crunch day in the life game programmer team lead

Day in the Life of a Game Programmer/ Team Lead (in Crunch)

Well, the day still starts at 7:00 AM, but the timeline is a bit different in a crunch. See my original post for comparison:

07:00-07:14 (00:14) Wake up to an alarm, keep hitting snooze.
07:14-07:32 (00:18) Shower, (skip breakfast) and leave.
07:32-07:51 (00:19)
Leave apartment walk to bus stop.
07:51-08:30 (00:39) Get on bus, rest my eyes, but do not sleep.
08:30-08:33 (00:03) Walk to office, drop stuff off at my desk.
08:33-08:37 (00:04) Grab one of the many coffees of the day.
08:37-08:44 (00:07) Update code, check email, some admin stuff.
08:44-08:54 (00:10) Talk with one of the dev, answer questions.
08:54-09:15 (00:21) Update and print out bug list from QA.
09:15-09:30 (00:15)
Stand up meeting for half the dev team.
09:30-09:45 (00:15)
Stand up meeting for the other half of team.
09:45-10:00 (00:15) Meeting with server leads, about bug list.
10:00-10:06 (00:06) Grab another coffee, talk about a bug.
10:06-10:36 (00:30) Code.
10:36-10:42 (00:06) Clarify some code standard.
10:42-10:50 (00:08) Give current status.
10:50-10:54 (00:04) Answer some questions about specific feature.
10:54-11:38 (00:44) Code.
11:38-12:18 (00:40) Test and submit some bug fixes.
12:18-12:24 (00:06) Walk to get some lunch, call girlfriend.
12:24-12:36 (00:12) Buy some lunch (Subway), take it to my desk.
12:36-01:07 (00:31) Update repository, eat, and continue to code.
01:07-01:10 (00:03) Give status.
01:10-01:14 (00:04) Code.
01:14-01:21 (00:07) Answer important emails for clarification.
01:21-01:26 (00:05) Code.
01:26-01:29 (00:03) Help answer a developer question.
01:29-01:35 (00:06) Code.
01:35-01:43 (00:08) Grab another coffee, and coffee related break.
01:43-01:48 (00:05) Answer some questions in email.
01:48-01:51 (00:03) Code.
01:51-02:33 (00:42) Help developer debug an issue.
02:33-02:35 (00:02) Grab another coffee.
02:35-02:57 (00:22) Code.
02:57-03:01 (00:04) Answer email.
03:01-03:36 (00:35) Merge code and look over changes.
03:36-03:46 (00:10) Answer questions.
03:46-04:11 (00:25) Code.
04:11-04:20 (00:09) Give status.
04:20-04:24 (00:04) Code.
04:24-04:47 (00:23) Grab coffee with another dev.
04:47-05:59 (01:12) Code.
05:59-06:14 (00:15) Discuss implementation issue with other dev.
06:14-06:27 (00:13) Pizza arrives, grab a few slices and a pop.
06:27-07:17 (00:50) Code.
07:17-07:36 (00:19) Talk with developer, write email for tomorrow.
07:36-09:58 (02:22) Code.
09:58-10:09 (00:11) Add notes and tasks for tomorrow.
10:09-10:43 (00:34) Talk with other devs about tasks, status.
10:43-10:58 (00:15) Leave and walk/wait for bus.
10:58-11:36 (00:38) Rest on bus, phone and reading.
11:36-11:46 (00:10) Walk home.
11:46-12:02 (00:16) Talk with girlfriend, get ready for bed.
12:02-12:36 (00:34) Personal email, brief web surf.
12:36-07:00 (06:24) Sleep, so the whole thing can start again.


Administration (email, delegating tasks, status): 2 hour 8 minutes.
Breaks (lunch, dinner, coffee): 1 hour and 14 minutes.
Coding: 8 hours and 33 minutes.
Helping Others: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Meetings: 45 minutes.

Computing (web surfing, project coding): 34 minutes.
Exercise: 0 minutes.
Personal Maintenance (food, shower, etc.): 48 minutes.
Reading (including bus travel time): 38 minutes.
Sleep: 6 hours 24 minutes.
Travel (not including bus reading time): 1 hour 26 minutes.

Other Facts:
Read 48 emails.
Sent 13 emails.
No code review.

If you compare this with the previous day in the life entry there are a few substantial differences. Even though I am spending approximately 16 hours and 14 minutes away from home, the coding time still only amounts to half of my day. All the other aspects including meetings, admin and help have gone up, and nothing has gone down (on the work side).

The home side is where all the time goes. Sleep takes a hit (about half and hour less), exercise is non-existent, and coupled with fast food for lunch and dinner is going to make me gain weight and have less energy overall. This plays into attempting to sleep on the bus, but really turns into wasted time, since I want to sleep in the morning (and am too tired to read), but can’t really get to sleep on the bus with all the noise and crowded seats in the morning. I also tend to miss making breakfast, but will try and grab something like a banana, apple or bagel on my way out the door to eat on the way to the bus.

There are still a lot of interruptions, a lot more status updates and emails. Organizing the crunch is tricky since there are always “fires” that have to be put out, and as things move faster, more coordination is needed to make everything work smoothly.

With so much time at work, there is very little personal time for any time with loved ones, projects, additional reading, or relaxation. I try and phone when I have free time (lunch and on the bus), but this is not the same as being around. If you are at this pace (or worse) for a prolonged period of time, that means you are on a death march. If this lasts longer than a few weeks (longer than three weeks maximum) it will start to take a toll. This is not the worse pace I have been on (I slept under my desk multiple consecutive nights earlier in my career), but it is a difficult one to maintain.

With so many tired devs, so much extra coordination, many interruptions, minimal code reviews, extra status updates, it becomes a tricky situation to balance. Throw in low energy, running on coffee and a lot of other tired developers and co-workers, it can quickly turn ugly if spirits are not high. Everyone wants to see the project out, but there is still a lot of work to do. I should probably take my vitamins.

Wish me luck,
Michael Hubbard

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