Homefront Studio Responds to Crunch Time Complaints

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Homefront Studio Responds to Crunch Time Complaints

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Homefront studio Kaos Studios says working ten hour days is not "unique or abhorrent" and suggests that whoever is complaining about it should bear in mind that a lot of people in other industries are working long hours too.

"Crunch time," for those unfamiliar with the term, is the span between a project's due date and the moment at which everyone realizes that there's no way they're going to make it unless they start going balls-to-the-wall full throttle. It's not especially pleasant but like many such things, getting through it is also kind of a badge of honor; you manned up, toughed it out and got the job done. But at least one employee at Kaos Studios doesn't see it in quite that light and contacted Develop to complain about the stress that the Homefront crunch is causing.

"We have been crunching for the last six months or so at ten hours a day and if we did not hit our bug goal that week we would have to come one weekend day as well for six days a week," he said. "Over the holiday many of us were on call and unable to leave to see our family or do whatever. And now we are in seven-day-a-week crunch mode."

He further complained about the lack of resources and over-commitment that led to the necessity of a drawn-out crunch, blaming it on "inconsistent" management, and added that "people at Kaos do not want to hear THQ publicly say things that glorify crunch time."

But while THQ Vice President Danny Bilson told CVG that the company wants to "reduce the length of crunch" with better production planning from the very beginning of the development cycle, Kaos Studios General Manager David Votypka took a bit of a tougher stance, acknowledging some of the anonymous complaints but saying that all things considered, the crunch situation really isn't all that bad.

"After only requiring core hours based on an eight hour day for two and a half years, we needed to increase our velocity heading into our final Alpha/Beta phases. If this seems unique or abhorrent, I would have to suggest that any assessment regarding a ten hour work day would need to consider a much larger segment of the American workforce," Votypka said in a point-by-point response to the complaint. "Digital media companies, marketers, PR, even accountants in various industries throughout the nation, work ten hour days regularly, 52 weeks per year. Out of the three year project life cycle this has been less than 20 percent of the project time, and many staff (who have finished their critical work on the game), are currently back to an eight hour day."

He also revealed that while some employees have to come in on occasional Saturdays to catch up with bugs, the studio has set daily targets to help avoid that situation whenever possible and to allow for early departures when it's not. "Feedback from the team was that they wanted to maintain a level of control over their work schedule, so the policy we ended up using was goal based," he explained. "There have been weeks we avoided Saturday work, there have been weeks we haven't, and there have been weeks we went home at noon."

I don't claim to be an expert in such matters but for an awful lot of people, working ten hours a day with an occasional Saturday thrown into the mix isn't crunchy at all, it's a normal work week. The schedule also contrasts with the Doom 3 crunch at id Software back in 2004, when CBS reported that employees had been pulling 80-hour weeks and sometimes sleeping in the office for the better part of a year. I'm inclined to think that Votypka's advice that the put-out employee take a look around at what other people are doing is right on the money.

Homefront comes out on March 8 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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Can't it be abhorrent even if it's common?

10 hours a day isn't nuts for crunch time, nor is 6 or 7 days a week.

What IS nuts is when those long work hours and extra days last for SIX MONTHS. That's a little crazy.

Wow, nice image choice guys ^__^

All of this sounds so stressful and downright difficult...

I suppose it bodes well for me being a game developer that I actually quite like the sound of this :D Putting in all that effort just to see it pay off big time!

Over Summer I worked 12-13 hour days for three months solid, weekends included, with only the occasional day or half day off. I think the longest I worked continually was 72 days without a single break. At 13 hours a day of manual labour.

For some reason I find it much harder to sympathise with people who complain about working 'such long hours' or 'such hard jobs' anymore. My dad has been working minimum ten hour days for over fifteen years as well as the occasional up to eighteen hour day with ten hour day right after, not all weekends but a lot of weekends included, and he's in his fifties.

My fellow students really annoy me about stuff like this. 'Oh I worked so hard over summer, I had a job that I had to be up at nine for, and I had to work from ten to five, it was so hard.' No it bloody wasn't.

Call me when you start working longer than ten hours and for more consecutive days.

I suppose a little bit of on topic, every company has crunch time, some have more, some have less, and being part of the company means accepting that sometimes you'll have to really pull your weight.

