Life is like a grapefruit


As most people know who read this blog, at least two of the three of you, I’m a software engineer working in the games industry. Most software engineers eventually specialise in some field or other, whether it’s gameplay, audio, AI or something else. Somehow, I never have. I’ve remained a generalist; a jack of all trades and master of none, as the saying goes. This has worked pretty well for me over the years as I’ve been able to take on new challenges and figure out what needs to be done, and I’ve always loved researching things so learning new areas of engineering always excites me. Always, that is, except when it comes to my nemesis: Rendering.

Rendering, for those who don’t know, is the bit of technology that makes the things show up on the screen in all their rim-lit, shiny, bumpy glory. I have never been interested in the rendering side of things, and have somehow managed to completely avoid coming into contact with it. Until today. Right now I’m working on [REDACTED] which means that I have to [REDACTED] the [REDACTED] with some other [REDACTED]. Hmm, that doesn’t work. Ok, simply, I have to use the rendering technology do what I want it to and I can’t.

It may seem like bragging, but I don’t normally have this problem. I usually understand enough of the underlying concept of something to pretty quickly get up to speed with a new system, and to figure out any teething problems along the way. The problem this time is that I really have no clue about what might be wrong to fix the problems that I have. So what to do? I took a bold step, if I may say so, and one that I don’t like to take: I asked for help. I know, I know. It’s like Shakespeare asking Marlowe for some tips on Iambic Pentameters. What I didn’t expect was that the person I asked was more than happy to take time out of their extremely busy day to take me through what I was missing. There was no condescension, no frustration that I didn’t know what I was doing, no suggestion that I was less of an engineer, just plain help.

Now yesterday we had an all-company meeting. I expected from previous experience of such meetings at other companies that this would be a painfully dry and tedious affair full of budget information, sales figures and executive staff patting each other soundly on the back and spouting self-congratulatory platitudes. I should have remembered which company I work for. The (often amusing) speeches were broken up with videos of other people in the company talking about how much the company meant to them before they started working here, and the fun times they’ve had since joining the company. It really didn’t matter what else was said, that was a clear message and a powerfully inspirational force.

These two things together have reminded me, and shame on me for needing reminding, that I work for a company that I’ve wanted to work for as long as I can remember.

No, my [REDACTED] still doesn’t do what it should, but I’ll figure it out yet.

Posted on 2009/02/06 in personal | Tagged work | Leave a comment

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