Crunch time at Naughty Dog.

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

  1. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    I'm not sure this is necessarily a sure thing. There are just too many games being released for all good games to get the attention they may deserve. Marketing for bad games can drown out good games.
     
  2. MfA

    MfA
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    If they final stretch crunch every time then it's predictable, it adds a predictable amount of time. It's not magic.

    They could commit to the marketing, duplication of media, boxing and distribution with those hours to spare instead, the extra budget wouldn't be relevant in the total budget of a AAA title. If by doing so they would use those hours less efficiently and not finish in the planned time that proves the hours are not fungible and they need the gun to your head.

    Which brings me to the gimp suits and the whips, it just seems healthier.
     
  3. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    I think good marketing will always improve sales even on strong brands. Spider-Man definitely sold better with all it's marketing than if it had been silently released.
     
  4. Scott_Arm

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    When your company tells you that you can work 40 hours a week, but ...



     
  5. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    Again, I think much of the issue comes down to the nature of the creative process, the absolute scale and complexity of AAA game development and that element of human nature that causes us to work at a fairly pedestrian pace until there is a need to crank it - and the catalyst for this is generally the imminent looming deadline. Naughty Dog's games typically miss their initial release schedule, sometimes they get bumped a few times.

    At some point the publisher just has to turn off the money pipe. Sometimes it's not about money, plenty of people stay at a company for one project and move on. If as a transient employee you plan to be on a new project shortly after your current one was planning to ship, you may not be able to stay, you need to be gone, you may need to move across country or move to another country entirely.

    If that's possible for everybody - if there is budget for it. But again, I still think human nature gets in the way. It seems there is a willingness for a lot of people to work doubt their usual hours, slept the office etc, for their corporate overlord. Maybe staying longer isn't an option.

    :runaway:
     
  6. milk

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    Are you guys sure of that one? I've always been under the impression that TLoU was the first game they missed their deadline in. And then U4 after that.
     
  7. Silent_Buddha

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    It can be and it can't be. Blizzard was notorious for giving projects as much time as needed in order to finish them and avoid having to go into crunch time, almost never committing to a release date. Then Diablo 3 happened. The project changed directions so many times that they were expending so much money on the project that eventually they nailed down a release internally and went into a massive crunch. Unlike something like StarCraft Ghost, it wasn't a project they could just cancel if it wasn't going well. This was a very important established core IP for them. But in general, up to that point and excluding their early games, not having set timelines for development allowed them to avoid serious crunch time.

    Another bad case in point for unlimited development time is Lionhead studios. Oooof, that was so bad that it scarred Microsoft for years fundamentally changing how much freedom they allowed their 1st party developers.

    It's obviously not an easy problem to solve internally. Naughty Dog famously claimed (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/...y-santa-monica-and-blizzard-talk-about-crunch )

    And while it still isn't "mandated" or "required", that recent article shows that it is expected and for at least some number of developers there, they were basically told they needed to stay late and do crunch time. Although I guess under pressure of negative performance reviews and potentially being fired does make one believe they "need to do this one thing." :p

    Maybe it's just that some people are inherently lazy? Perhaps the wrong word to use, but there are some people that don't put in a full days work (preferring to chat with their neighbors, or take extended breaks, or browse the internet while "working") until things get "serious." I've run into many of those types of people, even really talented ones. They don't feel like chatting with their neighbors in the workplace or flirting with the receptionist during work hours or taking extended breaks hurts their performance because they feel they are putting in the required work.

    But regardless of how they feel, it does slow down projects or impact how much work gets done which obviously contributes to deadlines slipping. Especially when other employees see them doing it and then think it's OK for them to do it. And then suddenly you're faced with 3-6 months (or more in some cases) of crunch time.

    There are obviously also many other reasons. For example, perhaps tools are suddenly "found" to be inadequate partway through the project, thus initial projections are now inaccurate. Bioware's recent problems being an example of such. Do they just go with it or spend time to try to implement better tools?

    Regardless, failure in management (which all of this is) isn't something that the employees should be made to suffer for. Or in the case of Naughty Dog perhaps lack of management...

    It's a problem, but not a problem with an easy or clear solution.

    I do find it interesting, however, that while EA gets lambasted by most people for this, Naughty Dog seemingly gets a pass by most people for this.

    Regards,
    SB
     
    #87 Silent_Buddha, Aug 31, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  8. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    You're right, I thought U2 and U3 were too but it was only TLoU and U4. I was confusing ND with Rockstar where GTA IV, RDR, GTA V and RDR2 were all delayed.

    Right, not laziness, but most people put in as much effort as the job requires. This is the human nature thing - it's the same reason you don't run everywhere, you don't need too. Walking is ample speed. Looming deadlines and being late your train will focus people's attention which is why I don't think aiming to complete a game earlier than near the project deadline works. I've never seen it work in practise; projects generally have time for slippage or unforeseen circumstances and these always seem to just push the whole schedule back until whatever period you thought you had reserved so you didn't need to resort to excessive overtime.
     
  9. goonergaz

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    It’s a fine line, if you bust a gut the whole time then people will take advantage of that (it will be expected by management etc) and you’ll burn out. It’s good to have the low output ‘down times’ times because that’s also when you’ll start being proactive and improve processes to make your life easier.

    It also means that when you do step up for that ‘battle’ you’ll be completely committed and focused with plenty of energy to see it through meaning you’re less likely to screw up.
     
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  10. MfA

    MfA
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    It seems to me a lot of creatives at the top convince themselves all those below have the same passion for the project they do, the non sociopathic ones any way. So the way they sell it to themselves crunch becomes a shared commitment, rather than them being slave drivers ...

    Especially the people with the jobs which get little respect in the first place probably think the latter is the better description.
     
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  11. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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    That's easy for a slave driver like you to say!


    ;)
     
  12. Scott_Arm

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    When I started in my job I was regularly doing 12 hour days to try to make an impression. At first everyone was really appreciative of how fast I was getting things done. Within a few months people started asking me to do things at 5pm and expecting me to have them finished for the next morning. I learned very quickly that you have to manage the expectations of the people around you, and a big part of that is setting boundaries.
     
  13. goonergaz

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    Yep, you need to build in some time into any workload. Under promise and over deliver - it gives you wiggle room for unexpected work.

    Another thing I do is make a point of laying the foundation of any large projects early on, that way if something comes up it won’t adversely affect the deadline and also means should I have a quiet time I can add some extras as it were.
     
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