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Jimquisition: crunch culture justified TLOU2 leaks (no spoilers)

cormack12

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Naughty Dog isn't just a company riddled with crunch. It's a leading example. And it deserves to be shamed.



Jim touches on some subjects around ND in general even going back as far as UC4 and talks about how rewrites probably shouldn't be getting done as part of focus test feeedback. He advocates that the company being hirt is godo, though single developers are not. Seems like he is OK with the collateral damage though. Some context from other articles about UC4:

One major consequence of this culture has been attrition. Of the 20 non-lead designers in the credits of 2016’s Uncharted 4, a whopping 14—70 percent—are no longer at the studio, which has had wide-ranging effects on the development of The Last of Us II and led to questions about the continued viability of the Naughty Dog approach.
Of particular note, longtime series directors Amy Hennig and Justin Richmond saw their untimely exit from the project back in March 2014, at which point the original script was thrown out, leaving the new lead writers and directors Neil Druckmann and Bruce Streley to pick up the pieces and start from scratch. Being tasked with bringing the Uncharted franchise to close is an undoubtedly monumental undertaking, though Druckmann and Streley appear self-assured that their new script is even better than the one Hennig and Richmond wrote.



Quite a take.
 
Apr 25, 2012
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Hmm, there's not much wrong with this video from my perspective.

Businesses that treat their employees like shit deserve to be called out on it.
As someone who works in IT in Germany, where my working conditions are probably better than other peoples vacations, I really hope things will change for such talented teams.
Keeping the topic on the surface will help this development, see Rockstar.

However, it's just an opinion piece so people will disagree. Everybody feel free to do so!
 

Clear

Deer/Dur
Feb 2, 2009
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Who exactly is getting punished by these leaks? Hmmm?

Noone wins. I guess trolls and platform warriors get some fun out of it, but fuck them am I right?

As a labor protest its a complete disaster as it simply costs everyone money and will doubtless ensure that security practices become even tighter and more draconian in the future.

If it was salty QA contractors, well they just fucked themselves and everyone in their line of work in the ass because all it means is that in future the work will be outsourced to China or India or some other hotspot for cheap, obedient, reliable labor.

It doesn't even highlight any "problems" with the work culture to people in the industry BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE ALREADY AWARE OF WHATS EXPECTED FROM THEM. Everybody knows if you work for certain places you are expected to give 110% to the job, whether that's worth it is a matter of personal choice. For many people the short-term "hit" is more than compensated for by great pay and the shine it puts on your resume.

The way I see it, the only people gaining from this are professional scolds and purveyors of controversy like Stirling.

I mean I'm sorry but I really do not believe that most people actual;y give a shit about the working conditions of people in the games biz, especially at a time when our societies are so dependent on the heroics of front-line health and infrastructure workers during a pandemic.

Sure it'd be nice if everyone got treated a bit more chill, but are people realy going to be ok when games take longer to release or get patched. when they start costing more to cover the elongated dev schedules? The same gamers that are more than happy to burn devs at the stake for any sort of mistake or adherence to political ideologies they don't agree with.

ITS FUCKING BULLSHIT. FRAUDULENCE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.
 

Kacho

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I like him because he is highly outspoken against lootboxes/time savers etc in games and always calls EA/Ubisoft out on their bullshit. Don't know much about his politics.
In general I agree. The problem with Jim is he goes to the well too often. It loses its impact when its the same shit over and over again. Doesn't help that his schtick is atrocious too.
 

Agnostic2020

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Do you really believe that? Looks like Sony's PR machine is working well.
Well from the court case we will know in 2 months or so . The person who said nd has crunch culture is the same person who said it was the hackers not sony pr.
 
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Lionel Richie

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We don't know for sure if the disgruntled employee angle really happened, but don't let that stop the hot takes!
 

TGO

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I remember when it was said ND was one of best places to work.
And you could tell in their games.
Since U4 something is definitely different.
 
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Ballthyrm

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Is “Crunch Culture” something new? Or has it always been around in gaming?

