Crunch time at Naughty Dog.

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

  1. Malo

    Malo Yak Mechanicum
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    And if they unionize then it would just be more "justification" for why they need to over-monetize everything and pump more millions to the execs and investors.
     
  2. Scott_Arm

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    I still think it's a responsibility of an employer to be up front about what they're typical working hours are like, and they shouldn't misrepresent them. Sure, people should research and figure out what an industry, company are like before stepping in, but that doesn't absolve companies from lying about what they expect from their employees. If you tell someone a typical work week is 40-50 hours, but their boss is on their case if they're not doing 60, that's the companies problem, not the employees. If you tell them there are crunch periods that typically last one or two months, but then you go on a crunch that lasts 6 months, that's the companies problem, not the employees. It's managements job to make sure things are on schedule and to avoid things like excessive crunch.
     
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  3. milk

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    Exactly. That is the spirit of mankind. Make things better.
    That's precisely why I give no time to people complaining about their jobs. If the job is bad, get a better one. If no company offers a bettet one, make your own. Oh it is hard to make your own company? I guess we both know now why the company you didn't like before was the way it was huh...
    What does bitching and complaining help? It's asking for somebody else to solve their problem, instead of rolling up their sleeves and working the solution themselves.
    This kind of mentality betrays a fatalistic worldview that sees most individuals and citizens as much less capable and autonomous than they actually are. The managers at ND are normal human beings just like the artists and play testers. Anyone can take that job and "show them how it's done" if they wanna take the time to get there. If they prove successful, I'm sure most other studios will take note and follow the example.
     
  4. Scott_Arm

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    I can't fully agree with this. At least where I live we have labour laws. Your employer can ask you to work a 60 hour week, but there are limits for how long they can ask you to do that. I think it's two weeks consecutively, or something like that. Some people will work more on their own, which I'm fine with, but any company that is intentionally structuring their company and work to circumvent the law is just negligent. These laws exist for a reason. There's a long history of worker exploitation, and don't think companies and managers will not exploit their employees. I worked with a guy that had to find a new job because his employer refused to give him a day off for his wedding rehearsal. In my mind, the manager probably should have been fired for being an incompetent dick, but the guy ended up having to find work elsewhere. I do think it's good advice for people to look for greener pastures, make advancements by moving around, especially in the cases where they're treated poorly. There's no reason to stay in a place that treats them like garbage. But there's an accountability problem if people are just expected to pack up their lives and move every time they have a manager or employer that promises to treat them one way, but ends up treating them another. If the problems are pervasive in the industry, where exactly are you supposed to go? There's some truth to what you're saying, but it's not the whole story. I can't take a utopian view of the labour force when you know there are many companies that are not acting in good faith.
     
  5. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    It gets like minded people to come together and create a far more capable force for change than one person going out alone. It also informs other people of situations which may change how they think about things. #metoo, all these women complaining about how they've been treated instead of doing something about it, has created a clear society-wide momentum to change things including men's attitudes...something that personal action couldn't achieve. And when the State steps in to force paid holiday, that's not 'somebody else' coming in to solve people's problems, but 'everyone coming together' as the State is, in a functional democracy, the will of the people.

    I recall an incident where I cycled somewhere in a torrential downpour. I was asked why I didn't drive. I said because I try to refrain from driving for environmental reasons. I was called an idiot because my sacrifice means nothing in the big picture. If I care about the environment, there are two things I can do: one is make personal choices to do what I can; two is 'whinge and moan' to try and get other people to see reason and change. The latter is actually more impactful if you can get people to listen and change.

    It's highly likely ND can't be changed without the whole industry (and worldwide economy in general) changing. ND exists to make Sony lots and lots of money. If they can't compete with other Money Generating studios, they'll be axed. Sony has to make lots and lots of money or the shareholders will drop them and they'll die, and get bought out by another more aggressive corporation better at squeezing money from its workforce. The systems of commerce and competition are lousy tools for creating change as the profit motive tends towards stability of all the things people are complaining about.

    I totally agree that people should look for personal action and to take on challenges instead of just moaning, but being vocal is very much a part of that and I don't think any meaningful change has ever or could ever happen without very vocal criticism of the status quo. Society is made up of everyone, and you need everyone moving in the same direction, and that needs effective communication, which is what bitching is about. ;)
     
    #65 Shifty Geezer, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  6. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    I have no choice but to accept a job at the best gaming studio in the world. #firstworldproblem
     
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  7. milk

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    I think I nailed down where our opinions diverge, shifty. For me it has always seemed these articles and cultural trends generate a lot of buzz and performative changes that present tgings differently that essentially stay the same.
    I don't just think actions speak louder than words. I think they are the only things that produce actual change. You disagree there, and that's fine.
     
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  8. BRiT

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    You do have a choice on how to act. #VictimBlaming

    It's just too easy to blame the workers being exploited, so lets move beyond that and talk about the more intellectual aspects such as how can this situation be bettered.
     
    #68 BRiT, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  9. milk

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    I am an unapologetical victim blamer. Yes.
     
  10. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    Oh right, working longer hours is like rape.
     
  11. Shifty Geezer

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    No, I completely agree. Nothing changes without action. However, the more people talk about a problem, the more people get involved in acting towards change. If all people did was bitch and moan, that'd achieve nothing. However, unlike you I don't see bitching and moaning as a sidetracking away from active solutions but part of the solution process. Case in point, the change in plastics policies slowly happening now as Richard Attenborough and the like bitch about the problem. Until we were made aware of it, most people lived in ignorance on the state of the oceans. Now finding these islands of plastic, Sir Attenborough could have decided to spend his time researching engineering and chemistry and try to build a sea-cleaning machine, or instead he could stick to his particular strengths of communication and bring together other people whose expertise lies in engineering and chemistry and logistics etc. to help address the whole problem.
     
