Controlling Dreams, when they are about code

I woke up this morning, sweaty as all hell, but I knew something that I hadn’t the night before. I solved the problem I had been facing for the last week in my code. All it took was to forget it and close my eyes.

This is a story that I have heard from many of my coder buddies over the years, and miraculously this is not something that seems to be few and far between. This pattern of immersion seems to permeate the society that I now consider to be my own.

I awoke one night, probably four AM, eyes darting around my modest room. My girlfriend was visibly confused, but I didn’t have time to explain. I was up, pants thrown on and my computers monitor flashed into a blaze of keystrokes. “Honey, please come back to bed.” I had heard it but my voice patterns had not booted yet in my brain.

While I slept, my brain had been devoting its energy to a certain problem that had been facing in an application project that I had been trying to solve for nearly a month. I had spent countless hours staring at the code, compiling, and recompiling trying to figure out the solution; low and behold it took sleep and away time to actually figure it out.

This was, however, not the first time that such things had happened. I had gotten myself into a pattern of not sleeping on Thursdays, knowing that my brain was already going to be running at a mile a minute that evening and I would spend the remainder of the day on Friday trying to recoup. My schedule kicked my ass, believe me I know that better than anyone else on this planet, but when all was said and done I would look back on a week and know that not only did I get a lot done, I gave it my all.

These sleepless nights didn’t solve everything though. There were a number of issues that would crop up and continue to irritate the shit out of me and push me to give up at times. One such issue was on the push points, yes the ones that so many mods are using now, inspired by the ones I released to the VDC, in April of last year. What I released was actually only about 20% of the full system that I had mapped out and coded for my mod. It was fairly elaborate and fixed a few flaws that were present in the one I released, but for the most part it was still very well rooted. One night after a meeting with my team I laid into my bed and closed my eyes. As the darkness and warmpth of my comforter overtook me I was thrust into my game. A battle was going on and people were losing limbs and blood all around. I lifted the rifles we were diagramming, I jumped around the map, but more importantly it occurred to me in my dream that I should go look at how the push point was supposed to work.

I stepped out of cover for a moment and saw a flag around the corner and across a bridge. A few of the jerkoffs who wished to get to the flag behind me were standing there, taunting me. As my tram went by, I jumped aboard and began an all out assault on the point. Me and four buddies crossed into the battle grounds and took the point with little issue. I landed at the edge of the point and I began experimenting. What would this point feel like as I enter it, will I want to do this or is the game exciting enough just with the battles. How do the trams interact with this? Should I just focus on those? My mind rolled, eyes darting around and then it occurred to me. The push point is just another option for gameplay. If a mapper doesn’t want it, cool. So I decided to push through and make the game mode work.

I spent a cool hour working out how the points would be interacted with, special effects associated with them. My eyes opened and I went to work. At first I thought It was a day dream, but when I finished the first version of the system I realized that I had been asleep for four hours and had been coding for two. It was eight AM and I had a working push point. Everything I needed it to do was there, and anything I didn’t need it to do was gone. What more can you ask for?

I have been doing a lot of reading in the last three months. I just finished my sixth 300 page book and plan to undertake at least two more by the time I turn 24 (I really want to learn python, nudge, nudge). One such book is called Dreaming in code, and it documents a journey through code (software) time and follows a project called chandler. For what its worth this was probably the best read I have had since months ago with Joel on Software. The book is chock full of great quotes from some of the grandest minds that have more than inspired me to continue as I have been. This book and reading through some of the things that OSAF had to go through has renewed the vigor that I once had and thought would be the death of me. Most of all, this book is important to read if you are interested in getting beyond code and becoming a great minded developer in and of itself. I just completed a build of my app and I must say that I have found many of the trials and tribulations that Chandler has gone through echoed in my own experiences, but above all else I find the book has inspired me to code things better.

I may not be a transcendent software engineer yet, but I am sure as shit more than a programmer, no matter what the tag on my desk says.