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Jimquisition: crunch culture justified TLOU2 leaks (no spoilers)

Saruhashi

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My opinion is that a lot of this conversation is being had by people who haven't actually worked in creative industries where deadlines, budgets and overtime are a thing.

I suppose a good starting point would be to ask how much work is too much work?
How much personal choice should employees have in how much work they do?
Should Employee A be given greater rewards and recognition for the five back to back 16 hour shifts that basically saved the project 2 months before release compared to Employee B who was just a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, kind of guy?

Even looking at Jim Sterling's videos I would be VERY surprised if Jim himself and the people he employs don't work very long hours trying to get the videos finalized.

Most games release with some kind of issues. Could be performance issues. Could be that some mechanics aren't fully fleshed out. Could be the story is not quite right. So basically it would be possible to work 24 hours a day on a game for years and STILL be coming up with little things that need to be tweaked or improved.

In the end most developers are releasing something that's "good enough" so it will come down to how good they really want it to be.

If people are being well paid in accordance with how long they need to work then I don't see the issue.

Personally, the occasions when I am working well into the early morning, sleeping 4 hours and getting right back into it, are done because I have pride in my work and because I stand to make more money, or get a future promotion, or get access to other opportunities, if the job is done well. The other side of this is I get to take it easy during non-busy times.
 
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cormack12

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I'm not one who runs in and defends devs about crunch periods. However, in all these stories a lot of the crunch releates to changes and rewrites which is why I mentioned it in the OP. Changing the scope as the project is in flight is the hardest thing to do. It's like trial and error reading some of these workflows. Let's build it, oh hang on I don't like that, let's rewrite all that part, include this new extra level and that mechanic isn't good enough. There appears to be numerous issues here:

  • The project scope. Contracts or scopes of work should be prepared and they should be completed, not thrown out.
  • Accountability for lead creatives. At the moment, there seems to be a level of autonomy enjoyed by these people like Barlog, Druckmann, Housers etc. They get to make these really big decisions in the name of 'narrative' or 'creative decision' that often entail redoing massive portions of work. For 3rd party devs, it's probably harder to control but for 1st party then the platform holders should be challenging more and asking difficult questions like 'you're at the leading edge of the field, why are we doing several in-situ rewrites'. Why are we wasting all this time and money like a single shot mechanic (that still has 'cuts') that creates a lot of overhead and little gain? I can't even imagine what this does for budgets - do they have to go back and say yeah we're gonna need an extra £450,000 worth of labour budget and £500,000 capital overtime budget to support these changes?
  • Signing off on pitches has to be based on some form of proof of concept. Pitching something like God of War as Barlog did, then throwing the combat system out several times because it doesn't work sounds awful. Mos tproject pitches have to be done on somethign tangible, it sounds like a lot of these promises are made on faith and versions of this:




The whole thing sounds like mess with a diffusion of responsibility to fix the issue because there are so many points/sections that can defer their blame eslewhere.
 
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Three

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No, he comments on the official statement.
Ultimately, his opinion is that the ND company as a separate entity deserves it, not the employees. Because capitalism bad, obviously.
Fair enough. I thought that maybe he was under the impression that a ND employee leaked it over unpaid crunch (as the rumour suggested) which turned out to be false.
 

Hendrick's

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This whole "well if you don't want to work under inhumane conditions, don't work in games, duh"-attitude is the most american thing on this whole board.
Calling game development at ND "inhumane working conditions" is the most ridiculous thing on this whole board.
 

-Plasma Reus-

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Only in the gaming industry do consumers rush to defend companies. I'm shocked at the amount of people at the other place are rushing to defend a company, without any personal insight into the situation. Defending a company, at all, whatever the company, especially a video game company with allegations of employee abuse, is embarrassing.
 
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CAB_Life

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My partner is a municipal director and has been working 7 days a week since the pandemic started (a few weeks beforehand, actually). He also gets paid thousands of dollars in overtime too. Obviously he adheres to all employee codes of conduct and ethics and isn’t leaking shit to the press. Are these people being compensated? If so, why are we even discussing this? If not, then we have something to discuss.

Also, wasn’t the souce of the leak debunked, thus negating any impetus this flaccid piece could possibly produce?
 
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My partner is a municipal director and has been working 7 days a week since the pandemic started (a few weeks beforehand, actually). He also gets paid thousands of dollars in overtime too. Obviously he adheres to all employee codes of conduct and ethics and isn’t leaking shit to the press. Are these people being compensated? If so, why are we even discussing this? If not, then we have something to discuss.

Also, wasn’t the souce of the leak debunked, thus negating any impetus this flaccid piece could possibly produce?
I think this is an interesting view on the topic. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinm...ng-conditions-at-rockstar-games/#56356432371b
 

B-universe

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This whole "well if you don't want to work under inhumane conditions, don't work in games, duh"-attitude is the most american thing on this whole board.