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  12. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    I don't think Naughty Dog, Insomniac, CD Projekt Red, Santa Monica Studios, LucasFilm and Marvel Studios will change unless you can fundamentally change human nature. The absolute top tier organisations in any creative or engineering field will usually attracted the type of individual who will willing to give the nonsensical 110% (or 150% of any balanced individual) because of what and how they do things - to be part of something that will acclaimed in that field.

    It's just not for everybody. People talk about schedules and so on but as you know having developed a game, even if you had the game concept completely mapped out, the art, fx and other assets all ready, it's still impossible to reliably plan the time you'll need to produce it. You'll anticipate some known unknowns but then there are the unknown unknowns you can never plan for for. Now imagine that project scaled up a hundred fold.

    Naughty Dog aren't shy about this. In their 'the making of' The Last of Us - Grounded video (YouTube link below), around 1:18 they address the final weeks of development and crunch. It happens when your project runs out of money because creative processes, iterations of gameplay and design, are not predictable, and everything comes together and only then do they really have that picture of what the game is like and what needs to change.


    Are longer projects the answer? Maybe, maybe not. You can't force creativity and some people won't wish to commit to even longer projects. But so many projects in so many fields (creative and non-creative) only complete just in time or overrun, that I think there is a degree of that fallible human nature at play. When you have lots of time, few people will work harder/faster, when the deadline looms that is when it happens.

    This is not even a new phenomenon. I remember reading ZZap! 64 and they often had programmer diaries (Andrew Braybrook, Jeff Minter etc) and everything happening at the last minute in a rush was the norm for them too.
     
    #72 DSoup, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  13. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    In countries with proper law, can't the employees sue?

    Or the "imagined" backlash is simply too much?

    E.g. people in the industry will know you are a problematic person, so you won't be able to get anyone to employ you. When you try to start your own business on that category, you will get bullied to bankruptcy, etc?
     
  14. Shifty Geezer

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    Often you'll find people in companies working under conditions not permitted by law, such as forced unpaid overtime, but they feel unsafe to use the law to enforce the legal conditions. The law can protect them from being fired, but can't protect them from the company treating them like shit after kicking up a fuss, skipping over them for promotion, giving them crappy tasks, ostracising them, etc.
     
  15. MrFox

    MrFox Deludedly Fantastic
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    Those who actually care about changing labor laws are looking at people working in bad conditions having two jobs and still can't have a living wage, dangerous conditions, toxic workplaces, abused workers without recourse. Not the game industry, or in my case the vfx industry which is even worse.

    Step one is labor laws. Talking about middle income class is going to be met with laughter. It's counter productive. Nobody cares about that $100,000 programmer whining about voluntary hours to keep up with the others. There's a lot of demand for skilled programmers everywhere. Plenty are 40h fixed jobs.

    Yes, it's a first world problem. It's an american political issue.
     
  16. BRiT

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    There's many companies that retaliate for Labor Abuses reports. The latest fine example is Koch Foods who retaliated by organizing ICE Raids. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...-years-before-immigration-raids-idUSKCN1UZ1OV

    Long before U.S. immigration authorities arrested 680 people at agricultural processing facilities in Mississippi this week, one of the five targeted companies faced allegations of serious labor violations including intimidation, harassment and exploitation of its largely immigrant work force, according to a federal lawsuit.

    Last August, Illinois-based poultry supplier Koch Foods settled a multi-year lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of more than 100 workers at the Morton, Mississippi, plant over claims the company knew - or should have known - of sexual and physical assaults against its Hispanic workers.
     
  17. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    The EU has some of the most protective laws in the world but even their notorious Working Time Directive allows derogations on maximum working hours if both employee and employee pre-agree an opt-out.
     
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  18. MfA

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    If it's really about the final stretch then a couple months worth of extra budget or development time really don't matter in the big scheme of things on an AAA title pure time wise. It's not magic, it can only add a small percentage of extra hours to the final time budget.

    So fundamentally the thing final stretch crunch seems to add is the misery focusing the mind and allowing the devs to finish the game where working normal hours could not, because the mindset would not allow it. If so I would suggest replacing crunch time with BDSM sessions, seems healthier.
     
    #78 MfA, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  19. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    But it's not really is it. If you've already committed to marketing, duplication of media, boxing and distrubution and lining up of reviewers, a delay is very costly. A fair few AA+/AAA games have been pushed back near release including most of Naughty Dog's recent games (U2, U3, TLoU, U4), The Witcher 3, WATCH_DOGS - which impacted PS4 launch bundles - I know, this impacted me, GTA V, inFamous Second Son, Drive Club, RDR2 (x3) etc.

    Advertising placement in prominent placement like London tubes and buses is agreed months in advance and there is no refund for cancelling. Other prime locations are similar/worse in terms of penalties.
     
    #79 DSoup, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  20. BRiT

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    Releasing a game that's not fit for public consumption (buggy) can be more costly than delaying it even taking into account all the marketing spend. It can and will kill an entire franchise. Anthem is the poster-child for this.

    If you have a good game you don't need marketing and hype leading into it. It will see success regardless of all the pre-release spending. Apex Legends in the poster-child for this.

    It would be interesting to me to see the crunch time dynamics between Anthem and Apex Legends.
     
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