Cash Force: Going Remote
Amidst the unique global situation we are facing, the development of Cash Force (and obtaining a college degree) must push on! Due to the closure of our normal working spaces on campus and members of our team being removed from their housing to return home, we were faced with one option... Move to working remotely! Now working remotely for the past 2 weeks, I wanted to share some of the pros and cons I have found to working from my desk at home and ways I have made it work for the better!
Rolling Out Of Bed... Into A Chair
Now having no commute to classes I have been able to take more time to sleep and get into routines. Being able to take a sip of juice and a bite of toast all while turning on my computer to get ready for classes has been extremely convenient. Previously, I had about a 45 min prep time to get myself ready and out the door. Now I'm able to get ready for my day while pulling up a class over google hangouts on my computer. While I prefer to get out and walk to class to start my day, I won't shy away from the ability to roll out of my bed and get to work.
Work Time? Break Time?
The hardest part about working remote has been separating work from play when they are being done at the same space. While I have done my homework and other assignments at home on my computer, I often met with my team to work or removed myself from my personal computer when I got distracted. Now that leaving to work elsewhere is not an option, I must put myself into the mentality of work or play. To create these separation I found myself scheduling time on a calendar of when I was doing work (seen on the right monitor of the above image). This allowed me stick to a schedule and allocate hours of work when needed during the week. When working with others I always asked to set times to meet and discuss assignments as to keep both of us accountable through a calendar invite. This sometimes came in handy when I got caught up doing errands around the house and needed a reminder. But it isn't all about working! I also set times of the day (often between 8pm) where I was not allowed to work on anymore assignments. This helped me wind down before I went to sleep, but also was a nice reward for working during the day. I often did a similar routine in the morning to help wake up, check social media, and get ready for my work sessions. Taking frequent breaks and getting away from my desk, taking a stroll outside (or around my apartment), and stretching helped keep me sane during long days of development.
Making Work Fun
I often find I have little motivation to work on some projects. What I found is if I got through the first 30 minutes of working on something, I would often enter a state of flow and became productive. So to get through the first half an hour, I would spend time messing around with what I was working on. No implementation. No bug-fixing. No code. I would just do little tests and see how everything was working. In Cash Force this is easy. I would jump into VR and mess around with the guns, throw around some magazines, and try to juggle some objects in the air. After a little bit of time I would get into code and look around at what I plan to work on, sometimes draw a couple of flowcharts to get my head in the right mindset, and get to work. I started using this process to help tests my own systems and learn about new bugs that I didn't originally stumble upon. Recently I have been able to jump into work faster and faster without the need for as long of a "warm-up". Being able to have a little bit of fun before I start a couple hours of development has been helpful in keeping me motivated, but also taking a break to enjoy our progress!
Working Remotely With The Team
Many on our team have had to move back home or are working out of their apartment to continue development. We have transitioned to a more rigid structure of daily scrum meetings where we come together as a team and then split into discipline to discuss the day of work and any progress or impediments. This has allowed us to maintain the communication we previously had in person. In the same way we have scheduled work sessions during the week, where the team or disciplines get together over google hangouts or discord and work the tasks for that sprint. With the power of screen share capability, we can review code together, see someone test system in VR, and even troubleshoot issues over the call. This has actually increased our productivity immensely and some weeks we have seen more work get done than weeks in person. Being able to have multiple people "over the shoulder" and discussing the same problem has allowed us to more efficiently complete tasks.
What Does The Future Holds?
No one knows how long we may have to work in these conditions, but likely for us, it is the rest of our semester. With this in mind we are committed to making the best of it and completed Cash Force to the best of our ability! We hope to stick to our project plan and create the game we dreamed of creating. With that all said, I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these difficult times. Until next time, it's time to get back to coding!