Crunch time at Naughty Dog.

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Silent_Buddha, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. goonergaz

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    reading @MrFox post there kind of reminds me of my time at McDs in my youth and recently at Carphone when between jobs. Difference being no-one have a rats backside about kids or you for that matter (esp. over Xmas).

    Also reminds me of one of the reasons I left a company after 13 years - poor management. You know, the type that micro-manages and doesn’t take advice from the troops on the ground. I was asked to carry out a project and asked ‘how long’ - I said ‘well 6 mths, I have a day job you know’. The response was ‘get someone else to to your work, I need it in 2 months’. I explained only I could do my job and that I was coming to the end of a major 2 year project which was critical to ~£10m pa profit for the company...the response? ‘So who could take that on so I get this in 2 months!?

    Idiots.

    /end rant
     
    #41 goonergaz, Aug 28, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  2. BRiT

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    Typically the Engineers who enjoy their job are putting in 50 to 55 hour work weeks and not just pulling 40. They're salaried so none of this is resulting in paid overtime or extra pay. Usually it's not planned, but it just happens. You're usually working until you get to a good stopping point for the day. Or there is some minor thing that requires your attention or you're helping out with near the end of the day.

    Being asked to put in even more time on top of those extra hours hour days is a sign of extremely poor planning and will do nothing but make the good engineers feel unappreciated.
     
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  3. milk

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    Do you know how did that go after you left?
     
  4. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    Crunch time is generally stupid and proof of management fail, flawed development practices etc. I have a very simple rule about crunch or overtime: if that helps to create some structural improvement, better efficiency because of some tool or new technology that should be researched etc.
     
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  5. tuna

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    In my opinion there is quite a big difference in not getting a bonus (which should be an extra above your base salary) and having to pay your employer when you leave.
     
  6. milk

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    As i always say: If you start a sentence with a conditional, such as "if" clause, "in case", "provided that", etc.
     
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  7. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    ... then you’re probably too lazy to complete an obvious point. Noted ;)
     
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  8. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    Seems exactly like the dream team some are hoping to work for. It's their choice to work to impress (I know I've done that in the past), but everyone should know their limits. It's obvious working as a contractor in QA (that's playtesting? right?) is not going to be a fulfilling experience....

    “People as a whole usually stayed [late] by choice,” said a developer who worked on Uncharted 4 for several months. “With Naughty Dog, there is a culture to strive for perfection, but I think this is more due to their history of making amazing games. I never at any point felt internal pressure, I was compelled to do so by nature of being a part of something truly amazing.”

    “On top of this, Naughty Dog as a studio took great care of its staff, with frequent catering, food trucks, and paid meals,” the developer continued. “Overall, I really enjoyed my stay there. I feel that the media overall has somewhat a false sense of what ‘crunch’ periods entail, and why they exist. Studios like Naughty Dog are full of very talented individuals that simply want to make a great game.”

    These sources pointed out that Naughty Dog just isn’t a studio for everyone.

    “You can certainly join ND and work eight hour days,” they concluded, “but since people around you are putting in so much effort, you can’t help feel compelled to do what you can so their efforts aren’t limited by you.”

    “You are surrounded by talented, passionate, people who focus on making the best possible product and you become inspired by that to devote all of your time and energy into your work,” a source who worked at Q&A said. “This is not to say that this is a healthy process, but I think how much someone is ‘forced’ to work is up to the individual.” The source mentioned that working more than 60 hours was optional and said that “developers in other departments were empowered to set their own schedules [while] QA schedules were set by the department leads.”
     
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  9. goonergaz

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    I’ll know in about a month;) regarding the project I delivered as best I could with the limited timelines - I hate failing even if it’s for a tw@.

    What I hated most (when my good manager left who insulated me from the idiots above) was whenever I was asked for something I’d ask for a deadline and the response was always the same ‘CoP’ or ‘yesterday’ so I’d ask ‘what’s the real deadline?’. Then I’d deliver and they’d sit on it for a week, ask for a change ‘yesterday’ rinse and repeat.

    This is how I felt for 12 years- I’d stay late, work from home during weekends and reply to emails and calls on holiday..,but when the changes happened it slowly went out the door because I seemed to be the only one bothering. My new manager hardly spoke to anyone, people left the team and eventually I had no choice.

    What you mention above also sounds like the best football teams where players stay behind after training ends and during matches everyone is busting a gut ‘for the team’. Once you get one bad apple the rot spreads.
     
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  10. BRiT

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    Does that mean 60 hours was the requirement?
     
  11. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    “You can certainly join ND and work eight hour days,” they concluded.
     
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  12. BRiT

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    And work 7.5 days a week. :razz:
     
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  13. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    I know the feeling of days overlapping:runaway:

    If we're sunday morning, do I file this 20 hours saturday or sunday? 10h each?
     
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  14. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    Are they sure that those work colleagues that's staying late were legit having fun while working?

    Not stuck at something? Or a move for getting more extra pays? Or they are psychologically manipulated?

    In my workplace, a government-owned private company (hmm that sounds weird) dabbling in infrastructure, many workers works from 8am - 10pm.