Well, it comes with the job, deal with it

If this seems unique or abhorrent, I would have to suggest that any assessment regarding a ten hour work day would need to consider a much larger segment of the American workforce,"

Why?

I'm sure people with outdoor occupations aren't doing as much work during wintertime, so does that mean people who make games indoors should be doing the same?

So why should we do it in the opposite direction? What doe accountants and PR types have to do with this?

cairocat:
Wow, nice image choice guys ^__^

Exactly what I was going to say. Brilliant imagery.

I personally am dying to break into the gaming industry, I would sleep in the office if I had to and do it for free. ANYTHING to get my foot in the door.

Why the heck are they complaining?!?!?!?!?!

being a regular worker

i get up at 7 to be by 8 at work, then i work up untill 12 and have a break of 1 hour to eat lunch, at 1 i get back to work untill i am needed, sometimes its 5 and i´m already out, sometimes i get out at 8

considering i mostly get out at 6 those are 9 hour a day, five days a week, 180 hours a month

of course i sometimes have to get in the office on saturays and sundays deppending on the workload

and this has being for 4 years, having no vacation except the ones implemented by the goverment, that means my work NEVER ends, NEVER, there is no goal, there is no finish line, there is no real "WE CAN FINALY STOP WORKING!"

so excuse me if i call this guy an irresponsible, delutional, whiny jerk that has no sense of what does it mean to really WORK

considering i make rougly "$10,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

HentMas:
SNIP

I agree man. This guy can put a sock in it!

Ohhhhh 10hour days!!!! OMG!!!! I pulled two 12 hour days last week just to catch up from my Xmas hols.

Grow up, D'Bag!

A 10 hour day? Oh no! I imagine they've conveniently forgotten all of those days early in development they probably spent pissing around with marshmallow guns and not getting anything done. Now they have to work to catch up they blame the higher ups. It's not like they are the only people having to work that long, they even get the luxury of comfy chairs and air conditioning I'd imagine. The horror.

For what it's worth, at my old job at a factory a lot of people had 10-12 hour weekdays with a lot of Saturdays thrown in for good measure. And most of those people had worked there for 5 years or more. I remember one guy doing 14 hours per day for 3 months straight. I'd wager that ours wages were lower than the ones paid at this studio.
So forgive me if I don't really care about those complaints.

Well, I think this says a lot about the gaming industry itself. The point here being that the promoted stereotype of the underpaid, ultra-hard-working, game coder is so much hooie for the most part. I think the issue is that the industry is full of overpaid goof offs that cry when they actually wind up have to work like they are doing a real job.

I think the problem has a lot to do with how these things are financed. Basically game developers tell the producers how much money they will need to make a game, OR borrow money themselves based on how much they want to make for the period they plan to develop through. Once game development starts, these guys have already got their payroll, barring internal politics or drama they are guaranteed to get paid for that development time at whatever rate they agreed upon. "Crunch time" is pretty much when someone realizes that the dev time and money pile is about to end, and if they want ANOTHER long period of time, not to mention whaever pay raises they think they deserved, they need to knuckle under and actually do
some work. With rare exception, most cases seem a lot like this, with the horrible "crunch" being what amounts to a normal work day being forced on people who pretty much don't work. Whether it's this issue, the rockstar wives, or whistleblowers in the spirit of the EA Louse (though his motive is differance, we've heard similar things about working conditions before).

In the end I think people will forget about this issue next time the issue of industry paydays and work ethics, and how they affect the prices to you the consumer comes up.

See, in my mind if this is "crunch time", just imagine how much faster and cheaper games could get out there if this was how things were all the time. You know the "backbreaking, mind killing labour" (lol) that is a normal work day, and what we pretty much assumed these guys were doing to begin with. Of course then again it's also seemed to me that game developers have implied ther were pulling 12-14 hour work days regularly on the code grindstone. I don't consider a lot of management/personality types involved in some of these companies to be "working" (and they are the ones most likely to wind up be referred to) since for them it's mostly a social thing and a glorified hobby. The worker is the guy who sits in a cubicle and actually does the coding/design work hunched over his desk. For a Bobby Kotick for example his "work day" probably includes things like zipping around on his private jet, with his biggest worry being whether his personal stewardess is going to accuse him of harassment again.

