Letters to the Power Plant #65 — New Building at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the sixty fifth letter I wrote.

1/31/03 – New Building at Dell

Dear Soonerites and significant others,

Well.  Here I am in the new building.  Well.  Ok.  It’s not new, but it is for me.  —  Well.  Ok.  So I’ve worked here before with the Data Warehouse (which is not in a factory — Which my mom still thinks), but I haven’t worked on this floor.  Our team is on the 4th floor, which happens to be the top floor of this building.

When I look out of the north windows I can see the Manufacturing plants about a half mile away.  I can see all the trucks going in and out of the plants all day.

If I look real close I can see the Leprechauns taking their lunch breaks sitting outside under a tree (eating Keebler’s cookies).  If I look out the south window, I see a bunch of trees.  There is a hill between our building and Austin, so I can’t quite see the downtown.

This building is in Austin, but not close to the center of town.  We are on the north side of town, just 5 miles south of the building where I worked before.  —  The place that I came from was called “The Round Rock Campus”.

This place is called “The Parmer South Campus”.  Up the road where the manufacturing plants are is called “The Parmer North Campus”.  That just about makes up all the building in Dell in the Austin area (And this concludes your Geography Lesson from Austin for this week).

I haven’t written for 2 weeks, mainly because I’ve been writing to some of you who have been writing back to me, and so I have had my “Sooner” fix for a while.  The other reason I haven’t been writing is because all of my spare time has been taken up with evaluating a website for Dell.  It’s called www.books24x7.com.

It is a site where you can read books online.  They gave me a trial subscription to it for 3 weeks and wanted me to test it out to determine if it is something we would want to subscribe to at Dell.  I thought the site was great.

You can read all sorts of Programming and business books online.  Since I only had three weeks to use this site, I have been staying up late at night reading and reading, trying to read all the books I could before they turned off my subscription (which they did today).

So for the past 3 weeks I have been reading all the books I could find about programming video games, since my daughter Elizabeth and I are designing “The Power Plant Man!” video game.

Just to give you an idea of what it will be about, it will be played in 3 stages, in the first stage you can pick what type of maintenance person you wish to be, then you have to perform different tasks throughout the power plant while there are all sorts of obstacles that you have to overcome.  All the while there is an evil supervisor (who resembles Darth Vader) who keeps trying to find reasons to fire you, so if you do something wrong, he pops out from behind something and fires you and you lose the game. (Of course, you would save it often, so you don’t have to start all over)

Anyway, you complete all the tasks while avoiding the evil supervisor and his evil plant manager (who looks like the Emperor in Star Wars).  Then in Chapter 2, you find out that the evil supervisor and plant manager has received all the credit for your good work and they cut your salary and you have to pay more for your “benefits”, while the evil plant manager and supervisor receive bonuses for the good job you did.

So your task at this point is to destroy as much of the plant as possible as quickly as you can without getting caught so that the evil manager and supervisor will lose all their bonuses and be forced into retirement.

Then in Chapter 3, you will have to rebuild the plant and design it better than it was before.  You will have to rebuild a lot of the systems, coal-handling, boiler, Turbine, etc, and make it work properly.

The first part of the game is like an adventure game where you have to solve puzzles to repair the equipment (for example:  How to get parts when Bud the Tool Room guy, who won’t give them to you because he only has one left).

The second part of the game is an Action/Strategy game, where you have to set up stuff to destroy the equipment in a short time, while out-maneuvering the Auxiliary Operators who keep trying to operate the plant while you are trying to bring it down.

The third part of the game is more like a Sim City type game where you can design the plant how you want, but it has to work well enough to produce electricity.  You have to be able to produce enough steam pressure from the boiler to spin the turbine fast enough, which means you have to be able to have all the right systems in place.

You will be able to try something, and then modify it until you have a plant that works.  At the end, depending on the construction costs, you will have a cost that you will have to charge the customer for your electricity.  If it is reasonable, you win.

Most likely you will be able to play any chapter in the order you want.  So you could go straight to Chapter 3 if you want, or you could play Chapter 2 first.  However the player wants to do it.

I was going to throw in extra games in the first chapter, like an Air Hockey game, you can play against the computer when you take your break.  Also there will be one of those “push the blocks” around puzzle games in the warehouse when you have to go there to get a part, but boxes are in your way.  —  Stuff like that.

I’m working on doing the 3D graphics for it now.  That’s why I have been reading all the books.  I’m just about ready to start programming something in a couple of weeks.  In the next week or so, I have to bring Elizabeth up to speed on Visual C++, because most of the program will be written in that language.  As I get parts completed, I’ll send you guys a copy to test it.

It has been good to hear from you guys,  I’m glad things are looking up at Sooner (as well as can be expected).  I’ll write soon,

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

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