The Winning Quiche

KIXEYE’s own Mike Pavone and William Morgan recently made a splash at the 2014 ICFP Programming Contest. Here’s a debriefing on the weekend in Mike’s own words: 
"When I first met Bill Morgan at Drexel University, he was one of the few people who seemed genuinely interested in my admittedly obscure pet project. So it’s rather fitting that he’s been the only consistent member of my team for the ICFP programming contest. Each year, the International Conference on Functional Programming holds a 72-hour programming contest to determine the "language of choice for discriminating hackers." Additionally, the team with the best entry after the first 24 hours wins the lightning round and gets the language they used declared "a fine tool for rapid prototyping." While most teams use a somewhat established language like C++, Java or Haskell, our team uses whatever language I happen to be working on at the time of the contest. This year and the previous two years we used a language I call Quiche.
The task a team needs to complete to participate in the contest varies considerably from year to year. This time around, the task centered on a fictional arcade game company named LamCo and their failed game LambdaMan. This game bears a striking resemblance to Pacman, but the hardware has a rather strange architecture consisting of one powerful Lisp CPU for the Lambdaman AI and four primitive 8-bit microcontrollers for the ghost AIs. The organizers provided a simulator for the hardware and it was the job of the contestants to write the AI code. Over the course of caffeine-fueled long weekend, Bill and I were able to produce 2 compilers targeting the aforementioned CPUs, an AI for Lambdaman, and two AIs for the ghosts as well as some parts of a more sophisticated solution that we were unable to complete in time. In the end we managed to place 8th out of 142 teams in the main round and 2nd out of 94 teams in the lightning round.”
Way to go guys!

Take a Bite out of Cancer

by Katie O’Brien & Carly Adams 
image The battle to fight against cancer is long and tough. Great strides have been made in the last few years that have revolutionized treatment options and improved remission rates, but there is still a long way to go. To do our part, KIXEYE has formed a team for Light the Night, an annual walk that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Every fall, these walks take place in many different cities across the United States and Canada - all aimed at raising money and awareness to fight blood cancers. 

This year, KIXEYE’s fundraising goal is $5,000. As part of our efforts, KIXEYE recently held a bake sale at HQ. Bakers weren’t just limited to Light the Night team members. Support came in the form of instant hits such as Brownie-rific Bites, Chocolate Maple Nutella Bacon Cupcakes, and You Butter Recogniiiiiize Rosemary Cookies. 
In addition to standard baked goods, there was also a silent auction filled with specialty items such as Banana Bread, Apple Strudel, and elaborate KIXEYE-themed cookies. Surprisingly we learned that some of our fellow employees have quite the knack for baking - a talent that surely won’t go unnoticed. All in all, the team raised over $1,000 from this event, pushing us closer to our goal and leaving us in a sweet sugary haze. 
The Light the Night team continued with more fundraising as the event grew closer for the walk itself today, September 23, in San Francisco. To learn more about this event, please visit our team page here.

There’s No ‘I’ In Team

Working at KIXEYE is all about working together. Services are shared across many titles, transparency into projects is required to make sure they’re executed properly, and it’s understood that everyone has something to teach others. With so many titles either available or in development, there’s a lot to keep track of for those who work here. Marketing needs to know when a release is coming, engineers need to know what to include on their roadmap, artists need to know what to start drafting, support needs accurate information to help players - and the success of each project doing well is closely tied to how clear communication between those groups are.

All that talk about talk isn’t just talk. One look at the KIXEYE offices shows a tangible commitment to collaboration. Each floor is laid out in a circular pattern complete with white board walls. Each ‘bay’ of desks encourages chatter, peering, or stumbling across a concept to talk about. On the art team and need to talk to a Product Manager? Swivel around. Need to go see Quality Engineering? They’re right around the corner. Have a problem you need to solve? Maybe someone in the Canteen during catered family lunch can help. KIXEYE’s upcoming title War Commander: Rogue Assault, a mobile prequel to the successful War Commander series on web, relies on these interactions. With every group thoughtfully positioned next to groups they frequently talk to, teamwork is the oil in the machine that produces KIXEYE’s awesome games.

