Links and Notes - May 1st 2021

The Basecamp Exodus

I'm not going to be gleeful about this. There's no point in having any schadenfreude about the event of so many people leaving a company all at once because it changed its policies and turned into a different company overnight. If you've missed it, here's the news.

After Basecamp announced its policy changes around talking politics at the workplace and announced severance packages for anyone who disagreed with the company's new direction, a lot of people have opted to leave. According to Casey Newton, this happened following "a contentious all-hands meeting"

A third of all employees. And at this point, the number has ticked over to 36%+. If you want to follow a constantly updated list of people who've left, you can find it here on Twitter

21 people out of 58 (although the team page shows 57) have left. It's not just any 21 either. Their entire iOS team seems to be gone. Head of product design. Head of customer support. Head of marketing. The latter is extra disappointing given Andy's story of how he came to be at Basecamp. His work prior to Basecamp was running a bus company in Detroit in order to fill the gap left by the public transit. This was an individual who cared a lot about social mission and he mentions how he as a user evangelized the Basecamp product anywhere. Not to discount anyone else at all, but given David's stubborn attitudes, you'd think at least Andy leaving would be enough to trigger some bells in David's head.

But no. He's just busy tweeting noise about Apple out. As if nothing had ever happened.

When I see this, I think this comment thread on HN captures the core of all of this best:

I don't think this is really about making fun of people's names, or holocaust references. It's about power.

The managers at basecamp were unhappy that their employees asserted power over them in the workplace, and decided to assert their own power in turn over what they view as their personal fiefdom and retract some of the freedoms they had so graciously granted their workers, because those ungrateful workers actually expected them to live up to their words about openness and owning mistakes. At least 1/3 of the staff, when confronted with their true relations with their management, then decided to quit.

What a disappointment. I'm still sad that I had to cross Basecamp off my list of places I'd love to work one day.

Oh. A PS. Of the employees Basecamp has pushed away, Wailin Wong is one of them. Not sure what this means for the future of Rework podcast.

And finally, companies are seeing signs of an uptick of being screened for upholding similar policies to Basecamp. How wonderfully the tables turn.

Microsoft Game Jam has been announced!

The theme for this year's game jam has finally been revealed. And it is...


The rule is that any game which is centered around time in some way without the need for further explanation, is considered a valid expression of time. The examples given are:

  1. A cooking game where you need to press a button to remove a cake from an oven at just the right moment
  2. A farming game where you plant/harvest crops based on the season
  3. A game where you need to arrange all the articles on a cover page before the deadline for tomorrow's newspaper

This is one of those moments where I think a more abstract set of examples would be more useful. After reflecting on this I feel that the ideas can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Timer based games. These are games where you race against the clock. Once the timer runs out, you've lost and your score is recorded. Funnily enough, Arcade|my first prototype game built in MakeCode arcade was exactly of this type. Get as many points as possible before the timer run out
  2. The second category of games are timing based. Your wins and losses are based on how well you can time your moves.
  3. Finally, there's time as a more philosophical context. Games where time is treated as a mechanic much like walking and running is treated.

As mentioned above, I already have my first idea for the Game Jam in the timer category. Ideally, I'd like to step beyond that category. I feel like most entries will be in that group anyways.

The idea I've come up with is a traffic light control system. The idea being that junctions need their traffic lights reprogrammed during the day to accommodate changing traffic patterns. The core variable being the timers on the lights. Get it wrong, and the traffic piles up. Get it right and you have happy free flowing traffic. And that's the idea.

There are two issues with this idea though:

  1. No clear reward mechanism. Why should the player care about getting the lines running smoothly?
  2. No clear path towards more challenge. Once a player gets the hang of adjusting the lights, what new challenges can be posed? Or does there even need to be one?

I'll need to figure these out before working on the game. Interested to see whether it's possible to even get a game up in that amount of time. A "complete-ish" one that is.

This blog doesn't have a comment box. But I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have. Send them to [email protected]

Previous links and notes (April 30th)

Next links and notes (May 3rd)

Posted on May 01 2021 by Adnan Issadeen