I’ve left Crytek

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 01-09-2013

Well this should probably be another post about Pioneer and it’s terrain generation / rendering, instead that’s all taken a back seat as things have gone steadily more wrong at Crytek and I’ve finally quit.

I wish I could put my finger on the “what” of went wrong but I’ve struggled to do so.

The effects however are much easier to list:

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • no concentration at all
  • some truly terrible code (embarrasingly bad at times)
  • really struggling to implement even basic algorithms because of all the above

I finally got some medication to control the panic attacks and have been referred for other help but suffice to say that whatever the combination of things wrong with my time at Crytek it simply didn’t matter anymore, I had to get out.

Seeing that things were not right I started looking for something else and decided that I had enough strong leads – and with one offer on the table already – it was simply time to get out.

 

Friday 30th August was my last day and for that last week I didn’t need to take the anti-panic-attack medication once during the proceeding week.

I felt much better, I felt enthusiastic again, I had energy, I even started doing some coding at home and on Pioneer after months of twiddling with projects and solution updates.

 

I accepted the offer I’d had, it’s a work from home role and I’ll discuss it in another post in the future, that starts on the 30th September so I have a bit of a break to get better again.

To that end I’m going to do a few things:

  1. Work through some UDK tutorials – the new job is on Unreal Engine 4 so I think getting a footing in the tech’ will be good for me,
  2. Work through Frank D Luna’s D3D 11 tutorials but convert them to OpenGL 4.0 – Been meaning to do this for a while, it’s a good ramp up and parallels these SlimDX posts,
  3. Get back to doing Pioneer coding – I have a massive to do list for this,
  4. Cycle around the nature reserve more and in town when I go during the day,
  5. Keep going to the gym and eating healthily.

That’s a lot of things but I’m not going to fit them all into a month :D these are things I’ll simply be starting in this month, and taking slowly so as not to get overwhelmed. I suspect I’ll stop the UDK ones once I’m up to speed at the new job and I’ll be flexible with myself about all of the above, doing more or less as I see fit and when I feel fit.

 

Right now… off out for Sunday lunch with Danni and other friends :)

More “recovery” don’t ya know!

Yeti

 

PS: I should probably on reflection, add that Crytek isn’t a bad place to work, far from it, lots of people seem to really like it. All of the above is solely how *I* have found it.

PRISM(NSA)/Tempora(GCHQ)

Posted by | Posted in government, Life | Posted on 22-06-2013

I find the whole PRISM(NSA)/Tempora(GCHQ [1],[2]) thing quite depressing but at least I have “nothing to fear, nothing to hide” right? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2013/jun/09/data-snooping-law-abiding-citizens-nothing-fear-hague-video)

Only, this has been debunked so frequently in the quite recent past, and in fact was one of the major counter arguments against ID cards (http://www.biometricidentitycards.info/articles/NoHideNoFear.htm), that it really does make you wonder about the people doing the snooping if they’re still naively clinging to it as a defence.

This is the results of just a quick Googl’ing:
http://theartofprivacy.com/2011/02/02/why-ive-got-nothing-to-hide-is-such-a-fallacy-4/
http://www.biometricidentitycards.info/articles/NoHideNoFear.htm
 http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/
 http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/the-data-trust-blog/2009/02/debunking-a-myth-if-you-have-n.html

That’s all just seconds away from anyone reading, and it’s all true. Example after example, cases from history, ongoing problems around the world etc. It’s such a dumbass defence.

Of course in many of these people minds the “ends justifies the means“, but no-one that I’ve spoken too thinks like that. Most of the commentary I read is outraged that their government really would behave like this, not surprised I note, frequently disappointed but never surprised. Everyone I’ve spoken too actually seems to feel the the “ends” are almost irrelevant and that it’s how we’ve behaved getting to them, the “means“, that actually matters the most.

Perhaps this is because we’ll live the “means” and we all know that the “ends” are like tomorrow, it never comes.

So if we’re going to have to live with the “means” then, since the “ends” are as mythical as world peace and unicorns, shouldn’t they be the only thing that actually matters?

