Bringing on corporate change

The MiniMicrosoft blog has been a very popular place for Microsofties to anonymously bring up and discuss the issues that plague their company. For those of us not in the loop, the blog might be just a PR stunt by the company’s HR department, or maybe it’s exactly what it says and has somehow managed to avoid being bombed by Microsoft’s policy-enforcement teams. I don’t know. But they are pounding their chest a lot on the recent announcements by MS executives regarding certain HR practices.

If the blog truly made a difference, kudos to the author and participants for managing an incredible feat. I have no idea about the actual scope and implications of these changes, but the idea that a company as big as Microsoft can change course in its corporate practices and culture, and that employees can affect that process, is heartwarming and fills me with optimism.

The criticisms found on that site are often harsh, but always well presented and often lack the more common cynical approach of the classic "disgruntled employee". I’m sure that played a big part in any improvements they have managed to contribute to.

Buried in the comments was a link to this interesting article about talent and corporate culture. One nugget: "forty per cent of those students who were praised for their intelligence lied about how they had scored on the test, adjusting their grade upward. They weren’t naturally deceptive people, and they weren’t any less intelligent or self-confident than anyone else. They simply did what people do when they are immersed in an environment that celebrates them solely for their innate "talent." They begin to define themselves by that description, and when times get tough and that self-image is threatened they have difficulty with the consequences." There’s a few scary comments about how people can be blinded by some kind of idealized "talent" and disregard the actual performance and practical application of that talent. An excellent read. Related articles also at Joel On Software: here and here.

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The Axe swings again

While all our attention was focused on the bells and whistles of E3, bad things were happening back in Viena. My condolences to the over 100 guys and gals who are now looking for another job. Special best wishes to ex-democoder fellow and great dude Erik Pojar. It’s eerie that this news comes a week after Take 2 decided to close their Salt Lake City studio Indie Built, and just a few days after they announced the opening of a new studio in Shangai.

Hm, advertising management software can be incredibly insensitivesometimes (nice catch Bak!).

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SpacePaint available

Inspired by the 48-hour game compo and Jari Komppa’s excellent And The Sky Is Full Of Stars, I sat down and wrote a little minigame, unimaginatively named SpacePaint. Source code included so you can have a laugh. It served as a nice learning tool for the most basic OpenGL, which I had actually never used before (go figure).

Even though the difficulty is not properly balanced, I’m quite happy about the way this strange gameplay concept worked out.

Edit: Uploaded a tweaked version with installer.

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Original IP?

From EA’s press release: "At E3, EA will debut of Orcs & Elves, id Software’s first original intellectual property since Quake"

Orcs & Elves are original. Woooohoooo! 🙂

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The birth of the 360

The GameSetWatch people continue to be a great source of interesting reads. This time it’s about the process of creating the XBox 360.

One excerpt surprised me: "Microsoft’s brass was worried that Sony would trump the Xbox 360 by coming out with more memory in the PlayStation 3. So in the spring of 2005, Microsoft made what would become a fateful decision. It decided to double the amount of memory in the box, from 256 megabytes to 512."

Having been one of the many developers who believed that 256 megs of RAM was going to be a disaster of epic proportions (and I wrote as much in my feedback report), I can’t help but disagree with the term "fateful". 🙂

I don’t think I’m breaking any NDAs if I say that Microsoft did a great job of listening to developer feedback. Almost all of the major concerns that most developers had with the system and plans were addressed quite successfully.

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