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Gamasutra - Determined Devoted Wives vs. Rockstar San Diego Management - FIGHT

Peronthious

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Jan 5, 2008
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xbhaskarx said:
Mike Bradley 8 Jan 2010 at 3:05 pm PST
The saddest part of the above is that Red Dead Redemption (the game the entire studio is working on) is an organic disaster of the most epic proportions. The pain just might be worth it for everyone if the work was worldclass and they could proudly place it on their resumes as they walk away from that mess. Sadly, it is anything but, and Bitter is correct* mismanagement up and down the Rockstar chain is the direct cause. Red Dead Revolver 2: Dead On Arrival.

(*Bitter PartyOfMany 8 Jan 2010 at 2:24 pm PST
When you let a team create a game for 2+ years, building technology with little or no feedback, then jump in months before the project is to be shipped and *DEMAND* sweeping changes, you're going to have deadlines slip, unstable fixes, and unhappy workers.)
:\
 

quaere

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Nov 20, 2005
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10-12 hours a day is the new 8 for white collar workers in competitive jobs. This is hardly unique to the gaming industry, and is only going to accelerate unless there is some worldwide agreement to legally restrict hours. Better get used to it.
 

Visualante

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Mar 3, 2007
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Haunted said:
In all seriousness though, the game is secondary. The concern over the well-being of those employees should be the first order of business.

These really sounds like terrible conditions to be working under and both the professional output as well as the personal lives of those involved will suffer as a result. No job is worth ruining your relationship and family over, so I'm in full support of the employees (and their families) here.
Half Life 2 broke at least one family. Just sayin'. Read about it from a friend of the employee. Basically couldn't stop talking about the game and how he loved the company, spent all his time working and his free time socialising with his colleagues. No time spent at home with his child and spouse.
 

Wormdundee

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Apr 10, 2009
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The letter sounds like it was written by someone trying to be Jerry Holkins, but they're actually serious about it.
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
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Visualante said:
Half Life 2 broke at least one family. Just sayin'. Read about it from a friend of the employee. Basically couldn't stop talking about the game and how he loved the company, spent all his time working and his free time socialising with his colleagues. No time spent at home with his child and spouse.
That sounds more like obsession then management issues.
 

Jme

Member
Sep 27, 2006
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Great, now when I buy this game I'll feel like I'm buying a god damned blood diamond, or child labor sweatshop jeans. Thanks devoted wives.
 

Josh7289

Member
Dec 9, 2006
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Visualante said:
Half Life 2 broke at least one family. Just sayin'. Read about it from a friend of the employee. Basically couldn't stop talking about the game and how he loved the company, spent all his time working and his free time socialising with his colleagues. No time spent at home with his child and spouse.
Yeah, that's not directly the company's fault. I've read about people doing that before in the games industry. It's just their own obsessions getting the best of them. Workaholics, etc...

Nuclear Muffin said:
Funnyly enough, Nintendo are the most successful developers within the industry and they mandate 35 hours/5 day weeks IIRC. Sure their games take a long time to come out, but the quality is always very high and the sales usually make up for the long wait. (Next Level Games have a similar policy according to one of the Gamasutra comments and their games follow a similar pattern of good sales and quality)
Is that true about Nintendo (I assume you're talking about Nintendo Japan)? Can anyone back it up?
 

BobTheFork

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Peronthious said:
Sounds like what happens to any major software project that fails from a lack of communication. Lack of proper planning will kill even the most dedicated programmers. it sounds like there was a distinct lack of shared vision amongst the employees and management. The late demand for sweeping changes after almost no feedback is a huge red flag.
 

Herbspiceguy

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Jan 27, 2009
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I was thinking of buying Chinatown Wars for PSP, but after reading this I'm not sure I will have a good feeling about it. Then again, it won't change the situation at R*, change has to come from the workers themselves and I could be wearing clothes made by people working under much worse conditions.
 
Aug 14, 2006
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Josh7289 said:
Yeah, that's not directly the company's fault. I've read about people doing that before in the games industry. It's just their own obsessions getting the best of them. Workaholics, etc...


Is that true about Nintendo (I assume you're talking about Nintendo Japan)? Can anyone back it up?
Yeah it was EAD I think. It was mentioned in either one of the Iwata Asks or from that keynote panel, where one of Nintendo's staff members talked about their experience working within the company (I remember him mentioning how a lot of their staff were goofing off playing Diablo 2 when it came out instead of working :lol)

I'm sure I remember it being mentioned, but I can't seem to find it again now.
 

Slavik81

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Jan 23, 2007
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Sho_Nuff82 said:
I too wonder how a game that cost 100 million, and made 10x that in revenue, does not result in a dev studio driving Porches and sipping champagne all day. Is the money going to all the wrong people (ie upper management)?

