Quality of life at Blue Fang!

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by Mike D Smith, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. EpicBoy

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    I doubt my friend was lying to me. He'd have no cause. :)
     
  2. Greg Squire

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    Nice to hear that there are still some sensible companies left in the industry. I hear way to many horror stories like the ones coming from EA lately.
     
  3. svero

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    This might be the case sometimes, but from what I've read some of the worse places for unpaid overtime are the publishers themselves. You're not going to tell me the people working at EA are crunching because EA is about to run out of cash and has to meet it's own deadline are you?

    I don't really think this is a money issue. It's not good financially to plan a project poorly. If you promise to deliver something to a publisher and you can't meet that deadline because you've bit of more than you can chew, it's quite likely that neither your employees, the publisher, or the game's audience will react well to the final result.
     
  4. Ricardo C

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    Gamespot has a series called "Behind the Games", but they haven't covered Half-Life 2. The piece you probably refer to is about the original HL, which did have a tortuous dev cycle.
     
    #24 Ricardo C, Jan 8, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2005
  5. Mike D Smith

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    40 hour week

    I think one thing people often overlook in the 40 hour work week is that to make it work, your employees really have to work hard core durring that 40 hours. No sluffing off or shooting the breeze.

    It's really sad, but this kind of sluffing off is often accepted where something like working hard all week long and refusing to work on Saturday is not.

    If an employee does 6 "real" hours of work each day, after 6 days, they still have not done as much as the guy that worked hard for 5 days.

    Then again, sometimes it doesn't matter how much you get done in the 40 hour work week. If your ahead, you haven't added enough new features yet.
     
  6. luggage

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    From a developer's point of view crunch time is always the fault of management.

    Seems a bold statement but it's true. No matter what happens on a project only management can do something about it. Here's some examples of crazy decisions I've had to endure...

    * Publisher decides to change the genre of a game halfway through but still want the game done to the same deadline. The developer's management agreed.

    * Scheduled tasks for the rest of the project. When the amount of days required went over the amount of days left management decided we can't have that. They then went through the schedule chopping days off everything until it fit.

    * When asked how long something will take, I answered 5 days. Management said it had to be done in 2.

    * Scheduling how long a project will take by calculating staff work time as 9.30am till 10pm and having no time off for an entire year. They didn't even allow for weekends, sick days or holidays.

    * Agreeing to features requested by the publisher before asking the dev team how long they'd take to implement. So you get the situation where they want the game networked and management said it would take a week when in fact it would take a lot longer. And where management turn down ideas like 'another enemy' which would take all of a day to put in but they never bother to ask.

    * Not caring how much work you do so long as you're at your desk until at least 10pm.

    Crunch time is needed when you have a deadline that you're not going to meet.

    If the original deadline was too short then management should have done something about it (chop out features, renegotiate with publisher, etc).

    If the staff aren't pulling their weight during normal work hours then it's up to management to have a word with them, or replace them.

    If the staff are working well during normal hours but are still drifting behind then they need to get more staff in.

    There may be times when crunch time is needed. We took on a project once where the original developer had spent a year and got nowhere. We were handed the project, had to start from scratch and had 3 months to write a PS1 and PC game. If that's the case then the publisher had better be paying well and some of that money should find it's way to the staff working on it.

    It's not just the long hours that get you down - it's the fact you quite often don't see anything for it. Working 9.30am till 5am for 5 months, including weekends, and not getting a penny extra isn't the best way to get work out of staff.

    And as someone pointed out, too many managers think working twice the hours = twice the work. There was a test done and I think it was something like an extra hour or two was the most you could get out of staff. After that you start to have a negative effect.

    Once I worked until about 3am, had a problem with a section of code I'd just written, went home and came back in the next day. The section of code I had done was about 7 lines long, literally just a for loop and iterating through a list. There was a mistake with every single line, and multiple mistakes on those lines. This frightened me :)
     
  7. gmcbay

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    Nope. The one I am talking about was Half-Life 2 for sure.

    Re-found it here.

    It paints quite a different picture than EpicBoy's friend's ("When the team returned to work in January 2004, it had been in crunch mode for almost a year.").

    Having no inside information, I have no idea which is closer to the truth.
     
  8. EpicBoy

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    Again, he has no reason to lie to me.
     
  9. BongPig

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    Ive been badly mis-quoted so many times that I cant believe anything written by any gaming websites/magazines.
    ...so, Im inclined to believe EpicBoy.
     
  10. EpicBoy

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    Geoff Keighly is a respected journalist and is very good with these types of articles ... on the other hand, "everything was pretty laid back and we didn't crunch at all" doesn't make for a very entertaining read.
     