HentMas:
considering i make rougly "$100,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

$200,000?! For being what is presumably a game programmer? Isn't the average salary between $50-90,000?

Critical_Sneeze:

HentMas:
considering i make rougly "$100,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

$200,000?! For being what is presumably a game programmer? Isn't the average salary between $50-90,000?

i already corrected the added Zero, when i made the calculations i was thinking in "Mexican Pesos" which is where i live

MelasZepheos:
Over Summer I worked 12-13 hour days for three months solid, weekends included, with only the occasional day or half day off. I think the longest I worked continually was 72 days without a single break. At 13 hours a day of manual labour.

For some reason I find it much harder to sympathise with people who complain about working 'such long hours' or 'such hard jobs' anymore. My dad has been working minimum ten hour days for over fifteen years as well as the occasional up to eighteen hour day with ten hour day right after, not all weekends but a lot of weekends included, and he's in his fifties.

Yeah, but did he get paid for those hours? I'm pretty sure you don't get paid by the hour in software development, and I've yet to see a single person who would want to work hours for no pay. Also, if they're bitching like this, I doubt the company was advertising 10-hour work days, 7 says a week, when they hired their programmers.

I suppose a little bit of on topic, every company has crunch time, some have more, some have less, and being part of the company means accepting that sometimes you'll have to really pull your weight.

When everyone is resorting to crunch time, I think that speaks to a larger problem in the industry. Asking your employees to work more than what they signed on for should be a last resort, not a common practice. If the management was worth anything, they would've factored in delays and problems into their time estimate when they pitched their game to the publisher. Unless something catastrophic happened during development, the fact that they needed a 6-month-long crunch speaks to how poorly the development cycle was planned out. Or that they factored a protracted crunch period into the estimate, in which case the employees should have been informed that they will be working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week when they were hired.

Whether this is normal for any form of work or otherwise, I defy you to tell me humans were meant to live like this.

Surely this doesn't help morale which must in turn have a negative effect on the quality of the work and thus the quality of the game? Screw the consumers, developers are people too.

MelasZepheos:
Over Summer I worked 12-13 hour days for three months solid, weekends included, with only the occasional day or half day off. I think the longest I worked continually was 72 days without a single break. At 13 hours a day of manual labour.

For some reason I find it much harder to sympathise with people who complain about working 'such long hours' or 'such hard jobs' anymore. My dad has been working minimum ten hour days for over fifteen years as well as the occasional up to eighteen hour day with ten hour day right after, not all weekends but a lot of weekends included, and he's in his fifties.

My fellow students really annoy me about stuff like this. 'Oh I worked so hard over summer, I had a job that I had to be up at nine for, and I had to work from ten to five, it was so hard.' No it bloody wasn't.

Call me when you start working longer than ten hours and for more consecutive days.

I suppose a little bit of on topic, every company has crunch time, some have more, some have less, and being part of the company means accepting that sometimes you'll have to really pull your weight.

The classic "If I can do it, so can everyone" mentality. Good for you, your dad and yourself are hard workers. I am genuinely glad that you guys are capable of that. But just because you don't have a problem with it doesn't mean that everyone else shouldn't.

Everyone has different lifestyles and expectations; you've no right to tell them that they're lazy.

HentMas:
being a regular worker

considering i make rougly "$10,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

If your only making 10k/yr for those hours you need to quit and get a better job mate, no disrespect intended.

On the OP, I'd like to see old boy deal with military working hours 8 (the shortest I ever worked) - 15 hour (we had multiple aircraft down) work days with a minimum hour of unit PT tacked on, mandatory formations at least once a week for barracks maintenance and cleaning (2 hours of exterior cleaning/formation minimum then you have to clean your own space), then you get weekday/weekend duty which consists of a 24 hour post. You sometimes get the day off after to catch up on your sleep but that's subject to the whims of your Staff NCOs and any additional crap you might need to get done at the time. Of course that day starts at 0400-0500

HentMas:
being a regular worker

i get up at 7 to be by 8 at work, then i work up untill 12 and have a break of 1 hour to eat lunch, at 1 i get back to work untill i am needed, sometimes its 5 and i´m already out, sometimes i get out at 8

considering i mostly get out at 6 those are 9 hour a day, five days a week, 180 hours a month

of course i sometimes have to get in the office on saturays and sundays deppending on the workload

and this has being for 4 years, having no vacation except the ones implemented by the goverment, that means my work NEVER ends, NEVER, there is no goal, there is no finish line, there is no real "WE CAN FINALY STOP WORKING!"

so excuse me if i call this guy an irresponsible, delutional, whiny jerk that has no sense of what does it mean to really WORK

considering i make rougly "$10,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

You're clearly in the wrong job if you're working that much and not getting paid shit. Why don't you talk to your employer about that? I'm pretty sure that your hourly wage is less than minimum.