The recent rumor article about Infinity Ward seems to indicate that after their success they were able to dictate the terms of their upcoming projects and their reimbursement.

Rockstar (and Take Two as a whole) just sounds like a poorly run company.
Rockstar San Diego is the dev studio that made Midnight Club. GTA is Rockstar North.
 

~Kinggi~

Banned
Oct 22, 2006
23,464
0
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Zaptruder said:
Seems to me like the entire industry from work to product is built for unattached men.

This is very true. Naughty Dog are the only devs that i personally have heard say that their employees were growing up and getting little "naughty dogs" of their own, and so they have scaled back the work hours in accordance and have made sure that their pre-production planning was better. It was on a Gnoman school dvd about the making of Uncharted. They very much seemed like they cared about the happiness of their employees. Im sure they still have crunch time, but depending on how a company is ran, the crunch time can be forced on the employees, or the employees can be initiating it themselves.


Also, if people arent getting paid overtime at Rockstar San Diego, im pretty sure there is something illegal going on there. That would mean every employee would have to be at exempt status, which is usually only reserved for management level positions where they are supervising 2 or more people. I mean, unless they have everyone on 1099's but then they can easily prove they are all misclassified employees which brings its own legal problems.

I just got out of a job concerning the same issues and it was not at all a fun time.

What kind of life is working 12 hours a day? One day someone will snap and take someone else out.
 
~Kinggi~ said:
This is very true. Naughty Dog are the only devs that i personally have heard say that their employees were growing up and getting little "naughty dogs" of their own, and so they have scaled back the work hours in accordance and have made sure that their pre-production planning was better.
Actually, this has been something Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games has been championing since Supreme Commander. The games they've put out since they've become a largely 9-5 studio haven't been so great (or so I've heard), but GPG has been consistent as far as time expenditure, milestone making and working within their budget as far as I know.

You think that with all the talk about this and how important pre-production is towards having your development time go smoothly and on-schedule, the rest of the industry would catch up. Instead, horror stories like (allegedly) this still seem to be the norm rather than the exception.
 

~Kinggi~

Banned
Oct 22, 2006
23,464
0
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I AM JOHN! said:
Actually, this has been something Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games has been championing since Supreme Commander. The games they've put out since they've become a largely 9-5 studio haven't been so great (or so I've heard), but GPG has been consistent as far as time expenditure, milestone making and working within their budget as far as I know.

You think that with all the talk about this and how important pre-production is towards having your development time go smoothly and on-schedule, the rest of the industry would catch up. Instead, horror stories like (allegedly) this still seem to be the norm rather than the exception.
And what the studio heads dont seem to realize is that running a tight shop that doesn't force ridiculous hours on the employees only inspires them more. Their thirst for the next great thing gets cultivated until they do work on that project they want to and they motivate themselves to work the extra hours to make the best game possible. Everyone wins at that point.
 

Slavik81

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Jan 23, 2007
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~Kinggi~ said:
Also, if people arent getting paid overtime at Rockstar San Diego, im pretty sure there is something illegal going on there. That would mean every employee would have to be at exempt status, which is usually only reserved for management level positions where they are supervising 2 or more people. I mean, unless they have everyone on 1099's but then they can easily prove they are all misclassified employees which brings its own legal problems.
Professionals are generally exempt from overtime laws, including some in the state of California.

See:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Glossary.asp?Button1=E#employee in the computer software field
 

~Kinggi~

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Oct 22, 2006
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cuyahoga

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Nuclear Muffin said:
Rockstar are known for this, it's happened many times before (A factor which lead to half of Bully's dev team jumping ship just after the game was released)
Same thing happened at Rockstar Toronto after The Warriors came out.
 

Zefah

Member
Jan 7, 2007
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HK-47 said:
Where are you working now?
A fairly large corporation in Japan. The working conditions that I mentioned in my last post are definitely not exclusive to my company, though. It seems to be something ingrained in the Japanese culture especially amongst "salary man" type positions.
 

TAJ

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Jun 9, 2004
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Wormdundee said:
The letter sounds like it was written by someone trying to be Jerry Holkins, but they're actually serious about it.
No, the difference is that this wife found half of these words in a thesaurus and has no idea how to use them in sentences.
 

Slavik81

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Jan 23, 2007
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~Kinggi~ said:
Well so by that article, they have to be making at least 41$ an hour and be involved more on the programming end of the spectrum and not the art end? Is that correct? Im not familiar with the "professional" classification.
I'm not any more familiar with the peculiarities of California's law than a 5-minute browse of that page, but that was my understanding, yes.