David Steinwedel, Product Manager, knows this well. “Collaboration is one of the best parts about working at KIXEYE. We have such a talented, passionate group of game developers that it’s easy to grab a few people and find the most fun solution to any gameplay problem.”
Fellow Product Manager Ryan Schaub - who happens to sit directly behind David - agrees. “It is awesome being able to have ad-hoc working sessions with any discipline right at your desk. Collaboration across roles is a critical part of creating engaging games. Working close to teammates allows KIXEYE to iterate and create fun mechanics that much faster.”

Chatting up CEO Will Harbin at lunch is, as he assures all passers-by, not intimidating at all.

Everyone’s voice and opinions matter at KIXEYE, and every effort is made to make sure that they are. Outside of the office’s layout and family lunches, executives hold office hours, outings are frequent, and Q & A’s accompany any and every all hands. Smart people work here, and they’re smarter when they work together.

March of the Unicorns

Whether it’s a community service event like the Cycle for Survival or attending a talk given by a coworker, KIXEYE is known for supporting the passions and projects of its employees. This month, KIXEYE’s participation in the San Francisco AIDS Walk reiterated that support. Working together, KIXEYE met its fundraising goal of over $5,000 and had over 38 employees make the 6.2mile trek through Golden Gate Park. More than just walking, participation in this year’s AIDS Walk was a display of just how well different departments within KIXEYE can work together - the event was organized by Community, had shirts designed by Product Marketing, and used tips and tricks provided by Human Resources.


It was a proud day for KIXEYE, with its flag held highest in the crowd and everyone walking as one in a sea of red. Needless to say, the San Francisco AIDS Walk has become a new KIXEYE tradition.


KIXEYE Server Engineer: The Unsung Heroes

If you’re anything like most people, the position ‘Server Engineer’ probably means one of two things to you: it’s either a critical role that keeps the entire machine running, or it’s a mysterious technical position you don’t really understand. At KIXEYE, it’s the former. For those of you in the latter camp, a Server Engineer is, essentially, the one who keeps everything a user doesn’t see running. All data needs to be stored, and Server Engineers make sure where it’s stored is fast, cost-efficient, and reliable. With the huge number of people going to, playing its games, and filling up servers with more data, going down is not an option. One of the people who protects a stable experience for our players is none other than Senior Server Engineer Peter Potts.


"I’ve interviewed places where people look depressed. Why would I take that job?” Peter reflects. “This is a good environment. There’s pressure as well, but everyone’s working together as a team. Everyone is understanding and realistic.” He enjoys that server engineering is the antithesis to airplane software. You don’t get to experiment with airplane software for obvious reasons, but server engineers are encouraged to be creative. They can work on small parts of the system and try new things without bringing the whole infrastructure down. What may initially sound like not-the-most-exciting role is anything but at KIXEYE - and Peter is living proof.

Each morning, Peter runs from the CalTrain station in SoMa to KIXEYE in the Financial District. 


After a run like that, it’s only natural that Peter would need to refuel with some espresso.image

Many people don’t think about how their data is recorded, but Peter thinks about it all day, every day. His systems need to immediately show that a player’s unit was killed, upgraded, or built. Players are constantly creating new data that needs to be stored and then readily accessed by several teams at KIXEYE. Should one of those teams need to talk to Peter, they may find him teaching his fellow co-workers about his favorite programming language, Scala.


Day in and day out, Peter and his entourage of Server Engineers build solutions for one game that can be used in others. Each solution needs to solve a specific problem, but be generally applicable enough to help the entire company. From experimental A / B tests to new ways to store a player’s information, Server Engineers are the frequently unseen heroes who create the backbone of KIXEYE’s titles.

KIXEYE is hiring Serving Engineers now. If you want your day to be more like Peter’s, apply here now!

Technicolor Warfare

It’s not every day you get to take a shot at your boss - or your boss gets to take a shot at you. At KIXEYE, this day comes twice a year at the biannual paintball outing. It could be said that paintball teaches cross-team communication, or that it mimics the teamwork necessary to implement strategies, but really it’s all about fun. As the summer days get longer, inevitably, so do the work days. With buses loaded, KIXEYE takes off over the Bay Bridge to relieve some stress and maybe even get some revenge.
Lasting all day with drinks, barbecue, and courts for any style of play, virtual guns are traded for paintball guns. It’s easy to tell who’s been on one of these outings before. Decked out in professional gear, CEO Will Harbin, his team of executives, and a surprising number of army veterans group together to determine the best way to advance past enemy lines. As the day wears on, more and more players begin leaving the field to play board games, tend to welts, and cheer on their teams. At the end of the final game, guns are returned and naps are taken on the ride home. With games won, games lost, new connections made, and stories to be passed on to new employees, it’s a day well spent.