The industry has grown a lot since the first console but working condition haven't followed.
Like many entertainment industries, it strives on an excess supply of dreamy eyes people.

The roll over is constant and experience isn't valued nor compensated.
Only a few studios are more than 25 year old and even the best studios close more often than not (Westwood, Looking glass, etc.)

The games of endless gameplay recycle we get, it reflects what they are doing to the people underneath (ie: recycling them)
Only a few Creators get the chance to build on what they have done, more often than not the IP get passed around to the next guy.

The money keep flowing and the industry keep growing, year on year, why would they change anything ?
The only marker of value in capitalism is money after all.
 
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peter42O

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Like him or not, Jim is right. Companies should just extend development time from say 4 years to 5 years and avoid crunch and show their games closer to completion as opposed to being further out. Crunch can easily be fixed and solved but management and publishers simply choose not to.
 

Ulysses 31

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It's always been a thing in every industry since the beginning of time. Project deadlines and overtime are nothing new.
And there are no levels of crunch that could be considered unreasonable?
 
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Trogdor1123

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Like him or not, Jim is right. Companies should just extend development time from say 4 years to 5 years and avoid crunch and show their games closer to completion as opposed to being further out. Crunch can easily be fixed and solved but management and publishers simply choose not to.
It is hardly as simple as that...
 
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This isn't the purple site, so can I say that I don't really care at all about "dev crunch" or anything at all regarding the devs?

I just want to play the games. As long as there isn't literal torture or slavery, I have better things to think about. Guarantee they all have a better salary and better perks than me at my average office job nobody cares about.
 

Moogle11

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Is “Crunch Culture” something new? Or has it always been around in gaming?

Its always been around. Tends to be a problem with things like this where people love a hobby and grow up dreaming of working in it. People land that "dream" job and are a lot more likley to put up with crazy hours and other BS than people with regular jobs. A lot of these people could quit and go work in IT or software/app development for the same or more pay and better hours, but won't unless they crash and burn out from the stress.

That said, it's also gotten way worse as games have gotten more complex, with the move to HD and 4K requiring higher quality assets, more games having more writing, voice acting etc. All made worse by games being stuck at $60, with most quickly dropping below that, despite development costs soaring due to all the above. Hard to raise prices though when it's a hobby with so many broke ass no lifers among the hardcore base though.
 
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Clear

Deer/Dur
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Like him or not, Jim is right. Companies should just extend development time from say 4 years to 5 years and avoid crunch and show their games closer to completion as opposed to being further out. Crunch can easily be fixed and solved but management and publishers simply choose not to.

You cool with paying the extra 20% (plus adjustments for inflation) to cover that?

As to crunch being "easy to fix"... that just shows ignorance of how challenging working under deadlines can be, especially in a creative, entertainment-driven environment. Its not like manufacturing where you can refine and remove inefficiencies from the production/distribution pipeline in order to maximize efficiency.

The reason why we still have crunch is because its a truly thorny problem to grapple with, not because generations of people in the biz have never had the collective vision/wisdom to solve it.
 
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Hendrick's

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And there are no levels of crunch that could be considered unreasonable?
I mean sure, but it is up to the employee/employer to work this out. No one is forcing anyone to work. There are careers that require less hours, maybe these people should go do something else. I mean, there are construction workers doing hard physical labor working 60+ hours a week and no one is complaining about that.
 
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Piku_Ringo

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This twat should crunch at the gym lmao
 
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Zefah

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Its always been around, well at least from the PS2 gen onwards, when games started getting a lot more complex. Its part of the job, and soemthing you know about before going into that career.

Way before that. You can find stories about ridiculous productions schedules and people basically living at work going all the way back to Atari in the 70s.
 
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Jtibh

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It's always been a thing in every industry since the beginning of time. Project deadlines and overtime are nothing new.
Yeah no shit.
People are clueless about crunch times. Its in every industry be it architects or designers construction etc its everywhere.
Try to do a commercial project and you will see people working 24 hours in rotation.

