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Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees have collected themselves
by Rockstar Spouse on 01/07/10 08:33:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

To whomever it may concern,

In response to the unfortunate circumstances, some wives of Rockstar San Diego employees have collected themselves to assert their concerns and announce a necessary rejoinder, in the form of an immediate action to ameliorate conditions of employees.

The turning for the worse came approximately in the month of March of 2009. Till present, the working conditions persists to deteriorate as employees are manipulated by certain hands that wield the reigns of power in Rockstar San Diego. Furthermore, the extent of degradation employees have suffered extends to their quality of life and their family members. Though it is presumed, this unfortunate circumstance is due largely to ignorance and unawareness of most, with enlightened knowledge, action must be taken to protect the rights of employees and those who depend on them. Realizing that such broad claims could hardly spark any interest to take a stand, a better illustration of the wrongs made unto Rockstar San Diego workers is necessary. Futhermore, the detailed descriptions about to be given can serve as a starting point as it will provide a clearer direction for change.

Initially, as work pressure in the office increases, so do the stress levels of employees. Recently, with the amount of stress that has been built up, there have been physical manifestations caused by stress making health a concern. It is known that some employees have been diagnosed with depression symptoms and at least one among them is acknowledged to have suicidal tendencies. These will not be ameliorated with a full time masseuse and will only worsen if no change to improve conditions take place and managers continue with their dishonesty of deadlines. There are understandably times when crunching in work is needed and extended working time is expected. However; as with all systems known to man, there must always be an effort for balance. Ergo, where there are times of acceleration, there are other times of deceleration in order to recuperate. This is not being practiced though, and instead of valued employees, a sentiment grows that they have lost not only the sense of being valued but turned into machines as they are slowly robbed of their humanity. The managers at Rockstar San Diego continue in their dishonesty, pushing their employees to the brink promising temporariness fully equipped with the knowledge of another deadline just around the corner. The reigns whip again, and it becomes mandatory to work close to twelve hours a day including Saturdays, regardless if an employee has finished all his duties prior. These, yes all these are horrendous, yet what makes it unacceptable has yet to come. The fact that these conditions, the same ones that have been proven time and time again to worsen the mental, physical and emotional parts of employees, are also met with further obstruction of employees rights. That of even any effort to retain any health still owned by the employee by seeking medical attention on a Saturday, because on Sundays most medical offices are closed, they must call in sick. Furthermore, not only is it not received with sympathy and understanding rather the must endure an attitude presented to them that they pose a hindrance! No, such core hours step outside the law and will not be accepted as the norm!

In the last years, there have also been many cuts on benefits despite the increasing demands on employees. After dedicated hard work on a project, weeks of comp time were offered as a reward and illustration of appreciation and understanding. Far from what is currently being met by the employees after nearly a year of constant strenuous activity. Little is there to motivate continuation as they also have lost a free vacation week between Christmas and New Year. Without time to recuperate and no efforts made to alleviate the stress of such conditions would procure on an employee after a period time, serious health concerns. Yet, now the health concern becomes another financial concern as the stripping of medical benefits surfaces to realization. It becomes rather worse rather than better as employees gain experience and become "senior". Instead of appreciation, numerous non-exempt designers and artists have had their overtime pay cut as a result for being "too senior". Looking to upper management provides no comfort rather the contrary. With unsuitable behavior from a newly promoted studio manager that vulgarly speaks the F word in most sentences and those who refuse to look at the workers' faces as they pass in the hall, it is clear their attempt to ignore the injustice they have implemented on their once valued and appreciated employees. Perhaps it should be them who explain to our children and loved ones the absence of their increasingly frustrated fathers.

Yet and still, there is more to be said of the working conditions that Rockstar San Diego employees have had to suffer. While managing to endure through the trying times, they still were hit with more blows. Again balance is denied, as working conditions worsened with no appreciation. Working harder, longer, faster, yet there was never a guarantee of a bonus nor if there was any earned, when they will be received! Moreover, bonuses could significantly be reduced based on ANYTHING management comes up with, while the employee would have no way to know about it. Thus bringing to light, the current Rockstar management has grown a thirst for power as it enables itself to grow in the Rockstar's structure. Besides bonuses, financial appreciation has lacked in other aspects as well. For four consecutive years, salary raises have not adjusted properly to cover inflation. This is especially unjust to those who significantly contribute to projects. Further than unappreciative, employees are disrespected when lied to as a whole on how Rockstar games does not generate money and as claims of justification for unappreciated employees are made pointing to the deficit, meanwhile the last Grand Theft Auto game made over a billion dollars of revenue. “Over a billion dollars of revenue”, so where is the recognition and appreciation to those of whom, without them, such success would not have been made?

Conclusively, if these working conditions stay unchanged in the upcoming weeks, preparation will be made to take legal action against Rockstar San Diego. This is the course that naturally presents itself, as either these conditions were manufactured from unawareness and actions to improve conditions will prove such innocence. Or if no action is seen after this letter, it clear that other aspects are the cause of the deteriorated conditions of Rockstar San Diego employees and must be further addressed. Rest assure, all that is desired is compensation for health, mental, financial, and damages done to families of employees.

With all due respect,

Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees.

 

 

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Comments


Z T
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Working six days a week: True (sometimes 7 before a big deadline)

Salary increases below inflation: True 1-1.5% annually despite fabulous performance reviews

12 hour days: The norm, but often 14-16 hours several days a week

Taking a Saturday off: Better request it several weeks in advance and expect a guilt trip too.

Been on this train for over a year.

It's a video game people. Find a way to make one without imposing unethical, illegal, and debilitating working conditions.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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Oh, how I wish I had written this, as its all true.

It includes a bit, but not nearly the amount of detail it should.

Where is the detail about people getting performance warnings for not working 11hrs+ a day?

The running joke is that donuts were taken away every other week (about $200 in savings per month), yet Rockstar flies in people from all the other studios (Vancouver, Leeds, Toronto, New England, etc..) and puts them up in a luxurious rental home, give them per-diem, and rent cars for them. At one point, it seemed like half the Leeds staff was in the San Diego studio! How was Rockstar San Diego able to create great games like Table Tennis and Midnight Club, but suddenly they are utterly incapable of doing the simplest task without the help of people who have half their experience?



How about the temporary appointment of a new studio president who spent thousands at a time on drinking outings, only to give up the position after a few short months?



Please, someone explain why the profitable and very functional Midnight Club team was ripped apart, their technology thrown away (after Midnight Club Los Angeles), and everyone who wasn't fired or quit was shoved onto a project that has been struggling for well over 4 years?



And why were the people who led said struggling project down its path of waste and destruction the ones who were promoted to lead the studio!?!?



R.I.P. Rockstar San Diego.

You had a tremendous amount of talent. You destroyed the best of it first, firing many and forcing many others to quit with the actions outlined above. Now you've gone and made it so nobody still working there looks forward to the next work day.



And don't believe for a second that it's just the management at Rockstar San Diego. It goes straight back to the boys in New York. Their lack of understanding of the development process has led to this whole mess. When you let a team create a game for 2+ years, building technology with little or no feedback, then jump in months before the project is to be shipped and *DEMAND* sweeping changes, you're going to have deadlines slip, unstable fixes, and unhappy workers.

will's mom
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xxxxxxx

Mike Bradley
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The saddest part of the above is that Red Dead Redemption (the game the entire studio is working on) is an organic disaster of the most epic proportions. The pain just might be worth it for everyone if the work was worldclass and they could proudly place it on their resumes as they walk away from that mess. Sadly, it is anything but, and Bitter is correct mismanagement up and down the Rockstar chain is the direct cause. Red Dead Revolver 2: Dead On Arrival.

gus one
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Err you got this one wrong mate.

Ted Brown
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Rockstar Peeps: Don't let the hubris of your managers twist your work ethic against you. If they clearly view you as expendable assets, gather your courage and walk away. It's proper to take pride in your work, but it's a higher calling to respect yourself (and your families!) above the whims of your employer.



Plus, I can't imagine the studio not being virtually burned to the ground once the project is over. The light at the end of the tunnel may end up being a train... especially if they fall over themselves to promise otherwise.

David Finlay
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RIP Midnight Club. You will be sorely missed. I wish all the best for Red Dead. It's looking great you guys!

Samuel Bass
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As a survivor of the EA Spouse era, this is horribly disheartening to read. Surely we, as an industry, can do better.

Joe McGinn
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Samuel - that's precisely why I found the whole Mike-Capps-led abandonment of the QoL issue so disappointing. As an industry, we've made exactly no progress since EA Spouse and so, unsurprisingly, history repeats itself. And in the last six months the IGDA has become such a joke of an organization they cannot legitimately take it on anymore. We need a new organization of actual game development professionals or there will be no progress from this time either.

Alexander Ehrath
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This is really sad... on all fronts. I hope it works out to the best for everyone.

Erin Hoffman
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This has been a long time coming for Rockstar. Go get 'em, ladies. These problems don't fix themselves.



Joe, there has in no way been a "Mike Capps-led abandonment of the QoL issue" in the IGDA, contrary to internet rumor. The sad truth is that developers themselves wax and wane as to how much they care and especially how much they're willing to DO about quality of life issues. Every once in awhile they like to make a lot of noise and start talking about a union, but nothing ever happens. I agree that if conditions like those at EA in 2004 (and in some parts of EA since then) and those at Rockstar were to be widespread, the result would be unionization, but the industry itself saw an improvement from 2005-2007, and then a gradual backslide in the years after, though QoL itself is still better than it was on average in 2004. It is an inflammatory red herring to call attention to the IGDA in this case. I have sat on the IGDA's Quality of Life committee since it was formed and the ECQC since 2005 and its formation. No one from Rockstar has ever once contacted either group, nor, to my knowledge, sought advice from the IGDA on this issue at all. I have individually spoken with multiple Rockstar San Diego developers over the years and have known that this was brewing, but until someone was willing to do something about it, there was nothing to be done from the outside.



The reality is that while developers are willing to let this go on and not willing (for an assortment of reasons) to defend their legal rights -- it is astonishing, for instance, that this has gone on so long in a studio operating in California -- there is nothing that other developers outside of the situation can ultimately do (and an ethical question as to whether they should). Those inside Rockstar right now have the power to change this, and I hope that they do.



To everyone who has come together on this, I offer my very best wishes and any support I can provide. We are behind you and your families and wish you the swiftest path to a better and saner future.

Rob Jellinghaus
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I feel for the Rockstar San Diego employees trapped in a hell of unending crunch. That's no way to live.



Unfortunately for them, I just have to comment on how badly written that memo is. Please, Rockstar wives, find a good editor, have them rewrite your whole letter to get rid of all the brain-numbing passive voice, and repost it here. It will be much more effective and widely read if you just make it a lot more readable. PLEASE.

Joseph Parise
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This is nowhere near a Rockstar San Diego isolated incident, but that should be a given by now. Developers bear an incredible weight in terms of the work that is expected of them, from the lowest rungs of workers all the way to producers. Unfortunately, little thought is still given to the way that work on games is done on the terms of number of employees and hours assigned. If more employees were hired there would, theoretically, be less of a workload for each to handle, and obscene overtime would not be as much of a necessity. These are difficult economic times, but how long will large portions of this industry, just as many entertainment industries have before it, be willing to sacrifice the humanity of its employees in favor of an archaic work system?



In that sense, good job, wives of Rockstar San Diego, I truly applaud your braveness in addressing this issue when so few of the people working in these roles have the ability to do so themselves. I will be observing the news of this situation closely.

Joe McGinn
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>>there is nothing that other developers outside of the situation can ultimately do<
>(and an ethical question as to whether they should)<<

There seems to be an ethical need to do something or history will keep repeating. Not talking about laws or legal enforcement or unions so please don't mention those usual strawmen. Just talking about standards and sharing of information on who is meeting them and who is not. Surely that is the lowest possibly bar for action - a bar that the IGDA, for whatever reasons, has been failing to meet for years.

Joe McGinn
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I agree that the letter is poorly worded. Hopefully that doesn't obscure the message too much.

Darryl Wright
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The only thing more unfortunate than what's happening here is the grammar with which it's being described.



I was so distracted by the horrible English that it almost dulled the message. I find it difficult to believe there is a group of people behind this - surely one of them could construct a proper sentence? My 'hoax' alarm went off when I read this. I was thinking maybe one of their developers used some of his/her overtime hours to write a complaint letter generator.

Brian Audette
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My reply is much too long for this space (check out plenty-for-all.blogspot.com) for the whole thing. But the short of it is: right on! Until people are willing to come out and faces these circumstances head on they will continue to not only ruin quality of life, but the quality of games and an art form as well.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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>>>The only thing more unfortunate than what's happening here is the grammer with which it's being described.



1. There is no hoax here, it's a real issue at that studio and it tearing the studio apart.



2. You spelled grammar wrong. If you're dishing it, might as well take it. Learn to spell check.

will's mom
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xxxxx

Mark Kilborn
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@fedup already



The concern is that the grammatical mess is going to harm the message. Believe me that people aren't trying to nitpick you. We take this just as seriously as you do. None of us wants to be in a situation like this.



We're just saying that, were the message clearer, you might be able to have more impact and get more attention. I, a game developer of reasonable intelligence with a degree, had trouble making sense of what I read. I have a stake in this because I don't want to find myself in the situation your husbands are in. To someone with no connection to this in any way, it's going to be hard for them to relate or understand what you're trying to say.



The comments about grammar are meant to help, not hurt.



That said, this is heartbreaking. I had hoped we were past this, but I suppose we're not. I've been lucky enough to never find myself in a situation like this and I hope I never do, but my heart goes out to all who are dealing with this.



The job market is a buyer's market right now, so the companies generally have the power. That makes it a bad situation AND a bad time to be in it. I don't know what advice to offer, I just hope that something positive comes out of this.

Mark Cuthbert
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Was really looking forward to Red Dead Redemption. Hearing how Rockstar San Diego treat their staff leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. It saddens me to think of those talented people being treated as worthless machines. Unashamed greed lines a few pockets, but ultimately hurts the industry.

Kenneth Badertscher
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It seems to me that the game industry, like pretty much every other industry, hasn't figured out how to properly motivate and reward workers. This isn't just a failure of project management, though it is that, too. It's more a problem of knowing how to inspire creative and knowledge workers and give them some satisfaction and sense of accomplishment about their work. If you're happy about what you do, have a sane environment and good benefits, you can and will work longer hours and still feel great about it.



This past week on Talk of the Nation, author Daniel Pink discussed his book "Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594488843). His thesis, backed by many years of psychological and sociological studies, is that monetary rewards are almost always the worst motivators. Instead of increasing productivity, a monetary "carrot" will generally cause someone to spend the absolute minimum effort required to get the job done. Also, the workers won't be satisfied with their job, because they really have no say in what they're doing, and no investment in the result.



Pink's solution? Treat people like people, not horses. Put away the carrots and sticks, and treat them like human beings. Give them the opportunity to have some autonomy and self direction, and they will go above and beyond what the job requires, work harder, and be happier about it.



The transcript of this Talk of the Nation is available at npr.org (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122221202). You can listen to it there, too, if you're feeling more podcasty. I have a feeling if more U.S. tech industries treated their workers like Google does (just one example--there are others given in the talk), the U.S. would have more multi billion dollar tech companies, and a lot more happy tech workers.

Andrew Schiffbauer
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Joined just to comment. The community at the Escapist ( http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.166727 ) has just picked up the news of your situation and the question of what we, the consumers, can do has arisen.



We're not really sure -what- we can do to help you but as a consumer and appreciator of all your hard work I find this is unacceptable, and intend to deny Rockstar my purchase dollar until this situation is rectified.

Emmeline Dobson
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Sharing information about your workplace - this site was set up by an ex-game dev guy:



http://yourworkplace.biz/



It needs some wider commitment to make it really beat; many companies' stats aren't displayed because of the rule that 5 employees' votes are needed every period in order to have enough data.



