A couple of weeks ago I took the week’s vacation from my job as the Producer of Pirates of the Burning Sea to sit at home, in my basement, and write code 12 hours a day for 8 straight days. It was a fantastic experience and I would love to do it again. If you aren’t a programmer that probably sounds crazy to you.
There are two things that made my coding vacation the awesome, relaxing, productive, and fulfilling experience it was. The first is that there is very little drag on writing code on the first few thousand lines of a project. The second is that I haven’t had much of a chance to code at Flying Lab in the past year and a half. Well those and the fact that I genuinely enjoy programming.
When you are at the very beginning of a project you have little to no drag on your efforts. There isn’t a large body of code to keep up and running when you make a new change. Your compile and startup times are incredibly fast. When you have a bug, there are far fewer places it could be. When you’re used to writing in a million-line code base, this is liberating. It’s also very productive, which feels great.
As the Pirates project has gone on, I’ve gradually been moving further from the code.Â Way back when it was just me writing all the code (or even just Heidi and me) I had tons of coding tasks, but about the time we added the fourth or fifth programmer the amount of time I could devote to coding during daylight hours dropped to almost nothing. Once we signed with SOE, I picked up all of the management duties for the technical side of that relationship, which made it even worse. I wrote a little code here and there, but it was always late in the evening or on the weekend around all my other duties.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, it shouldn’t surprise you that I think coding is fun. Ever since we got the TI 99-4/a for Christmas 1983, programming has been a hobby of mine. When I was deciding what to study in college, I really couldn’t imagine a major that didn’t involve tons of programming. It’s not work, it’s entertainment.
I assume that every other creative person who truly loves what they do has a similar attitude. I know plenty of artists who draw, sculpt, or paint on the weekends. Many game designers design card or board games that they never expect anyone else to see just for the fun of it. The writers I know can’t seem to stop writing for local newspapers, online outlets, or former employers. There’s no reason to think programming would be any different.
And I’m not alone.Â One of my co-workers is just finishing up a coding vacation of his own. He took a week off from programming video games to program a video game. Good for him, I say.Â He’s going to return to work more refreshed and relaxed than if he’d run off to some tropical island and it won’t have cost him a dime.Â (Ok, maybe not as relaxed, but close.)
How about you?Â Ever take a vacation to do more of what you already do at the office?