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Death to Deadlines!


Justin_Case001

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I don't think I need to spend much time explaining the problem of horrendously overworked employees at triple-A game studios to anyone here.  Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, I'm sure you're well aware of the so-called "crunch" times at big game studios where employees are forced to work 80 hours a week to meet deadlines.  The one that has probably gotten the most attention was Rockstar with RDR2.

I think we're all on the same page here--I don't think a single one of us common folk are in favor of this practice.  We all want a change.  We all want game studio employees to be cared for and treated with respect, and not like disposable robots.  The only ones who want to continue working employees to the bone are the owner classes who profit from it.  I think that's self-evident.

But here's what has me flummoxed, something I just can't figure out--developers enter this crunch period to get games out "on time", right?  But... on time... for what??  Seriously.  For what?!  Who sets these arbitrary deadlines, and why?  There are certainly some instances in life where deadlines matter, but it seems to me that deadlines have absolutely no meaning or purpose whatsoever when it comes to entertainment, particularly video games.  Why does any game need to be released at a specific time?  What--is somebody gonna die if it's released late?!  Why is there even a concept of "late"?  How can a game even be "late"??  It's only late if you set an arbitrary date and then fail to meet it.  Why even set a date?  Why have deadlines at all?  What's the point?

Here's a novel idea: no deadlines for video games.  None.  Employees work 40 hours a week.  No more.  They have free time and days off.  The game is finished when it's finished and no sooner.  Why can't that work?  We'd have to wait longer for triple-A titles.  Boo f*cking hoo.  You'll live.  I think you can find enough to do.  I literally (not figuratively, but literally) have more unplayed, untouched games in my Steam library than I'll be able to finish in a lifetime, and that's if I stop buying games forever, right now, which I obviously won't do.  You don't even need to spend money nowadays to have more games than you know what to do with.  The idea that we need the next entry in the triple-A franchise RIGHT NOW is laughably ridiculous.  Trust me, you can wait an extra year.  Would you rather be patient, wait a little longer for the game and have the devs be treated with respect and be happy and healthy, able and eager to keep making games, or would you rather have the game 6-12 months earlier at the cost of grinding the devs into dust, destroying their sanity, sapping their will to live, and forcing them to quit because they can't take it anymore.  I dunno, call me crazy, but I'd kinda rather have the former.

Why do they force these arbitrary deadlines on developers?  Is it for the "holiday season"?  Pffft.  :dry:  Gimmie a break.  F*ck that sh*t.  Do they think gamers won't buy it if it's not for Christmas?  That's bullsh*t.  Gamers are gonna buy the game no matter what.  If they actually lose a few sales because they miss the Christmas season, then boo f*cking hoo.  Small price to pay to treat your employees like human beings.

Why can't we just let entertainment creators create their thing, and when it's done, it's done.  Simple as that.  Just wait and buy the game when it's done.  What the f*ck does it matter when it is?  Why have deadlines at all?  Game studio deadlines need to go away.  Forever.

That's it.  This one was short enough that it could have been a GMG, but I wanted in here.

 

*EDIT*

I now have a very good piece of evidence to support my claims.  Do you know what you get when you give a studio the freedom to just make what they want to make without being beholden to deadlines and corporate bullsh*t?  You get Baldur's Gate 3, that's what.  :twi:

 

Edited by Justin_Case001

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I don't have too much sympathy for these people. There are a lot of people working grueling jobs with deadlines. In the construction industry, every project is always late and managers always want to work people 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, to get done on time. If you're always late, then plan for that and add to the scheduled deadline. So I guess I should say I have sympathy for anyone who has a deadline. But what's harder: working at a computer, or doing construction 84 hours a week?

The reason game development needs deadlines is simply because all businesses need deadlines. If you don't have a deadline then people won't finish their work. And that's for every business. Imagine ordering a burger and the cook says, "It will be ready when I get around to it." Investors need to make a profit, and time is money. It's that simple. I have never been at a job where the boss said with all seriousness. "Come in, do whatever for 40 hours. If you make something, fine, if not, that's fine too. Just relax." That's not how the world works. It is true that a work environment has a big impact on productivity, but you can't just get rid of deadlines.

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6 hours ago, Spooky Brony 42 said:

The reason game development needs deadlines is simply because all businesses need deadlines.

The deadlines have to be realistic though, no forced overtime for weeks because the deadline was unrealistic - again. However, this, IMO, is mainly the failure of the government to provide adequate worker protection.

I can understand some sort of an emergency (server got hacked or has crashed, we need to fix the bug and restore everything) requiring people to work overtime etc, but this should not be "usual" or "expected".

6 hours ago, Spooky Brony 42 said:

But what's harder: working at a computer, or doing construction 84 hours a week?

Both are hard in different ways.

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On 2022-10-22 at 6:24 PM, Spooky Brony 42 said:

"Come in, do whatever for 40 hours. If you make something, fine, if not, that's fine too. Just relax."

I never said anything like that.  Employees would still be required to work during their work day.  If an employee just f*cked around all day, then they'd understandably be fired.  I'm just saying that employees should only be required to work 40 hours a week and no more, and the game will be finished when it's finished.

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53 minutes ago, Justin_Case001 said:

required to work 40 hours a week and no more

I can look busy for 40 hours a week and make a 1 day job last a year.

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On 2022-10-24 at 9:57 AM, Spooky Brony 42 said:

I can look busy for 40 hours a week and make a 1 day job last a year.

Forgive me for dreaming of a world where workers have better working conditions and a sane amount of hours per week.  I want that for everyone, not just game devs.  I want it for you, too.  I don't care whether it's construction or sitting a computer--nobody should have to work 80 hours a week.  I know that we've engineered a world in which many people do have to in order to maintain the status quo we've created, but it doesn't have to be that way.  It's within our reach to create a better world.