I have no idea what California cost of living and wage standards are, but that's slightly over 80k/year. That sounds about right for a software engineer with a few years experience, particularly because I'd expect California to be more expensive than most other places.

I'm not sure if the artists would be exempt, either. My guess is not for the most part, though some might.
 

Haunted

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Visualante said:
Half Life 2 broke at least one family. Just sayin'. Read about it from a friend of the employee. Basically couldn't stop talking about the game and how he loved the company, spent all his time working and his free time socialising with his colleagues. No time spent at home with his child and spouse.
That's hilarious and sad at the same time.

He couldn't handle HL2's awesomeness.
 

ram

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NetMapel said:
Horrible horrible news. This entire industry needs to do some maturing.
it has already matured. its the same as in every other industry. big wigs without knowing of the industry and how it functions running devs / publishers in the ground. thats why you got alpha games released (army of two 1) and games that are five years in the making finally bomb hard, when they are relesed.

honestly its nothing new andthis shit hapüpens in every other industry (even in big corps).
 

Salazar

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Jan 28, 2007
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Wormdundee said:
The letter sounds like it was written by someone trying to be Jerry Holkins, but they're actually serious about it.
A friend who teaches English as a Second Language classes says it reads like the work of one of her poorer students. That's not to insult the writer(s), but to perhaps explain the letter's flaws.
 

rod furlong

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Jun 19, 2004
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Salazar said:
Hire a fucking editor or a freelance writer.
Haha, I'm going to have to agree with you. I haven't seen that much passive since the last IGN review I read. Torture.
 

Haunted

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Nov 16, 2006
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Puncture said:



Indeed...
Good man.

Of course, that's only if that Mike Bradley guy actually knows what he's talking about. He must be new or something, as I haven't seen his name pop up in the credits of any of Rockstar San Diego's previous titles.
 

cuyahoga

Dudebro, My Shit is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It's Straight-Up Dawg Time
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Haunted said:
Good man.

Of course, that's only if that Mike Bradley guy actually knows what he's talking about. He must be new or something, as I haven't seen his name pop up in the credits of any of Rockstar San Diego's previous titles.
There was another comment by Corner9 NineSix that verified the situation and actually named names (which since have been edited out).
 

NetMapel

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ram said:
it has already matured. its the same as in every other industry. big wigs without knowing of the industry and how it functions running devs / publishers in the ground. thats why you got alpha games released (army of two 1) and games that are five years in the making finally bomb hard, when they are relesed.

honestly its nothing new andthis shit hapüpens in every other industry (even in big corps).
Maybe you're right. Either way, I have heard this time and time again that people without any knowledge of videogames are running those studios into the ground. That just goes against any business instinct because any prudent business person would want to know anything and everything about the studio and the industry that they are in. Why do these people who know nothing about the business get the opportunities to run these game studios ? Here on GAF, we often question whether third parties know what the heck that they are doing, and I think we all know the answer now...
 

yurinka

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In our office we typically work 8 hours a day, 5 days per week.

We (coders, and sometimes artist too) only have crunch times in some (less than 50%) projects, but are limited to just 1, or maybe 2 / 3 days for project working 10-12 hours/day to reach certain milestone.

I'm pretty happy with that, even this little over time isn't paid.
 
Feb 28, 2008
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NetMapel said:
Maybe you're right. Either way, I have heard this time and time again that people without any knowledge of videogames are running those studios into the ground. That just goes against any business instinct because any prudent business person would want to know anything and everything about the studio and the industry that they are in. Why do these people who know nothing about the business get the opportunities to run these game studios ? Here on GAF, we often question whether third parties know what the heck that they are doing, and I think we all know the answer now...

$$$$$/Good Old Boys/Nepotism would be my guess---same as how a good many investment angled things wind up at the top of the pyramid. Come on, what's a few broken families if you can make serious bank then be off elsewhere as a happy hunter? Short term profit while lining up the next meal is king.

Stories like this give me pause for thought on my plans to try to break into the industry...at least this part of it. I'll not stomach retail-hell office politics again---not without a big damned ruckus.

Sad state of affairs where one's Conscience is purchased so cheaply for a Quarter in terms of the management it would seem.
 

DuckRacer

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May 24, 2007
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Some more R* San Diego news, this time pertaining to Midnight Club. Looks like the series is on hold for a while.

After last week's Rockstar spouse letter, we got in contact with a couple of trusted sources at Rockstar San Diego to find out more information about exactly what's happening inside the studio. Though our sources asked to be kept anonymous, each independently brought up the poor state of the Midnight Club franchise -- a series traditionally handled by the Rockstar San Diego team. "Jay Panek and Mark Garone, people who were at the company for over 10 years, were fired in 2009 after the completion of Midnight Club: LA ... other major people quit, as they lost hope in the company after the handling of MC:LA and didn't want to work on Red Dead Redemption," one source told us.

