February 20 – February 24

Watching Starbreeze layoff 25 workers last week as a thank you for their hard work on Syndicate, reminds me again just how naive my childhood dreams of being a game designer/developer/programmer really were. Not that anyone's banging down my door to hire me for a position -- I'm thinking Director of Snarky Comments -- but I'm pretty sure I'd accept a job managing a Gamestop again before I'd take a job with your average developer. Maybe it's amazing on the inside, but from out here it looks like a machine designed to grind creative, intelligent people into a disposable paste once every drop of effort is sucked unmercifully from their broken bodies.

Maybe Director of Melodrama is a better position for me.

I get it that it's just "how the industry works." I even get that Starbreeze probably has its hands tied from a budget perspective. When it comes right down to it, those 25 people probably lost their jobs so that 50 or 100 other people could keep theirs. There is no easy fix, because the problem is twisted, complicated and firmly entrenched. All that said, what I know is that if somehow Syndicate becomes a smash hit and sells millions of copies, there will be at least 25 people who have nothing more to show for it than a credit on their resume and an unemployment check.

Don't care how you spin it, that sucks

PC
- Syndicate
- Wargame: European Escalation
- Out There Somewhere (download)

Xbox 360
- Asura's Wrath
- Syndicate
- Alan Wake's American Nightmare (XBLA)

PS3
- Asura's Wrath
- Syndicate

Vita
- PlayStation Vita
- Army Corps of Hell
- Dynasty Warriors Next
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
- Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
- Touch My Katamari
- Hustle Kings (PSN)
- Plants vs. Zombies (PSN)
- Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (PSN)

3DS
- Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D
- Box Pusher ($5)

DS
- Box Pusher ($5)

Comments

Most Depressing Week Ahead Ever.

From what (admittedly little) I've seen of it, Syndicate is doing nothing for me. Looks like a blue-hued Deus Ex without all the stuff that made DX:HR fun and interesting. Although with 100% more Brian Cox (the actor, not the former boy-band member turned popular TV Physicist)

So it has that going for it.

I shall cheer myself up with the knowledge that The Last Story is out on Friday over here.

Preemptive campaign for SMT:DS2 next week.

Yup.

Stele wrote:
Preemptive campaign for SMT:DS2 next week. ;)

Pffft. Next week is totes going to SSX (2012) and its awesome asynchronous multi-player aspects.

....although I could also see Sean making next week's GOTW "My Boyish Anticipation of Mass Effect 3".

Uh, is there a way to report a bot, because I think I just found one.

Aristophan wrote:
Uh, is there a way to report a bot, because I think I just found one.

PM Certis. Don't worry, I already did for this one.

Are you talking about me?

Sorry, my "Yup" was laden with meaning and depth. In my head.

Michael Zenke wrote:
Are you talking about me?

Sorry, my "Yup" was laden with meaning and depth. In my head.

I think it's your terrible habit of dropping links to Get Rich Quick schemes that makes people think you're a bot.

Sorry, my "Yup" was laden with meaning and depth. In my head.

Pretty sure there was a spam post that has since been deleted.

Also, the weight of your Yup was not lost on me.

Personally, I just don't buy games where I know the developers have been mistreated like that. My dollars will not contribute to the abuse. Whether or not it makes any difference, I won't support companies that do that.

This is part of the reason I won't buy Activision games anymore.

I'm not under any illusion that this makes much difference, but it's that old saw about either being the solution or the precipitate. And I'm just not willing to give dollars to companies I know are abusive.

You know, purely from a utilitarian perspective, it's worth pointing out that games that don't have dev teams don't get patched or maintained.

stevenmack wrote:
Brian Cox ... the former boy-band member turned popular TV Physicist)

Well I learned something new. The other day my mother said he looks more like a musician than a scientist.

I've got the demo for Asura's Wrath in my queue right now. I'm hoping for some God Hand type fighting action.

If not, well I've always got God Hand on my PS2, and they recently released it on PSN as a PS2 classic.

