Arr! I am afraid that Typepad at the moment is not accepting image uploads, so the post about the storm of gifts that have surprised and delighted us here at the office will be waiting until tomorrow. :)
Until then, I would like to talk about another thing that is very dear to my heart, which is sleep, or more specifically, our company's open policy on naps.
The official company napping policy is as follows: "Three Rings has a pro-power-nap policy. If you having that terrible sensation of your eyes closing against your will, please don't fight it and spend an hour or more blinking stupidly at the screen, or turn yourself into a jittering coffee fiend. Locate your nearest comfortable couch and have a little lie down. The Captain himself is very fond of a nap after lunch and encourages the crew to rest their eyes and return to work rested and restored."
That is not an exaggeration, either. Every now and then one can see Cap'n Cleaver catching forty winks on a nearby couch or lounge. In fact, during the winter here when I was getting chilly, our Chief of Operations Sophocles even had the company spring for a very nice down comforter for me because he couldn't stand the sight of the old grey blanket I'd found in the office to wrap around my shoulders. The Company Blanket has snuggled me off to many a warm and happy dream time after a large lunch.
Three Rings does not believe in crunch time. We just never have it. We do not set deadlines on the products that we make, preferring to ship something when it is as polished as we can make it. When something isn't ready when we expected it, we keep working on it until it is ready to go, during regular work times. I always knew about Three Rings' policy, but working here I've sat down with Cleaver a few times and discussed it over lunch, and it's pretty cool to see the utter conviction with which he says that the best productivity you can get out of people is if they work no more than 40 hours a week, have their own well-established lives, and are happy and healthy.
The longer I work in the game and software industry and the more friends I make that work in it as well, the more I realize that it is not that uncommon for engineers to work twelve to fifteen hour workdays when meeting deadlines. I naturally do not know the circumstances (and at Three Rings we do have the luxury of having an established product, no financial emergencies, and no publishers or other folks breathing down our necks), but it seems to me that no matter the circumstances, it is very difficult to get a product up to one's own personal best standard if rushing to meet a set date, and I really appreciate Three Rings' philosophy of making a quality product without set deadlines, even if it makes it a bit trying for our playerbase that want to know an approximate timeline in which to anticipate their new features! I hope that when our releases do ship, that our players find them worth the wait, and that some of the positive and passionate attitude of the game creators here comes across in the finished product.
In my six months here, I have found all of my co-workers at Three Rings without exception to be intelligent, calm, and pleasant to work with. They have interesting hobbies and passions, and many of them are settled and have steady relationships, marriages, or family lives they maintain. No one has ever been burned out or stressed in my time here, to my knowledge. It makes the office a quiet, motivated, and pleasant workplace. (Disturbingly quiet to those that aren't used to it, in fact.) I really enjoy the Puzzle Pirates team meeting every week because it's a lively debate and exchange of ideas, an in-depth discussion of the way the game works and what we'd like to add to it, and quite a bit of laughter to boot. I look forward to getting to know my colleagues here better, but I am glad that it is not taking place during a grueling week-long camp out of the office. (Although if it came to that and we all snapped and had a brawl, I'd have my money on Arcturus. Always keep your eye on the pleasant fellow with the quiet smile.)
Companies that believe in keeping a sane workweek benefit us all in multiple ways. A few of our OceanMasters work shifts and run fun events in addition to full time jobs, something that could hardly be accomplished if they were working 60-80 hours a week at other companies! I believe that the majority of our active and creative players that make this game's community so vibrant and warm are people that work sane hours at their jobs, as well. It stands to reason that balanced lives and balanced work times might make a more harmonious society. :) And on that note, I think it's time for me to take another nap.