I've also just had a poke at glassdoor.com, and found it hard to find a specific company. It also presses you for your own user contribution before it'll let you investigate its database further.



How about collaborating to safely share information on what our employers are like?

Code Monkey
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Andrew, I believe a boycott of the game we developers at R* SD are producing will not help to improve our situation, rather it may make things worse, but I appreciate your sentiment nonetheless. I believe many of us at the studio are putting a massive amount of love into the game we are creating, despite the often questionable working environment, in the hopes that massive sales of such a well-made product will give us all more leverage to exact a positive change in overall quality of life at the jobs we still love.



As a R* employee for a certain amount of years, let me first say that I feel like a proud citizen of my clan, but I like many of my peers seek a reprieve from the issues that the wives have boldly brought to the media's attention. I suppose I've been one to personally let things slide a lot over the last few months as I work many long hours, many of which I feel have been somewhat forced upon me, because I love my job so much, and every second I spend in my chair in front of my screen is only a second that comes completely natural to me. I like to make games, and I like to solve game problems. That being said, I also have a very supportive significant other half, and we have no children to feed and spend time with. Also because I'm in fairly good health, I don't find myself complaining about quality of life so much as I may complain of other issues at the studio that directly affect me. But I also do have close friends at the studio who have had their health and lives deteriorated in some way, and whether or not the long hours have directly contributed to these ailments, it certainly hasn't helped. And just because I may feel just fine today doesn't mean I'll still feel fine tomorrow or months down the road when it all catches up to me. And I acknowledge the day we have a child of our own may be a day of reckoning.



The blaming finger can be pointed in various directions here, but here's my take on the situation: We're producing a fantastic game right now, but in times past, it seemed to have little in the way of direction or conception. If it did indeed have these attributes, they were largely lost upon the majority of the development team, and many of us had little knowledge of what kind of product we were actually trying to put out there. I think we all do now, but it's in no thanks at all to any concerted effort whatsoever to actively motivate the team and evangelize the product to the developers themselves. I do believe that many of us didn't see how what we were doing could be important when we didn't really know what kind of game we're supposed to be making. Ultimately, I think we've all sort of "figured it out" and things started falling into place, but at the same time, I think this collective realization has put the pressure on all of us, management included, that we really need to nail this thing and get it out on shelves on time. There were extended core hours, frustrations rising, and then a false promise of the dropping of mandatory Saturdays, which seemed to last for about three such Saturdays.



But, perhaps an unsung root of the problems we face is a technical one, where many hours of productivity are wasted by everyone just waiting to get a build of the game that actually runs every time we need to update anything. Without getting too technical, lets just say that most of us are not happy with our build pipeline, and there are hundreds of errors and showstoppers that slow the game iteration down very significantly, in addition to many thousands of warnings that developers have littered about in both the build pipeline and the actual game itself for what we would assume are valid reasons, that pop up and nag, but there seems to be little effort on the part of the technical leads to enforce that these warnings be addressed. This I believe has brought us to where we are today. If these problems were minimized from the start, the game would have progressed much more quickly, and there would not be this frantic realization of being behind schedule and over-budget in the last year of development.



What Bitter PartyOfMany says about the "boys in New York" is also spot-on. For years there seemed to be indifference on the part of the big wigs everybody knows are really in charge, and the product never seemed to have true leaders. Directives come from people local to San Diego, when months later they are overridden arbitrarily by New York folks and work gets re-done, until they lose interest again or change their minds. Then of course we suffer their sustained scrutiny and sudden interest in what we're doing only in the last few months of development, and the weight and power they command often intimidates many of the leads at R* SD to the point where they may unnecessarily impose unreasonable expectations on the development team for the completion of a particular feature or bug fix, which may often not be universally agreed upon as particularly important.



When it's all said and done, I love my studio, I love my game, and I love my team, and I wouldn't give this up for the world. I just would like to see things improve for all of us, including our management.

Nick Halme
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I wish the letter had been edited somewhat, but the slightly rambling, still-polite outrage makes its way through just fine. It's a shame that these sort of issues have tended to come to a head and explode like this.



It's hard to think that anyone in this industry would try to forcibly squeeze work out of talented people who I assume, like all developers, put in extra time anyways because they're passionate about what they do and are proud of what they accomplish.



What's most worrying though is that "Big" Rockstar didn't gander down the ladder and see this. Or if they did, that they were okay with it.

Jurie Horneman
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While it never got this bad at Rockstar Vienna, partially due to Austrian labor law, this story and those in the comments do not sound surprising at all. I am sure people who have worked at several other Rockstar studios could tell similar stories. IMO Rockstar does not really know how to manage game development, and they do not really want to be part of the game industry (Erin: that's why they never got involved in the IGDA). They are passionate about games and they have a unique touch but they don't know how to sustainably and efficiently turn that into products at the scale they have now.

Julius Childs
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I've read this kind of super-stereotyped bureaucratese from schizophrenics.

Memo to R* management: remind all your devs that when they're finally allowed to go home next week to make sure their wives are taking their meds.

Christian McCrea
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The best way to communicate to management people at all levels that poor working environments are their first priority is continued attention and continued whistleblowing. Do not be intimidated at work, and if you are willing to work harder and long hours - YOU ARE allowed to speak about it to people outside of work. The culture of games IS different, there are long hours - but thats precisely why good management is absolutely cruicial and environments like San Diego must change.

Derek Smart
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Oh I see, they're sooooo concerned that they're writing tomes instead of just getting a lawyer (most will kill to take a case like this with no retainer) and suing? Right off the bat, get a lawyer involved. Once that happenes, it is highly unlikely that they would resort to the same crap after the initial dust settles.



There are a LOT of studios going through crap like this atm and I personally know of friends in at least three studios that complain about this all the time.



@ Bitter PartyOfMany



Yep, I know of at least two people from the U.K who had those Stateside gigs. heh, one used to contract for me. ;)



The industry handling of the whole QoL issue (the IGDA is POWERLESS in this area btw) is just like the U.S. Govt. Ignore the problem until it becomes an even bigger problem - then throw all manner of useless and inconsequential "fixes" at it. Eventually, an even bigger problem will arise and all focus will switch way from the original issue. Rinse. Repeat.



@ Rob Jellinghaus



"Unfortunately for them, I just have to comment on how badly written that memo is. Please, Rockstar wives, find a good editor, have them rewrite your whole letter to get rid of all the brain-numbing passive voice, and repost it here. It will be much more effective and widely read if you just make it a lot more readable. PLEASE."



You've got to be joking. Granted it could have been better written, but this was not coming from a league of professionals looking to cater to the left brains of people who are part of the problem and not the solution.



So lets cut them some slack and not detract from the issue.

Alexander Ehrath
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Having worked at many game development companies in the past, I must agree with Code Monkey on the build process. Nothing is more crucial than iteration times. Most companies I worked for implemented "real-time update" technology allowing the designers and artists to iterate without having to reload the game. Even if it takes several developers a year to iron out the issues involved in implementing such technology going forward it pays off many times over. The problem is that nobody wants to spend the time upfront to develop such thing. The usual answer is "Well maybe if we started this a year ago..." or "This is never going to work." It's a chicken/egg problem. My suggestion is invest in developing TOOLS TOOLS TOOLS!

Just my $0.02

Jason Weesner
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Crunch time breaks down to a failure in three areas: iteration time, creative direction, and expectations. Iteration time (asset pipeline / authoring + actual build processes) is seldom factored into schedules. I've been on projects where a simple authoring task can take 5 minutes and other projects where that same task can take up to two hours. On one project I was on, we actually assigned a salary to the build time (based on hours worked) and estimated it was making about $170,000 a year. Multiply this times the number of people on the team it affects and you start to get some idea of what the impact can be in time and money.



Creative direction becomes a problem when the direction of the game becomes schizophrenic in order to keep up with creative demands or individuals who simply can't make up their mind or are constantly looking for a creative flavor of the moment. Not every member of the team will want to understand every aspect of the creative direction, but they do need to know what affects them. Hardly anyone reads GDD's or design documents, so more simple means of creative communication like easy-to-understand creative pillars or routine team meetings to show off gameplay features are much more effective. If you want a good test for effective creative direction, go around and ask team members what they think the game is about (the story, the characters, major gameplay systems, the game genre, and the intended audience). The answers are often very telling of the level of creative communication on the team.



Both publishers and developers need to set more reasonable expectations for each other. Milestones are most often reflective of incremental changes rather than the fundamental changes that publishers are looking for. Developers need to quit over-promising (on game features and deliverables) and publishers need to become more savvy to the development process and what they are actually asking for in the time they've provided. I can't tell you how many times I've been on short schedule projects (6 to 8 months) that have AAA expectations. Publishers also need to quit with the "single bad milestone = impending project cancellation".

Bitter PartyOfMany
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To be honest, I don't believe they have a legal case. According to California law, a company is within their legal rights to require its employees to work as many hours as it deems necessary as long as they are compensated correctly. So the non-exempt employees get overtime pay and the exempt employees get... well, nothing.



At some point, the laws have to change. Until then, the employess have 2 choices:

1. Put up with the horrible QoL

2. Leave the company and look for another job



Those are tough options in San Diego considering how many studios have closed down in the area in the last year or two. The job market isn't good, so unless they're willing to move out of the area, they are stuck.

Andrew Schiffbauer
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@ Code Monkey



Then, in that case, what CAN I do? Write Rockstar an angry letter and buy it anyway? That seems to send a mixed message. But I wouldn't want to hurt the employee's future either.



In any case, these internet battlecrys rarely accomplish anything, so even if I endeavored to boycott the game I suppose it would do no good. The only salvation I can see for the project is if it turns out to be an absolutely stellar, bangin' game so anyone attached to it has a golden ticket stapled to their resume.



If nothing else this definatly displays how poorly the current corporate structure works for developers - there are no 'bottom level' employee's on a programming team you can ride like mail room interns. There seems to be an intent to treat such employee's like they are factory workers or manufacturers when the job is also largely influenced by artistic merit - a Game Dev is more akin to an engineer then a welder, and I doubt a manufacturing company would DREAM of treating it's engineer's like this.

Ralph Mejias
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I felt like, and some comments here agree, that the poor writing got in the way of the message. I've made an editing pass, maybe it'll be helpful to the Wives. I've tried to preserve as much of their language as possible. Again, this is my edit of their content, unrequested and unofficial. I am not affiliated with either the Wives or Rockstar San Diego in any way.



/////////////////



To whom it may concern:



In response to worrying quality of life conditions, some Rockstar San Diego employees' wives have gathered together to share their concerns and request a response from Rockstar San Diego in the form of immediate actions to ameliorate the concerns listed here.



The Rockstar San Diego workplace began to deteriorate in approximately March 2009 and this trend has continued through the present. Employees are manipulated by the hands that wield the reins of power at Rockstar San Diego and the degradation of their employees' quality of life extends to their employees' family members. This unfortunate situation is largely due to the unawareness of most outside of Rockstar San Diego, so we hope that sharing our concerns leads to actions to protect the rights of employees and those who depend on them. We realize that such broad claims may not spark sufficient interest to take a stand, so a more detailed description of the wrongs made unto Rockstar San Diego workers is necessary.



Recently, with the amount of stress that has built up, some employees have been diagnosed with depression symptoms and at least one among them is acknowledged to have suicidal tendencies. These will not be alleviated with token gestures like a full time masseuse and will only worsen if no change is made to improve conditions. There are times when crunching at work is needed and extended working time is expected and understandable. However, there must always be an effort for balance and when there are times of acceleration, there should be times of deceleration in order to recuperate. This is not being practiced and instead a sentiment grows amongst employees that they have lost not only the feeling of being valued but are being turned into machines. The managers at Rockstar San Diego push their employees to the brink while promising temporariness and fully equipped with the knowledge of another deadline just around the corner. It became mandatory to work almost twelve hours a day, including Saturdays, regardless if an employee has finished all his duties prior. These conditions, the same ones that have been proven time and time again to worsen the mental, physical, and emotional parts of employees, are also met with further obstruction of employee rights. If an employee seeks medical attention on a Saturday, because most medical offices are closed on Sundays, they must call in sick. This request is not received with sympathy and understanding, but with the judgement that they pose a hindrance! Such core hours step outside the law and cannot be accepted as the norm!



In the last few years, there have also been cuts to benefits despite the increasing demands on employees. In the past, after dedicated, hard work on a project, weeks of comp time were offered as a reward and demonstration of appreciation and understanding. This is far from what is currently being offered to the employees after nearly a year of constant, strenuous activity. Little is left to motivate them as they also have lost a vacation week between Christmas and New Year. Without time to recuperate, serious health concerns become financial concerns as the stripping of medical benefits becomes reality. It only worsens as employees gain experience and become "senior." Instead of appreciation, numerous non-exempt designers and artists have had their overtime pay cut and looking to upper management provides no comfort. With unsuitable behavior from those who refuse to look at the workers' faces as they pass in the hall, it is clear management attempts to ignore the injustice they have visited on their once valued and appreciated employees. Perhaps it should be them who explain to our children and loved ones the absence of their increasingly frustrated fathers.



While managing to endure through the trying times, they still were hit with more blows. Working harder, longer, faster, yet there was never a guarantee of a bonus and bonuses could significantly be reduced based on ANYTHING management comes up with. For four consecutive years, salary raises have not adjusted properly to cover inflation. Employees are lied to as a whole on how Rockstar games do not generate money, while the last Grand Theft Auto game made over a billion dollars of revenue. Where is the recognition and appreciation for those employees without which such success would not have been possible? The current Rockstar management has grown a thirst for power that enables itself to grow in Rockstar's structure.



If these working conditions remain unchanged in the upcoming weeks, preparations will be made to take legal action against Rockstar San Diego. All that is desired is the physical, mental, and financial well-being of employees and their families. We implore Rockstar San Diego management to consider our plea for improvement





Regards,

Determined and Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego Employees.

Kingsley Sur
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If the bastards that manage Rockstar SD don't care about their employees they should at least care about the bottom line. I've seen from experience that overworking and -stressing your staff results in shoddy product. Not only will the game be crap, but if QA is so tired that they miss bugs and the coders are so rushed they are encouraged to waive bugs rather than fix them, you are then left with a buggy piece of crap.



Its amazing to me that more folks (especially the ones in charge) don't see that quality games get made without crushing deadlines and threats of losing your job. Blizzard probably blew through a lot of money making WoW, but it sure paid off in the end. Rockstar SD's practices are the reason 85% of games that come out suck.



I also have to agree that the original post was written badly enough to distract me from what was trying to be expressed, which was unfortunate because this is an issue that really needs to be taken out from the industry's closet and presented to the public. My wife doesn't buy products that were made in sweat shop conditions, I suggest we start doing the same to games that are made by companies that treat their employees as described above. If the only thing the a$$holes at the top understand is profits maybe they will change if they see theirs disappear.

David Finlay
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=(

Andrew Schiffbauer
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Hmm... Almost as if it's some sort of CODE! Don't worry, the boss probably doesn't know how to run the internets. The bluntness of these posts definatly bespeaks a great deal of frustration and anger though.



It's easy to see how this MIGHT be an unexscapeble part of business however - Rockstar hasn't been doing so well lately (or so i've heard since M. Pachter keeps bitching about how they need to launch another GTA SOON) and Red Dead 2 might be a lucrative source of filfthy lucre - one they need fast, hence the large scale hirings and the intensive crunch time, because they need the product fast.



None of which is a positive indicator for the future of this game or the company...

Simon Carless
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Note: I've removed a couple of comments from Corner9 NineSix (but left the gist of his argument and his first post) because they specifically named members of Rockstar San Diego staff. We're not particularly happy with ANYONE posting using pseudonyms under normal circumstances, but posting pseudonymously and calling out members of staff in an insulting manner by name is absolutely not acceptable on Gamasutra. Thanks.