The SCORES Cup is an annual 8v8 co-ed charity soccer tournament that brings together corporate and independent teams looking to play soccer for a great cause, participate in valuable team building, and make a difference in their community. KIXEYE generously donated $2,500 to the America SCORES program, and 14 of us joined together for an awesome day on the pitch.  All funds raised from the tournament support the America SCORES program, which enables urban youth from under-resourced communities to lead healthy lives – both as students and as people.

Although KIXEYE was a late entry into the tournament, we managed to put together a strong team of players from all across the company. The team faced tough squads from JP Morgan/Google, Wells Fargo, and Electronic Arts in back-to-back games with 15-minute halves. After a break for lunch in the afternoon where we learned more about the America SCORES program and the people it benefits, we fought bravely into the semi-finals by beating the KPMG/Silverwood team in the first playoff game. Unfortunately, we lost to Goldman Sachs in the second game, but we’ll be back next year to have our revenge! Thanks to the America SCORES program for a great day. 

Geek Olympathon

Video games’ fantasy worlds are, inherently, a little geeky. With intricate fanciful or photo-realistic settings, their creation takes a certain attention to detail that comes from the geek in all of us. KIXEYE’s Portland office, compromised of our Customer Advocacy department, channeled their inner geek to sponsor and participate in Portland Geek Council’s Geek Olympathon. Filled with geek-tivities, KIXEYE contributed some of its own personality by offering two events of its own: a ‘Build Your Own Guardian’ from TOME station and a VEGA Conflict ‘Base Crushing Challenge’.


A big congratulations goes out to KIXEYE’s three fantastically dressed teams who all finished in the top four. Customer Service Agent Katie Evans’ (pictured above as The Scarlet Witch) team, the Dames of Future Past, finished first!

At KIXEYE, everyone is a geek in their own way. A customer service agent may know more than anyone else about Star Trek’s different races, while an accountant could talk your ear off about how modern war weapons should behave in-game. The Geek Olympathon was a chance for the Portland office to show off exactly what they know. With thirty different challenges all around Portland and a record number of teams participating, it was the most successful Geek Olympathon yet. KIXEYE is proud to have been a sponsor and looks forward to keeping its winning streak going next year!

KIXBALLERS Reign Supreme

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how our KIXBALL team was undefeated and headed into the league finals. Here at KIXEYE, we take winning very seriously, and today we’re happy to prove it. Playing their final two games back to back, the KIXBALLERS did KIXEYE proud by finishing their season as undefeated Champions! 
Cheered on by KIXEYE founders Paul Preece and David Scott, the team took no prisoners playing their most fierce competition yet. It was a close final game with the KIXBALLERS winning 2 -1, but with the support of KIXEYE, they couldn’t do anything but win. A big congratulations to the team! Until the Fall league…


There’s something special about watching your city get stomped on by a giant monster (or several). When those monsters are Godzilla and his enemies, there’s only one thing a video game company can do: leave work early and go see it. Being people that value explosions and giant reptiles, KIXEYE employees worked extra hard on their projects in the week leading up to Godzilla to make sure that they could sit back, relax, and watch the office building they just left get destroyed.



An outing to the theater does more than just let some geeks yell, “OHHH!” at the screen when things explode. Experiences like this are all about the power of the shared experience. From the moment people collectively pack up their things, to the moment they exit the theater, KIXEYE employees are rubbing shoulders with people from other teams. Looking out into the crowd, you don’t see the War Commander team over there and the Marketing department on the other side. You see people mixed together engaging in true, cross-departmental friendships. 
In the weeks following, you could hear people who haven’t spoken more than a few words to each other nerding out over the movie during lunch or over a beer at happy hour. It’s the small things that bring a company together, but sometimes you need a big theater.