Stardew Valley: A Spiritual 'Successor' to Harvest Moon

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

This is a job for at least three people, IMO. I'm honestly a little disappointed - I do get that people can mean well and have blinders in this arena, but at a moment in time where this industries labor practices are being examined and starting to transform, this strikes me as an incredibly tone deaf listing.

Agreed. It doesn't bode well for whatever poor inexperienced person decides they can do all that and the company when they inevitably cannot, or harm themselves trying to. My wife once performed a similar role at another game company here in Seattle and did many of the things on this list, but maintaining business contacts was strictly the responsibility of the studio head and there was no community relations aspect.

It was a reasonable amount of work, it helped that the studio head was a long time friend and the studio was a branch of a bigger company.

Going in as a stranger to such a naive situation has basically no chance of a positive outcome. I hope they've heard strong feedback about that position and adjust, but even then it shows what kind of headspace they're in that they thought it was reasonable.

polypusher wrote:
TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

This is a job for at least three people, IMO. I'm honestly a little disappointed - I do get that people can mean well and have blinders in this arena, but at a moment in time where this industries labor practices are being examined and starting to transform, this strikes me as an incredibly tone deaf listing.

Agreed. It doesn't bode well for whatever poor inexperienced person decides they can do all that and the company when they inevitably cannot, or harm themselves trying to. My wife once performed a similar role at another game company here in Seattle and did many of the things on this list, but maintaining business contacts was strictly the responsibility of the studio head and there was no community relations aspect.

It was a reasonable amount of work, it helped that the studio head was a long time friend and the studio was a branch of a bigger company.

Going in as a stranger to such a naive situation has basically no chance of a positive outcome. I hope they've heard strong feedback about that position and adjust, but even then it shows what kind of headspace they're in that they thought it was reasonable.

This is a nuts posting. My fiancee is extremely talented and capable in this area, and she runs out of time doing about a third of what they list.

The more and more I think about this, the more I think it's just a case of Eric Barone not having a good sense of how much to expect of one person, or how to allocate tasks between different positions.

I was thinking about this because I just finished Jason Schreier's Blood, Sweat, and Pixels a month or two ago, and one of the chapters is on Stardew Valley. I had known that Eric Barone made the game by himself, but man, the book really brought home what that meant. It was just him on everything. He even composed all the music, which I found mind-blowing. And he mentions in the Stardew Valley Blog that he's forming a team. To me, both that blog post and the job post scream of a single developer who doesn't have enough experience working with other people to know how much he can fairly ask them. So yeah, this would come across to me as a tone deaf posting (as TheHarpoMarxist mentions) or reflecting poorly on the company (as polypusher mentions) if there was a company -- but here, maybe he legitimately doesn't know any better.

Either way, I really hope Barone's hearing feedback on this.

I was curious and checked the replies on his twitter mention of the ad - it's 99% people bringing up the same concerns as here. A few people tried to argue that with the scale of the game/company one person could handle it all until they expand but I am skeptical of that argument. Perhaps it's that one person could but they probably shouldn't have to.

I didn't see any replies from ConcernedApe himself but hopefully it's hitting home.

He's asking for someone who really knows and loves SV and that's great, but he's got to also remember that his humungous share of the equity is pretty motivating too. It can be his life, but to an employee it's a paycheck, even if they get a couple tenths of a percent as is typical for startups.

I would say knowing SV is maybe only needed for one of those jobs.

I'm inclined to think the intent isn't to exploit and that he just legit didn't know better, but the outcome is still a posting that would very likely exploit and burn out anyone who tried to take it on.

Hopefully he is listening and uses this as an opportunity to amend his mistakes with the posting and also push the dialogue forward in a useful fashion.

Folks, to be fair to the guy remember that he knows more about the volume of work than we do. Some of those tasks might be things that currently take an hour a month, and some of them may be theoretical tasks where he expects there to be work someday but there isn't any today.

Also it says he's building a team, so it could even be a "your first task on day one is to hire your assistant" kind of thing.

So I don't think it's necessarily fair to slam this as an example of bad work practices. I just think it's humorously unrealistic to advertise for someone with prior job experience in everything who's also a huge fan of the game and lives in the neighborhood.

fenomas wrote:

Folks, to be fair to the guy remember that he knows more about the volume of work than we do. Some of those tasks might be things that currently take an hour a month, and some of them may be theoretical tasks where he expects there to be work someday but there isn't any today.

Also it says he's building a team, so it could even be a "your first task on day one is to hire your assistant" kind of thing.

So I don't think it's necessarily fair to slam this as an example of bad work practices. I just think it's humorously unrealistic to advertise for someone with prior job experience in everything who's also a huge fan of the game and lives in the neighborhood.

I'm not sure he does know more about the volume of work for these kind of posts than people who do those careers professionally do. This posting - which is a posting for one role - strongly suggests he doesn't.