Simon (Gamasutra publisher.)

Mark DeLoura
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My heart goes out to the good folks at Rockstar San Diego, many whom I've known over the years, all the way back to N64 launch. Lots of great talent there.



I wonder if any of the other anonymous RSGSD folks on this thread would consider proposing possible solutions to the problems they're having there. I thought @Code Monkey nailed some really good points, and @Jason Weesner also made some good points regarding things that typically cause problems during production. For the folks here from RSGSD who are posting to the thread, you have to assume that your management is reading - what would you suggest that they do? It may be that they're falling into the trap of throwing more money and more staff at a problem in order to fix it (see The Mythical Man-Month for more on that), instead of stepping back, analyzing the situation, creating a plan, and developing metrics to make sure that the plan is working as it is implemented. But most of them have been around the block a few times... what's uniquely going wrong this time?



I don't know what's happening there. But this anonymous forum may provide a convenient way for those of you at RSGSD to communicate messages to your management that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Take advantage of it if you can!



(@Simon, thanks for your delicate moderating!)

Andrew Schiffbauer
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@Mark Deloura



I'm not an employee but I believe one of them mentioned specific steps they could take.



Code Monkey said:



"The blaming finger can be pointed in various directions here, but here's my take on the situation: We're producing a fantastic game right now, but in times past, it seemed to have little in the way of direction or conception. If it did indeed have these attributes, they were largely lost upon the majority of the development team, and many of us had little knowledge of what kind of product we were actually trying to put out there. I think we all do now, but it's in no thanks at all to any concerted effort whatsoever to actively motivate the team and evangelize the product to the developers themselves. I do believe that many of us didn't see how what we were doing could be important when we didn't really know what kind of game we're supposed to be making. Ultimately, I think we've all sort of "figured it out" and things started falling into place, but at the same time, I think this collective realization has put the pressure on all of us, management included, that we really need to nail this thing and get it out on shelves on time. There were extended core hours, frustrations rising, and then a false promise of the dropping of mandatory Saturdays, which seemed to last for about three such Saturdays.



But, perhaps an unsung root of the problems we face is a technical one, where many hours of productivity are wasted by everyone just waiting to get a build of the game that actually runs every time we need to update anything. Without getting too technical, lets just say that most of us are not happy with our build pipeline, and there are hundreds of errors and showstoppers that slow the game iteration down very significantly, in addition to many thousands of warnings that developers have littered about in both the build pipeline and the actual game itself for what we would assume are valid reasons, that pop up and nag, but there seems to be little effort on the part of the technical leads to enforce that these warnings be addressed. This I believe has brought us to where we are today. If these problems were minimized from the start, the game would have progressed much more quickly, and there would not be this frantic realization of being behind schedule and over-budget in the last year of development.



What Bitter PartyOfMany says about the "boys in New York" is also spot-on. For years there seemed to be indifference on the part of the big wigs everybody knows are really in charge, and the product never seemed to have true leaders. Directives come from people local to San Diego, when months later they are overridden arbitrarily by New York folks and work gets re-done, until they lose interest again or change their minds. Then of course we suffer their sustained scrutiny and sudden interest in what we're doing only in the last few months of development, and the weight and power they command often intimidates many of the leads at R* SD to the point where they may unnecessarily impose unreasonable expectations on the development team for the completion of a particular feature or bug fix, which may often not be universally agreed upon as particularly important."



Which very ironically only reminds me of the song Code Monkey.



The link to which I have removed having only now realized the poster above me already put it up!

Ex Rocker
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Pretty much every Rockstar Studio is like this it seems. None of these claims are un-warranted. They run their company like the mob. They say that ' you are awesome and part of the team.' but as soon as you question the sub-par working conditions they think you are trying to sabotage them and you are not to be trusted.



They have lawyers on their side that rival Jack Thompson as well. They will write up these crazy letters threatening you with everything they can think of, all of which is meaningless but it scares most people out of continuing to speak out.

Ex Rocker
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@Corner9 NineSix That list is hilariously accurate. Funny that it works so well at different studios.

Stefan Maton
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Erin mentioned a game developer union or something similar that could protect game developers from such managerial behavior. But the fact is that they (the managers) give a sh** about it.



For one professional game developer who is currently working in the business, there are 10 fresh, unused, unexperienced but willing newcomers out there who cost much less than any experienced developer. Their lack of experience is compensated by their motivation to get into the industry and their acceptance of any unhuman treatment.



Why should any manager bother with a union if they can close the studio's doors at (almost) any time without getting bothered any more than that? Just open a new studio, hire fresh people, and restart the entire cycle.



I think anybody knows Sacred 2. It's a great game done by a great team. Unfortunately, the working conditions weren't that great. At one point, the staff really got upset and created a workers' council which, to my knowledge, was a first within the german game development industry. German right gives a lot of power to that council which they used to enforce overtime compensation and resting hours on week-ends. The upper management tried to bypass the workers' council by trying to make them look bad ("If we have problems reaching our milestones, it's the workers' council fault.", etc.). End of the story: Ascaron has been closed because they went out of money. Yet, the game sold quite well.



Even "worse": Companies that play the "if you don't lower your price, there are tons of studios in eastern europe working for much less..."-game. Some of my friends are trapped in such situations. In order to get the contract, they had to lower their price in such way that they're working on a 1000-1500€ per month basis (and they still have to pay taxes etc.). And they're not sitting in an russian office, or any eastern europe country. They're working right in the middle of Germany. A small game (ie. a flash or browser game) is done by small teams (2-3 people) in short time (2-3 months) for small money (7000-8000€).



That's reality. That's where the "game developers are replaceable at any time" mentality has led us. That's why managers don't bother with any "problems" their staff might have. I personally attented meeting where the project manager told a programmer that if he isn't happy with the situation, there are 3 people waiting to fill his position.



A union could solve this problem. But as long as this union is not a world wide organisation, it will not succeed. That said, I like the union style the american film industry or the american dockers have adopted: You won't get a chance to work in the industry, unless you're unioned...

David Marsh
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The technology and distribution platforms for independent game development exist, just waiting to be embraced by experienced and talented developers. Once enough developers are given a reason to want to break out of the corporate model that drives this kind of environment, I am hoping to see a huge surge in independent development flooding these channels! You don't need to be treated like a serf in order to be graciously bestowed with the opportunity to make games!

Jacek Wesolowski
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Stefan - if that's of any consolation to you, the "Eastern Europe" game is a bit of a bluff. It's only valid to some limited degree. Case in point, at the company I worked for until recently (head count ca. 50-60), one guy was Portuguese, one guy was Swedish, one guy was Norwegian, one was Russian, and two were British. And I talked in person to another Swede and a guy from US as part of the recruitment process. One person I know was at least considered at some point was from China.



The talent pool in "Eastern Europe" is not infinite. That is, there are lots of talented people, but most of them are not very experienced, and those who are usually have jobs. The company I worked for decided to recruit worldwide in order to gain competitive advantage, and as far as I can tell - it worked for them superbly. Now, to be honest, I don't see other companies following that trend yet, but I think it could be a matter of time - especially if "western" companies call their bluffs and move into here.



Of course, if you hire people from all over the world, you cannot pay them with peanuts. One guy I worked with had worked in Germany before, and while he wouldn't give any details, he said the difference in salary was not spectacular.



Sure, labour is cheaper around here, but so is living. Which means someone like you could earn less, but still have a comfortable lifestyle. And it's easier for one person to move abroad than for entire company! You should be bluffing your employer, not the other way around.

Clinton Keith
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To be fair, long periods of crunch were not introduced by Rockstar or current management. I was there (Angel Studios) for eight years and left just before the acquisition. Death-marches, like the one we went through to get Midnight Club out for the launch of the PS2, pushed some to the limit and others beyond.



The studio is filled with talented and dedicated developers. I hope the "determined wives" and the comments and suggestions here, especially from employees like Code Monkey, will lead to good internal conversations and change.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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The difference between now and years ago is the attitude from management.

Now you get angry emails from management USING CAPS LOCK AND PUNCTUATION EXCESSIVELY TO STRESS HOW IMPORTANT THEY ARE!!!!!!!

And the polite emails asking everyone to come in on the weekend are followed up by a stronger email saying "and by weekend, we dont just mean Saturday. If you're not exempt, you're expected to be here both days"



Movivation with an iron fist is not the way to keep people happy.



@Mark

Solutions are easy:

1. Rockstar management in New York has to realize that, when left alone for a few years, their developers are talented and completely capable of creating a great game without them.

1a. If #1 isn't good enough for Rockstar New York, then they have to be more involved through the whole project, not just a few months at the start and a few months at the end, extending the project deadline due to changes that they deem necessary.

And when that deadline slips because you weren't involved until the end and then demanded changes, don't blame the team. Again, its your fault for not being involved until the end.

1b. If left alone and the team fails, the solution is not to hire new people and throw everybody in the whole company on that project until its done. The solution is to get rid of the people who made it such a mess and move on.



2. Rockstar New York: Accept responsibility for your part in this all. Analysts are telling you "Rockstar is a one game company" because thats how you treat it. If you spend every marketing dollar on GTA (a game which arguably doesn't need any marketing at this point) and ignore all of your other projects in the meantime, how do you think its going to turn out?



3. Yes, there are some internal issues with tools which could be fixed. But you know what? Those aren't the cause of all these problems. Those may delay development a couple weeks over the course of a project(at most). They don't drop morale to nothing. They don't make you despise the management with every bone in your body.



I believe its too late for the San Diego studio. They have fired and demoted all the best and most well respected managers. They lost some of the best graphics and optimization people in the industry because of their attitude and management style. What they're left with are a few managers who nobody believes deserves their position, or who nobody likes/respects, and some very talented developers who are just waiting for the project to end so they can move on. You're just not going to get the best work out of people when they don't like/trust/respect their managers.

Ex Rocker
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@Cog Machine You are right, so many people wait and hope it will get better.

"For our next project, things are gonna change."

"It's too late for this project, but for the next one we are gonna change things!"



However, it never does. The problems with the 'current management' are very deep-rooted and go all the way up to heads of the company. The thing that makes this difficult is that unless you cut it off at the source, the Rockstar style of management is continually going to flow out and effect each studio.



People try to tell themselves that in the end all the abuse is worth it because they are making an excellent game. While it is true that the games developed at R* are usually excellent, my opinion is that if any other studio had the amount of time to work on a project as long as they do, they could produce an equally excellent if not better product. Because Rockstar has zero management skills, they also have almost no deadlines which allow them the time to figure out how to improve their game. They are lucky in the fact that their parent company Take2 is equally inept and doesn't barge in on Rockstar's business at all.

This freedom given to a competent developer would be amazing, unfortunately it is R* and that means the employees have to pay a heavy tool whether they realize it or not. (RE: stockholm syndrome)



What makes R* crunch periods different then any other studio is that they tell you the game has to be finished in 6 months so let's start our final push to get this awesome game out there! 6 months turns into 1 year, 1 year turns into 2. At that time the game is STILL not done, the 12 hour days aren't cutting it, so let's increase it to 14 hour days, 6-7 days a week. Of course this won't be outright mandatory, but anyone who doesn't do it is obviously not doing any work and not part of the 'core' team that is REALLY making the game. (Remember to go out for a drink with the guys after your 14hr day to really secure your position in the core team.)

Emma Killilea
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Well done on getting this together ladies - all the best with your action.



It sounds just like the type of battery farm that EA was when I was a Development Director there. I left after a year - I couldn't stomach the way we were forced to treat the staff. It is nothing short of white collar exploitation.

Luis' Mom
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Gamasutra, this brings up an interesting point: i wish you'd clarify here what you mean about anonymous comments.



Given your distaste for anonymous commenting, what does that mean for anyone posting here? Can you clarify please? Would you be willing to provide - if lawyers were to ask - the IP addresses of posters here, or their email addresses?



I agree that naming people isn't good for anyone. But how far does this extend?

Code Monkey
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Thanks to all who supported my thoughts and suggestions. I would also just like to emphasize that I'm really not all that interested in pointing fingers at anyone in charge and removing them from power. I'm also under the impression that the original authors of this blog feel the same way in that they only want to improve the situation at the workplace that we all depend on for our livelihoods. It's gotten to a point for any number of reasons where developers are getting so frustrated about their inability to express their opinions in some meaningful way at the company as a whole, that this forum has become a place to do just that as well as a way to let off excessive steam.



I, however, have to disagree with Bitter PartyOfMany fundamentally about the tools issue. I really do feel it's set the development process back a year or more due to times just waiting for something to build, or waiting to get up to date on some critical feature or fix before meaningful work on that component can be continued. That being said, it's not the software's fault, since it's just a manifestation of the developers' work. Alexander Ehrath is exactly right in what he says about spending a lot more time on getting the build pipeline right from the beginning. But the sad thing is that it's not like it was ever too late to address the pipeline, at least not until a few months ago (yes, it's probably too late now). And it's not like there was any lack of talent or excellent ideas floating around on email threads. For some reason, nobody in charge felt it was in the best interests of the project to take time away from active game development and improve the tools for such a huge overall gain. They just didn't see it, but I definitely don't think they should be crucified for it. Sometimes the engineers need to take responsibility for it when we're all in charge of management to a certain degree. While it's true that it's hard for developers to find a voice or an effective line of communication to address quality of life issues, the fact of the matter is it's not so hard to find that voice when you're talking about the day-to-day technical hurdles about the work you're doing. When management asks why something is taking a certain amount of time, you just explain why. If the management party is not technically inclined, you do your best to clarify. And, it's not so hard for a developer or team of developers working on a particular component to step up and say, hey, we're all losing may hours on this particular problem, and we have a solution in mind that will make it much better, and that's just the way it is. Sometimes it's difficult to find the courage to step out on a limb and do that, but I don't think anyone could sanely punish you for doing that. The alternative would be to have someone else take your job. That someone else, regardless of their experience would be completely clueless about how it works, and hence many months would be spent getting familiar with the component before any real work could be done. That's time and money nobody wants to spend.



The tools issue is also not a global problem, as there are definitely many pipeline tools of certain components that we're using every day that work incredibly well and get the job done with very little maintenance. I know that these tools that work so well are a result of proper planning and/or initiative on the part of developers to get fed up with seeing something break on them every day and just fix it already.



But, as my name implies, I'm a tech guy, not a manager or producer, so I suggest solutions to the problems as I only see them. But, since the original purpose of this blog was to cry out to management, I hope said management is taking some of these suggestions to heart and for the next product they won't fall into the same trap where they feel like they have to throw so many man hours at a problem, when they can address these problems in a smarter way.



But, then again, maybe some of us can offer suggestions to answer this question: What can be done to fix some of these issues RIGHT NOW?

Simon Carless
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Gamasutra has a generally quite strictly enforced site rule that users must use their real names when posting, to increase transparency and stop trolling and pointlessly negative posts.



We are not currently enforcing that rule in _this_ thread because we understand there may be some important viewpoints that could not otherwise be discussed. The only excuse for not using one's real name here is that you are directly related to the situation at hand. (The posts I removed were written by a pseudonymous user and specifically mentioning individuals.)



I can't comment on the legal issue - we have never previously been asked for IP addresses of posters and our legal department is not at work right now. If you're worried about that possibility, don't post.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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Does anyone want to address the extended lockdowns for build days that happened for those few months, causing everyone stress and basically halting all progress for more than half of the week?

Or the fact that hiring a few temp testers would have allowed all those developers who had to test their own content every day the time to do their work instead of doing two jobs simultaneously?

Both of those are management decisions that really impacted morale and the schedule



@ Code Monkey

" I don't think anyone could sanely punish you for doing that"

Ok, you work in that studio, right?

What about the management style in the last 9-12 months makes you think they are thinking logically in any way (or being sane, using your terms)



"The alternative would be to have someone else take your job. That someone else, regardless of their experience would be completely clueless about how it works, and hence many months would be spent getting familiar with the component before any real work could be done. That's time and money nobody wants to spend"

That's not true... the management did exactly that on many components. What else would you call the hiring push and dumping everybody on the same project for the last few months (extended to about a year)?

