Mindcandy Techcon 2014

Mindcandy Techcon 2014

On 11th February 2014 we held our own mini tech conference in London at the Rich Mix Cinema in Shoreditch.

Today we streamlined our jelly beans, expanded our guilds, sprinkled DevOps everywhere, emphasised our polyglotism then un-cheated our backends !

In 2011 & 2012 we held a company Techcon to get together all Tech Mindcandies to share our technical experiences and technologies. It gives us an opportunity to share knowledge & give insights into different teams and products we wouldn’t normally get time to do.

Jeff Reynar

As Jeff, our new CTO joined us in the new year, it was a good opportunity for him to talk to all of us about our Tech & strategy going forward; especially on how we can build a great Tech culture here, so we can all grow and learn great things.

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We had some great talks from all the teams & learn’t some new things. One talk even caused an outbreak of nose bleeds….too much data !

A learning organisation

Collaboration was the focus of the day, where we talked about how we better collaborate across cross functional teams & disciplines. And so the “Guilds” were born & there was much rejoicing.

DevOps soon followed with a healthy smattering of dev and ops hugging. We have been practising DevOps methodologies here for a while, so we showed the fruits of our labour. From shared tools, infrastructure as code to automation & sharing the PagerDuty rota. We saw the future & it was continuous delivery…..& there was much rejoicing.

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Middleware team splashed us with more water themed services, with Plunger & Pipe Cleaner. We are safe in the knowledge our events can make it through the pipeline so quickly. We learn’t about how we use FluentD, AWS SQS & Redshift to get gazillions of events from our games into our data warehouse. And they showed improvements made to our identity & AB testing services.

Tools team had a vision…..and it was “make things less crappy”. They talked about deployment tools & automation with the promise of making everyone productive & happy. We were happy…and less crappy. The future would be filled with tools that are whizz bang and swishy like Iron Man….I have raised a JIRA ticket for my flying suit, its in the backlog people !

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NetOps Team talked about our implementation of autoscaling using cloudformation stacks & how we manage dynamic disposable infrastructure. Also, we got introduced to the Moshling Army, who will tirelessly automate and keep tidy our AWS accounts. The Bean Counter app would also keep all the product teams updated on a daily basis with their Amazon AWS costs.

We then had presentations by all the product teams, QA & IT OPS.

The product teams deep dived into their front & back end architecture. We were shown how we load tested one of our game backends using Gattling. Blasting an AWS Autoscale group with 1.2 million req/min , breaking Cassanda & RDS Postgres along the way. The monster 244GB, 88 ECUs RDS instance took it in the end. ( err time to scale out before we need that me thinks )

This was swiftly followed by the “Bastardisation of Unity” & how we mashed it , rung its neck & made awesome 3D on mobile devices. Apache Thrift made an appearance, & we learn’t how we use the binary communication protocol in one of our apps.

Moshi Monsters web team talked about the lessons learn’t over the last 5-6 years in managing a complicated code base. They revealed the pain of deployments back in the day & how they have been streamlined with “The Birth Monster” deploy tool. Wisdom was imparted about tech debt, code reviews & knowledge sharing.

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Our Brighton studio dazzled us with their game architecture & visually jaw dropping in-game graphics. The front end tools they built to improve workflow was awesome. Using timelines to combine animation, audio, cameras, game logic, UI & VFX means they can build stuff super fast. They also talked about cheat detection & the best ways to tackle it.

The QA Team told us to pull our socks up ! Together we should strive to always finish backlog stories, improve TDD & automation. Make sure we have plenty of time for regression testing. Fortunately, they are working like crazy with acceptance criteria on stories, testing & improving communication.

Finally the IT OPS team joined the DevOps march by turning their Mac builds from manual to automated nirvana. Using Munki & Puppet to handle software / configuration of all our company Apple Macs. Amazed !

Also we learn’t …never go on extended holiday

Or this happens….

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Looking forward to the next Mindcandy Techcon !

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