Only leftist entitled idiots who dont work or when they work they need to be pempered think crunch time doesnt exist or its evil corporation voodoo magic.

Fuck i want an office job with crunch times and not running around from shop to office to job sites.
 

B-universe

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Like him or not, Jim is right. Companies should just extend development time from say 4 years to 5 years and avoid crunch and show their games closer to completion as opposed to being further out. Crunch can easily be fixed and solved but management and publishers simply choose not to.

When you start-up your AAA studio, please make sure you follow this magical recipe, which, though self-evident, apparently no one ever thought of applying. Undoubtedly, it'll yield satisfied employees and great games at the same old price tag of 60 bucks, because those who brought in the dough, the investors, they will surely take it on the chin when the profit margins suddenly plummet.

Meanwhile, in the real world, teams are stuck with their own conventual wisdom, whereby, to the best of their judgement, they alone get to decide how the operation is run. Just imagine having to appease business angels, who otherwise would have invested in an Instant Mash Potatoes factory, but went with Game development instead.

On the other hand, employees can try to talk management out of crunch, can unionize, ask for a raise, can go on strike, can quit and submit their CVs to the competition, can start their own indie studios.

But the inherent infantilization in the common popular view about crunch, which is matched only by the infantilization found in certain comments about micro-transactions, depicts developers as hopeless keyboard slaves. They are children lost in the dark scary woods. They cannot be trusted to assess and look out for their best interests. Somehow the right answer must come from someone else, someone who hasn't got the faintest clue about their individual needs, wants and circumstances.

Crunch is universally bad, states the royal decree of the anonymous forum poster and developers are supposed to comply and businesses to follow through. Who do these developers think they are, adults? Sovereign free will agents?

How about giving developers a say in how they manage their careers? How about giving them the right to choose? To say Yes or No to crunch? How about letting them crunch if they so wish, if, after due evaluation, they come to the conclusion it is the best choice for them, at this point in time, so that their needs and their aspirations are best served?

No. it's been pre-determined for them. It's been decided that crunch is malign cancer and that it needs to be eradicated with the chemotherapy of social media, even against their own will. It's been determined there isn't a good enough reason in the entire multiverse that would ever make crunch a legitimate option and so the pawns must nod their heads in agreement. Self-proclaimed high-performance team leaders and Jason Schreier have it all figured out for you. Who wouldn't like Jason to run their professional life? How can you not trust the man and let him tweet a detailed roadmap to professional bliss in billionaire-free America?

There's one bit where I agree with you, though:
"show their games closer to completion"

As a customer, I'd appreciate a more candid approach. Just the other day I was showing how Cyberpunk 2077 release trailer from 2018 looks nothing like subsequent gameplay, even though it was dubbed "Game engine footage". I appreciate not being lied to. I usually like being told the truth. I can handle it, thank you.

Let's wait till next Thursday and see if CDPR learned this marketing lesson or if itt urns out to be Groundhog Day.
 
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diffusionx

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Like him or not, Jim is right. Companies should just extend development time from say 4 years to 5 years and avoid crunch and show their games closer to completion as opposed to being further out. Crunch can easily be fixed and solved but management and publishers simply choose not to.

It’s not that simple. Read virtually every game dev postmortem, the scope, scale, ambition, etc. of the game is driven by the people working on it, not the suits in HQ. You assume the devs would do the same amount of work just with another year to do it. But what would happen would be they would try to do 30% more in 25% more time, so they would end up crunching at the end. Remember these people are artists, who are passionate about the projects they are working on. Read anything from any dev who said they wish they had more time, its not so they could see their family more, but so they could have added shit they had to cut.
 
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Jun 28, 2012
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Yeah no shit.
People are clueless about crunch times. Its in every industry be it architects or designers construction etc its everywhere.
Try to do a commercial project and you will see people working 24 hours in rotation.

Only leftist entitled idiots who dont work or when they work they need to be pempered think crunch time doesnt exist or its evil corporation voodoo magic.

