The long bad Friday

Argh, will this project never end? Working days are becoming longer and longer, mentally speaking. Lots of things to clean up but I’ve decided not to fix anything unless it’s specifically asked or listed in our bug database. Partly this is due to the obfuscated and long process from Maya asset to in-game check, a journey of a million steps where something can break at any moment, but mostly because every time I show initiative someone else takes ownership over it and asks me to change something about it. “Can you build some kind of blocking object here?” So I do, I build a nice new model of something or other. “Oh, that’s nice. Can you make it a little fatter and with different colours?” Why don’t you just do it yourself in stead? No, I’m counting the hours and doing only those tasks specifically requested. At face value this may sound a little unprofessional but in fact it is a devious ploy to save my sanity.

At lunch disaster strikes. I have brought a home-made lunch but the microwave decides to weld one of the lids to the Tupperware making it impossible to open. This has never happened before so I’m puzzled as to why this should happen now. I spend a good quarter of an hour trying to break open the dish to make my way to the lovely food hidden within but despite a bent teaspoon and some nasty scratches the lid stays in place. To console myself I go out for a coffee at a local coffee shop. A Japanese guy next to me, probably my age or slightly older, is knitting. Knitting! I have often thought of trying that myself. It seems a good way to switch off your mind and do repetitive boring tasks, something I have become very adept at in my decade of game industry experience. It must be nice to sit back, switch off your mind, listen to La Triviata and suddenly find yourself with a sweater or scarf. I always thought it’d look ridiculous, and judging by the guy next to me, it does; but still…I think it’d be an interesting hobby for a guy.

When I later tell the wife of my knitting ambitions and the guy in the coffee shop she informs me that knitting is kind of “in”. Apparently an ex-baseball star started supplementing his meager pension by knitting and has become quite popular doing so. He teaches it, sells his works and appears on NHK occasionally. “The Knitting Prince” he is called. That would suggest a vacancy for a “Knitting King”. I think I have found a calling…

The colleague next to me wants some more tutoring. I move over to his desk but I hate his setup. Not just his mouse and monitors but his custom Maya UI, so I drag him over to my desk so he can watch me doing what he wants to learn. Because he gets in fairly late he also eats lunch late. Around 3 o’clock this nasty smell suddenly drifts around the work floor. It’s a fishy, oily smell that goes straight up my nostrils and stays there for the rest of the day, until well into the evening. It’s his bento lunch. From the corner of my eye I try to figure out what it is; rice, some veggies, some kind of slab of stinky fish. Horrendous! The cigarettes I smoke after and the water I drink all taste of this funk.

I am bored again. I have XNA Studio installed now and am tinkering with it surreptitiously. So far programming is proving to be piss easy. Soon I’ll be a coder’s worst nightmare: an artist who programs. Ha! I have a long way to go yet, but I’m buoyed by the success of these early baby steps.
Of course around one hour before my planned leaving time some bugs get passed my way; I don’t blame the lead, he’s been roped into meetings all day, the poor bastard. With a heroic effort I drag myself out of my bored slumber and whiz through the bugs. I check them on the converter, which still takes longer than the actual fixes and upload them to the server.

As I have to find creative ways to fill up my working day I spend a lot of time writing my "update" emails that get sent round the office whenever anyone updates his or her work. Rather than my usual baby-Japanese kana emails I look up in dictionaries and on-line translation websites the perfect kanji and make sure my grammar is correct. One colleague comes over and exclaims with delighted surprise that I've been sending kanji round in emails! As I feel awkward taking credit where it isn't due, a reason for my continued lack of progression in this industry, I show him the Excite translation site I used, which causes great hilarity all round. "Oi," he shouts at a colleague, "that kanji we talked about? Translation site!" Other colleague laughs, the one sitting next to him exclaims an "oh, that’s why!" and several others giggle behind their hands. I'm not doing a good job teaching the Japanese that gaijin can learn Japanese quite easily if they put their minds to it.

I’m off home. More train stories. I had actually dreamed of train agro the previous night, so leaving the house in the morning I had a mindset looking for trouble. “Some annoying bastard is going to get the brunt of my frustration today”, I promise myself. And I strike gold! An old guy, trying to look respectable is reading a paper in a packed train. I am right next to him. He turns his back to me and leans closer and closer to me to make space for his paper. I grab the metal bar to the right of me with my left arm, thus forming an elbow-shaped barrier between him and me; we have contact. I’m not letting him move out further, but he’s not really pushing anymore. At one stop he turns to me and gives me the eye. I put on my scariest Joker face, sans demonic smile, and hold his gaze for a good 10 seconds before he turns away. His face tells of his disgust at this uncouth foreigner. So you’re wearing a long coat, suit, gloves and slick your hair back; if you really were a well to-do businessman you’d be traveling to work in your own black Mercedes with little white curtains in the window, you mountebank! But he worms himself into the corner and tries to read his paper in the empty space above the seats he is facing. Win!

On the way back a bullish, fat, flat-capped oaf is trying to read a book. I am surprised he can read, and judging by the way he turns the book this way and that with his head cocked back, as if trying to make out a Magic Eye image through nasty light glares, he probably can’t. But he is pushing. I have no space and this sour-faced gorilla is pushing at me to make space for his book. I can feel him pushing with his toes, lifting his heels off the ground for extra leverage but I use the opportunity for an extra little shove which unbalances him and forces him to take a step forward. A few stops down he moves to a different position altogether. Win again!

The rest of the journey I look over the shoulder of a rather plain looking woman playing Animal Forest on her white DS. She’s just running around her village, not doing much.


  1. One piece of advise:
    Anything bad that happens to you at work, don't take it personally mate. I know that sometimes it seems impossible but you need to relax or the next blog you're going to write about is going to be about how you bit the hell out of someone when they give you the "eye"...

    Have a break, have a KittoKatto :)

  2. Public transport's a great place for passive-agressive territorial fighting. Someone should make a game out of it.

  3. Hmm, what's worse -- artist code or coder art? :-)

  4. I dunno... while many coders are bad artists, there is a line when the code can generate beautiful things. However, I've never seen a painting generate beautiful code.

  5. Knitting. I really need to reconsider my hobbies.