"The management slowly dismantled the MC team for reasons unknown to most," added another. When we asked if there are any more Midnight Club games planned for development at Rockstar San Diego, we were told, "At first, the team was told there was going to be another. That lasted a few months until the team was told, 'Well, we're going to do another, but it will be all outsourced ... but there will be a core team of 5 - 15 people at RSSD working on it.' Then, after a while longer, it was just not going to happen at all. Rumors abound about what will happen to Midnight Club, but Take-Two want something soon because it was the second highest money maker for Rockstar."

The issues surrounding Midnight Club stem from a number of things, according to our sources. "New York management not giving us realistic release schedules" is prime among them, with repeated accusations of last minute changes and mismanaged planning. "Anyone from the New York office is feared, because people in the San Diego office know that they are unstable and needy ... in other words, if a comment comes from a person from New York, it's a mandate that needs to be immediately addressed regardless of previous priorities."

We've reached out to Rockstar for official comment, but have yet to hear back as of this publishing. If you work/worked for Rockstar Games and would like to speak to us on or off the record, we're all ears.
http://www.joystiq.com/2010/01/11/sources-rockstar-san-diego-not-working-on-more-midnight-club-ga/
 

SolidSnakex

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The source went on to compare Rockstar NYC to the Eye of Sauron when dealing with their studios. Teams would apparently work on a title for close to two years, but because of other priorities, like a major "GTA" release, for example, upper management wouldn't focus on other titles until the major project was done.
http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2010/01/12/former-rockstar-games-nyc-staffer-confirms-rockstar-san-diego-statements/

A few days later...



The eye is always watching.
http://www.rockstargames.com/newswire/2010/01/15/2761/rockstar_wallpaper_collection_the_eye_is_watching
 

Night_Trekker

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MrMysterio said:
Hm. Wow, posting that picture seems like quite a bold asshole move...
I love many of their games, but describing basically anything Rockstar does as a "bold asshole move" doesn't seem incongruous to me.

Also, "FUCK!!!" over those insider comments about Red Dead Redemption :(
 
Mar 27, 2008
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As someone who will be joining the career workforce in a few years this does not make me hopeful. As I build a resume, I do what I can to understand the many aspects of working in the entertainment industry. Especially for creative artists, the competition is incredibly high, but what are the rewards? I'm getting married in 6 months, and plan to have a family at some point. To sit here and wonder if I'm making the right career choice is disappointing. I see no excuse for companies of great success to treat employees, whether essential or not, like lackeys. I truly want to believe that this type of situation is not always the norm, but the more I read, the harder it is to deny the reality. It's a shame that a job like this, and employees with such passion for the product, can wither and die because of bullshit management and expectations.

I won't be buying Red Dead Redemption new, because as far as I know, my money is going to all the wrong people.
 

Dyno

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Jul 11, 2007
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MrMysterio said:
Hm. Wow, posting that picture seems like quite a bold asshole move...
Rockstar executives seem like Jeff Zucker, another media executive with a fat ego who rather take cheap shots than be held responsible for their actions and in doing so completely destroys the brand.

GTAIV is apart of a short stack of games that I'm trading in for my next purchase. It was a pretty thin game now that all is said and done, I finished it months ago and have no desire to pick it up again. Dead Red sounds like a mess so it won't be all that hard to ignore Rockstar hence forth.

Mafia II is looking more like my cup of tea anyhow.
 

MrMysterio

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Jun 18, 2009
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INDIGO_CYCLOPS said:
I won't be buying Red Dead Redemption new, because as far as I know, my money is going to all the wrong people.
I'm not sure you'd affect the right people with that to be honest. A lot of people put a lot of overtime (unpaid as well, LOL) into these games, completely ignoring their products won't help them get better working conditions, on the contrary I'd suspect.
 

arstal

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Oct 13, 2008
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~Kinggi~ said:
This is very true. Naughty Dog are the only devs that i personally have heard say that their employees were growing up and getting little "naughty dogs" of their own, and so they have scaled back the work hours in accordance and have made sure that their pre-production planning was better. It was on a Gnoman school dvd about the making of Uncharted. They very much seemed like they cared about the happiness of their employees. Im sure they still have crunch time, but depending on how a company is ran, the crunch time can be forced on the employees, or the employees can be initiating it themselves.


What kind of life is working 12 hours a day? One day someone will snap and take someone else out.
Military folks regularly do 12+ hour days. At least 4 per week usually as well.

Another company I know of that doesn't really abuse their employees is Stardock. They pride themselves on usually having 40 hr weeks. Crunches/emergencies resulting in OT have happened there , I know Demigod required OT due to their first-day server issues.