  11. Dan MacDonald

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    One of the artists at valve happened to live 2 doors down from me. He worked 60-70 hr weeks and was at valve 7 days a week for the past year at least. He and his wife are now legally separated, he lives in an apartment near valve and sees his kid on the weekends (now that HL2 shipped). The funny part is that the guy absolutely loves valve. Every time I talked to him he couldn't stop talking about work and how much he loved his job and the people he worked with and how valve was the greatest company in the world.

    From my perspective, it doesn't matter how great a job it is, anyone who abandons their wife and kid for a job isn't living in reality, their living in some bizzare consensual hallucination no doubt carefully propagated by a company to get their employees to work insane hours and love every minute of it.

    Now I don't assume for a minute that the guy was working all the time, valve has been pretty smart ab out blending work and pleasure. They have laundry services at work, so you don't have to do your own laundry. They routinely rent movie theaters in the area to go out as a group. They play games and hang out together. So I can see why EpicBoy's friend could say they weren't crunching. None the less, most people were there 7 days a week. Valve became their family, their support system, their entertainment, their home.

    Awesome if your a single guy, but if you have a wife and kid, you really don't have that kind of luxury. From the perspective of a wife at home with a kid, you are in crunch time and working insane hours. It's all a matter of perspective really...
     
  12. EpicBoy

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    This topic has become a jumbled mess of interpretation and misunderstandings, so I'll just close with this: I would bet money that this guy you're talking about was working those hours because he wanted to, not because Valve mandated or required it.

    That's what I mean when I say "crunch" - the company imposing it on you against your will. People who want to live at the office every waking moment - well, that's their choice.
     
  13. gmcbay

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    In my experience, at most of the places where "crunch" is the norm, it isn't STRICTLY required/mandated (doing so could potentially open up the company to lawsuits, challenging the exempt status of employees)... the company culture is just set up in such as way that anyone who doesn't crunch in the last year (or whatever) before shipping is made to seem like a slacker that is letting the rest of the team down by not being in the office 60-80 hours a week (even if he or she is getting as much or more done than his/her peers).

    If you think most of these companies aren't working behind the scenes to create this perception on purpose, you're in denial.
     
  14. EpicBoy

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    Yep, I've heard many a crunch mode "rah rah" speech in my time. "This is a company of over achievers!","We work hard and we play hard!","While the competition is clock watching we're cranking out kick ass games!",etc. All of it geared to making you believe that living at the office is a good thing.
     
  15. luggage

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    Spot on gmcbay.

    You don't have to work late it's just frowned upon if you don't.

    One guy on one of the projects I worked on didn't work late at all. Got his head down, did his job and left on the dot everyday. Game was bang on time. What did the management do? They sacked him.
     
  16. Bamafan77

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    Valve is now an example of good management scheduling? Isn't this the same company with the product that was delayed for 6 months? :)

    I think crunching means different things to different people (as EpicBoy said, who's mandating the hours has the most to do with it). Regardless of whether there was an official crunch, I'd imagine some pretty serious hours were put in at some point along the way.
     
  17. Bamafan77

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    And then there's another truth that I believe some people are afraid to admit (mostly due to society) -- maybe the job is more important to him than having a wife and kid. If that's the case, then of course he probably shouldn't have had the wife and kid. But we should admit that that's at least a possibility and an OK alternative to the way most people view "reality".
     
  18. Jay_Kyburz

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    Halflife shipped over a year late. Don't you remember that whole thing where Gabe basically lied to the whole world and even attended a launch party ATI was hosting. Then the hacker release the game that clearly showed it was nowhere near completion and Gabe had to own up and say they were way behind.

    I don't know if anybody crunched or not, but they didn't hit their deadlines.
     
  19. gpetersz

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    Yeah, as I remember HL2 was the "most expected game ever" in some of the gaming magazines in my country. The audience was waiting and waiting and waiting....

    So Valve is not a good example... ;)

    On the topic, it was sumarized well by others before me.

    The deadlines are tight and made ven more tight by publisher decisions.
    We made up a scene in Grossology (a classroom), it took some days to draw (more artists) and program the events and so. We make a "build" nearly in each 2-3 days to show off our progress and we had a milestone / month (there was specifications what should be done until that, but as I said we made a build often, it really wasn't that important). When the publisher (represantive of the publisher) saw it she said, yes it looked nice, and she knew that it followed the specs but if the blackboard would be such and such, and not that character would be there and not these and these things would happen and bla bla bla. So we started it over again. New sketches, scans, pixeling, new code and so. It took another days...

    Sometimes the publisher writes down ideas, concepts and so and when sees the outcome of what was written it changes mind.
     

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