What we seem to have here are two governments, colluding and abetting, the mass spying of their own, each other, and everyone’s citizenry because they think we won’t mind.

Just like we didn’t mind ID cards then?

I see no way out of this current mess except eventually leaving … what? The country? And go to another country? That does the same only hasn’t been exposed yet? We really do seem to have reached a point where those in power, or who want to be in power, have nothing in common with those who elect them nor do they understand that they’re meant to be protecting their electorate from these kinds of abuses of power rather than perpetrating them.

Because I can’t cook…

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 24-04-2013

Since Duncan raised the subject of my cooking abilities in a comment on my last post I’m blaming him for this latest incident.

Tonights pro-cooking tip is: When cooking rice, add rice to the pan, light the hob and remember, ALWAYS REMEMBER…. to add the water.

Seriously, who the hell burns RICE… aside from me obviously.

Andy

What I do when I’m programming.

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life, Lua, Pioneer | Posted on 02-02-2013

Today, as with the last 6 weekends in a fucking row I am ill, whoop, and being the weekend the doctors are off. It’s not an “emergency” so I can’t get seen until Monday, by which time I will be ok again and they won’t know what to do… fucking fabulous.

Instead of posting about that, or how you can’t buy a laptop with a decent resolution screen these days unless it’s made by Apple, I’ve decided to describe how I approach programming a feature in Pioneer. I happen to be working on a relatively bite size one at the moment so it’s fair game.

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Kick Me?

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, GLSLPlanet, Life, Lua, Pioneer, red ship | Posted on 11-01-2013

I wonder if you could use KickStarter a bit differently, to fund individual developers? I haven’t really contributed much to Pioneer this last couple of months since starting at Crytek, it’s just consumed all of my time.

I’d like too contribute a lot more, in fact I have a fecking long list which doesn’t even include all of the things that I’d like to do with it: https://github.com/fluffyfreak/pioneer/issues?state=open

This must be the same for some of the other Pioneer team too but our “real” jobs get in the way of the fun things we actually want to do.

So, how about KickStarter campaigns for individuals?
You list what you want to do, time estimated, and in priority order with whatever you think is a fair rate of pay for doing something you love.
Let say I did it, since I’ve just thought of it and don’t mind publicly discussing my finances :)

What if I could risk working for only 6 months next year (Hah! Again that is!). That would put my minimal funding for it at about £15k before tax to cover my mortgage and bills etc. Stretch goals would take you further through the list of things you hope to cover so I’d have:

  • GPU terrain,
  • orbitals,
  • water,
  • Faction Trade value differences.

For the first 6 months, and that would take £15k to get funding, if I got £15k then that’s what I’d deliver in that time before I bugger off and find more paying work, but stretch goals could also be:

  • 3D cockpits,
  • Threaded Job Scheduler,
  • Atmospheric Heating and re-entry effects,
  • Temporary decals showing shield hits,
  • Rewrite noise system to use graph/nodes.

They could take the rest of the year and require another £15k divided into £3k chunks for each stretch goal.

All of that is just an example list, I think I’d be doing a lot more than that in a year of solid development on Pioneer for a start! :D money is just a guess as well as I haven’t taken taxation into account or indeed how that would even work :/

What I’m wondering from you lot however is what people think of the idea itself? Getting people to pay for individual developers on Open Source projects isn’t a new thing, there’s lots of examples of companies paying developers fulltime, bounties are a common way of funding large features too so it’s not that odd an idea.

Any obvious problems or flaws in the idea?

It’s not me, it’s you…

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 06-01-2013

The new job is quite a big let down, well not all of it, but I’ve been neatly corralled into a role that no-one else wants because it’s so bad. So whilst I can see all the fun things that others get to do it has been confirmed that I will never be doing them. This is because they need someone to be doing the very annoying shit that no-one else wants to do. There’s no obvious route out of this role, or promotion prospects for anyone doing it (i.e: me), there’s no learning or development to the role, there’s not even any relief in the form of other minor tasks so that I’d be doing something else occasionally, in short, it’s the shitty end of the stick.