It surprise you to learn that many game developers are passionate about their art, and they want to make games.  Many of them would eagerly create games even without a looming deadline.  There are many indie game studios in which devs are treated like human beings, have freedom and flexibility, and actually have fun, and they make some of the most fun and brilliant games of all time.  It turns out that humans don't actually need to be treated like disposable robots, working under constant threat of deadlines, and under the lash of the guards in order to create great art.  In fact, most creators work better when they're... y'know... happy.  What's more, when creative people are left to their own devices, they generally want to... wait for it... create!  People who pursue game development generally do so because they have a passion for it and want to create.  It's not a job you take because you just need money and it was the only thing you could find.  I do not believe that removing game development deadlines would result in every game dev just pretending to look busy so they could get paid for doing nothing.  (Same goes for film making.)

More big picture, I still believe that we should be trying to move towards a utopian, Star Trek future in which work is meaningful and fulfilling, not a threat and ultimatum--work or die.  We should be trying to create a world in which people can choose a path to reach their full potential, not a world in which people have to earn the right to eat by "busting their ass" for 80 hours a week.  But we'll never get there if nobody believes it can happen, or worse still, if people actively come up with reasons why it can't happen.

Now, don't get me wrong--I'm no optimist.  I'm sure we'll probably destroy ourselves, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop advocating for utopia.

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But the reality is time is money. If they take 6 more months to make a game, how much more money is that, and how much does that add to the cost? Is a $60 game now $60.50 or $70? There are busness people and investors that care abou the money. Money is very important.

As Quark pointed out in DS9, if people weren't greedy then they wouldn't do anything. 

Right now, as I type this, I am working overtime. I told my boss I would work half a shift extra, not 2 full shifts. I'm turning down a lot of money but I would rather have my time. I am able to do that because there is a shortage for licensed electricians. 

99% of people work because they want nice things, not because they enjoy it. I don't enjoy working all night in a slaughterhouse or power plant or oil field (all jobs I have done). But if you like meat, electricity, and oil then you need to set deadlines and pay people to do stuff they hate. 

The argument about work vs leisure goes back ever since Pharaoh had a labor dispute with Moses. I don't think we will ever get to a Star Trek situation. Even in ST someone has to clean the holodeck filters. Have you seen Lower Decks? It's funny.

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But the reality is time is money. If they take 6 more months to make a game, how much more money is that, and how much does that add to the cost? Is a $60 game now $60.50 or $70? There are busness people and investors that care abou the money. Money is very important.

As Quark pointed out in DS9, if people weren't greedy then they wouldn't do anything. 

Right now, as I type this, I am working overtime. I told my boss I would work half a shift extra, not 2 full shifts. I'm turning down a lot of money but I would rather have my time. I am able to do that because there is a shortage for licensed electricians. 

99% of people work because they want nice things, not because they enjoy it. I don't enjoy working all night in a slaughterhouse or power plant or oil field (all jobs I have done). But if you like meat, electricity, and oil then you need to set deadlines and pay people to do stuff they hate. 

The argument about work vs leisure goes back ever since Pharaoh had a labor dispute with Moses. I don't think we will ever get to a Star Trek situation. Even in ST someone has to clean the holodeck filters. Have you seen Lower Decks? It's funny.

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6 hours ago, Spooky Brony 42 said:

But the reality is time is money. If they take 6 more months to make a game, how much more money is that, and how much does that add to the cost? Is a $60 game now $60.50 or $70? There are busness people and investors that care abou the money. Money is very important.

Of course they care about money an want to exploit the workers as much as possible. I have read somewhere (I do not have the link) that before the Civil War in the US employees in the North were treated as badly or even worse than the slaves in the South. The reason being that a slave is like factory equipment - if one dies you have to spend a lot of money to buy another one, while if an employee dies, you can just hire another one. Not that I would support slavery, just an example of how bad things can be. 

However, this is where the government has to come in and have worker protection, for example, an upper limit on overtime. For example, in my country, all employees get at least 20 working days of paid vacation (employer can give more, but not less), unlimited "sick days" (how are you supposed to limit how many days you are sick?). There are limits to working time and minimum times between shifts. 

And yes, with the worker protection, a game company would make less money, but maybe we, as a society, should care about the health and well-being of the people more than making sure that a company can extract every last cent of profit from its employees.

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On 2022-10-27 at 11:19 PM, Pentium100 said:

And yes, with the worker protection, a game company would make less money, but maybe we, as a society, should care about the health and well-being of the people more than making sure that a company can extract every last cent of profit from its employees.

Exactly.  Well said.  Thank you.

And 42, all due respect, but I just don't think that you're acknowledging that many creative, artistic people are actually passionate about their craft, expressing themselves, telling a story, etc, and would genuinely want to do so even if they weren't threatened with starvation.  Yes, most people only work because they need money, and yes, we all need money.  Of course.  But I genuinely believe that artistic creators would want to create even if they didn't need the money, regardless of deadlines.  If we had a Star Trek/Orville world, I don't believe that most people would just lay around and watch tv and play games for the rest of their lives just because they can.  That would get really boring.  People want to create stuff.

I think that Quark's line about greed is demonstrably false, even in today's world.  There are many altruistic people who do things for others with no material reward, and many creators who make things just because they want to tell a story.  I'm not saying that's most people, but there are many.  I still believe that a post-scarcity, post money world is possible.  It's not likely we'll reach it, but I still believe it's possible.

Edited by Justin_Case001
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