Fuck i want an office job with crunch times and not running around from shop to office to job sites.

this.. as long as the crunch is at the tail end of a project in order to get it across the finish line and everyone is compensated for the extra hours, i wouldn't consider it an issue

prolonged/never ending crunch is an issue. i have no idea which one Naughty Dog falls under
 

Jtibh

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this.. as long as the crunch is at the tail end of a project in order to get it across the finish line and everyone is compensated for the extra hours, i wouldn't consider it an issue

prolonged/never ending crunch is an issue. i have no idea which one Naughty Dog falls under
I could imagine they had a lot of changes down the line and that extended their work time without getting the extra time needed so they had to work like crazy.

If so thats just bad management.
Every change order in my company will result in extending our dead line as its not our fault.

But if there is no changes and we commit to a deadline we have to deliver or face penalty.
 

synchronicity

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The whole premise of business is to benefit at the expense of another (s) - to get more than you give - that's *profit*. It's not unique to Naughty Dog.

Some businesses are less blatant or extreme than others, but it's just part of the fundamentals of exchange. The game of life can be a demanding bitch. :p
 

Sota4077

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Yeah no shit.
People are clueless about crunch times. Its in every industry be it architects or designers construction etc its everywhere.
Try to do a commercial project and you will see people working 24 hours in rotation.

Only leftist entitled idiots who dont work or when they work they need to be pempered think crunch time doesnt exist or its evil corporation voodoo magic.

Fuck i want an office job with crunch times and not running around from shop to office to job sites.


No kidding. I work for the largest renewable energy contractor in North America. Our day to day is "crunch". Construction industry is built around long hours so that we can finish on time and ahead of schedule. It is not some failure of management.
 
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Ballthyrm

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When you start-up your AAA studio, please make sure you follow this magical recipe, which, though self-evident, apparently no one ever thought of applying. Undoubtedly, it'll yield satisfied employees and great games at the same old price tag of 60 bucks, because those who brought in the dough, the investors, they will surely take it on the chin when the profit margins suddenly plummet.

Meanwhile, in the real world, teams are stuck with their own conventual wisdom, whereby, to the best of their judgement, they alone get to decide how the operation is run. Just imagine having to appease business angels, who otherwise would have invested in an Instant Mash Potatoes factory, but went with Game development instead.

On the other hand, employees can try to talk management out of crunch, can unionize, ask for a raise, can go on strike, can quit and submit their CVs to the competition, can start their own indie development.

But the inherent infantilization in the common popular view about crunch, which is matched only by the infantilization found in certain comments about micro-transactions, depicts developers as hopeless keyboard slaves. They are children lost in the dark scary IT woods. They cannot be trusted to assess and look out for their best interests. Somehow the right answer must come from someone else, someone who hasn't got the faintest clue about their individual needs, wants and circumstances.

Crunch is universally bad, states the royal decree of the anonymous forum poster and developers are supposed to comply and businesses to follow through. Who do these developers think they are, adults? Sovereign free will agents?

How about giving developers a say in how they manage their careers? How about giving them the right to choose? To say Yes or No to crunch? How about letting them crunch if they so wish, if, after due evaluation, they come to the conclusion it is the best choice for them, at this point in time, so that their needs and their aspirations are best served?

No. it's been pre-determined for them. It's been decided that crunch is malign cancer and needs to be eradicated with the chemotherapy of social media, even against their own will. It's been determined there isn't a good enough reason in the entire multiverse that would ever make crunch a legitimate option and so the pawns must nod their heads in agreement. Self-proclaimed high-performance team leaders and Jason Schreier have it all figured out for you. Who wouldn't like Jason to run their professional life? How can you not trust the man and let him tweet a detailed roadmap to professional bliss in billionaire-free America?

There's one bit where I agree with you, though:
"show their games closer to completion"

As a customer, I'd appreciate a more candid approach. Just the other day I was showing how Cyberpunk 2077 release trailer from 2018 looks nothing like subsequent gameplay, even though it was dubbed "Game engine footage". I appreciate not being lied to. I usually like being told the truth. I can handle it, thank you.