They wanted to spend that time and money, they just didnt want to accept the inevitable consequences.

It takes so much time for those new people to get up to speed and they make so many errors in the process, that they end up hurting the project as much as they help it.



And about the tools: In my experience(at Rockstar and other places), I know there is always something else to do when a specific feature isn't supported or a tool isn't working correctly. If you're being held up because you're waiting for something, you should move on to something you can do.

What does waste everyone's time is the managements inability to clearly communicate to the rest of the staff when something should or should not be used(like a build).

Luis' Mom
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I think everyone at Rockstar NYC who would like to share their experiences should take note about what Simon Carless has to say above. Much empathy, SD team.

Rey Samonte
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As an Ex-Rocker myself, I wish that the technical issues that's hindering the development process can be resolved soon. They still have 3 - 4 months left on the game. Although that might seem like a short amount of time, when they've been crunching as long as they have, the time left will feel like eternity.



I can still recall the "build day" woes and I sympathize that they're still going through it. I left about 5 months ago and they're still struggling to get stable builds! I know the importance of build days, but if the process that is designed to provide the developers a stable build to work off of and review is causing most of the delays and wasted time, you know there are serious problems. Unfortunately, it might be too late to address these technical issues regarding the build pipelines and everyone will just have to hang tough until the end.



I wish you all the best guys! I pray you will all succeed and whatever happens, you won't be jaded. Just take it for what it is and learn from it. In the end, it will make you a stronger developer. Just be sure you find the time to rest!

John Marston
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It is too late to change anything now. The game has to ship on the ship date, this can't be changed. It will need more than 40 hours/week by everybody to finish. All I can ask:



Please stop adding more features. We need to ship the game.



Please stop making more big changes. We need to ship the game.



Those half-arsed pep talks are useless. The speech at the Christmas party was weak. Show some genuine appreciation and tell individuals that you value them, and why. Don't spend most of your time pointing out missteps. Create a positive atmosphere.



If you expect employees to work 12+ hours a day, don't be a stickler about them being a few minutes late or taking time off for an appointment.



Overworked employees are sloppier, make more bugs, are unhappy, and less motivated. We are not machines. More hours does not equal more work done after you exceed a limit.



Give your employees a real reason to believe they will have a job after the game ships. Not even hiring a new receptionist is a red flag.



Saving on doughnuts and then throwing out money on flying blokes around left and right is just wrong. You have a good IM system and a video conference room. Install more webcams and learn how to manage devs remotely.



Dear spouses who started all this: That was not good. You are suffering, we are suffering, that is obvious, but all you did was create bad press and add even more tension in the studio. We don't need that. We just want to finish this game. It will be a fantastic game, and we want to get it out of the door. It's too late to make big changes now. Because of this blog, the managers will be under even more stress now and act even angrier.



Dear people who plan on boycotting RSG: Don't. If the game doesn't sell, this will be the death spell for the studio, and all the employees who you were trying to show solidarity for will lose their jobs.



PS: People claiming that this is a bad game are ex-employees who are vindictive and want to feel better about not being on the project anymore. This game is great. I am the title character, so I know. Even after it is out, I will play it start to finish, despite all the years I spent with it.



PPS: RSG is not a bad place, and for many years, we hadn't crunched a lot. The last 10 months though have been terrible and were avoidable. Same for all previous projects that went through the same extended crunch, and unless something changes, for all future projects.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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"Dear people who plan on boycotting RSG: Don't. If the game doesn't sell, this will be the death spell for the studio, and all the employees who you were trying to show solidarity for will lose their jobs."



On the other hand, if it sells well then it proves to the RSNY and RSSD management that the insanity is well worth it. Its hard to hope for the worst, but how could you expect things to change if the status quo works for them?

I really wish the best for the employees at RSSD, but I can't bring myself to wish for the current project to do well once it hits the market. They won't see any money from it, and it won't guarantee them any job security.

Code Monkey
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No. We want people to play our game. Forget about the money and any possible job security for a second. We made a great game, and we just want people to play it and see that.

Tomasz Mazurek
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Are we really such a pathetic industry of pussies and man children that we can't even stand up for ourselves? Why is it that such letters are written by wives and spouses and not by the employees? I understand this is a labor of love for some, but for fuck's sake - 12 hours a day, including weekends without any promise of a fat bonus and you still have to wait for your wives to act? Don't you guys have a life that would be worth fighting for? Don't you have any games to play, kids to raise or sexual needs to satisfy with you brave wives?



Now, John Marston and others, you say that nothing can be changed, this is gamedev, the ship date has been set and you have to meet it. Let me surprise you - the company has to, you don't. If the job is killing you and the management is treating you like disposable suckers (and apparently they are) just quit, preferably en masse. Or stop working (this is called a strike btw.). This will probably delay or destroy the project, possibly even the studio. But why should you care if the studio did not care about destroying your life?



I know you think you are making the best game in the world, but let me tell you something - most probably you are not. And even if you are, just remember that although your company is Rockstar, you are not. You are not getting any fame from the success, nobody is going to recognize you on the street or ask for an autograph. Try to disconnect emotions from the product and think about it as if you were making an accounting application. Would you work 12 hours a day for several months to deliver "the best accounting application in the world"?



If we want this ridiculous project management practices to end we have to act ourselves and we have to act hard. Unless several projects will fall in the last months of production due to employees refusing to crunch, the management is going to treat extensive crunches as an acceptable solution to cost and time cutting. Period.

Reid Kimball
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Anytime I see a story like this my heart goes out to the folks working there. Tomasz Mazurek is right. Employees need to start standing up for themselves. The media doesn't seem to be interested in taking up the fight like they did with EA Spouse. At some point the employees need to stand up for themselves. I put my thoughts into longer blog article I hope others find helpful:



http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ReidKimball/20100110/4072/Employee
s_of_Rockstar_San_Diego_Not_Getting_Star_Treatment.php



Sorry I don't know how to create links (a href doesn't work), but you can also find the article by clicking on my name above my profile pic.

Derek Smart
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@ Simon Charles



"Gamasutra has a generally quite strictly enforced site rule that users must use their real names when posting, to increase transparency and stop trolling and pointlessly negative posts.



We are not currently enforcing that rule in _this_ thread because we understand there may be some important viewpoints that could not otherwise be discussed. The only excuse for not using one's real name here is that you are directly related to the situation at hand. (The posts I removed were written by a pseudonymous user and specifically mentioning individuals.)



I can't comment on the legal issue - we have never previously been asked for IP addresses of posters and our legal department is not at work right now. If you're worried about that possibility, don't post."



Actually in _this_ thread, the anon posters are protected by the whistleblower laws here in the US. So it is highly unlikely that any legal action to provide email addresses of anon posters would succeed.



None of this matters now anyway, since - given the dismal TT financials - they're going to close R* SD anyway.



I fail to see why you folks just don't go over everyone's heads and complain directly to TT honchos instead of calling them inept. Strauss is a pretty accessible and decent guy who gets things done. Go DIRECTLY TO HIM and BYPASS everyone else.

raigan burns
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I have to agree with previous comments on the ridiculously obfuscated and overwrought tone/style of this message.. if the writer isn't actually mentally deranged then they're at least terrible at writing and trying to sound smart or something.



It's difficult at times to comprehend what they're trying to say; it seems like it could have been machine-translated to another language and back! I'm reminded of that clip of the beauty-pageant person saying 'such as' twice in every sentence.

raigan burns
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Actually it's pretty funny on second reading, as a sort of masterwork of completely failing to communicate effectively -- even from the very start it's a struggle to comprehend: "To whomever it may concern".. what?!

Rey Samonte
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For those who want to knitpick about the grammar or writing style of the original post, that in no way should be used to negate the original intent. Whether you can comprehend it or not, the problem is real.

King in Yellow
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The answer to your problems is simple. You have ALL the power. Get together as a studio, minus all management, and agree to stop working until the Studio heads agree to your demands. STOP WORKING ALL AT THE SAME TIME and the will listen to you, they will have no choice. What are they going to do ? Fire you all? They cant replace you and ship, their schedule will be totally screwed, they will have to settle on your demands, as long as they are reasonable. Dont need IGDA, dont need a union, make a collective bargain.

Brian Meidell
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I wish I could not understand why these people are not all quitting, but I do.

I used to work in a AAA crunch mill as well (though it doesn't sound quite as bad as R* SD), and quit after a fraction of these things happened to me.



I put up with it for a year or two longer than I should have for these simple reasons:

- The colleagues were fantastic, and we were all in the same boat

- I kept thinking things would get better



But mark my words: They don't get better - bad management is a one-way street.



When the people in power are completely senseless with regards to human values and their ideal is a sweatshop, you are screwed. They will not realize that they are everything that's wrong with the company and fire themselves. They will spread like a cancer, metastasize and kill the company by driving out all the people who used to be the reason for it's success, and replacing them with unexperienced people who will burn through cash as they're learning, until the studio closes.



There are two options:

1) The unlikely one: If there is a higher instance of power within Rockstar that doesn't seem to have turned reptilian yet, make a very strong appeal for them to completely purge the SD branch of it's current management and start over. Hope the receivers fully understand the scope of the problem - driving this point home will probably need very large percentage of their most valued employees to sign a letter of intention that they will quit, if the current management is not completely purged, and the problem acknowledged.

2) Leave! It's surprisingly simple, and once you're out of the reality distortion field, you will realize that you were crazy to not have done it a long, long time ago.



I very much recommend option 2. Why are you letting these idiots rob you of your freedom and health? Quit today! No job on earth is worth being treated like that.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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you guys who say "Just leave" keep forgetting that the economy sucks and the job market (especially in San Diego) is dismal. Those people with a family have few options (if any), so leaving just isn't possible.



@Brian - Appealling to the higher ups would do little, as it's the management in New York who spearheaded this change. The San Diego management a year ago was quite capable of maintaining a happy studio while also getting things done.

King in Yellow
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Do you realize how royally fucked they would be if you all quit at the same time? End of the studio.

Dan Koscinsky
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Sad to hear such news again from Rockstar who's treating their employees like slaves... While they spoil themselves or granting bonuses to other people having positions in marketing, I know some crazy stories in UK or France :

More than 1 year ago during the new restructuration of Take2, in the french office they raised the salaries of the product manager and PR manager respectively +25% and +50% to betray the Marketing Director who had health problems.

The guys were promoted after he left !

As Brian M. said : 'No job on earth is worth being treated like that.'

Tom Plunket
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It's up to the individual to take care of oneself. The company won't do it for you. The job market isn't so bad that good people can't find jobs, but a group action (e.g. a strike) may in fact help the situation.



To those who are doing this, you are making the choice that your job is more important than your family and your life. This is a choice that is made every time one goes to work, especially to conditions like this.



I've been through enough bad myself, I've shipped some good games and some not-good games. Certainly it's easier to justify crunch after the fact if the game achieves some critical acclaim, but is it truly more important than your family and your health?

Tom Plunket
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Regarding "just leave," if you're working these sorts of hours and not being compensated so that you could just leave, you're being sadly underpaid. Another option is to start working 40 (or 50?) hour weeks. I can't imagine that the California Department of Labor would find in favor of the company at your unemployment hearing if you were to be fired for a refusal to work those hours.

Jeff Murray
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All the best to all those employees involved and to their families. It's a sad story and a sad fact that the game industry has gotten all too used to treating people like this.

Jason Webb
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I've a lot of friends in the games biz and know a few at Rockstar SD and it's sad to say that not only is this all true but very common in most other studios nationwide. Sadly, it's not limited to just the games industry but is prevalent within other creative industries that require the same skill sets such as toy design and film (especially for artists).



Many say, "just leave". Well few and actually do that when they have to keep a roof over their head and have a family to feed. Even if everyone just up and walks out it doesn’t solve the problem. This kind of treatment will continue in creative industries such as games until legal action is taken.

Beff Junker
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It's too bad that this kind of thing happens - it's criminal, really - but it's not unusual. Disney Interactive in Salt Lake does the same thing - basically burns their people to a stub and gives them the attitude that "We know you can't go anywhere else so we're going to do what we want, treat you how we want, and you can just suck it up - or go someplace else." A lot of the artists are kind of tied to the area - so they want to stay IN the area - and managers at Avalanche (Disney) use that to their advantage. We've been on 14-hour mandatory 6-days for months now with no end in sight. Crunch time for us tends to run not weeks but months at a time - and each milestone will inevitably bring at least a few weeks of crunch if for nothing else than management wanting to see how much more "blood" they can get from the proverbial "stone." It's a never-ending stream of compressed deadlines and thinly veiled threats.



The games industry in general suffers from *horrific* management - or lack thereof. Nepotism defines who gets critical positions more often than not - not qualifications or experience. It's not what you know, what skills you have, or what qualifications you have, it's who you know, who's ass you kiss, and who's your drinking/pot smoking/mountain biking/partying buddy. There is no accountability at the management level. Managers will do things like cancel all pending vacations due to a crunch, and then take off for a 6-week European drunk-fest. They will tell the employees that "things are tight" this year, and that bonuses will be canceled - and then run off to Vegas for a 3-day $70K party on the company with their "buds" - and then pay out full bonuses to management staff. You'll get a manager that *loves* hiring interns because he knows he can get crazy hours out of them and pay them squat just by dangling a "job" in front of them - while at the same time using those interns as a "whip" to get more performance out of full-time employees who's job he might give to those interns if they don't put out enough. Sound crazy? These are all "real world" examples.



Will it ever change? I don't know. As long as people put up with it, probably not - at least not in those companies that are rotten on the inside. The good news is that the games development world is constantly evolving and opportunities are being made every day. Small developers can go for niche ideas that major developers wouldn't risk investing in. Game engines like Unity3D and Torque allow small developers to do their thing without depending on a huge budget. When I started in games (10+ years ago) small shops were more common, and I think that they're going to see a resurgence - which is good for those of us who are tired of being exploited. Take a cue from the guys at Runic Games (former Flagship Studios employees) and make your own future....

raigan burns
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"For those who want to knitpick about the grammar or writing style of the original post, that in no way should be used to negate the original intent. Whether you can comprehend it or not, the problem is real. "



I think that characterizing the posts that are critical of the writing style as being "nitpick"-y -- please note the spelling ;p -- is a vast understatement.



"Incoherent", "barely understandable", and "obfuscated" are terms I'd use to describe the article, which is possibly the most poorly-written thing I've ever read the entirety of!



Obviously the actual issues being raised -- or at least, the issues one can after some effort, rereading, and leaps of faith/logic might infer are trying to be raised -- are important. But if anything that only serves to make the total communication FAIL on the part of the author all the more important/tragic.

Jaded Rockstar
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In reply to the people who suggest everyone just leave, a lot of people already have left. The turnover in that place is terrible. Most of the central tech/engine team has left over the past couple of years, due to the terrible management on that team, only to be replaced with more junior people. Of the people left, most have family to support, are stuck working there because they are foreign nationals without green cards or a lot of them have been working on the RDR2 game for so long now that they just want to see it to the end.



Also the core of the RDR2 team have been working together on that game (or previously cancelled games) for over 7 years, and have not yet shipped anything. There are people there who have been working on it since school and do not have their name on anything yet.



Most of the people left in power in Rockstar have NEVER produced any game EVER. They only got in power because they have been working on RDR2 for such a long time. And since they cancelled Midnight Club, there are no other projects in the studio. They have no experience and are making a complete mess of it.



Yet somehow they feel they know how to make a game better than other people under them who have produced countless games. If you express an opinion not in line with what they think, you’re soon shot down, or worse.



The only games San Diego ever made that produced a profit, were the Midnight Club games, so what happened when Midnight Club LA was completed? They fired the management and reassigned the remaining workers to menial tasks.