TheXRatedDodo:
Whether this is normal for any form of work or otherwise, I defy you to tell me humans were meant to live like this.

Surely this doesn't help morale which must in turn have a negative effect on the quality of the work and thus the quality of the game? Screw the consumers, developers are people too.

Finally, some sense on this topic instead of the usual "I worked for 23 hours a day for 2 cents an hour whilst walking on hot coals" bullshit that everyone else is posting.

sravankb:

TheXRatedDodo:
Whether this is normal for any form of work or otherwise, I defy you to tell me humans were meant to live like this.

Surely this doesn't help morale which must in turn have a negative effect on the quality of the work and thus the quality of the game? Screw the consumers, developers are people too.

Finally, some sense on this topic instead of the usual "I worked for 23 hours a day for 2 cents an hour whilst walking on hot coals" bullshit that everyone else is posting.

Seriously! Thank you! And we wonder why North Americans (specifically the US, but Canada isn't far behind) have the highest rates of anxiety in the world... Seriously, the responses I see in this thread are astonishing. Since when did ten hour days, 52 weeks a year, with the occasional Saturday thrown in become normal? What the hell happened to work-life balance? They say the difference between Europeans and North Americans is that Europeans work to live, and North Americans life to work. I'm inclined to agree.

You simply cannot focus at the end of a 10 hour day. Any longer, and you're actually making worse progress. You make mistakes that end up costing you so much time to fix that it completely negates any advantage you've gained by working extra hours per day. Especially if you're writing code. I say this as a software developer myself. I would love to be able to make a living writing games instead of boring web pages or transaction processing scripts, but I do not envy the people who work in the mainstream games industry today. It is batshit bonkers.

...People mostly get Saturdays off? Oh yeah, I suppose that does happen. Weird. I had forgotten about that. And they get off during crunch time? Well, that's even more generous. Yeah, ten hour days are tough, but you get an hour lunch, and still 13 hours of doing other things. Call it 6-8 for sleep, Still leaves you a good few hours of downtime. That's not bad, all things considered. And you still have Sundays off during your crunch, so you have at least a day of downtime. Welcome to the working class, friend.

AK47Marine:

If your only making 10k/yr for those hours you need to quit and get a better job mate, no disrespect intended.

actually, i have a very good Job, it pays enough here in MX, its one of the best payed jobs to Young workers

you cant find a job here in MX that would take you and give you $10,000 being the age i am, the lowest jobs pay $5,000 a year, while the common pay for a "secretary" or someone mor in the mid range is about $8,000 i am rounding down of course.

hope he never does instalations and repairs, When i worked for a direct tv contractor i worked on average 10-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, no overtime. I would of fucking loved a gurenteed only 10 hours. And when I worked maintaining and installing tennis courts, it was 12-15 hours a day. Stop bitching or go to a different carrier.

Dorkmaster Flek:

sravankb:

TheXRatedDodo:
Whether this is normal for any form of work or otherwise, I defy you to tell me humans were meant to live like this.

Surely this doesn't help morale which must in turn have a negative effect on the quality of the work and thus the quality of the game? Screw the consumers, developers are people too.

Finally, some sense on this topic instead of the usual "I worked for 23 hours a day for 2 cents an hour whilst walking on hot coals" bullshit that everyone else is posting.

Seriously! Thank you! And we wonder why North Americans (specifically the US, but Canada isn't far behind) have the highest rates of anxiety in the world... Seriously, the responses I see in this thread are astonishing. Since when did ten hour days, 52 weeks a year, with the occasional Saturday thrown in become normal? What the hell happened to work-life balance? They say the difference between Europeans and North Americans is that Europeans work to live, and North Americans life to work. I'm inclined to agree.

