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On Work

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I recently sought out suggestions on subjects I could write about that I don’t normally, and my friend Kate suggested I should write more about tiny slice-of-life sorts of things — which I think is a fine idea, and one I shall try to implement — but also noted that I don’t much talk about my work. She’s right, and I find it funny that I don’t, given how much of my time is spent here and thinking about my job and my career. So Kate, thanks for the suggestion! Here, have a blog post…

What do I love about my work?

Honestly, I love the where I am more than the what I do right now. I’m feeling fairly seriously burnt out on the what — I’ve been doing essentially the same thing (though with increasing degrees of competence and difficulty) for the last decade, and I’d like to expand into something new. I have to fight though boredom (even when really busy) more often than I might like.

But I love working for Harmonix an awful damn lot. Not only does the corporate culture agree with me and not only do I really like the people, but the benefits are the best I’ve ever had. The people who work here are almost without exception phenomenally talented at what they do. And I have a platform for the work I do far, far beyond anything I’ve ever had before — the stuff I work on gets seen by anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of people per month (even if none of them know I had anything to do with what they’re looking at).

There’s a lot of pressure to be excellent working here. We have high standards — Harmonix doesn’t release crap, and our team holds itself to those same standards of quality that the game teams do, even if the company as a whole doesn’t always recognize it. Well, didn’t recognize it; I think the Webby win really raised our profile with everyone else here.

So I realize that most of what I just said is what I love about my job. What about my work, then? What do I actually love about what is I do?

I love problem-solving, figuring out how to do some pretty complex stuff with websites. I love building things, knowing that sites exist and people can do things with those sites because of work I have done. I love manipulating code — I’m completely anal when it comes to my code. I love learning new technologies and new techniques and new ways to do the things I already do better. I love reworking other people’s substandard code and making it work better and more efficiently (and making the code itself prettier). I even (sometimes) love fixing bugs, especially when doing so actually makes my site more usable.

I love that I work somewhere with enough name recognition to get nominated for — and ultimately win — a Webby.

What bugs me about my work?

As I sort of alluded to above, the actual day-to-day of what I do isn’t thrilling me right now. I’m burning out on building web applications, even somewhere as phenomenal as Harmonix. I don’t have a good answer for what to do instead; I’m not sure what else I could do which would be as interesting (when I’m not feeling quite so burnt out) and pay me as much. [1]

I don’t like feeling looked-down-on by the “real” (read: non-web) programmers. That’s a problem I’ve been facing for years and I don’t expect that’s going to be solved anytime soon (though I will say I believe it’s gotten better over the last few months, as the other web software developer and I have gotten more visibility).

I don’t like crunch, but that’s just part of the industry and we on the web team don’t usually have it as bad as the game teams do, so I can’t complain too much.

But really, those are some pretty minor negatives compared to the amount of love I have for my job right now. Nowhere’s going to be perfect, but Harmonix is as close as I’ve found yet.

[1] It’s not always about the pay, but at this stage in my life as the primary bread-winner for a family of five, it is about the pay, at least in large part.

Written by Allen

May 14th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

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Introducing The Beatles: Rock Band

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OK, so…there’s this game my company’s making which is coming out in September.  You might’ve heard me mention it — The Beatles: Rock Band?

Well, it just got its full announcement as the leadoff hitter at the Microsoft press conference which is kicking off this year’s E3 expo.  And, um, it was introduced by Yoko Ono and Olivia and Dhani Harrison (George‘s widow and son).

And Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Introducing and praising our game.

So, yeah…big.

Relatedly, and much more pertinent to me:  concurrent with the announcement, we relaunched the official website for the game, which now features actual information and images.  And the gameplay trailer, which you really should totally go check out immediately for it is amazing and beautiful.  You can get a little more of an idea of what the game’s going to be, and see the big gameplay upgrade in this one:  vocal harmonies.  That’s right, up to three singers at the same time — and doing actual harmonies, even, not just all singing the same thing.  It’s gonna be tremendous.

Also, the site is gorgeous — mad props to Rumsey and Abby for all of their hard design work.  And to everyone else on my team who either worked on the site or just supported it by being nearby while we worked on it:  Colby, Colin, Jess, Jeff, Christine, Matt, David, Jim, Russen and Ady.  I’m extraordinarily proud to work with you guys, and I think this site is terrific — and the next version of the site will be even terrificker.

Written by Allen

June 1st, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Posted in 170

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