Part 4 [22/01/2001]

dan kading 4 ·Odd Squad
Dan Kading, Game Designer · Part Four: A Day In The Life:

My time here in this column is short. In fact, it ends as of the bottom of this particular writing. Some equal-rights groups have been protesting the amount of screen time I’m getting on this high-profile site, blathering on about design and Tetris and clowns and coconuts, when truly important things could be discussed in this space, such as programming (which, I may point out, is what you’ll be reading about next week, should you choose to return). And so, in closing, I give you…

A Day In The Life:

(for bonus points, see how many Beatles rip-offs you can find. The title counts.)

9:30 AM: Wake up, fall out of bed. Drag a comb across my head. Find my way downstairs and drink a cup, and looking up, I notice I am late. -*pant pant pant*-

10:00 AM: In a rush, I drive by our office in sunny San Luis Obispo, California, and kick the tester, whom I give a ride to each morning, out of the passenger seat. She shakes her fist at me as I zip off and park at the nearby San Luis Parking Structure And Sporting Goods.

10:10 AM: Arrive at my desk, in a mild panic. The weekly 10:00AM design meeting takes place on Tuesdays. “Sorry I’m late for the meeting,” I offer to Jeff, the Lead Designer. With a slow turn of the head and an expression akin to a hungover moose, Jeff fixes me with a questioning gaze and says, “…Meeting?” Ah, the department as a whole has either forgotten about the meeting, or simply has nothing to discuss. Assured of my continued employment, by virtue of being no less on top of (or underneath) things than anybody else, I go to my desk.

10:15 AM: As second highest-ranking Designer in the department at the moment, I turn to Jessica, the second lowest-ranking Designer, and git my authority-delegatin’ on.

Me: “Go get us some donuts.”
Jessica: “But Jeff wanted cameras in this layout by noon!”
Jeff: “You’re fired. Go get us some donuts.”

10:20 AM: Jessica wanders away sullenly, and I set about making a layout in 3DStudioMax, Oddworld’s design tool of choice. Trevor comes in moments later, a bit dusty, muttering something about an earthquake and a highway overpass. It occurs to me that I should have sent him for the donuts, as Jessica outranks him, but Jessica’s already left. No biggy.

12:15 PM: Inspiration hits me, and I try out a technique I read about in a 1996 issue of Game Developer Monthly, describing time-saving shortcuts for programming for the Phillips CDI. Smoke starts billowing from my computer, followed by showers of sparks, and an electronic voice begins blaring “ERROR… ERROR…” Time to go to lunch.

2:45 PM: Return from a truly Zen-like experience of a lunch over at Fresh Choice Salad Bar, Bait And Tackle (From Bacosª to Minnowzª, they’ve got it all!), the majority of time spent in the restroom. My computer is encrusted with a white, ozone-scented foam, and a small post-it note attached reads, “Please come to Sherry’s office when you get back.” Sherry is the CEO, and the person with the option to not sign paychecks when, say, they make their computer explode. Apparently I read the note out loud, as all designers, producers, artists and programmers within 40 yards chorus: “Busted!!!”

3:30 PM: I leave Sherry’s office, much the wiser, having been told never again to try and set a Ladder tag to a length equal to zero divided by a number that was divided by zero, and stored as a 32 bit number. You see, every bit counts when programming for a console, so I should stick to 4 bits when possible. This is explained to me not by Sherry, of course… the Lead Programmer does all the talking. Sherry just lends gravity to the situation with her presence.

3:45 PM: I have a windshield ice scraper that I haven’t used in six years in the trunk of my car. The flame-retardant chemical shell on my monitor doesn’t stand a chance against the heavy duty device (complimentary with any tire rotation at Zeke’s Lube And Lube in Des Moines, Iowa).

5:50 PM: I set the damage dealt by Slig gunfire in one of my layouts to the square root of a negative imaginary number. My computer beeps happily. Elsewhere in the universe, trillions of light years away, a black hole spontaneously appears and devours a pair of solar systems. Intelligent life thus consumed finds out in the afterlife that it was done for the sake of making a video game, and in unison say, “Oh, well that’s all right then.”

9:00 PM: The layout is complete! I title it: “Vykker’s Labs: The Irrational Rhumba.” Content with a day’s work well done, I head home, where the tester makes me do the dishes by way of apologizing for kicking her out of the car that morning. Ahhh, married life.

11:45 PM: Jessica stalks into the office, a bit dusty, muttering something about an earthquake that morning and a highway overpass, with a battered pink box leaking purple jelly from one corner. She glances around at the empty office, devoid of light, save for one.

Jessica: “Where’s Dan?!”
Trevor: “He went home a few hours ago.”
Jessica: “… You’re fired.”

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love…you make. -Dandan

From me to you

I feel fine