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Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Begun, the Shark Wars have ...

Ah, the joys of company culture.

We folks at Emergent Game Technologies work wicked hard. It turns out putting a commercial game engine that doesn't suck into the market is a wicked lot of work. Putting out one that kicks it hardcore on multiple platforms takes a wee bit more work than that. So we work hard. Constantly.

That said, if you put a bunch of wickedly smart people together, things get wickedly wonky, and, well, entertaining.

Here's a snapshot.

It started with a quote and bet, and then spiralled from there.

The quote is from Austin Powers' Dr. Evil:

"You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done."
The bet was ... multifaceted. But let's just say part of it was made between two engineers, and dependent on the creation of an actual shark with frickin' laser beams.

So, after a bit of jury rigging to a rubber shark (provided to Engineering by Yours Truly), Emergent ended up with a shark that, indeed, has frickin' laser beams attached to its head. And independently controlled fans. And is pluggable into a computer to receive notifications (like when we lose network access to our source control repository).

Below, feast your eyes on the Engineering Shark, traditional lasers and all:

Emergent Engineering Shark

Me? I saw opportunity for a bit of a friendly competitive battle, and having provided Engineering this cute little fellow, I ordered a five-foot inflatable badboy, attached red faux gems (and had a bad 80s denim Bedazzler flashback) and red yarn to the eyes, to create "analog lasers".

Behold, Product Management Shark 1.0:

Emergent Product-Management Shark (Profile)

Analog lasers and all:

Emergent Product-Management Shark (Analog Lasers close-up)

Now, the fact that the Product Management shark is hanging in my office, the red gems' propensity to pop off at a moment's notice, and the general irritant of the phrase "analog lasers" created a culture of engineers walking into my office and taking shots with NERF guns at Jabberjaw (affectionately and respectfully named for the Hannah-Barbera character, and, uh, my loquacity; and/or my tendency to say, "bite me"). His poor little eyes kept popping off.

To protect Jabberjaw and mitigate the "those don't count as a defense mechanism" verbal barbs (words hurt), I picked up some cheapy motion-activated dart launchers, strapped them around his middle, and put the sensors near my door.

Enter Jabberjaw 2.0.

That gave me a couple of weeks of giggles as visitors were beaned in the head (or nether regions) before someone got done and stole my darts. Jerk(s).

Undaunted, and guessing the toy dart launchers were too cheap to use unique RF signals, I picked up another set. Sure enough, one set of transmitters will set off multiple missile launchers, so Jabberjaw 2.5 (I'm just enhancing functionality he already had, after all) is now equipped with two launchers, each capable of launching 2 missiles, for a 4-missile volley that makes people think about whether they really want to talk to me.

Jabberjaw 2.5:

EGTPM Product Management Shark 2.5 LOLcatted

There's more to the back-and-forth Product Management and Engineering good-natured ribbing, but I think I'll save recounting the next round of that for another aggrandizing post.

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