Monday, April 23, 2012

Interesting Snippet from the Value New Employee Handbook

Engineers: code is only the beginning 

If you were hired as a software engineer, you’re now surrounded by a multidisciplinary group of experts in all kinds of fields—creative, legal, financial, even psychological. Many of these people are probably sitting in the same room as you every day, so the opportunities for learning are huge.Take advantage of this fact whenever possible: the more you can learn about the mechanics, vocabulary, and analysis within other disciplines, the more valuable you become.

Non-Engineers: program or be programmed

Valve’s core competency is making software. Obviously different disciplines are part of making our products, but  we’re still an engineering-centric company. That’s because the core of the software-building process is engineering. As in, writing code. If your expertise is not in writing code, then every bit of energy you put into understanding the code-writing part of making software is to your (and Valve’s) benefit. You don’t need to become an engineer, and there’s nothing that says an engineer is more valuable than you. But broadening your awareness in a highly technical direction is never a bad thing. It’ll either increase the quality or quantity of bits you can put “into boxes,” which means affecting customers more, which means you’re valuable

On Hiring

Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe.Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breath-ing. So when you’re working on hiring—participating inan interview loop or innovating in the general area of recruiting—everything else you could be doing is stupid and should be ignored!

•Would I want this person to be my boss?
•Would I learn a significant amount from him or her?
•What if this person went to work for our competition? (there are definitely a few times where I'd see it as a boon to see someone go to the competition!)

Valuable employees

We value “T-shaped” people.  That is, people who are both generalists (highly skilled at a broad set of valuable things—the top of the T) and alsoexperts (among the best in their field within a narrow disci-pline—the vertical leg of the T).

I think it's definitely beneficial to ask yourself - what is your expertise?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Final Lundum Dare Categories

Ludum Dare is a game jam competition - try to make a game in 48 hours. It's happening this weekend. I want to take place but I don't think I'll be able to this weekend. But the categories are great for generating ideas on there own.

Alternate Reality
Artificial Life
Build It, Then Use It
Castles In The Sky
Death Is A New Beginning
Explore The Universe
Indirect Control
Limited Resources
One Room
Parallel Universes
Randomly Generated
Tiny World

These are final categories and one will be the theme for this weekend. If you're interested here's the link.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

PlayStation Suite SDK

The PlayStation Development Suite has put into open beta today. There's a link here:

You may be asking "What is the PlayStation Development Suite" well it's C# based API for writing games, fast games. If you read this site that could be something of interest to you!

It lets you publish to PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Endorsed Android Devices. The API (from my quick look) seems pretty good - low level vertex buffer access and shaders - as well as a high level sprite engine.

So if you ever wanted to make a game and perhaps release it for sale - this might be worth a look!

I'm playing with it now and I may post again in the future about how I'm finding it! (Also the documentation is really quite good!)

I've made a linkedin group here.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Adventure Game Musings: Yesterday

I saw Jane Jenson's Kickstarter and after reading it decided I'd quite like to play her most recently finished game - Grey Matter. Unfortunately it wasn't on Steam so I bought "Yesterday" instead, another point and click adventure game. 

The art style and sound in Yesterday are pretty good and most of the puzzles are logical but there was one that slightly irked me. It seems like a bad design decision that could have easily been corrected. Don't read on if you don't want spoilers.

At one point in the game you're in a mountain retreat and you have to "Retrieve a truth flower", at least that's why you're told to do, what you actually have to do is ring a bell but that's not my gripe. There are about four rooms and plenty of things to interact with. In one rooms there's a monk, your master, and you among various conversation options you can choose "Let's play a game".

Let's play a game opens a menu and prompts you to choose how many fingers to hold out, you then choose a number. Once you've done that, the monk guesses a number and holds out some fingers. If the monk gets the total number of fingers held out correctly he says you owe him a glass of water. I played for a bit and didn't beat the monk and didn't really think anything of it. 

A little later I was stuck, as far I was concerned I had to do something to get a truth flower but I didn't really see any way forward to do that. There's a hint button in the game and that led me to use a sword on a window next to the monk to open the window. The hint was "Maybe you need more light". Still I wasn't quite why I would have wanted that. It turns out when you go to "Play game" with monk, you can see the shadow of the monks fingers from behind his back and use that to guess the correct number of total fingers.

Still I'm not sure why I'd want to win this game with the monk. But I do it and at the end he says I can choose one of the his treasures. One of the treasures turns out to be screws.

That wasn't a good puzzle - I didn't know why I was doing the things I did, I had no plan, no idea of the outcome! 

It could have been fixed pretty easily. In front of the monk he could have laid out his three treasures. If the player tried to get one, then the monk could have said "Beat me in the game and you can have it". Suddenly it would have made sense to try and beat monk.

I think the general lesson is always consider the point of view of the player, without any foreknowledge would he think to do this action if he stumble on the correct chain of deduction? This fails that test.