Friday, 13 April 2012

Back to the UK

I came back 3 weeks ago to this wonderful country, where I can get free healthcare, free primary and secondary education, and a government that helps me with my university fees. I'm so damn lucky, and so very grateful.

However, some of the pretentious and arrogant British attitudes are starting to irritate me. I don't know if was just unfortunate timing to return amidst the non-existent 'petrol crisis' and the 'pasty tax', but everything seems ridiculous.

Children are starving to DEATH.

Who gives a flying fuck about the hosepipe ban? You still have drinkable water that comes from your tap, and enough money to feed yourself. Who cares if you're an 'avid car washer' as one cantankerous old sod claimed on the BBC news headlines - it would be bad enough on South Today, but this was the national headlines.

People with such trivial complaints should be transported to the slums of India for a week - it's a crazy reality that because we were born on this side of the Earth, we get everything handed to us on a plate. It will never be fair as long as kids are drinking from puddles on the street. Some people need to find better things to complain about, and then do something about it.

India has a lot to learn from England in terms of national schemes, health services, traffic control, not to mention health and safety in construction work, but a great majority of the great British public also have a hell of a lot to learn from the people of India, like how to smile.

"Indians see life as a privilege, not as a rite"
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Monday, 9 January 2012

People of India

Are awesome. There is so much variety in appearances and such vibrancy in the colours and styles of dress. People of every age work together here. Here are some of my favourite photographs from this month:

Pure, unposed happiness.

This guy was amazing. His music was amazing too.

I wonder what his story is?

A traditional Christmas attire!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Birthday Ubisoft!

Tonight was the 25th anniversary party for Ubisoft! I co-hosted the event with Akshay and so many things went wrong, but still had a great time. I tried to open the show in Hindi which failed – I couldn’t read the script because the lights were down too low..!

There were awesome dance acts worthy of India’s got talent (if it exists) and some great singing.

The cake was amazing too - Rabbids!

There are some very funny videos circulating around the studio now, and five or six people passed out. I can’t imagine anything more embarrassing than getting completely wasted at a corporate party, but that’s what happens if you give out free, unlimited alcohol I guess..!

The venue was pretty cool too – Area 51 is shaped like a flying saucer and is full of lights. At some points in the evening, the dance floor was severely lacking in females. Akshay said, “Looks like a German gay bar.”

Welcome to the games industry!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

2nd December

Today, Dad showed me a speech from Charlie Chaplin at the end of 'The Great Dictator'. I always thought of Chaplin as a comedian with great talent, but I never knew he wrote an entire movie based around this speech. This is one of the first times he ever spoke in a movie, and his words have affected me greatly.

"Greed had poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed"
"...The machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. More than machinery, we need humanity."
"...You the people have the power - the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. The power to make this world free and beautiful."

I felt as if he was speaking directly to me, and I hope he had that affect on millions of other people too. It's time for change. The time we are living in now is the 'passing of greed', and we should not despair, but instead try our hardest to make positive changes to our world in whatever ways we can. I'm going to make an effort to give something helpful to a stranger every week. There's plenty of beggars in India to go around.

Maybe inspired by Chaplin’s words, I bought a weeks worth of food for a poor man on the street, and gave the rest of the money in my wallet to a another stranger, which I would never normally do. After all, I don’t know where that money is going to end up. I’m careful not to give money to children who look a state, or have physical injuries like burns - I’m worried their parents will do more damage to them to get more money. I take a notepad and coloring pencils with me for the kids instead, and sometimes I’ll get them a bottle of coke or some food.

All the beggars here seem quite genuine though. The woman I gave the money to was about my age with two young children. I can’t stand the fact that I have everything I need in life, while other women my age are struggling to keep themsleves alive. I’m an incredibly lucky person. Giving money to a stranger makes me feel worth something, and gives them enough to help with daily life – there’s no down side to giving things away, and I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had just walked past.

I hope one day my career will lead me to create a game which functions and relies on doing good deeds to help eachother.

I’m tired of shooting and killing. Even in games, it’s not that fun.

30th November

Dad is here now! Raj and I went to pick him up from the Mumbai airport; I was dreading travelling on that expressway all week after what happened last time. It wasn't as bad as I remembered it - mainly because it was daytime so you could actually see the lorries, and there were no rogue dishwashers in the middle of it.

Photos from the car - Horn OK please?

A building in Mumbai

We didn't stop in Mumbai because the traffic was so terrible, just had a quick break in the service stations and bought some chikki, which is awesome. Dad seems to be completely fascinated by the roads here - there is complete madness. Just finished putting together a video edit for him, (I'll upload soon!) finishing up with a clip in a rickshaw.

We went around Pune today. It's strange but I think its the first time I've explored the city on foot during the day. Dad seemed quite upset by the amount of pollution and litter around, especially on (and in) Mula Mutha, the river that runs through Pune. As he works in protecting the environment, he explained to me the process - they were attempting to oxegenate the water by running it through fast flowing concrete structures, but right at the end of the structure there were people dyeing their clothes in it, and the water coming out he described as already being 'dead'.