During my time at Rockstar San Diego, I have been consistently lied to by management and had to work insane hours, even if there really was nothing important that actually needed doing. The central tech/engine team management was of the mindset that it was more important to have as many people in the office at all times (including nights and weekends), just in case something came up, than it was to have happy and productive workers.



I have spent time working at the other Rockstar studios and although they all have their issues, as do all game studios, I’ve never encountered conditions as bad as they are here in San Diego. A lot of people point the blame at the New York head office, but I’m not sure. The powers at San Diego often blame things on New York, or say New York is making them do this or that, but having talked to people at New York and the other studios, I know we are often being lied to. The New York office mostly seems to only be guilty of being unaware of what is really going on under them.

Garrett Fern
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Guess this explains why I haven't seen my friend at R*SD online in around a year. Glad I didn't take him up on his offer to bring me in.



That being said, R* actually seemed like a very intelligently run company prior to his disappearance. I guess they just fell off plan and panicked?

Christoper Spencer
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Having done this along time ago, and finally got out. There is no easy solutions! You have to walk in the workers shoes!



On one Job I put in 90 hours a week for 6 weeks and since I was exempt I got nothing buy my 50 hour a week pay check. It was easy for everyone to say Just quit, but if you need steady income You just can't, "Just Quit"! You have to start looking for another job, and that is hard putting in Sun Up to Midnight hours 7 days a week! You are so exhausted that it is difficult to have the enthusiasm you need to show a potential employer! On top of that I was asking to be interviewed after 9 and 11pm. Doing Job interviews after working 8am to 11pm is quite difficult. Having to change, shake off the days horrible work conditions and look fresh and new is difficult even on the best of times! Many Job offers came and went, and finally I had to settle for a job that paid $15,000.00 less a year and no bonuses!



I gave my 2 weeks notice, while still putting in 90 hours a week, and on the last day, I had no one to give my Keys too...So I just locked the door, tossed the keys in, and shut the door. I took one week off, after 6 weeks of hell, (I needed more time off) and went to another 50 hour a week job.



Simply put I needed the income and took the abuse. It cost me my health, my mental health, and almost cost me my marriage. 3 months later they shut down completely, so I was glad I left with another job in hand came along, even though it cost me money, and was a step down, I took it!



I couldn't quit. I had a living expense that was set to the income I was getting for the last 3 years and it took time to adjust that so I could accommodate the lower income.



I don't know how RSSD is set up but I assume that most of the people will not get bonuses...the true workers, that is. Also with no re-hiring of basic essentials, that is a tell tell sign that this site will be shut down, soon after release.



I know it is hard, but I hope they are looking for jobs at that horrible end of the day, ungodly hours.



To be honest...buying the Game to support the workers will not work. All you will be doing is sending RS a sign that they were right along in their treatment of their workers. I know this is the dev's baby and they want to see it flourish and grow in the wild, but it will no way line the real workers pockets.



This internal industry is cannibalistic and will feed on itself to the gain of a select few and the detriment of the true many, even at the cost of those many, because only a select few matter, will those select few think they matter, when it truth it should be the many they walk on that should be foremost in their minds.



RS runs their internal business just like the Big Banks and other Giant companies. Only the top make disgusting amounts of money that they blow on jets, homes, and cars, strip clubs, and other excesses that are not necessary.



At the end of the dev cycle and the game is in the wild, either the uppers will eat too much of the pie and have to shut down the studio, which this looks like will actually happen, or ppl will continue to take the high amount of abuse, low amount of pay and suffer greatly in the long run.



There is no simple solution here for the workers and I truly understand your plight. I hate to say this, but I hope the game fails in the wild. I don't want to line the pockets of the gluttonous top monsters with big bonuses and more stock options, while the workers pack their living space of 3 or more years into tiny little boxes, and get patted on the box by fat cats saying this is your baby and we couldn't have done it without you. Don't buy the lie. You had a baby with a very difficult birthing process alright, but the Uppers took it the minute it was born and are prostituting it now for their own gain and you get nothing!



My recommendation to the consumer. Buy the game only second hand, that way NONE of the money goes to the Upper echelon. Buy only have credits have been issued to retailers so they can take Huge discounts on the game at bring it down to $19.99 or less. Remember buying it at $59.99 will only line the pockets of those in management who have bonuses or stock options tied to the full retail price of the game, paying full price will not help any of the in-house workers at all, they usually get NOTHING!



I am SOOOOOOO sorry for this, but it has been going on for a while now. Do the best you can, get out if you can as soon as you can, and take some time off to repair your psychological damage and your family damage if you can.



It almost cost me my marriage, and I will never be in that position again if I can help it, so I am out of that line or work for good. I miss it on a certain level, but will never miss the massive amount of abuse I went through.



Good Luck To all of You...hang on if you can!

C.

Sebastian Cardoso
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Just a short note to wish the guys at Rockstar SD and their families all the best. I hope this initiative helps and things take a turn for the better soon enough.

Derek Smart
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Erin (of EA Spouse fame) just repeated what I said, only a lawsuit will make any difference



""Speaking as an individual (not for the IGDA!), I do not think that anything short of a lawsuit can fix these companies," she continued. "The fundamental problem with large companies is that there are too many jumps from the guys calling the shots to the men and women actually engaged in development. The only thing that gets their attention is a multimillion dollar lawsuit. They simply have no other incentive to change. Some Rockstar employees have said that they received threatening letters from Rockstar's lawyers when they complained about working conditions internally, and if that's the case, it's even more important for them to know their legal rights."



Excerpted from Escapist coverage:



http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/97391-Rockstar-Wives-Co
mplain-About-Working-Conditions

will's mom
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From a spouse of a RSSD employee: Hang in there guys, you are almost done! The game looks incredible and you should be VERY proud of yourselves.Take a deep breath, learn from this experience and get the job done! To our potential consumers: DO NOT BOYCOTT THIS GAME! If you do, all their hard work would have been for nothing. Support your fellow artists and buy their game. Thank you.

Erin Hoffman
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Folks, I'd appreciate any help getting this message to the Rockstar Wives or any affected Rockstar developer:



If you have been reclassified -- meaning you were previously getting overtime from Rockstar and had your position altered so that you no longer did -- as mentioned in the OP, please drop me a line.



Further, if you are a programmer in a non-lead position at Rockstar and do not receive overtime, please drop me a line.



If you know anyone in either of these circumstances, I'd really like to hear about it.



I can be reached at erin at gamewatch.org. I will of course keep your identity and any communications confidential.

Steffen Itterheim
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@CodeMonkey:



"I think this collective realization has put the pressure on all of us, management included, that we really need to nail this thing and get it out on shelves on time."



Ok, you have a great game (so you say) - but why "on time"? What is it about the "on time" thing that makes you and all others work 6 days a week for 12 hours? Because someone "from above" who has been causing a lot of rework and wasted work already has set that fixed deadline? Does that make sense to you?



I can't shake the feeling that you're only being "defensive" (by describing the game with plenty of positive attitudes and reasoning about why you continue to do the job, love the studio, the game, the team, yada, yada). I think that you and your teammates have already invested so much and now - finally - it seems like it's going to be a great game!



It may be ... and i really wish for you that this is the case ... but don't fall prey to "developer's blindness" just because you've already invested so much in it and you have this "we're in this together" feeling - basically all of yourself and your better half plus everyone else apparently doing the same beyond what can be considered reasonable. I think you should take a step back, look around, assess the situation and consider this: how much longer is the game going to take if you were to work 5 days a week at 8 hours per day? How much extra is it going to cost the company?



Consider the cost of wasted work and error rate of overworked employees. You're at least 40% less effective as a team with the working conditions you have now.



Oh, and by the way: are you being paid for the overtime? I guess not ... which means: you're being exploited. No more, no less. The product becomes almost irrelevant at this point. Is it good enough for anyone wanting to kill himself/herself over it? No.





"I just would like to see things improve for all of us, including our management."



Not going to happen. Not now, not ever. Don't count on it, don't expect it, don't even hope for change.



Granted, that won't stop you from clinging onto every tiny bit of change. I know the general feeling and the loyalty that it can bring with it even though i can't relate to your particular situation. But i get the feeling that it's a bitter case of "don't bite the hand that feeds you". Consider it ... not once, not twice, not thrice ... consider it once for each individual working on the project.



The problem here really is: is anyone in the team willing to step forward and say: whatever we've been working on for so long, so hard which is finally coming together quite nicely - let's just throw it away and call it off. It's not worth the sacrifice.



That person would be looked upon as an outcast. How could he ever think that? And quit now? Yes, the conditions aren't the best BUT the game is almost finished and looking really cool now ...



There's a very strong reinforcement / influence cycle going on in situations and teams like these. Which is why, after all, the spouses are the ones crying out for help in favor of their beloved ones! That should tell (all of us) something!

Steffen Itterheim
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@will's mom:



"To our potential consumers: DO NOT BOYCOTT THIS GAME! If you do, all their hard work would have been for nothing."



Why should the team members care how successful the game will be? Selling the game is not a matter of pride but one of business.



success: studio gets greenlight to develop the sequel under the same conditions

neither success nor failure: studio gets downsized but can work on some other project under the same conditions

failure: team gets downsized dramatically or even studio closed, almost everyone sad



Am i seeing this too negative?



Needless to say, any of these options can happen regardless of the degree of success.



Btw, your comment perfectly underlined what i said above about "throwing it all away" ... no one wants that but at the same time is it really worth it? I mean: really, really worth it all?





@Beff Junker: good post! Signed and agreed.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Ismini Boinodiris
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Wow. I hope the employees at Rockstar San Diego are properly addressed for their grievances. No doubt this article will create great pause to future potential candidates who are thinking about working there.

Judy Tyrer
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I disagree that nothing changes. Tom DeMarco writes "A job that is not worth putting on the line is a job that is not worth having." I love that line. I've used it several times in my life when I had to take a stand and knew it would risk my job. Once I was fired for the stand I took. But every other time I saw change. It wasn't always a dramatic change. But it was an improvement. And enough small improvements over time can result in one huge improvement over the course of years.



I also disagree that the IGDA is powerless in QOL issues. We are powerless at enforcing QOL on the industry. That is true. But not all change comes through force. Sometimes it comes through education. Sometimes it comes through research. Sometimes it comes through writing. Those are areas which we are actively working on.



One third of the developers in the recent survey indicated they are for labor unions. One third was against. And one third was undecided. Unions do have the power to enfroce QOL issues on the industry if the industry chooses to unionize. Maybe some of the work we do will help management decide that 1/3 of the force wanting unions is 1/3 too many and they better get their act together and solve the QOL issues now. Perhaps the undecideds will learn more about how bad things are outside their own studios and decide they are in favor of unionizing. Either way, change is inevitable.



The question is do we make it happen or let it happen? It sounds like the people at R*SD are deciding to make it happen. Good luck to them. I hope they succeed.

Samantha Wikan
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I have been the wife of a video game designer for about 15 years. My husband's first game was for the Sony Playstation, in fact. He has worked for several companies in that time and I am sad to agree that this is not unusual in the industry. I remember reading the EA wives letter when it came out, nodding my head all the way through it. I identified with just about everything it said.



So, I understand very intimately what the writer is describing. Our family has experienced this through much of my husband's career. I wish like heck there was a way to change it and I wish the Rock Star wives lots of luck.



These days, I am so grateful that husband (and the family!) doesn't have to go through that kind of thing anymore. Yes, he is still in the industry. His current company was once poorly managed in the soul-sucking manner being discussed. However old management is out and new management is in! His company was bought by Nintendo and ever since, things steadily improved. The management really stands up for its employees, our benefits are stellar and morale is high. This past year was the best one ever for us. My husband comes home from the office in good spirits, he's there at dinner time, birthdays, anniversaries, family trips, etc. (That doesn't mean there aren't late nights and tension as the process goes on and deadlines loom, but there ARE down times afterward.)



I firmly believe that this is because the company has two things: a human resource department who listens to, understands and quite often anticipates the needs and concerns of the employees, and administrators who listen to and care about what human resources have to say.



(I did have to chuckle at one thing in the letter: Knowing the kinds of games that RockStar makes, I wondered why the manager dropping the F-bomb was even mentioned.)

J T
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Game Developers:



I caution you on posting details of internal affairs at your studio. I have been in this industry 20 years now and have held almost every position in a company from the bottom to the top. Here are the reasons that you should consider this advice:



1. If you bad mouth your employer in public, and your identity becomes public, not only will they fire you, but you will now have a reputation as a loose cannon that cant keep dirty laundry in house. If you ever get branded with this, NOBODY will ever hire you again. I have seen this happen on two occasions and in both cases, they never worked again in the game industry.



2. Posting complaints here about having to work 80-90 hours a week solves nothing. As posted earlier, if you are not an hourly worker, meaning you are "exempt", your employer can make you work as many hours as they wish.

If you look into your employment contract, odds are that it states those very words somewhere. If you agreed to be an "Exempt" employee, but did not negotiate some form of bonus based on master deadlines or game sales, then that is your own fault. If you think management is going to pay you $150K a year and you think your only going ot work 50 hrs a week, your dreaming. Make it worth you while. Your wife needs to understand that up front.



3. If the game your team is working on falls further and firther behind, requiring you to work more and more hours, then the game design has too much content/features for the alloted development time. On most teams, the team members tell management up front what they can deliver. If this is the situation in your case, then you may be as much to blame for falling behind as anyone else.



4. Most important. Your last game either made money, or it did not. If you are on a team who's last game did not produce a profit, you are going to have more pressure put on your when youfall behind. If you did make money last go round, and you feel that you are being treated badly, Leave! Start your own company!Then you will only have to work 120hrs a week.



5. Unions. Dont even think about it. The instant you start talking about a Union and management gets wind of it, your history and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Dont let some Union Rep, who has never written one line of code, try an convince you otherwise.



6. Cream bubbles to the top in the game industry. From my experience, either your good, or you think you are. Good game devs only stay at a company if they think they are treated well. Game Devs who think they are good, usually end up having to stay in a bad situation becasue they are not good enough to go anywhere else.



In this industry, there are always going to be personality conflicts, especially between management and Developers. Like it or not, all the Publishers are public companies, thus they are always pressured to produce profit. Shit rolls down hill. It always has, and it always will. If your team is not producing profit, management will push you until you do, or you quit. Once you produce, then you have the upper hand when it comes time to re-negotiate. If you dont, you should consider going ot work for Google.



Posting about it in public will solve nothing and may result in being tagged as a loose cannon.



JT

Joe McGinn
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I understand and agree with those who say, "Just leave" is not always practical. People have homes, families, and the job market in SD and California generally right now is terrible.



A thought experiment: what would happen if employees signed a letter to management that said, "from now until the end of this project, we the undersigned will work our asses off - for exactly 40 hours every week, no more and no less"? And then started just doing it, working M-F, eight hours a day, no more no matter what anyone said, just ignore anyone asking for more.



The funny thing is, this might be what happens:

- Mgmt goes into a blind panic. Tells everyone to ignore that message, keep working 60+ hrs a week or we're all doomed DOOMED we tells ya!

- Everyone ignores mgmt, maybe even agree as a group on hours to make the point, working say 9:30AM to 6PM with half an hour for lunch. At 6:01PM the place is empty, every day.

- Morale rises

- Mistakes decrease

- Productivity increases

- Schedule is met



I know, a crazy idea.

Andrew Schiffbauer
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@Joe McGinn



And then everyone gets fired.



:

Joe McGinn
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Maybe Andrew, maybe. It's easy for me to say I don't work there. The reality is these situations are hard as hell ... and the stress they are under doesn't exactly make clearheaded thinking and decision-making easier.

Steffen Itterheim
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@Judy:



"And enough small improvements over time can result in one huge improvement over the course of years."



Agree with that. Seen it happen. But change is slow. Given the circumstances at the San Diego studio, change could as well not happen at all because it would take longer than a decade to get to acceptable levels. If not more. If ... ever.