Let's wait till next Thursday and see if CDPR learned this marketing lesson or if it urns out to be Groundhog Day.

huh, the same old, same old, Game engine footage. You aren't being lied to.
It runs in the engine without any gameplay running. They just cranck all the effects to the max. It only has to run at 30fps.
Game engine footage != gameplay footage.

It's like complaining how the big mac you get at McDonald look nothing like the one in the AD.
Well they are using the exact same ingredients, they just made one prettier.
There is one you can eat, and the other one is basically inedible.
Grow up.


As for the developers freely choosing crunch ? that's the implicit deal that's not written in any contract.
If everyone crunch, then you don't have a choice if you want to work in the game industry, do you ?
This is often the only deal that's on offer, either crunch or i'll find someone who will.

So what's the solution here ? making the conditions worse and worse until the supply of developers dries up ?
If that's your idea of a solution, that's not games i'll like to play. (if you think that's a reductive argument, it is, but then again, so is yours)
 

kretos

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I never understood why people give a shit about crunch, unless you are working in the industry why do you give a shit? i'm not saying i want devs to suffer just saying that i don't give a shit how does this affect me exactly?

i want to play great blockbuster games so make your choice people do you want AAA or not? cause no AAA games without crunch
 

JerryinSoCal

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Have never cared for this guy, he's another one who's all about trying to get attention for himself. Plus he is seemingly playing a character which is another thing I can't get into.
 

B-universe

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huh, the same old, same old, Game engine footage. You aren't being lied to.
It runs in the engine without any gameplay running. They just cranck all the effects to the max. It only has to run at 30fps.
Game engine footage != gameplay footage.

Of course.
Cutscenes aren't gameplay. Let's compare cutscenes against cutscenes.
Additionally, but you somehow managed to miss it, I said one should wait till next Thursday, which means wait till they release footage from a newer build, before drawing conclusions.

It's like complaining how the big mac you get at McDonald look nothing like the one in the AD.

Absurd comparison.
It's reasonable to expect a high-end PC to deliver that cutscene with the same graphical fidelity. Here's hoping.

Well they are using the exact same ingredients, they just made one prettier.
There is one you can eat, and the other one is basically inedible.
Grow up.


No, you grow up. Start by understanding what is being said. Additionally, there's an historical precedent, which, apparently, you're not even taking into account. It's called the TW3 Downgrade. I can talk at length and in great deal about what happened, in a separate thread, that is.

As for the developers freely choosing crunch ? that's the implicit deal that's not written in any contract.
If everyone crunch, then you don't have a choice if you want to work in the game industry, do you ?
This is often the only deal that's on offer, either crunch or i'll find someone who will.

Thanks for your postcard vision of society. I've explained why I disagree and I am not about to repeat myself.

So what's the solution here ? making the conditions worse and worse until the supply of developers dries up ?
If that's your idea of a solution, that's not games i'll like to play. (if you think that's a reductive argument, it is, but then again, so is yours)


Nothing here addresses my points. It doesn't reflect what I said in the least,
 
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Arkam

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That's a stupid narrative. Game devs that dont crunch dont produce (much). Sorry but that is a fact. No amount of planning, padding or resourcing will remove reality. If you set a date to ship, you will either crunch or deliver a woefully under featured game.

And even in a perfectly planned project it takes only ONE BUG at the end to create crunch. If QA finds ONE BUG in the submission build it kicks off a whole process. Bug fix (takes time), build a new build, give build to QA to redo the entire checklist AND put 100 hours on the game and complete all game mode/story/missions/seasons/etc. You think when that happens people say "oh well lets take it easy and casually knock it out and submit to first party next week"...... NOPE!

Dont like Crunch, dont work for a game developer. There are thousands of other jobs that will utilize your skill set and likely pay you better. You make games cuz you like making games and understand (and appreciate) the craft.
 
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