    But many of them doesn't really work. They took extended "praying", "lunch" and "smoking" time. They watch movies, play games, video calls with loved ones, lolly gaging with other workers.... They get "extra work" pays.

    I feel pressured every time I go back at 5 PM. The HR teams even tries to stop me and guilt trip me by saying "Please be considerate, don't use the company car to carry only yourself". Eeeh? But Noone else going back at 5pm... Basically telling me to stop using the company driver to drive me back home (a place rented by the company in a remote village near the office).

    Then I stopped using company car and go to work and back from work using company bike. HR then no longer bugs me.


    A few months later the bike starts breaking apart, HR blaming me for it, but they say they gonna fix that bike. Then I starts using company car again. I just ignore their efforts to "guilt trip" me.

    Fast forward 2 years later, the bike is still broken.
     
    #54 orangpelupa, Aug 29, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
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  15. DSoup

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    They may have goal-orientated contracts. A long time ago, in the 1990s, I worked on such a project, you have a goal and a target time and how you schedule your time and project is up to you and as long as you get it done on time, nobody cares. I heavily-front loaded my involvement and very much cruised to the end, some did it the other way around and some just worked the conventional 9 to 5. A few people planned poorly and were forced to work a lot longer hours as the end of the project loomed.

    Having looked at a few jobs on Naughty Dog's careers page, I didn't see any jobs with posted hours-per-week metric. It doesn't suit everybody, it certainly doesn't suit me now. Family is more important.
     
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  16. Scott_Arm

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    I can understand the perspective of people that just like to work until they get the result they want, hours be damned. Unfortunately it's not feasible for a lot of people. They may have dependents they're caring for that require time, like children, elderly parents etc. They may just have other parts of their life that they cultivate. Ultimately, if the workplace is honest about their hours, and they're not circumventing labor laws in what they ask of you, then if you choose to work extra time it's fine as long as it's fully voluntary. Problems occur when you force people to work illegal stretches of overtime, or if the hiring manager/HR person lies about the work/life balance. If people typically put in long hours at naughty dog, they should be up front about it. If they're not, I think complaints from employees who expect something different are valid. They may have upended their life to accept the job, or passed on other opportunities that would have provided a better work/life balance for them. Telling them to just leave and find another job is a shitty response, because that person should have been informed up front as to what the work conditions would be like.
     
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  17. milk

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    I'm not even part of the gamedev industry and I've know for decades that the company is infamous for the insane dedication and crunch times of most people working there.
    And that in a undustry where crunch is already kind of expected of most AAA studios. It's like, the pro crunchers look at ND and say they are crazy.
    There is no "I didn't know" on this one.
     
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  18. Shifty Geezer

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    It's not a case of 'I didn't know' but 'I have no choice'. Currently, every potential AAA game either suffers interminable, unhealthy crunch, or does a different job. If it is impossible for things to be any different, then that's just a sacrifice they have to make. But if it could be different, if it could be organised such that they can make AAA games and have a fair employment while doing so that didn't require selling their souls, then that's something they want and I think we want. Just because the world has been a certain way since forever, doesn't mean it cannot ever be different and we shouldn't even bother to look at how to improve things.
     
  19. Sigfried1977

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    Entering a contract with a company such as ND (or just about any other big name developer for that matter) expecting regular 9 -5 schedules like in a boilerplate office job? I seriously doubt anyone would be this naive. I doubt HR would lie about it either. If you wanna hang with the best you gotta be aware that this doesn't happen without sacrificing something. Doesn't really matter where you work either.
    I think what this industry needs is some form of unionization. If we take the film industry, union doesn't necessarily mean fewer hours, but it does mean very handsome overtime pay as far as I know.

    Knew a guy who worked in film, and he said crunch or weekend work always resulted in very respectable extra pay.
     
  20. BRiT

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    When I see these issues coming to light about caused from failure in management being brushed off it's disappointing. Many are talking about the wrong aspects of the problem. It's a good bit like victim blaming. Instead, the focus should be on how to solve the problem.

    Here's my impression of the issue and what the expectation is ... No one is expecting 9-5 as a Software Engineer at a top employer, they're expecting a usual 50-55 hour schedule. They are upset when they feel pressured to work more than that and upset again when it has negative impacts on their annual review. It won't be explicitly written in the review but it shows up in lower rankings across everything else so it's impossible to prove it's from not working the extreme hours. The tanking of reviews sometimes happen from other issues, such as disagreements over other items so it can happen here too -- due to crunch-time participation or attitude. I've seen technical experts being ranked as merely "average" in Technology when they are nothing short of excellent. Sometimes its from such things like the manager being a petty female and not liking the other females in the department. Sometimes its from one having a family obligation scheduled ahead of time but then work has some contrived emergency caused by management failure.

    In a lot of situations it seems like it's pure greed in why the push for crunch time continues. They need to eek out the extra millions so instead of releasing a game every 24 months they force it to every 18 to 21 months. Usually the only people who proportionally benefit from this are those not doing the actual work.
     
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