Some things are so broken they can't be fixed by just making a few changes now and then.

Derek Smart
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LOL @ Andrew

intheknow g
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The devs get shafted, but this is how R*SD treats guests...

http://www.techvibes.com/blog/weekly-vancouver-game-industry-news
-july-31

Direct link to pics: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?page=2&aid=130147&id=550300476

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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Not sure how many times I have to say this here, but there is no job market in San Diego right now. Unless people want to move out of the area, they are pretty much stuck.

Luis' Mom
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That's amazing they had them go back and delete the news entry from June in a few hours.



Google cache of the Rockstar SD mansion here:



http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:rYLEPeL8K-gJ:www.techvibes.co
m/blog/weekly-vancouver-game-industry-news-july-31+http://www.tec
hvibes.com/blog/weekly-vancouver-game-industry-news-july-31+site:
techvibes.com&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

Luis' Mom
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Question here: has there ever been a case of devs getting so fed up with their management pretty much everyone just gets up together, leaves, and starts their own new company with most of the same employees?

Justwanna makegames
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Rockstar NY's email response to SD employees:



Sent Monday January 11th:





Dear Rockstar San Diego







No doubt you are all aware of the comments made on Gamasutra regarding some internal dynamics at the studio and some people's dissatisfaction with the environment. We take issues related to working conditions extremely seriously and will look to address any genuine concerns immediately.







It’s been a challenging few years, and a tough last few months as the game moves towards completion, but the final product of all that incredible effort is on the verge of finally being received by the public: the stellar game that is Red Dead Redemption, a game of which you all should be justifiably proud and which you should be excited to see come to market.







We do not agree with the allegations in the Gamasutra post (e.g. there has been no reduction in health benefits or ancillary benefits and perks (such as free dinners and massages etc), wage increases across the studio have kept track with cost of living increases, and anyone who feels they have been overlooked for a bonus for a game they worked on please contact HR to discuss as soon as possible). Nevertheless, we do know that the team is working very hard right now, and we care deeply about the physical health and mental well-being of every single person on our team. We are committed to working through any issues anyone at the studio may have, and to providing support wherever possible. Please, if you have concerns, discuss them with Sarah Shafer or with Rob Spampinato who heads up HR for the whole of Rockstar and who will be on-site in the studio for the next few days (Rob is sitting in the “new york” office). If you would prefer to speak to someone in confidence outside of Rockstar, please contact Chris Casazza, who oversees HR for Take Two.







Red Dead Redemption is rightly one of the most anticipated games of 2010, and we’re incredibly proud of the entire team for the truly outstanding work that’s gone into making this remarkable game as good as it is. Here’s hoping we can give this game the reception it deserves this April.







Sincerely,



Jenn

Robert Grant Stanton Sr
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To Luis' Mom-

Every start-up consists of a core of talents who have impressed a VC/investor that they are a viable ROI.

This is how Activision and EA along with the majority of the other studios began. Among the many motivating factors behind the start of each new studio, work environment is always near the top. Promises are made and vows to do things differently loudly exclaimed. Time passes, success and growth takes place, memories fade and the cycle begins anew. With the demise of Midway, only a rare few developers have their origins in coin-op and are exceptions to this historical explanation of their beginnings. As to the rest...So it was at the beginning and so it shall be into the future. This is the video game industry folks. Choose your employers with care and here's hoping you are as fortunate as Samantha in Austin.

Steffen Itterheim
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"Question here: has there ever been a case of devs getting so fed up with their management pretty much everyone just gets up together, leaves, and starts their own new company with most of the same employees?"



No, not unless they got fired first.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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"We do not agree with the allegations in the Gamasutra post (e.g. there has been no reduction in health benefits or ancillary benefits and perks (such as free dinners and massages etc), wage increases across the studio have kept track with cost of living increases, and anyone who feels they have been overlooked for a bonus for a game they worked on please contact HR to discuss as soon as possible)."



These statements are really twisting the truth, or an outright lie.



The benefits across the board over the last 3 years have gotten worse or cost the employees more, their choice. Sure, they still have medical and dental (so they haven't technically cut back), but to get nearly the same benefits you had 3 years ago you have to pay 2-3 times the money. When coupled with the minor (or non-existent) raises, you ended up making less money. Because of this, people had to choose the lesser HRA option.

And no, free dinners and massages weren't removed, but donut fridays were scaled back to once every other week and replaced with homemade scones. Team snacks were removed, as were free sodas and gatorade.

norb rozek
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>>unsuitable behavior from a newly promoted studio manager that vulgarly speaks the F word in most sentences



Wait, there's CURSING at the studio that brought the world GRAND THEFT AUTO??? It's an outrage i tell you!!!

Brian Robbins
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The IGDA just posted our response to this situation, which you can read on our website: http://www.igda.org/igda-regarding-overtime-concerns-rockstar-san
-diego It's too long to copy/paste the entire message here, but we feel that practices such as what's described here are deceptive, exploitative and ultimately harmful to the developers, the games they create and industry as a whole.



Our Quality of Life SIG has issued an open invitation to the parties involved to help them resolve this situation and it is our sincerest hope that this situation can be resolved and the developers will be better enabled to make the best game they possibly can.

Tom Plunket
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Luis's Mom- You don't remember a bunch of people left R*SD to start Concrete Games a few years ago? Isn't their sign still up across the street?

Haroon Piracha
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Some of these comments are just ridiculous.



I thought this was about the people Rockstar employees are leaving behind at home. I don't think this lawsuit is over not having free food, sodas and gatorade, as someone said earlier... The lack of understanding of what it means to have a life outside of work is disturbing. Especially from the management of Rockstar.



It feels like having a family is a disadvantage to working at Rock Star. It's downright discriminating to those who do have family members versus those who couldn't care less.



And I don't mean to offend but I am making an observation...



There is a case here ... & I hope the women have good lawyers and I wish for more support.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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"It feels like having a family is a disadvantage to working at Rock Star"



It depends what you mean by that. The management has several times told the employees that "we're all a big family here" or something along the lines of "we're your family here"



So, having a family isn't a bad thing necessarily, as long as you are prepared for that family to be the people you work with 65+ hours a week.

Peter Young
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Guys, there's no need to get so defensive over the grammar critiques. This is a very serious issue being discussed here, and the poor grammar only serves to obfuscate the primary message. As it stands, it sounds like something a high school kid would write (superfluous and incorrect use of "advanced" vocabulary, rambling emotionalism, etc.); not exactly the kind of foundation you want to establish as a precursor to future legal action.



Beyond all that, I wish the best of luck to our friends at R*SD. Crunch times are one thing, but it sounds like their situation has gone far beyond the typical call of duty.

Moss Gropen
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I write for the San Diego Reader. If you work at Rockstar San Diego or know someone who does, please email or call me. I'm currently researching an article that will deal with the controversy that seems to be brewing there. Naturally, I will respect the wishes of anyone who would prefer to remain anonymous. (By the way -- I posted a similar message earlier today, but it seems to have disappeared. Does anyone know what became of it?)



In any event, if there are serious issues regarding working conditions at Rockstar San Diego, I intend to shed some light on them -- in a fair, impartial manner. I've been stonewalled by Rockstar management in both Carlsbad and NYC.



If you have anything to say -- here's your chance.



Moss Gropen, Esq. (858) 271-1915

Dirk Collins
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My heart also goes out to the guys and gals at Rockstar Games (and any other game studios for that matter) who have been working under such adverse conditions. I was under the impression that the gaming Industry as whole (and especially the console, pc, and mobile development sector) was moving beyond the practices that had established the early technology game design profession as a lesser alternative choice to other professions. It is discouraging to observe firsthand, that this is not so.



Outside of the gaming Industry the sorry state of the economy is even more damaged. In times of trouble, people tend to flock toward recreation as an alternative when there is simply no other solution that will immediately present itself for the problems of daily living. So the game Industry has been (at least up till now) spared from the worst effects of this economic slowdown. All the money that has been pumped into the general economy though, serves only to create an insidious inflationary spiral. We are all seeing some of the effects of this firsthand now in higher energy and medical costs. I believe this will only get much worse, before it will start getting better again. Something to keep in mind as you are all moving forward.



I understand there are those of you on R* staff that can't just quit, or walk out. Something about mortgages, car payments, college funds for the kids, things like that, make that unrealistic and improbable at best. What you can do though, is pick a better option for the next round. That is to say, choose wisely. Help them young people that are just getting into the Industry choose well too. Down the road they might be quite willing to work for you, just to make good games, and for a good quality of life.



After reading this article, and the comments, I thought at first I might have made the wrong choice. You see, at Christmas time the sole gift for my two children this year was a PS3 network station and a copy of Little Big Planet. They are quite pleased by the way, and I'm reasonably sure that you (the folks that worked on it) would happy to hear just how impressed they were with it. I had an additional selfish motive though in picking that gift, and that was Red Dead Redemption.



The dialogue you wives started here with your rejoinder was good. Making the committment to make your lives, family, and lifestyle better, is, just like the design of the best game ever, noble, and worthy. I'm onboard for that!



@Rockstar Management

Better games are worthless though, if they destroy the people, families, and bonds that help make them. Your renewed commitment to your gaming family is noted. What do you plan on doing to ensure that commitment is sustained? Inquiring buying minds want to know. I'm looking for an ROI in my investment in (You) as well.



@Rockstar Staff & Wives

Glad you are taking steps to make your lives better. You should have done this much sooner! I'll help you in any way I can provided whatever I need to do, will not harm anyone else, nor do any damage to the games Industry. Now that you have stepped up, you need to sustain that effort as well, not only for yourself, but for your extended game design family as well. Did you have something in mind? A non-profit organization for a better life, and an improved lifestyle, perhaps?



For the rest of you, IGDA doesn't need any "teeth" to enforce anything, they already did their job well by serving as a neutral meeting place for disaffected parties to work at making the game design industry a better place for everyone. Bravo, and well done!



I hope I didn't choose poorly in actually deciding to buy your games for the first time this last year.

Rockstar Employee
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I am working on the RDR2 team. We are tired and we need an extended break after the game ships.



It's very hard to imagine a bright future working under a management that we have already lost trust in. On the behalf of many, I suggest that the 2 current studio managers quit.

Dirk Collins
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@Rockstar Employee

I'm in the cold snow covered midwest at the moment. Could really use a couple of months in the Florida Keys, Or Rio... Someplace tropical and hot with a sandy beach, and some good reefs for diving. Won't happen though, at least until summer. There's a lot of kids counting on me at the moment (My own included). Some of these other kids don't have parents. At all. Some of them have parents that don't care. I'm the only thing standing between them and a really really bad decision down the road. I can't let them down.

Benjamin Marchand
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"People making a game are not a game."



Managers should stick this to their fridges.

Jacek Wesolowski
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Heh. I used to work with a manager who put a label on their door with a quote from Dante's "Divine Comedy", meaning "Abandon all hope ye who enter here". In Dante's poem, this was supposed to be the sign placed on the gate to Hell. I guess you could only top it if your label said "Arbeit macht frei".



That company had major issues, and an effort to resove them was made at some point, but the label was never removed. Some say you can change procedures, but you can never change a person.





[I guess they never played "Planescape: Torment"]

Game Developer
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Its just not on Rockstar San Diego, the London Studio had the exact same management issues when I was there and from speaking with other people that worked in the other Rockstar Studios its an overall problem.



It goes down to really bad upper management (NY guys) with too much money to spend and little idea of what a game development cycle is and no backbone on the studio managers, who understand that their employes are being abused like hell but don't have the balls to stand up against NY.

From my personal R* experience I felt most developers weren't strong enough to stand up to these issues.



We love our job but we put up with much more shit than we should. It has always surprised me how easily team members would let managers guilt trip them and make them work extra hours without giving them the finger. Why don't you quit? Or just tell them "no"? its so damn obvious you are being abused, why does it come to the wives to actually raise the issue??



If you want things to change you have to take a stand, or you actually expect the money driven producers to change a thing?

I know we love what we do and we get exploited because of that, but come one, its obvious now the amount of money they are making out of us, there is no longer any excuse. Our industry is blooming and we can make a stand and fight for our rights, just think about it.



You guys know the pipeline and are the only ones who can make the game happen. If you say no, it will stop production and it will affect the outcome. You have a LOT more power than you think, so please use it.



Once the game is out, your power will be gone so don't expect to get a "reward" after you finished the product, then they will hold all the cards. If you want to make a point and actually change the industry and the way we are respected please start now.

Rockstar Employee
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@Game Developer

I fully agree with everything you have said:

"It goes down to really bad upper management (NY guys) with too much money to spend and little idea of what a game development cycle is and no backbone on the studio managers, who understand that their employes are being abused like hell but don't have the balls to stand up against NY."

Jayna Pavlin
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all I can say is having been in those conditions before... I hope Rockstar takes a good look at the Quality of Life its giving its employees. I agree with 'we can do better' ; as tough as the job market is right now I think employees still have a lot of cards and tarnishing the reputation of the company with talent in the industry is long term bad for R*

my solidarity to R* employees and their families/wives/S.O.s

Tom Plunket
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@RS Employee

Yeah but his point is that you can't expect them to change. If you want change, you need to initiate it yourself. I suspect if 10-15 R*SD people just started leaving after a reasonable day's work and not coming in every Saturday (and certainly not seven days a week), I think they'd find that they're working more effectively in a short time and they'd no longer feel their lives are slipping away.



I've worked at a few places with these "forced" crunches (although let's face it, nobody is forcing anyone to do anything; there's an implicit threat of "or I'll be angry at you" but the employee still has free will to refuse), and working myself as hard as I reasonably could and then going home when I was tired made me /much/ more effective. I also made sure I had time to get groceries and do my laundry; I was still crunching to be sure but much more sustainably. Sure, management was pissed at me for not "being there with the team," but they couldn't reasonably fire me when I was one of the most productive people on the team (no doubt at least partly because I was rested enough to actually do the work effectively).

Ex Rocker
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@Tom Plunket

Getting a bunch of people to band together to leave won't help anything. The turnover rate at all R* studios is quite high during the development of a game. They just hire inexperienced people and continue to treat them unfairly because they do not know any better. It's not about the 'forced' crunch times, it is about their entire business practice which is unethical.



In that response from R*NY where it completely denies anything, it shows the one thing they care about which is making a lot of money from their games. They do not care about their employees only about the 'Rockstar Image' and how cool their games are, and unfortunately the quality of live for the majority of developers suffers.

Michael Croswell
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I've seen a lot of bad management in and outside the game industry. Particularly in areas of software development in general.



When things work its because of three basic things:



1) Management that rewards and respects their teams. Honesty should be rewarded regardless of the message. The ability to be honest themselves and carry the tough messages up through the chain.

2) Employees that are talented, dedicated and willing to take risk. (like it sounds you are!)

3) Owners that believe in the golden rule of business: treat others as you would be treated yourself.



@Tom Plunket - This is a very wise thing to do. You will be more efficient and if everyone does it, you will save your game. You can't change crappy management, but you can save yourselves. Just stick _together_!



My heart and total understanding go out to you and your team.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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" they couldn't reasonably fire me when I was one of the most productive people on the team"



While that may be true, that's exactly what Rockstar management has done. They have fired several people who were the most productive, respected, and/or experienced people on their teams.

michael meginley
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I hope this works out for the dev team and they get a good resolution to this mess.



It's crazy that Rockstar had the story about the guy bragging about the Rockstar SD expensive mansion removed, very shady! Since they got the website to delete all mentions and picture of the expensive corporate mansion with what looks like a Corvette out front, I have saved the text and image for posterity. Why have the webpage delete this if there is nothing to hide? The Facebook images of the "sumptuous digs" have also mysteriously disappeared. Image and text below.





