Philosophy

Disclaimer

“We” and “us” is really just “I” at the moment.

When/if we (I) grow we (remember: “I”) just don’t want to have to bother fixing it all up.

And yeh its a bit verbose at the moment, we’ll fix it up one day, but we felt it more important to get it said.

Goals And Intentions

We formed this independent game studio with the following goals in mind:

  1. Make enjoyable games that tell good stories
  2. Enjoy our work
  3. Enjoy working together
  4. Good work-life balance
  5. Contribute positively to the Game development community
  6. Explore our own ideas in:
    • Game design
    • Software Engineering
    • Work culture

As game designers, it is our craft to engineer experiences in the form of games.

We want to use that same expertise to engineer our own ideal work experience as well.

To that end we have chosen the following values that are to be woven into everything we do.

Culture and Tooling

We become what we behold. We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us

– John Culkin (1967)

Its common for companies to decide on their “values” and assert those values all the way down to the individuals. The individuals then have to decide how they will fit in with the “words”.

We prefer to include some back pressure from the individual employees side of things. As well as the top level “company values” that focus on company level strategy and image, we have on the opposite end of the spectrum the “individual (positive) motivational factors” (see below). We treat the motivational factors of the individuals as if they were more like “rights” than “values”.

Both of these are considered “fixed” and its up to everything in between, team-cultures, tooling, etc… to help reconcile these two forces.

In particular we believe quite strongly in the above quote and Conways law, and they both lead us to believe the best way to help reconcile the company’s values with the individual employees right to feel positively motivated is the tooling path.

Hence while most companies will focus mainly on producing software directly related to the product, we choose to also invest in developing tooling that will support the culture we want, in the hope that it will shape and reinforce our desired culture as well as the happiness of the individuals that make up the company.

Values

Purpose

Motivated by goals 1, 2 and 4.

We don’t want to be urgency driven, but rather purpose driven.

We want to be doing what we are doing because we believe its the best thing to do, not because we have a deadline to meet.

Of course, we want to release games too.

All we want to do is avoid two extremes:

  1. “Deadlines are immutable. Break your back to meet them, otherwise games never get made”
  2. “Its done when its done, quality above all else”

Theres a spectrum of strategies between those two simplistic naive extremes.

We want to navigate that spectrum.

It is common to sacrifice the quality of the product to meet deadlines. Sometimes the cost to the product and the fans is too high.

Realistically, we just want to have the freedom to push deadlines back when we believe that is the case.

We won’t lie, it’s likely to happen often. But we promise it’ll be worth it, and we’ll get better at it.

Irreverence

Motivated by goals 5 (the “contribute” part at least) and 6.

Making games is a form of expression, like any other form of art.

We also seek to “express” how we:

We want our actions to be an honest expression of our goals.

We don’t like it when a very reasonable idea gets rejected because its “not what people do”. It is counterproductive to that honesty

We don’t aim directly for “innovation”, it’s a hard thing to measure. Irreverence, or honesty, is a pretty easy target to hit

If we keep producing honest solutions to our problems, one day we’ll hit upon innovation.

Respect

Motivated by goals 2, 3, 5 (the positive part).

Respect for:

Irreverence requires a bit of respect to counterbalance it. Otherwise we’d be ignorant snobby jerks.

We don’t want to be beholden to the way everyone else does things. But we don’t want to push our opinion or “way” on anyone else either.

We’re not looking to pick any flame wars, just the freedom to hold our own opinion.

If we don’t take notice of what everyone else is doing and consider it as an alternative, we run the risk of being ignorant and/or irrelevant.

We hope achieve and maintain Inclusiveness and Diversity as the team grows. If we practise this well enough we might get there.

Principled Approaches

Motivated by goals 1 and 6.

We can’t accept all ideas or be everything to everybody. Sometimes we have to choose between 2 or more things.

That means we have to say “No” to 1 or more things.

When we do, we aim to have reasoned principled reasons for doing so. We just don’t want to dismiss things off hand.

Passion

Motivated by goals 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Specifically we mean “respect for passion”.

Passion fuels good work. Like fuel, it can burn out. If it is burned faster than it is replenished, it’s gone.

An individuals passion is their own, no one else’s.

Indie Game: The Movie was a great film. Yet, game developers shouldn’t have to physically and emotionally wreck themselves.

There are healthier ways to prove one is passionate enough to make games.

Game developers want to enjoy their lives in the same way they want their users to.

“Passion” is a button that has been used too many times to goad developers into giving beyond their limit.

Individual Motivation

(or “Whats in it for us?”)

The values above are what we desire at the company level, and we hope they will have a positive external impact on our products and community interactions.

But we just briefly want to go into what we individually want from a workplace, after having worked in software engineering teams for so long.

The following 5 things are considered sacred to us. We provide these things in our workplace or we pack up and go home.

Safety

Irreverence and Respect feed into this.

If the community can stand our “Irreverence” and we respect the people we work with then we can deliver an environment where people:

Each of us has worked in places where people were over defensive when it came to change, or been in environments we didn’t feel included, it takes its toll and is unhealthy.

Cadence

Cadence as in rhythm.

This is kind of how we expect “respect for passion” as a value to manifest itself as some kind of property of our workplace and the way we work.

We believe that ultimately “passionate” people desire short bursts of “intense activity” at regular intervals with a relaxation period in between, not of inactivity, but of reduced activity to recharge.

Not too much reduced activity though as it results in boredom. So we are specifically always actively searching for ways to deliver a balance between the two.

We aren’t talking about sprints in “Agile” buzzwords like Scrum and Kanban where regular retrospectives are still often used in practice to decide to enter a crazy crunch time before a deadline. Rather we specifically want to avoid both crunch times and extended periods of boredom.

Autonomy

Irreverence again feeds into this.

We want to be empowered to solve a problem the best way we know how, with as few obstacles in the way as possible.

The freedom to make things better also means we have the freedom to make things worse unintentionally, but if we dig ourselves into any holes, we need to know we have the freedom to get out of it.

Thats really important to us.

Growth

Irreverence, principled approaches and respect for each other all ultimately feed into providing some sort of personal growth for us.

We have a lot to learn not only in terms of game development, design, the technologies we choose etc… but also in terms of diversity and how to treat other human beings better.

With irreverence we can explore any idea we want.

With principled approaches that we incrementally build on it provides us more visibility on things that we do better today than we did yesterday.

If we respect each other, than we can learn from each other how to treat each other better in the event that we make mistakes.

We want an environment where we can safely work towards being the people we want to be.

Purpose

Not much to say here since its already part of the company values.

We just want to be part of something bigger, be it the functional programming community or the indie game development community.