Malor wrote:
Personally, I just don't buy games where I know the developers have been mistreated like that. My dollars will not contribute to the abuse. Whether or not it makes any difference, I won't support companies that do that.

This is part of the reason I won't buy Activision games anymore.

I'm not under any illusion that this makes much difference, but it's that old saw about either being the solution or the precipitate. And I'm just not willing to give dollars to companies I know are abusive.

So a company lays off 25 people (likely because it can't afford to keep them) and the solution is to...ensure they have even less money? How does that solve the problem? I don't like to see people laid off either but from what I've read, Starbreeze wasn't able to find another work-for-hire project in time (that's how they've operated until now) and they are working on a self-funded new IP but they couldn't keep all their staff on and ensure the company survived long enough to bring that to market. You also assume that these people didn't know the length of their job to begin with. Tons of game industry jobs are contract and while technically some employees are "laid off" at the end of a project, many of them know exactly when it's going to happen and knew that risk beforehand. I'm not saying this is the right way for the industry to operate but it's little details like that which are often omitted from stories.

The game industry has a lot of problems to solve but I don't see how ensuring a struggling developer gets even less money goes to getting people employed again.

Just an aspect of the increasingly tough AAA business model. I think you will find even fewer independent studios that rely on AAA development.. its just too risky and honestly unless you are either stellar or lucky (or maybe both) you chances of a long life are slim to none.

AAA development will probably consolidate even more.. as more independent studios move to alternate development models and look at the lower budget and priced titles.

Coldstream wrote:
Michael Zenke wrote:
Are you talking about me?

Sorry, my "Yup" was laden with meaning and depth. In my head.

I think it's your terrible habit of dropping links to Get Rich Quick schemes that makes people think you're a bot.

Hey, this time my Nigerian ostrich ranching scheme is certain to increase both your genital impressiveness and make you filthy rich! Guaranteed!

I thought you were just trying to sell 100 MS Point codes.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
I thought you were just trying to sell 100 MS Point codes.

He was, at 99 cents each. Because Zenke is an Unda-Cutta; that's how he rolls.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
Malor wrote:
Personally, I just don't buy games where I know the developers have been mistreated like that. My dollars will not contribute to the abuse. Whether or not it makes any difference, I won't support companies that do that.

This is part of the reason I won't buy Activision games anymore.

I'm not under any illusion that this makes much difference, but it's that old saw about either being the solution or the precipitate. And I'm just not willing to give dollars to companies I know are abusive.

So a company lays off 25 people (likely because it can't afford to keep them) and the solution is to...ensure they have even less money? How does that solve the problem? I don't like to see people laid off either but from what I've read, Starbreeze wasn't able to find another work-for-hire project in time (that's how they've operated until now) and they are working on a self-funded new IP but they couldn't keep all their staff on and ensure the company survived long enough to bring that to market. You also assume that these people didn't know the length of their job to begin with. Tons of game industry jobs are contract and while technically some employees are "laid off" at the end of a project, many of them know exactly when it's going to happen and knew that risk beforehand. I'm not saying this is the right way for the industry to operate but it's little details like that which are often omitted from stories.

The game industry has a lot of problems to solve but I don't see how ensuring a struggling developer gets even less money goes to getting people employed again.

This.

A common misconception among people at large seems to be that companies exist to employ people. They do not. They exist to make money, and employing people is a necessary side effect of that.

You want a company to hire and retain more people? Make them successful. If they have money, they can spend it on things like wages and all the hidden costs of employing people like payroll taxes, insurance, overhead, etc. etc. etc.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

This.

A common misconception among people at large seems to be that companies exist to employ people. They do not. They exist to make money, and employing people is a necessary side effect of that.

You want a company to hire and retain more people? Make them successful. If they have money, they can spend it on things like wages and all the hidden costs of employing people like payroll taxes, insurance, overhead, etc. etc. etc.