That’s not what the deal was when I took the job, but it’s what they had in mind all along.

So, dusting off the CV again and starting to look for jobs whilst I’m still in the probationary period.

Canada looks nice! Lots of people I know have been heading over there in the last few years. Although I’ll also just be hunting around the UK for random contracting roles or work just about anywhere I think.

It’s a shame as it’s not an awful place to work. It’s got some fairly crap bits though and I don’t think they realise it. The UK studio has a very unfortunate attitude in that they believe they’re really professional, but they’re not, they’re very childish, disorganised and amateurish about some things which is quite an unfortunate schism. It’s ok when a place is rubbish and knows it, but quite difficult when they don’t. I don’t think I’ll talk about it more right now. I did have a big rant partially typed up but decided that it just isn’t worth ranting about really.

On being accused of eating a dog…

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 30-11-2012

This is a true story from half my lifetime ago when I was 16 or 17 years old and attending Yorkshire Coast College in Scarborough.

I was into metal, I wore black, wasn’t bothered that my clothes were literally falling to pieces, programmed constantly, partied, drank too much, and had long hair almost to my waist at one point. So much has changed in all those years… now I have short hair.

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Energy bill delays setting carbon target until 2016

Posted by | Posted in climate change, environment, government, Life | Posted on 23-11-2012

So a government, this one not that it really matters, has failed to achieve the hopes of meeting the minimum targets hoped for on the environment/carbon/climate-change (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20451189).

These weren’t lofty goals either, these were the minimum goals that we’ve legally agreed too.

Those legal agreements weren’t the best course possible either, they were the minimum required to provide a 50/50 chance of avoiding “catastrophic” climate change and keep temperature rises below 2C by 2100 (it’s 2012 btw keep that in mind) and then only if we were following the best-case predictions.

Then recent reports have indicated that the rate of change and it’s effects might have been underestimated by up to 5 times, i.e. things we expected not to happen until 2100 appear to be on course to happen by 2020-to-2035 (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628923.100-we-are-leaving-emissions-cuts-too-late.html & http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628914.700-estimates-for-future-global-warming-narrowed-down.html).

So this is the situation… we’ve just failed to set policy which would let us meet a weaker-than-required agreement, which was targetting the bottom-end of a best-case scenario which we already new was wrong, which has recently been shown to be out by at least 2 but possibly up to 5 times.

Remember that was the target to have a 50/50 _chance_ of stopping “catastrophic” climate change. Not, merely “a bit bad” but “catastrophic“. Severe damage to the environment and changes which make it difficult for us to do useful things like grow food, prevent flooding and storm damage to our biggest cities, survive summer heat waves, yet not freeze to death in the winter. Not exactly little things are they.

This isn’t a post about the environment by the way.

No, I’m just confused by the way that governments, companies, even individuals decide what to do about the things they face.

The above case is drastic but a perfect example: We’re failing to prevent, or even slow, the race to “catastrophic” climate change. We’re failing because of a series of things which all aim to do the bare minimum for the most cheerful and optimistic predicted outcomes that meet our hopes rather than face our realities. Then to compound the error we seem to accept that falling short of the commitments we’ve agreed is ok.

All this seems to mean that we’re setting ourselves up for inevitable failure. I bet we do it in a range of things, I can think of several on my own personal scale where I do the same, where I fail to commit and then eventually abandon stuff because it’s not working… of course it’s not working, I’ve identified something that will take 100% of my effort to do, then I  allow myself 20% of that in time or money, then when “real-life” gets in the way I accept that I can only meet 15% really. Then I fail.

In my life that might mean the bathroom needs some work that I’ll eventually have to get someone to pay for. Or that the oven really stinks sometimes because of something bubbling over.

When the governments of the world give 15% to prevent something like climate change.

Then it seems that we’re all fucked.

