.
  2. Back down – the manager is in effect your client, and you can lead a horse to water but not necessarily get them to drink.
  3. Plant the seed.

Plant the Seed
By “planting the seed”, I mean be subtle about your course of action. Let your manager know what you are thinking and leave it at that. It will get at them subconsciously until they come at you weeks later with a great new idea that sounds suspiciously like the one you had brought forward.

Be Patient
When you plant seeds, you need to be aware that it takes time for your point of view to enter your boss’ mindset. Depending on the concept and its complexity, it could take months for this passive approach to take effect. You could say this technique only works for non-critical ideas, but that isn’t necessarily true – it only works if you have enough patience to let your course of action sit.

Let It Go
Because this technique is a passive method for subordinates to get what they want out of higher-ups, you need to be prepared to let your idea get overridden. If your manager truly sees fit not to invest in your idea and you can’t make them come around to your point of view then your two options are either to put your ego aside and accept it so you can move on, or find another manager/company who want to run with it.

Blow Out the Candles for Spam’s Birthday

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Kudos to this article for acknowledging MUDs as the source of the term “SPAM”: A very unhappy birthday to spam, age 30

Now that spam has been with us for 30 memorable years, let’s take a moment to think of all the great things spam does for us:

  1. Enlarged lower members
  2. Enhanced “motivational” drive
  3. Pleased partners
  4. Cheap pharmaceuticals (like aspirin, of course)
  5. Lonely ladies with web cams
  6. University degrees for the masses
  7. Winning notifications for lotteries we didn’t even know we entered
  8. The opportunity to help the families of political victims retrieve their relative’s wealth, and share it with us
  9. Quality Rolex watches at amazing discounts
  10. Escape from debt

Not to mention it has become Nigeria’s chief export.