Working from home is now the norm for nearly everyone at 343. This way of life is something each of us has handled differently as we are all in our own unique situations. Today, we are going to take a look behind the curtain at a handful of folks that are on the teams helping bring MCC to PC including the Community Team, Marketing, Data Analytics, and Quality Assurance. These are our stories (insert Law & Order sound-bite here).
Tyler “Postums” Davis - Community Dude
It has been nearly 2 months since I and many others last stepped foot inside of the offices at 343. The safety and wellbeing of our teams and their families is the top priority so everyone across the studio has been adjusting and adapting to working remotely. Our studio members have taken this change in stride and pushed through the challenges that have come with it to continue driving progress against development milestones. With school closures, daily routine disruptions, the new “norm” of how our society has been changed to meet a new unique threat to our species and everything else we’re all dealing with, it’s hard to describe how we have changed collectively as we all handle the impacts in such unique ways. Today, we wanted to share some insights into how each of us have been handling the changes to working from home and share the stories we have been going through and what our lives now look like as we continue to work on Halo! I’m going to start this one off with my changes and talk through how I’ve been handling the whole working from home piece. But first – here’s some of my working from home friends and a look into our lives.
(Goats pictured above are Ogre1, Ogre2, and Walshy)
My current work from home status is that my son’s room is also where my office is. Days have begun to somewhat blur together at this point with his nap schedules mirroring mine or being just timely enough to conduct meetings. Each daily meeting when he has been here consists of patrolling the farm and live streaming chickens, goats, and tractors. 2020 is… weird, but it’s also somewhat enjoyable for me as I’m getting to spend extra time with him and watch him grow and learn.
At Home Setup
My at home setup is having twin 4k monitors side by side with my monster work PC setup alongside my Xbox One X. Being a person who helps support the Publishing Team, they were kind enough to ship me out one of these 4k monitors when we all went to working-from-home status. It has helped significantly in ensuring the most pixels possible!
Challenge of working from home
For me, the biggest challenges in working from home has been the lack of socialization. Going to lunches with my team was one of the most enjoyable parts of each day. I miss our Ramen, Poke, and random food adventures around the studio. Just good, wholesome, and laugh-filled afternoons of catching up with those I care about. Working on games is so fun because of the people you work with. I would say that is the most challenging piece, apart from ensuring to stay on a proper day-night sleep schedule in between binge watching random cooking shows and House M.D. for the ten thousandth time.
work life balance
This is an interesting piece because of where I live in relation to the office. I grew up in the sticks, I love living in the sticks, but I also have to drive from the sticks to civilization each day for 40 miles on freeways that are the core routes to and from the greater Seattle area. When commuting with normal traffic, my drives take anywhere between 1-3 hours each way. As pretty much everyone knows from my extensive moaning over this drive, it is not fun, and I complain about it quite vocally because I can! Soon though, I will be relocating significantly closer to the office so the drive is not as bad. I have come to find out that my work life balance issues of past stem mostly from the long drives. For the sanity of not only myself, but for those who must work with me, I will be doing us all a favor lol.
(Henrietta lays the tastiest eggs)
The silver lining to the current situation is that I have been reclaiming those lost traffic hours. My work life balance has become much more balanced! I’ve been sleeping longer, exercising regularly in the AM, cooking a lot of fresh foods, spending more time on my interests and hobbies, and just being able to get in quality time with my family in the area which includes my son, Owen.
With not constantly having to be on the go and working entirely remotely I have become much more balanced in my ability to get offline and stay offline at the end of my days. Before, I would commute in very early to beat traffic and continue to stay online long after the end of my days by reading, replying, and talking to folks across all social media platforms. Being able to have the time to “shut off” work and have that time for myself has been very important. The ability to unplug and not be in that “always on” mode is a staple in my daily routine now and is an important part to my day.
In closing, working remotely and seeing everyone rise to the challenge has been inspiring to say the least. Everyone is facing this together and the comradery amongst such a diverse team that spans so many disciplines is unbelievable to be witness to. Working on Halo is honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life, but getting to work with such a talented and battle tested group of individuals whose response to any challenge that comes up is on par with the “hold my beer” meme is truly inspiring. I’m proud to be surrounded by so many supportive, focused, and devoted individuals who bring unique passions for progress and push through any challenge that we face together.
Stay safe out there everyone! Be sure to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and don’t forget to wash your hands. Catch you later!
Noah “Philosohraptors” Benesch – Marketing Man for MCC
When we were mandated to start working from home, I decided to haul home my work PC and set myself up with a nifty folding table in my garage. Understandably, I’ve been asked “why?” quite a few times. To put it simply; working in my garage ensures that “home” stays that way. When I walk into my house, I physically leave all my work behind me. It makes it a lot easier to maintain my established work/live boundaries and it keeps me from going too terribly stir-crazy!