Inhumane?

Please detail.

Is someone holding them at point blank range?

Do tell.

The "most American thing on the board"?

Receipts, if you please, that supporters of a capitalist work ethic are American.
 

rofif

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I just don't care about the crunch. It's a workplace. It's every workplace. Sometimes You work more and sometimes less and you get paid for it.
Nobody is writing articles about me working late
 
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B-universe

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Would you say these kinds of hours are ok?


My opinion is irrelevant. It's not up to me to decide. It's up to each individual Dev. They alone can assess their needs, wants and circumstances. If you're starting out, single and with no kids, your inclination might be very different from that of a mother of four.

There's one aspect that keeps getting side-lined. The system has self-correcting mechanisms. If, allegedly, 70% of ND staff have moved on, then ND might want to investigate why. Heavy rotation is a cost most companies won't be able to afford over extensive periods of time without sacrificing the quality of their products and services. If devs keep staying just one year and you want to retain them and attract new talent out there you will start thinking twice before assuming prolonged crunch and rethink working conditions in general. You will do it because it's a business savvy decision, not because Kotaku took the moral high ground.

Devs get to decide, not you, not me.
Why is that so hard to grasp?

I have worked similar hours in short bursts in the recent past. The principle still holds, though. I chose to do it. I wasn't forced. I evaluated the situation and knew perfectly well what would happen to the operation should I call it a day.

Let devs decide. If they're not being paid accordingly, let them talk it over with upper management. Take the studio to court, if need be. Quit. Start their own indie business.
 
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Lethal01

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I just hope Naughty Dog sorts their shit out and learns to manage their company.
 
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Oct 26, 2018
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I hate this idiot toxic troll. You should stop losing your time with him.
Amazingly the guy is only 36 years old. He's been doing this schitick for probably 5+ years, so he started when he was around 30.

The guy looks and sounds like a 50 year old.

His real name isn't even Jim Sterling.
 
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DeepEnigma

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Nurses and other HCPs reading in here like, "bitches please".
 
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Clear

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Nurses and other HCPs reading in here like, "bitches please".

I know, game-devs are the boy chimney-sweeps of the 21st century LOL.

And seriously, lets just take one step back and consider the notion expressed here: People who have been allegedly overworked deserve to have their work leaked and plastered over the internet because of... reasons?!?
 
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DeepEnigma

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I know, game-devs are the boy chimney-sweeps of the 21st century LOL.

And seriously, lets just take one step back and consider the notion expressed here: People who have been allegedly overworked deserve to have their work leaked and plastered over the internet because of... reasons?!?

Yep, this was his dumbest take yet.
 

Golgo 13

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I think part of the reason why crunch in gaming gets more attention is three fold:

1. Out of all industries, gaming might the one with the most feedback and interaction, so people notice and think it's the only job that has crunch.

Well, for all you people who hate numbers, every accountant and finance guy works extra hours to close off the monthly, quarterly and yearly books. While everyone is at home eating dinner, the finance team might still be there staring at spreadsheets. Also, if someone fucks up a number for publicly traded companies (accounting irregularities), there's a lot more fall out.

2. Half the games made out there are shit.

So I think both gamers and game makers make it a big deal because everyone wasted their time and money crunching and following a crap product for the past 5 years.

In most other jobs, if you crunch to finish something there isn't this big "good review or bad review event" where your product gets publicly reviewed by game sites.

3. Self imposed

As someone said earlier, it's part of the culture and game making people seem to love it. If not, then why do it? Uhhhh.... to make video games I love. Well, if that's the case and you love making games so much you are willing to do art and programming till midnight, that's on you. No wonder management puts pressure to get it done by a certain date and budget, they know the whole floor is willing to work all night and even sleep in their cubicle (for those times you hear stories people don't even bother going home).

You can work 9-5 making artwork for a new bag of cookies using Photoshop and making good money and perks working for a big company. Or you can live the dream creating dungeons and dragons art for a game over 5 years and might have to slog it through potentially shit pay, shit hours and shit managers in a pressure cooker setting.

Your choice.
These are all good points. I just don't think it's fair that we jump to the defense of video game workers when there's people working 18/hour days for $1/hour because they have to, and jumping out of buildings in fucking China every day in sweat shops.

Bottom line is this -- There's tons of people who want your job (in a gaming related field). If you can't handle the demands, or you need more free time near the end of development, the AAA game industry isn't for you. I understand the personal dilemma some people are in -- they have families to support, they can't leave the job, etc. I get it. But working at the highest level of the video game industry isn't for them. Certain jobs are more demanding than others. Let's get over it.
 

D.Final

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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:

Huge crunch indeed