In response to "A Tactical Advantage" from The Escapist forums:
I tried out Magic the Gathering Tactics.
It seems like a reasonable game, but the amount of content you get for free is really very small. The single-player campaign that starts out unlocked consists of a tutorial and five rather short levels. Each additional campaign, of which there are four, costs five dollars. If the purchasable campaigns are as short as the free one, they're not a particularly efficient use of one's gaming dollar. I already pay ridiculous amounts of money to play one online CCG, and I'm not willing to spend even more money to play another.
This definitely provides an interesting case study. Regardless of the quality of the final product (which, unfortunately, I haven't heard many good things about), this is a pretty good showcase of exactly what a development team should be doing in order to make their game as great as it can be.
In response to "Secrets of the Guild" from The Escapist forums:
I have worked in mobile games and a middleware company. I currently do non-game application development under tight deadlines. I have never been in crunch mode and would not work in a company where it was the norm. I can understand unforeseen circumstances leading to people doing 60 hours for a few weeks or something, but even then of course I would expect to be fully compensated for it. In my current work it's rare we do overtime at all.
Like I said, research shows that over a longer time anything over 50 hours per week doesn't even help in producing more. It's merely stupid for everyone involved.
I have worked and made people work long periods under all kinds of stress, sleep deprivation and overall discomfort. That was in the army, and it had a purpose: teaching people mental toughness with which to maintain minimal effectiveness in crappy circumstances which cannot be prevented. Anything other than that is most efficiently done in full health and comfort, fully rested and fed. There are no truly uncontrollable circumstances in software development, just unprofessionalism and fuck-ups.
Frankly, it sounds to me like Guildhall is perpetuating low expectations and stupid ways of working for no reason, and in doing so, setting up its students for exploitation.
I notice a lot of people questioning the Guildhall's use of crunch as part of the curriculum. I think that an important point about that is being missed here. Namely, that crunch is a necessary evil for a student.
For the record, I also am a Guildhall graduate who is now gainfully employed at a AAA studio as a designer/scripter. In fact, ChemicalAlia and I were in the same cohort (C11 represent). I also had little-to-no experience in level design prior to attending.
No one here is trying to argue that crunch is a good thing, or that it's an optimal (if sometimes necessary) working condition. Here are a couple of things to consider, though:
1) Anyone who goes to the Guildhall is extremely passionate about making games. In fact, during the admissions process one thing that they try to make sure of is that the people who start the program are certain about this. This isn't a program for people who think that making games "sounds like it could be pretty cool." It's for people who know that what they want to do more than anything is work in this industry. Keeping this fact in mind,
2) Guildhall is an arms race. Now, I met some great people while attending--people I'm delighted to call my friends--but at the end of the day I knew that, along with everyone else in in the mod community and other experienced devs, these friends were also my competition. So while it was always friendly and everyone was ALWAYS helpful, everyone's constantly trying to top each other.