"Rockstar's Stunning Corporate Accommodations

A game industry associate of mine, Martyn Brown (Founder of Team17, makers of Worms, etc), recently visited Rockstar San Diego. Very much in keeping with the R* brand, the company put Martyn up in Rockstar's corporate mansion. Martyn posted pictures of the sumptuous digs on his Facebook account (one of which appears to the right). You may need to friend him to see the whole gallery.



Does anyone know if any of our local game devs/pubs have similarily cool corporate digs? I know EA used to have a few downtown apartments. Photos please! :)"





Photo that was with the story here showing huge expensive mansion and a expensive Corvette? http://bit.ly/8aIeyS

James Hoffa
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Dear Rockstar employees - I know you are hard working, honest people most of whom probably have families, wives and children to take care of, and in light of this, you may find some what I am about to suggest you do 'difficult' or 'scary' even.



I have read the letters from the wives of the programmers who work at EA as well as a good number of the posts. Your predicament is familiar territory to many other types of workers and their plight throughout history. So what is going on at Rockstar is a deja-vu of what's been happening elsewhere since the dawn of capitalism.



Now, I do not work for Rockstar games in any capacity - so someone who is reading this is going to have to take action upon reading this or else, continue to endure the current predicament.



To cut to the chase without too much adue - the employees are faced with a choice. Here's the choices, in the order in which they empower the employees, from least (0) to most:



0) gossip about the predicament at work with other fellow employees, on bulletin boards on the net, etc.



- This form of speech/action has no power whatsoever. All it does is increase the 'stress' y'all are 'feeling' and keeps you in a vicious cycle of doing more of the same, proving to yourself how 'miserable' you/we are, in a very self-reinforcing way.



1) talk to your supervisor or someone up the management chain about alleviating some of /your/ "pain"



- This form of speech/action has some power. Here you are counting and relying on the empathy of your supervisor, who is probably in a similar position as you are, that he or she will be able to relate to your predicament and do something about it. 9 out of 10, this will not result in the desired outcome, because the boss has a few more thousand than you per year, and more to lose, yet he or she had to see things his boss's way before he was to become a boss - and that takes more skill than drawing polygons on a screen algorithmically w/a machine (trust me).



Best outcome here is - your boss empathizes with you, allows you to have a balanced work/home life, e.g. cuts you slack (juxtaposed w/the current situation/context at R* of course, elsewhere this is not called 'slack', just regular 40/hr weeks), and you, proverbially, "saved your own ass" - which is what SOME of you have already done, without regard for your fellow workers who need encouragement from you - the ones that know how to draw their boundaries - to do the same.



Worst outcome is - your boss will ignore you, or give you a lame excuse after he puts his/her company mouthpiece on as to why the situation "can not be altered". That of course, you will know right away, is a lie, but hey, "it could be worse, no?". And you're back to the vicious cycle again (see #0).



2) quit/get a job elsewhere



Now, this speech/action has more power than both 0 and 1! This is where you take a stand, make a declaration, a statement - you can "kill" me but I will not cooperate. It is more powerful than 1, because people who knew you, will notice your absence. Whether you caused #2 at will or by doing #1 incessantly (e.g. got fired), it doesn't matter - the outcome is the same - you no longer cooperate with those who mean you no good. But, there's always a 'but' somewhere, right :)? - this is of limited power, because you have no guarantee others will follow your example, e.g. you have not established a binding relationship with those around you, who are in the same predicament for whatever reason X, Y or Z.



3) pursue your company in a court of law



This guarantees that #2 will happen for you (or the collective you that put your name on the lawsuit), however, unless this involves ALL of the people affected by the predicament, it has about as much power as #2. Plus there's a record (necessarily so) of you being a 'non-team player' that someone can look up. Which brings me to the final form of non-violent resistance... #4!



4) enroll others in following your example from point #2 (not necessarily point #3, although it could be useful to do if you can get everyone on board)



Now we are talking REAL power! This beats 0, 1, 2 and 3 individually - hands down. Not only you are making a statement, but you have other people's /PROMISE/ that they will follow your example. In other words, this is called a strike, a non-violent form of collective resistance via non-cooperation. What is meant hear by "enroll others" having the courage to INVITE others to follow your example by making a promise that they will do so, by a certain, mutually agreed date and for a period of time no less than what is required to achieve your aim.



What is of importance here, is to be LISTENING for the REAL discontent in the hearts of your fellow employees, as well as the URGENCY for action, for if that is not present in their hearts and minds, you are just wasting your time and reverting to an even more insidious form of #0, which can ONLY get you in trouble, if your fellow employees aren't on board and the discontent isn't HIGH enough so that they will be motivated to follow your example of #2. Moreover, some of those that are no good at anything but #0, will fink on you, backstab/report/tell on you as soon as you walk out of their home/office - and pretty soon you will be out on your ass, except without making a statement and silently too, because you will probably be escorted out of the building or locked out and won't be able to come back in to even gather your belongings.



Now you will probably say "I know all this, Jimmy". Yep, so do 6.8 billion others. But we also know that merely KNOWING all this makes no difference in altering the predicament you are in. Ok Jimmy - you got me, so what does it take?



Here's what it takes - despite the intellect to regurgitate the above to someone in the span of 2-5 minutes (trust me, it dont take longer than that), it takes a real component that most intellectuals, especially programmers, unfortunately do not want to display - either because they believe "it could be worse" or because they are "afraid" for their job, family, even their life perhaps.



And so long as you KNOW all of the above, without ACTING it out, and risk losing your JOB, FAMILY, and perhaps even LIFE (worst outcome, unlikely in most cases, but possible - as was in my case), NONE OF IT MAKES A DAMN BIT OF DIFFERENCE, my friends.



So, which one of you is going to take a stand at Rockstar? I will certainly not carry the cross for you. Who is inspired by the divine grace and forsaken all earthly pleasures other than the pleasure of serving your fellow human beings?



Are you ready to band together, pool resources, literally share each others' lives to create a breakthrough, a paradigm shift in your company?



Come up sir/ma'am, take the stand and lead!



Yours truly,



Jimmy

James Hoffa
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To the employees of Rockstar - yours truly again, with another small contribution to you - until I hear from the wives that the status quo has shifted, I promise to abstain from purchasing ANY Rockstar games. Not that I've played a game seriously in years (my daughter provides all the entertainment I need), but even if I'm tempted I will not buy a R* game. Bet on it.



I want to address one more salient point about "leaving and forming a new company". This is akin to me leaving the good ol' US of A because I do not like X here (choose X, healthcare, education, whatever...) for another country, e.g. Canada, or New Zealand or whatever.



This is, of course, possible - but it has about as much power as 1 and 2. Why? Because of the context in which you are leaving Rockstar - a pissed off little monkey, or a small bunch of competent monkeys (e.g. codemonkeys, who write the games) who believes "I can do better than this on my own". My answer to this people is - PERHAPS you could, but not from where you're COMING from. Why? I'll say this again - because typically what happens is, other than you being a supreme legend in your own mind about the whole deal, you are bound to bounce to the OTHER extreme end of where you currently are or the other alternative, you will become just like Rockstar's management anyway.



The old french proverb holds - what you resist, persists.



So, if you are leaving inside the context of /resisting/ Rockstar - you are leaving for all the "wrong" (I hate that word, because nothing is WRONG, even that.. but it will suffice) reasons. Instead of dealing with what's so, and transforming the company from the inside by organizing, you will tuck tail and run, without successfully having matured/grown through the complexities that ALL companies/groups encounter eventually, includng those that want to seceed and form their own company.



This is why I, as your spiritual leader, implore you to get deeply and profoundly related to each other and by communicating with one another, LISTEN to each other and KNOW _for real_ whether the discontent is high enough to WARRANT ACTION, rather than just talking.



Godspeed,



Jimmy

Steffen Itterheim
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----- I recommend to everyone to watch this: -----



Better Off Ted, Season 2, Episode 6 - Beating a Dead Workforce



Veronica exploits the death of an overworked Veridian employee in order to motivate the rest of its overworked workforce to work even harder to meet an important deadline.



http://www.us.imdb.com/title/tt1554117/



You'll know what it's about from the first 10 seconds. I just hope you can still laugh about it, if not, you're in too deep and should get out. 'nuff said.

Joel Payne
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Why does this sound surprisingly familiar? Perhaps it's sadly just the way it is in game industry. This has happened to me a number of companies I've been at for many years. With all of the sympathy I can muster, my heart goes out to the families of the talented folks at Rockstar SD. But.... for a moment, can we look at this from another perspective.



These companies are not prisons. People are free to go if they wish. The reality though.. before you jump down my throat... is most of the time they can't because like most white collar professionals in this industry, we put the nooses around our own necks by getting paid well (to some extent) and blowing it on frivolous things as we march ourselves into our own financial destruction. Why? because we're all young folks in the game biz, and we get ourselves into deep debt because we buy into the notion that we ARE "rockstars" and we deserve a certain level of treatment and respect and ...salary.



Well.. I've worked at a number of companies over the last 20 years and it's always that same deal. You have a bunch of over worked talents that are creatively gimped at work because of the constant redirection (rather lack of direction) a project takes at work while secretly, at home, they build there own projects as a creative outlet from the frustrations they have at work or they lose there wives because they're so burnt from overwork that they become useless to the families they go home to. Carefully consider, that if these talented individuals would work themselves out of debt and get a little F.U. money in the bank, there wouldn't be much of an issue here.



yeah yeah... before you start in.... I know that these talents are passionate about the projects they have slaved over and sacrifices for... none of us want to see hard work become an unreleased burial... however, those that are within the view of this email, I encourage you to start thinking about yourselves a bit. Ask yourself, if the pain is worth the payoff. Chuck Jones once told me the entertainment industry is 90% pain and suffering and 10% pleasure, just make sure it's the pleasure that shows in your work and you'll do fine. So is it? is that 10% coming through? is your sanity worth that 10%? If so, push that bad boy through, finish that project and feel proud that you bit the bullet and please... stop complaining because I knew a few hundred people that would kill to work in the game industry and do what we do. I also know a few hundred thousand talented people in India whose yearly income is 7K and year and they're just as talented as us Americans and less cynical.



Personally, if it was me, I'd rather be a buss boy at some unknown restaurant then lose the attention of my family ever again for a game company. Companies come and go, but you family remains. I sincerely hope I didn't offend anyone by what I wrote. There are a number of really amazing game companies that I would be honored to work for, they get it and that's where the best talent flock to, but at the end of the day, we make our lives what it is... we are not prisoners.

NICK LAING
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I have empathy for those going through this rough time.

Take this experience, learn from it and fight against it when you see the familiar signs of its resurgence.

If you love your game, your work, your colleagues and your studio, use that love to fuel your passion for making things right.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen easily, in fact, it takes a lot of time and great amount of effort to change a culture, not to mention the exertion of effort in being vigilant that the culture stays good and develops with the growth of a company. This is the responsibility of everyone not just management.

But this can be done, and the rewards are without parallel, when the chemistry of leadership, vision, management and execution is in perfect balance – a development team can do almost anything. It may be a fleeting moment and on fulcrum that is difficult to stabilize - but hey, I did mention that it takes constant, vigilant effort didn’t I?

Work together, be clear about your perception of your treatment as well as your understanding of the standards by which you should be treated. Make this clear with ALL management (hopefully *through* some management), “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” – these talks are about business, not emotions, and finally, stay the course: Maintenance is everything.

It would be great if work was only code, but we work in groups and groups require a certain amount of effort to establish and support.

Fight the good fight.

Steffen Itterheim
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@Joel:

"You have a bunch of over worked talents that are creatively gimped at work because of the constant redirection (rather lack of direction) a project takes at work while secretly, at home, they build there own projects as a creative outlet from the frustrations they have at work or they lose there wives because they're so burnt from overwork that they become useless to the families they go home to."



So very true. I wonder how the titles would sound if you put them your way. Eg "Creative Redirector" or "Art Redirector" or "Technical Redirector". I like that idea! :D





To add one more thing to this discussion: i tried to remember what my worst crunch was, at least in terms of time spent. I've experienced two very hard crunches. The first was my first project (of course). I put in maybe 10 weeks or so with 6 days a week and about 10 hours per day. I've had regular 60 hour weeks. The game? Armorines: Project SWARM for the Gameboy Color. Anyone remember that? No? That's ok. Because, really, after 10 years the chances that the game you worked your ass off for is being remembered is around 1%. And even in that case, what do you have to show for? Oh yeah, i worked on that title. Gee, really? You know: it does not matter!



Now you'd have to consider some more things: did that project open you doors to a better future? Probably not. Did it earn you a big bonus? Very unlikely. Royalties even? Hell no.



So consider what you sign up for is to do a job. If you think it makes you rich or famous, think again. But usually our loyalty to the game we're creating is killing us even though it is rarely justified.



However, i have one positive aspect coming out of it: since we've been a great team 10 years ago and had a lot of fun while spending time, sometimes even nights to finish that game i still remember it fondly. Just know that: personally, i didn't feel pressured to put in all that effort and time. I did it because i really, really wanted to. Because i was passionate (first game, remember?).



After the game was released we were in a limbo for 3 months. Completely underworked. It was among the most painful time in my work life. For days on end i rearranged the words in the design document i was writing. Boring. But: it turned out to be a good thing because for one, this is the only title i've ever been credited as Game Designer (whoop-dee-duu!) and working on that project was a snatch. Not much overtime, it just flowed. And it's still the title i'm most proud of: Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX for the Gameboy Color.



PS: i put this on my blog: http://www.gaminghorror.net/steffenj/my-worst-crunch/

s gv
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While I can certainly feel for those described in the letter (I typically have to work 70+ hr weeks), the letter itself is HORRIBLY written.



It is trying so hard to sound impressive and erudite that it reads like some freshman in high school got a hold of a thesaurus and went to town.



I really want to have sympathy, but when they use so many trite phrases and "big words" in such completely awkward ways, it totally undermines the message.



Did not one of those wives/? ever learn how to write a decently-formed letter? I really hate to say it, but it makes them all seem like simpletons who should be patted on the head and tsk'd at for not knowing how the real working world operates instead of having valid complaints that should be addressed.



It's like they all read and thought, "Yeah, all our big words will show them what stupidheads they are being."



EDIT: After re-reading the letter, my impression literally is that a ESL person wrote it (having read many such letters).



The phrasing and conjugation is just . . . off in SO many places, I can hardly get through what I honestly think is a real problem.



It literally makes me sad someone didn't spend more time with them to put something more respectable out.



As someone who regularly is proofreading, editing, and sometimes even having to create SEC disclosures - it is very evident when someone is just trying to sound impressive and when they can actually put together a technically complex and coherent sentence. This letter is unfortunately the former.

dan fouts
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I work in a completely unrelated industry. But a lot of the same things go on there too. We are expendable and they damn well know it. We are told "well that's just the way it is. If you don't like it, there's the door".



What they are doing is NOT breaking the law. If may well be immoral or unethical, but it's not criminal and they know it. Which is why they continue to do it.



My advice for what its worth: find some way to deal with it or find another job. Plain and simple.



I realize that many have families, mortgages, children, bills and the list goes on. They don't care. They know that they have covered their collective asses and could simply boot you to the curb. And in this economy, all of you are very "replaceable". I wish the best to all of you.

Roger Boerdijk
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I worked for a company in a similar situation. We had crunch time for over a year, the last 1/2 a year was even worse. We had many issues with 'feature creep', when specifically saying we would not be able to keep to our schedule - requesting for things to scrapped - instead, more features were added -



One particularly annoying way of doing that, was to sign contracts promising features to external companies, without even asking for feedback from the technical department - wondering later why schedules couldn't be kept.



In the end we released the product (with blood, sweat and tears from the sides of the employees), but the company went into bankruptcy close thereafter.



So I understand what situation you are in, I know how much you love your jobs & don't want to leave your collegues. I wish you all the best! In our situation, after bankruptcy, almost all people found new jobs - and for many the situation actually improved.

Richard Aplin
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I spent 18 years as a games programmer (1984-2002ish) on many platforms and titles.