I do not and have never worked in the games industry, but I have worked in the corporate software industry which has some similarities. Finding and maintaining the proper staffing level is especially difficult in any organization that has the bandwidth to only work on one project at a time.

Certain skillsets are more needed during certain phases of a project, and those people might sit idly by once their peak phase is done. Even if you're "successful" as a company, you have to think twice about keeping resources around when they're not being heavily utilized.

If you stay really small and you focus on generalists who can fill many roles, then this may not be an issue. But most organizations beyond a certain size will ultimately see efficiencies by having specialists.

It's not all bad news for workers. If you're good, people will want you, and if you are a contractor you can dictate your own terms (to some extent).

I'd say another factor is the failure of AAA games/studios to broaden the way they charge people for products, and the types of product they offer. In fact, I find it really weird in a part of the industry that loves making sequels that they still work project-to-project, rather than one rolling project.

Elysium wrote:
I'm pretty sure I'd accept a job managing a Gamestop again before I'd take a job with your average developer.

This is a bit off-topic, and I know there's an older article detailing your experiences Sean, but if you're already in a job that grinds on you but which has even less to redeem the toil than does GameStop or your average lay-off-prone developer, would you consider working for GameStop again? Act like, for instance, you work for a global advertising research company whose primary aim is to help manufacturers and services vendors sell you their stuff. Maybe you spend all day working with Excel and navigating several bespoke, broken project-management platforms, and teaching arithmetic to purportedly college-educated adults--adults who are considered researchers, no less.

There's a naive part of me that feels working for GameStop or some game developer, even if neither is intrinsically good, is a better option, is even a useful proxy to contributing to the games industry and developing a career there. I want to believe this, and want to take a stab at somehow insinuating myself into a games-facing job (or set of jobs) while also supporting my family.

Excuse the thread hijacking.

Cheers,

Daniel

muraii wrote:
There's a naive part of me that feels working for GameStop or some game developer, even if neither is intrinsically good, is a better option, is even a useful proxy to contributing to the games industry and developing a career there. I want to believe this, and want to take a stab at somehow insinuating myself into a games-facing job (or set of jobs) while also supporting my family.

All I can say to this is:

Beware combining your hobby with your livelihood. The occasional intergalactic success story doesn't come anywhere near balancing the soul crushing likelihood that what you will find is a cratered husk that used to be your passion. Not everyone gets to be Tim Schafer or Sid Meier. Most don't even get to be Dennis Dyack.

I'd rather work in a job I can tolerate than risk destroying my passion for something that is currently, I believe, a force for good in my own life. You don't get more golden eggs from the goose by cutting open her ovaries.

Work is something I do to pay bills and feed my family. It's not what I am. I've seen what happens to people who identify too closely with their jobs. Even if they're successful at it, it comes time to retire and they flounder because they don't know what they are anymore. I don't expect to have that problem.

IMAGE(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3174/2640757222_ef43c5df4a.jpg)

I haven't seen that movie. Is that poster supposed to be a rebuttal?

Is that plastered on the back of a needlessly large automobile?

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
I haven't seen that movie. Is that poster supposed to be a rebuttal?

*record scratch*

Wha?... I would have thought Fight Club would be right up your alley, even if it's a little clumsy.

Anyway, I do believe it's agreement.

"You are not your job" is a nice sentiment. Good thing sentimentality survives easily in the real world, and high ideas are easily transferable at your local grocery store in lieu of currency.

Well, the sentiment isn't, "You should not have a job." It's just, "You are not your job." I.e. "you do what you gotta do to put food on the table, but you should be careful not to let what that is specifically define you as a person."

Or at least, that's what I meant in posting that image. What Tyler Durden meant in saying it probably had a lot more to do with setting dynamite in a Starbucks or something.

hbi2k wrote:
Or at least, that's what I meant in posting that image. What Tyler Durden meant in saying it probably had a lot more to do with getting paid millions of dollars to pretend to be setting dynamite in a pretend Starbucks or something.

Not that Palahniuk can't be right, but when the face becomes Brad Pitt, well...