At Home Setup
Challenge of working from home
Oddly enough, I’m working for longer hours. With no time for in-person hallway conversations or desk drop-ins, people are filling their calendars with meetings! It’s been challenging to find focus time without running (too far) into my personal time.
Not seeing your colleagues is challenging. There’s so much we take for granted in our minor face-to-face conversations. Some of our best ideas come from these random person-to-person interactions and it’s hard to replace those organic moments in a work from home environment.
My cats love to SCREAM at me from my house. But if I let them into the garage, they stand in front of my screen or try to stand on my keyboard before SCREAMING to be let back into the house…
work life balance
I’ve sort of alluded to this above, but in addition to my garage-office to keep me sane outside of work, I’ve started homebrewing and gardening and it’s been very rewarding (both literally and figuratively)! It has been unique and I’m making lemonade out of lemons, well, something stronger; but you get my drift!
Melinda “wildMischief” Reeb – Data guru
Working from home has been an interesting experience for me as I just recently joined the team. It has been challenging, but it is an experience I have taken well in stride. I have really made the world my home office and enjoy taking walks and hikes while still participating in our regular meetings. But, when I am in my actual home office, my PC is setup just the way I like. This setup helps me to keep on top of all the pieces I am working on to support the team at large.
At home setup
- 3 19” AOC Monitors
- GAOMON Sketch Tablet
- Logitech Pro Gaming Keyboard RGB
- GRIM Gaming Mouse
- Box built from scrap parts
- Corsair Void RGB Elite Headset
challenges of working from home
I haven’t had too many challenges working from home although it has been significantly more difficult as I have been onboarding during this time as well. My manager has helped to facilitate the gathering of resources as well as the adaptation to the work from home environment causing a smooth transition thus far.
Work Life Balance
Balancing work-life responsibilities can be a challenge for anyone. I often find myself taking small breaks throughout the day to make sure that I have a clear head before starting each task. The situation has helped me understand how to improve my own efficiency and focus while maintaining a healthy familial relationship. Communication is a pillar in any foundation for resiliency and I have found that taking a break to speak with my “co-workers” about something mundane (like the weather, or the new Seattle NHL team name that will never be announced) can help shake up your day!
Eric “IK Grubb” Ferdinand – QA Lead for MCC
My PC has always been a constantly growing force to be reckoned with, as it lives within a workbench case for easy swapping of components. Shortly after WFH began, the Production team equipped me with a new GPU and a snazzy high refresh rate monitor to go with it, rounding out my capabilities and helping to ensure I can assess our VFR implementation from home. On top of that, I run AMD hardware primarily, so I have become the go-to for any AMD specific assessments.
At home setup
- AMD Ryzen 5 CPU
- RX 5700 GPU
- 5 Hard Drives (2 M.2 NVMe, 2 SSDs, 1 HDD)
- 2 hot swap bays
- Cooler Master Liquid Cooling system
- Lots of RGB
Additionally, I use an Intel i7 NUC PC for server access and a Surface Book 2 laptop for when I get sick of sitting in my DXRacer.
Challenges of working from home
I am a single father of an 11y/o girl who had the rest of 5th grade cancelled due to the pandemic. Because of this, I have become a home-school teacher on top of my regular work week. I had about 2 days to figure out how to continue her education for the remainder of the school year while I simultaneously support my team and complete my work. It has been a daily balancing act that I am finally getting comfortable with.
On top of becoming a teacher, I also decided that RIGHT NOW is the time to buy a home. Actual footage of my life right now:
This has resulted in my home being exploded into boxes and bags. It's been interesting trying to close on my house while the whole world is shut down around me. I've had great support from everyone involved and have even received some early housewarming gifts from some of the folks on the Pub Team!
Work Life Balance
I've began taking Wednesday's off work to spend the day sitting with my daughter and helping her stay engaged and focused on learning. I try to avoid rolling out of bed and into work, so I've started setting up the slow cooker for dinner before I begin my workday. The benefit is twofold since the house smells amazing all day and by the time I'm done with work, dinner is already done!
A huge shoutout to the Publishing Team and all its partners that have been supporting the development for MCC PC as of late! The challenges that all have been facing are honestly unprecedented. I want to leave a heartfelt thank you to the IT team at 343 that has been working safely behind the scenes to help ensure our remote development teams are empowered to still do their best work. They are literally the heroes of us all and without them literally nothing would be happening. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
Now, let’s take a look behind the curtain on some upcoming feature work pieces!