You simply cannot focus at the end of a 10 hour day. Any longer, and you're actually making worse progress. You make mistakes that end up costing you so much time to fix that it completely negates any advantage you've gained by working extra hours per day. Especially if you're writing code. I say this as a software developer myself. I would love to be able to make a living writing games instead of boring web pages or transaction processing scripts, but I do not envy the people who work in the mainstream games industry today. It is batshit bonkers.

American polotics happened, people blaim the unemployed for being unemployed and more and more power is given to corporations as worker protection is removed. They can go to you tell you to work these unreal hours and if you dont, your fired.

sravankb:
you talk to your employer about that? I'm pretty sure that your hourly wage is less than minimum.

actually, the minimun wage here in MX is of USD $0.57 an hour... so yeah, i´m making well above the minimun

shitty economy is shitty

Can people stop saying bullshit like "I've worked for 20 hours with barely any pay"?

It's like saying, I've had horseshit thrown on my face, and this guy complains about bird poo? Here's the point, both of you guys have had issues. You're not being paid enough for your work; there's something called minimum wage, and you're definitely not getting it. The game programmer has an expected wage too, and he deserves that amount irrespective of your goddamn 20-hour factory work. So stop comparing your life to his.

And for god's sake, do NOT try and tell me that this is how people are supposed to live. We clearly have problems as a civilization if we accept this a way of life.

HentMas:

sravankb:
you talk to your employer about that? I'm pretty sure that your hourly wage is less than minimum.

actually, the minimun wage here in MX is of USD $0.57 an hour... so yeah, i´m making well above the minimun

shitty economy is shitty

You've got to be joking. Damn, dude. Here in Texas, it's $7.25/hour. Get here ASAP.

Pretty terrifying to read these comments defending crunch time, or at least not recognizing how bad it is.

Something you need to understand is that many companies in the game development industry have crunched for so many years on so many titles that it has become something of an institution, an "unfortunate necessity" among planners and managers.

I read a couple comments from people trying to get into the industry, saying that they'd be willing to crunch insane hours just to work on a video game; please, stay as far away as possible from the industry. You are part of the problem.

HentMas:
being a regular worker

i get up at 7 to be by 8 at work, then i work up untill 12 and have a break of 1 hour to eat lunch, at 1 i get back to work untill i am needed, sometimes its 5 and i´m already out, sometimes i get out at 8

considering i mostly get out at 6 those are 9 hour a day, five days a week, 180 hours a month

of course i sometimes have to get in the office on saturays and sundays deppending on the workload

and this has being for 4 years, having no vacation except the ones implemented by the goverment, that means my work NEVER ends, NEVER, there is no goal, there is no finish line, there is no real "WE CAN FINALY STOP WORKING!"

so excuse me if i call this guy an irresponsible, delutional, whiny jerk that has no sense of what does it mean to really WORK

considering i make rougly "$10,000" dollars a year, i bet that guy makes double at least, let alone the damn "bonuses" he earns if he gets the bugs out in time or certain requirements are met.

You said it my good man. I work an uncommon job & I work 3 12.5 hour shifts 6 weeks 4 times a year for nothing. Just so I can qualify to do that for the rest of my life except once a month I need to make up the hours by doing 4 days out of 7 for a whopping £18k ($28k). Now to be fair thats a very good wage, but the catch is if I dont do my job right people die. Thankfully I think people suck so its not a big deal but there is documentation and other drags that require me to be liable FOR PEOPLES LIVES.

Game designers make games. How stressful is that realistically ? I've known a few game designers and they spend alot of their time doing piss all just like every administration staff. Access to the internet, photocopiers & a swivel chair turn people into workshy loafers. I'd blame the toner fumes but its really just priviledged white middle class kids who've never done a days work in their lives bemoaning their 1st world problems.

Edit:- Ive managed a Tandy, Ive worked in manufacturing, stores, sales, finances, hazardous waste disposal, blah, blah, blah

I work 10 hrs a day and weekends(depending on my schedule), only difference is I wish I was making games =(.

What I find incredible is that over at Gamasutra where about 90% of the commenters actually work inside the industry, most of them agree that the usual practice of crunch time is very damaging to the game creation process.

Yet here, where 90% are not directly involved, tell developers to suck it up and do their job.

If that's the value most players give to the videogame creators (which sounds about like the managers seem to give them), it's no wonder more and more developers eventually choose other areas to work in.

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