There's an operation to clean up the Ganges starting in the next few years that will bring fresh water to millions of Indian people, but what is needed more desperately is specific education - so many people need to be respectfully educated so they can work together to protect their water sources for long periods of time.

There is also a conflict with religious practice and conservation efforts. India is predicted to overtake China as the most densely populated country by 2030, and it is deemed highly respectful in some religions if your cremated remains are thrown into a river, the most sacred being the Ganges. There is no way that western people can barge into a country and tell the population to discontinue a practice that has been holy for over 2500 years, but what else is an option in this kind of situation?

It seems too much money in India is going into the pockets of already rich, incredibly corrupt officials, and not into the health services and clean up operations that people really need. When I told my friends about the NHS in England they were totally amazed. They said, "We pay high taxes but have no idea what they are spent on".

This experience has opened my eyes a lot ; so many people in our country don't realise how lucky they are. We complain all day about how our neighbours dog was barking too loudly when there are children here starving to death.

21st November

The 'I'll write more tomorrow' strategy is failing badly. Tonight I got carried away painting Kali in photoshop - Hindu deities look really fantastic. I hope when this is finished it does her justice, she's such an awesome character.

Still a work in progress!

Today at the studio was full of meetings about LODs and the new online system for setting weekly sprints and deadlines for FPP, so I didn't get much work done. The founder of SquareSoft, Yasuhiro Fukushima was at the studio today but I didn't get a chance to meet him because of all the meetings. Damn.

I came back at 5pm and made some masala chai - I'm getting pretty good at making it and somehow it makes my headache go away instantly! Maybe I'm just addicted... I'll cut down...

Pauline, the studio head, doesn't like it when people leave the studio at 5pm sharp, she says we should have more dedication to the projects and stay overtime to make sure our work is the best quality possible. This doesn't usually apply to me as I almost always stay until 6pm, but I think her mentality is very important to what makes a games studio a great place to work. I know recently there has been many problems with games companies pushing their employees too hard to work free overtime, but this reminds me of something I learned in the presentation I had on my first day of university - you need passion for your work in order to be successful.

There's no obligatory system which pressures you to work yourself to death - no evil glares from anyone if you come in a bit late or leave a little early. There are a lot of myths about games studios been very stressful places to work, but there's no chance of any lawsuits in Pune like there was for Team Bondi. I hope all studios are this relaxed and friendly, but after discussing with Pauline how different this studio is in terms of pipelines and team structure, I'm prepared for something entirely different if I eventually get a job in the west.

What I think we need more of in this studio is motivation and passion for the projects we're working on. There is a pinboard for the game we are making which is looking empty at the moment - it just has our logo, but I'm making it my mission in my free time next week to fill it with motivational stuff. Most importantly I'd like to begin bridging the gap between the art and programming teams. Communication is key. The group projects at university really helped me to understand how important it is.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Hand Written Journals - 20th Nov

I'm getting carried away with hand written journal entries and forgetting about this blog, but I'm hoping that's all about to change. I've made ten entries to my diary since my last upload on blogspot, and now would like to share some of my experiences online.

20th November:
The clothes here are so much like my all time favourite game, The Legend of Zelda. I promised myself I would only buy four kurta during my time here. I failed.

They're a steal at Rs.200 (about £2.50) and even if they're not good quality, they last for a time and I can always get new awesome colours from Laxmi Road. I always feel bad spending any money on things I don't need though. There's a lot of poverty here. Last time I bought a coke I ended up giving it to a kid outside straight away, but I'm very lucky and this experience is helping me not to take things so for granted.

I get a lot of compliments from the local women about how I look in the traditional dress. One lady stopped her motorbike to introduce me to her (very beautiful) daughter. I also seem to get much better prices if I'm wearing a Kurta, and if I ask 'how much, brother?' in Hindi. I guess if you make the effort, you can reap the rewards. I'm always very concious in England about my appearance, but the locals find me very interesting.

This week I have to let Sulekha, (my HR manager), know if I would like to host the 25th anniversary show for Ubisoft. What an opportunity, but again, it's my confidence holding me back from making an instant descision. I'm pretty sure I'll say yes. I'll regret not jumping at the chance later in my life, I know it. Better to try and fail than never try at all. Not to mention I'll be presenting the show with Akshay, a good friend, so it will be less of a problem.

I have loads of work to do this week, but if I can spend a week making really big changes, next time someone tries it, the same process will take 3 days, and then 2 days. It's all about trying once and finding the fastest way possible, and then spreading the knowledge down the chain.

All studios need good communication to function properly. At the moment in this project there seems to be a bit of a barrier between the programmers and the artists which needs to be broken down so we can make a great game. Weekly meetings are helpful, and now we have an online deadline system which will be invaluable.

An online blog is no substitute for an hand-written journal really - you can see how many times I've moved about as my handwriting changes, and how as I've got more tired it's got progressively 'more worse'. I'll try to write as much as I can, whenever I can.