In the "good ol' days" stuff had one programmer, took under 6 months, with a part-time artist and musician. I worked much the same 12-16 hour / 6 day weeks as people nowadays, but with much shorter projects, and being the lone programmer made personality+style clashes unlikely and catastrophic errors less easily missed. That was nice, and fun, and totally gone nowadays (apart from mobile)



The console games industry has always been a place for (mostly) really intense young men to work _extremely_ hard on 'loosely organized' and only occasionally commercial successful products; it's the most hardcore geek boot-camp there is, in terms of the hours and the technology complexity and the pain of testing etc. It sucks 'em in and spits em out.



Looking at the increasing staffing, budgetary and technical needs of games (and low hit rate), it seemed logical to me that working conditions were only going to continue to get worse; so I bailed years ago and found other software-related things to do with my time.



If you've managed to cut it for a few years in the games industry you'll be a ninja by normal people's standards; it's not that hard to transition to other tech jobs.



...real life is cake compared to making games. Try it, the hours are great.

Bitter PartyOfMany
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Outside of rockstar making the "Eye of Sauron" wallpaper (i guess that is their idea of an official statement or reaction), there is little being said in the studio. It's work, work, work as usual.



The only real difference is that now there is more paranoia and tension than ever.

Adam Gillespie
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My 2 cents-



Ive seen this situation myself (just like the other 99.9% of the game devs reading this) and know all too well what its like to crunch hard or be in a shitty situation. I have my crunch badge and watched as myself and the entire 3d dept get laid off due to "economic difficulties" after a year of crunching till the am's together. I read every single post in here. Most make alot of sense.



The guy who said he stayed unnecessarily long due to his homeys at the job, he's right. I did the same thing, and I dont regret it even one bit, the job sucked, the direction was highly questionable and the pay was blown on rent and utilities before I even got it, but I STILL hang with and work with those guys, years later and freelancing company after company. The guy who said its balls and you should just up and quit...hes right too. And all of you who say you cant because you have families to work for, countered by the guy who says its not worth it if you cant spend time with them...look, you are all right.



Every situation is different and you can either point a finger in every direction or just one. I can come up here and preach like I know better but the truth is I dont work there. You have to guage the situation for yourselves and decide what is best for you. "Sticking it to the company" wont get you anywhere. "Just quit"ting leaves you jobless, and sticking it out, well, it sucks and leaves you where you began before this whole thread even started minus that now everyone is on edge at work.



So what is right for you? If you dig on your job but obviously *something* needs to change, talk about it to HR or someone above you. If its the guy above you that blows, prove it. Alot of times people can seem like assholes but they generally dont get to where they are without having earned it (although failing upwards DOES happen). If you are truly unhappy, work your day, spend time with the fam, sacrifice a bit oh sleep or lunch time checking job boards and updating the old portfolio and sending out resumes and MAKE it happen. Do it on your own terms. Bitching about it gets you nowhere. Action gets you somewhere.



All that said: I do have to say I feel for you guys. It blows when you see your boys and girls coming in red eyed and de-spirited. I know your wives mean well and I certainly hope their actions are not fruit-less but in reality its up to you all as to what happens. If you wanna keep the dream alive, then make it positive. Crunch those last 3 months and make it awesome. Then, listen to everyone. Take a break. Just make sure whatever you do its something you look back on and proud you did.



If its any consolation all the people reading this know who the "real" rockstars are. (hokey but true :))



AJ

Joe Duffy
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Quality of Life impacts can be huge on a company's output. It’s been proven. Saw this article today of top 15 companies that practice this -



http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/108625/best-companie
s-to-work-for?mod=career-worklife_balance



Granted, we're talking about two entirely different areas of the software industry but read about SAS's approach. The quote that says it all about why this needs to be done -



"My chief assets drive out the gate every day," Goodnight likes to say. "My job is to make sure they come back."

Bitter PartyOfMany
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"wage increases across the studio have kept track with cost of living increases"



By the way, this is an outright lie as well.

Every year, my review has been good or better.



I was given a 4.3% pay increase in 2005.



Since then, I have recieved less and less each year (again, while health care prices have sky-rocketed). The SUM TOTAL of all increases between 2005 and 2009 is 4.8%, average of 1.2% per year. These increases barely covered the health care increases. Again, these were with *GOOD REVIEWS*, and I was told I was lucky because other people would be getting nothing.



I wish they would stop lying to their employees.

anon anon
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at least your guys are getting paid, we had to go most of last year without getting paid month to month, sometimes not at all for 2 months in a row, fired a lot of staff gave them minimum redundancy, and actually said at a conference "redundancies help morale". being lied to the day before payday for 8 months really wasn't fun.



it's not RockStar it's a Northeast studio (UK).



I think the whole industry is in the sh*t at the minute and managers have taken to lying/bending the truth to try and keep up.



working 9am-late and build crunch 9am- whenever - sleep under your desk if you have too get it done.



The projects should be properly structured, thought out as a workable schedule rather than the money men and middle managers that have no F*CKIN clue how to make anything ingame or timescales, low balling the figures to clinch the deal....it's greed mainly that drives these people.



Simple rule, don't work for anyone who makes physical discs, or works solely with publishers they only have roughly 20 customers (as publishers) worldwide to sell too. activision, namco etc, so basically if the big publishers don't like the price they can basically say FU, so then they have to go back strip down the teams and put in shitty deadlines, and piss the staff off by making them work ridiculous hours to reduce the price.



Only work for studios who embrace digital distribution, not physical sales, this will be the norm within the next few years, there are studios out there solely doing this right now selling direct not using the big publishers as distribution channels to sell their product. This will get better with Xbox 360, Onlive PS3 etc



Studios that work this way still have deadlines but realistic ones they set themselves, this is the future, no publishers just independents and great games that people will buy direct from the people who make them.



And of course happy glowing and radiant staff :)

Ken Zarifes
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While the complaints raised by the original article are valid. Someone should proffread the text before it goes out to the public.



You can't be taken too seriously with the grammatical errors that permeate the missive.



BTW, "reigns" don't snap, "reins" do. :)

John Nagle
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As an ex-employee of Acclaim "back in the day", and now an ex-game developer (I co-own a non-game software company now, with another ex-game developer), I can tell you the experience these ladies are writing about struck a very familiar chord with me.



Working on All-Star Baseball '99 for the N64 (yes, I'm old, dammit) the last 6 months of the project were 7 days a week OT, and averaged 14-16 hours each day. Asking for time off was a no-no. Leaving at midnight earned you the "guilt trip" the ladies mentioned (even if you started at 8am as I did, due to my wife's work and college schedule.) There were zero days off during this time. The only reprieve we had was we could leave at 6pm on Friday, but we had to be back by 10am Saturday.



During this time, one artist and extremely nice guy...can't remember his name, Joe something...cracked. Not sure what happened to him, but he was very talented and enthusiastic.



The horrible part was, if you missed a day due to illness (even Saturday or Sunday), it would count against your TOPS time (time off pool.)



The bonus I personally received, which was probably in-line with the other developers, was about $3,000 if I remember correctly. It wasn't ALL bad, we did get stock options and I sold mine at the peak. And we had an endless supply of pop tarts and other sugar-laden coding fuels. A bit of a self-serving "perk" if you think about it.



None of this matters when every waking minute of every day is spent staring at the same 2 square feet of reality.



I remember very clearly the day the game shipped...I broke down because it felt like I had just been released from prison. After shipping that game, I resolved to never EVER let any company abuse my willingness to be a good employee.



To all of you still in the trenches: overtime is to be expected. Abuse of your zeal for game development is not.



I'm not particularly a fan of unions, but If I were in your shoes, I think it would be entirely appropriate. I would organize secretly, get everyone's agreement to stand together in a unified front, present a list of reasonable demands, and be prepared to shut down the studio if they fail to negotiate with you.



Good luck to you all,



-John

Jeff Murray
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As an example of just how ingrained into our culture crunching and death marching is, a long time ago the Apple management team had t-shirts made for its overworked employees to wear that said something along the lines of '90 hours a week and loving it'. That kind of 'cool' we can all do without, but it is a really strong and typical example of how abusive management is able to enforce these kinds of rules at a cultural level - that was a long time ago now, of course, but it's still a good example. The employees might of well have signed up for a cult in these kinds of situations, since these macho 'who can work the most hours without dying' traits are accepted and treated as part of what it takes to be one of the team. In environments that perpetuate crunch culture, workers feel guilty if they don't keep up the pace - management know it and will abuse them with it often until they burn out completely. What can be done? These companies need to get the press they deserve (like this article) and these issues should be shouted out loud by the organizations that represent the industry. It should also happen at an individual responsibility level of each manager / director / head ... if I were hiring for another company and I saw the name of the guy who was running this studio at the time this happened, I wouldn't hire him and nor should anyone else. Anyone capable of running a studio like that should expect to make it their last job. It's not 'cool' and it's not even efficient. These companies need to know that if they are going to treat employees like dirt, they are going to be subjected to some very bad PR that with a bit of luck will impact their business in a negative way. Remember how long it took Disney to recover from allegations of poor working conditions in the factories making their clothing? When you do business with companies who treat their employees badly, you should bear that in mind. The bigger the licensed property, the easier it is to find another studio to work with.

Code Monkey
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This thread has seemed silent from R* current employees recently. I figured someone might have mentioned that R* management have informed its San Diego employees that everyone will be given a generous and extended break after the product conclusion. Maybe I feel a bit guilty about venting in a public place about any negative aspect of a job I still adore, especially now that I've read a few press snippets that have taken quotes of my writings slightly out of context. I don't think anything I ever said was "damning". Since no one else has, I'll say that I feel our concerns have been responded to one way or another, and it has been favorable. I think it should also be said that the long mandatory working hours for this project, at least for my own tenure, are unprecedented at San Diego in particular. They've told us that it certainly wasn't their intention to extend working hours in such a manner, and I believe them. I think we'll all pull through just fine, we'll get our time off, and I don't see this situation happening again anytime soon.



My apologies go to Rockstar for not anticipating that anything I said here could possibly have a negative impact of some kind.

Edwin Aiwazian
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OFF-THE-CLOCK AND UNPAID OVERTIME CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST ROCKSTAR AND TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE, INC.



Dear Former & Current Rockstar Employees:



Our firm has been actively investigating the possibility of filing a Class Action Lawsuit against Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (and related subsidiaries) for unpaid wages, including overtime. Please give us a call to discuss the possibility of being named as a representative in the Class Action. Thanks.



Edwin Aiwazian, Esq.

THE AIWAZIAN LAW FIRM

(818) 265-1020

felix dodd
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Its fairly simple really - greedy people at the top that dont actually do the work cause this.

(company owners, managers, distributors etc...)

greed needs to become less acceptable socially before the tide can be turned.



In the interim two solutions are available - leave the company (en masse) or work normal hours only (en masse)



Code Monkey - dont apologise!

John Marston
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Well here's one for you all. First off have to say I have never worked in the games industry I'm just a punter who buys games. I have been looking forward to buying and playing Red Dead Redemption so joined a forum called Red Dead Forums.com to find out info on the game.



Here's the site it's self.



http://www.reddeadforums.com/



My user name was Rossco00115 on it and posted a few time think about 30 posts in total with one of the last being a link to this here page I'm typing on now. I posted it in the forum page in the 'your topics' bit asking....'Is this why the game (Red Dead) was delayed'. I soon found myself banned from the said forum. No PM warning or anything just BANNED a.s.a.p. Now I thought this was a fans forum run by fans. Clear to me now it's not and is run by Rockstar in some way or other maybe someone here knows more about it than me anyhow.



So point being don't post nothing negative about Rockstars up and coming game or you'll be banned from a site forum.



In fact before I joined the Red Dead Forum you could read the forum pages but now it's saying you have to register to the site first to read any forum posting. Maybe it's just me banned because of my IP address and email.



Sad really that this is how Rockstar treat people who are going to buy their products...well they just lost £40 from me...I'm sure they'll cry BOO-HOO but if that's the attitude they could well be on a slippery slope.

Emmeline Dobson
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So RDR came out and Metacritic'ked at 95. Does this mean R* are vindicated for their production culture?

Tom Plunket
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My question is, for those now laid off, was it worth it? RDR on one's resume is certainly great, but it's a bummer to be looking for a job.

Ray Giuliano
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As an inveterate video game aficionado -- one who particularly enjoys the qualitative products created by Rockstar -- I'm deeply saddened by the near-endless negative comments re: the working conditions at Rockstar San Diego. While I am a person who understands the importance of taking the measure of ALL sides of an argument, I also know that where there is smoke, more often than not there is also fire.



And there's a whole hell of lot of smoke on this forum.



I suppose any large-scale corporation has its dark and slimy underbelly, one that said company does its absolute level best to keep out of public view. But now that I HAVE been exposed to the view, the question begs: is this honestly what's required -- behind-the-scenes -- to produce a high-quality game that brings joy to millions of consumers? Does the road to that gaming bliss (in the form of such stellar titles as the "Grand Theft Auto 4" and "Red Dead Redemption") we gamers' experience in the privacy and comfort of our homes really the end result of years of rank-and-file employee abuse at the hands of callous and indifferent project managers and other high-placed company nabobs?



How terribly pathetic. It almost makes me -- as a gamer -- feel ashamed.



If the working conditions at Rockstar San Diego are even HALF as bad as numerous people on this forum have insisted that they are, then something is clearly wrong. And if these are truly the ONLY conditions by which such obsessive fat-cat companies can bring about new (virtual) intellectual properties, then, as far as I'M concerned, they don't need to produce any more games. Keep them to yourself, Rockstar. Shut the factory down. Put away your calculus and your profit reports and prance back into the Dark Wood from whence you came and bang your drum there. As hard as it may be for your colossal ego to bear, the world will continue to spin on its axis without "Grand Theft Auto 5." And yeah . . . you can take that declaration to the bank.



Now, a question about profit. Being ignorant of the business side of games (and no, my ignorance of the business side of the equation doesn't negate my -- largely shared -- convictions about the responsibility of employers to treat their employees with dignity and respect), I don't understand how a company like Rockstar San Diego can be in danger of dismantlement when a game like "Red Dead Redemption" goes on to sell over a 5 million units -- which, when multiplied by a retail price of $60.00, equates to sales in excess of three-hundred-million dollars ($300,000,000.00).



Does anyone here have the experience to break down the numbers for me? If so, I'd greatly appreciate it.



Oh, and I'd like to add that my exposure to the seedier side of Rockstar San Diego -- via the heartfelt and knowledgeable posts on this forum -- has convinced me NOT to spend my hard-earned money on the imminent "Undead Nightmare" DLC.



Sincerely,

RG

Zero Dean
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Nice article.

Kelson Kugler
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Thanks for writing this. Articles like these are really helpful to those that may be working for the industry someday.

Mit Car
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I have empathy for those going through this rough time.

Take this experience, learn from it and fight against it when you see the familiar signs of its resurgence.

If you love your game, your work, your colleagues and your studio, use that love to fuel your passion for making things right.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen easily, in fact, it takes a lot of time and great amount of effort to change a culture, not to mention the exertion of effort in being vigilant that the culture stays good and develops with the growth of a company. This is the responsibility of everyone not just management.

But this can be done, and the rewards are without parallel, when the chemistry of leadership, vision, management and execution is in perfect balance – a development team can do almost anything. It may be a fleeting moment and on fulcrum that is difficult to stabilize - but hey, I did mention that it takes constant, vigilant effort didn’t I?

Work together, be clear about your perception of your treatment as well as your understanding of the standards by which you should be treated. Make this clear with ALL management (hopefully *through* some management), “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” – these talks are about business, not emotions, and finally, stay the course: Maintenance is everything.

It would be great if work was only code, but we work in groups and groups require a certain amount of effort to establish and support.

PS. I have placed this on my blog http://www.rock-star.com


none
 
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