So why do we go into these things half heartedly? Why do we pick the most optimistic outcome? We all know the maxim or preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Yet repeatedly we prepare for the best, hope for the best and then have to rush and panic to deal with the worst that we’ve allowed to happen by doing so.

We could turn the fact that we’re building whole new energy industries into a major bonus, new energy industries, new infrastructure, new jobs!
We could be investing in things like Desertec (http://www.desertec.org/) (I mean in technology like it not the company necessarily) and then reaping the benefits in owning the suppliers of energy to ALL of Europe and Africa. Just like Russia does with it’s gas supplies to Europe, an industry worth many billions of pounds to it’s government.

If something like Desertec ever does happen we’ll just be another customer, we’ll pay, but we won’t earn.

We could be going into these things 100%, whilst accepting that the worst case might not happen, but it’s so bad that we should be preparing for it. We can all hope that it works out just fine, but that’s not what we should be prepared for.

Damn, it did turn into an environment rant.

This whole “working for a living”

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, GLSLPlanet, Life, Pioneer | Posted on 28-10-2012

We as a species have fucked up, I can prove it too, just listen… or read; We have to work to live, this is clearly a cock up since as anyone can tell you our working lives are a clusterfuck. No-one really manages anything, your boss gets paid more than you for seemingly doing a lot less which works right from the bottom up meaning that the person at the top is essentially paid to play golf… badly and what you’re actually doing is, for most of us, a worthless crock of pointless shit that if anything actually detracts from the sum total worth of our species.

On an unrelated note I’ve just finished my 2nd week at my new job. Too pessimistic?

Try again: It’s not actually too bad, the people are nice… hmm, no that’s a bad start, I mean the people are always nice. Andys top tip is; if you ever start a job where the people aren’t nice, explain to the not nice persons boss that they’re reason you’re not taking the job and then walk out, possibly whilst also flipping the not-nice-person the bird. Starving to death on the streets is ok kids…

Ok take 3; The new job is ok, it has exactly the problems I expected, MFC, no real direction at the moment, MFC, the settling in, MFC, being told that “It’s not like those little projects you’ve worked on” … like 2 MMOs, numerous console titles etc. Piddly little things. Had to smile nicely, nod to that and just… ignore it, MFC, and of course I’ve already been asked to things that would be a piece of cake… if we weren’t using MFC. I think the worst things are that it looks like I’m going to be focused on one specific area for quite a while and that the office politics permeates everything. There’s a certain amateurish approach that makes things harder, ironically some individuals think it’s actually very professional, that leaves gaps in the development process wide enough to drive a lorry through. No-one seems in charge of the tech’ so there’s no direction that it’s heading in. I can’t see it as a long term career place at the moment but we’ll see how I settle down in the coming weeks. There’s a trip to Frankfurt to meet the team over there coming up too so I’m hoping that something about all this reaches out and grabs my attention. At the moment and mere 2 weeks in, nothing has really done that.

In more awesome news though, which isn’t job related, someone else has started hacking away at the Faction stuff I added to Pioneer in Alpha 27 :)

I haven’t had time in the last month to do much so seeing someone else come in and extend it is very good news! I think Pioneer is where I’m going to continue to find the reward side of programming and work is just going to be 9-to-5 from now on. Although I have done some more on the slightly separate GLSLPlanet code that I extracted and am working on – it now renders a limited set of terrain tiles at once, I need to do some work on that really and I think I need to prevent the root node from having any tiles of it’s own which would make the sub-tile grouping for processing a lot cleaner.

One thing that I am happy about with the new job is that I’m allowed to work on all of this and possibly on my own company, although there are several clauses covering IP and any title I’d release of my own. I have assured them that I won’t be releasing any multi-million pound First Person Shooters whilst I work for them…

Not much more to tell, so far have avoided doing anything for Halloween. I’ve tried to join in before but I just don’t feel anything for it, the dressing up has never amused me that much and I just generally don’t get it so, meh.

Adios!

New job.

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life, Pioneer | Posted on 14-10-2012

A little nervous this evening as I’m starting at a new job at Crytek tomorrow.