Like I said, I give him a ton of space for meaning well, but the labor landscape of the industry is very much focused on burnout and overwork right now. It is in the messy throes of hopefully transforming into something more sustainable. At the very least there is some tone-deafness here - people are reacting to it, after all. That doesn't mean he won't necessarily turn around and either modify or clarify in a way that makes sense.

Regardless, it is a good conversation for the industry to be having, and in some ways this misstep might end up being a helpful learning moment.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:
fenomas wrote:

Folks, to be fair to the guy remember that he knows more about the volume of work than we do. Some of those tasks might be things that currently take an hour a month, and some of them may be theoretical tasks where he expects there to be work someday but there isn't any today.

Also it says he's building a team, so it could even be a "your first task on day one is to hire your assistant" kind of thing.

So I don't think it's necessarily fair to slam this as an example of bad work practices. I just think it's humorously unrealistic to advertise for someone with prior job experience in everything who's also a huge fan of the game and lives in the neighborhood.

I'm not sure he does know more about the volume of work for these kind of posts than people who do those careers professionally do. This posting - which is a posting for one role - strongly suggests he doesn't.

Like I said, I give him a ton of space for meaning well, but the labor landscape of the industry is very much focused on burnout and overwork right now. It is in the messy throes of hopefully transforming into something more sustainable. At the very least there is some tone-deafness here - people are reacting to it, after all. That doesn't mean he won't necessarily turn around and either modify or clarify in a way that makes sense.

Regardless, it is a good conversation for the industry to be having, and in some ways this misstep might end up being a helpful learning moment.

He's actually posted some clarification. Seems the comments caught his attention.

For ease, here's the comments on Twitter:

@ConcernedApe wrote:

Hi everyone, I'm seeing the comments & concerns here, and there definitely seems to be a discrepancy between what I'm looking for in this position and how people are interpreting the posting. I'll need to adjust the posting if it's not conveying the intention properly

wish I'd made the listing clearer in some way to not seem overwhelming. I've been doing all the intended tasks myself for the 7 years of development/release and it only takes up a minority of my time, I would only add addt'l tasks as a new administrator would be able to handle

Just to be clear, I've been doing the tasks with the help, of course, of my accountant, lawyer, payroll and HR software. This position isn't to take over those responsibilities, just help me in managing or interfacing with those existing systems, if that makes sense

And an update on the job posting:

(This might seem like a lot of responsibilities for one person, but please keep in mind we’re a very small team, so some of the tasks are rare, or only a few hours of work per month. You won’t be expected to work overtime, and we can hire more people if it’s too much to balance!)

Some of that is good to hear, but I still have a lot of doubts / questions. Right now all of this remains more suspect that I'm personally comfortable with. It is important to bear in mind that Stardew has sold millions of copies and its been his solo show since the jump. So though he is a looking only for a small team, this is still a huge game for an indie.

Also, he presents these tasks as something that takes a minority of his time, but he's also not a trained professional in any of these things. People get paid for both time and expertise.

If he lists a salary range and expected hours of work, that would go a long way for me. Having those things not posted is how people end up getting exploited. If this is a 40/hr a week job with no required overtime and comes with a decent benefits package that is fair for the scope and depth of the role, then that's one thing. Right now though it seems like it could be something else entirely - and that's not good.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

I'm not sure he does know more about the volume of work for these kind of posts than people who do those careers professionally do. This posting - which is a posting for one role - strongly suggests he doesn't.

With respect, you ignored everything in my post. Most of the tasks in the job listing are clearly things he's already doing, and he knows how long those currently take. But for all the tasks, the volume of work depends entirely on the scope of his plans, which he knows and we don't.

I mean: he might plan to hire one developer or twenty. He might expect this office manager to work alone or to build an administrative team. He may have an expansion in the wings or he may expect not to release anything for several years.

We have no idea - we can fill in those gaps with details that make the guy bad/naive/unrealistic, or we can fill in details that make the whole thing perfectly ordinary. Why not go with the principle of charity until there's a reason not to - for anyone, let alone someone like ConcernedApe?

Double post by mistake.

Yes, they are things he is doing. That doesn't mean he understands the scope (he's not an expert in this stuff and the scope of doing HR admin for one is worlds different than it is even for just two people, let alone more.) It doesn't really matter what his plans are, the labor issues in the industry are a capital 'T' Thing right now. This is why clarity matters.

Again, a salary range, benefits, and listing of expected hours goes a long way here.

fenomas wrote:

. Why not go with the principle of charity until there's a reason not to - for anyone, let alone someone like ConcernedApe?

As far as principle of charity goes, that's a two way street. You can expect and assume he means well and won't exploit - great. But this industry struggles in that department. He can make things clearer with a few simple adjustments. Asking him to make those adjustments is not a tall ask.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, you can't wait until someone acts in bad faith. Negotiations happen before, not after. You show good faith by being clear and simple with your needs and you expectations. When employers are unclear - particularly in this industry - they tend take advantage.

I have faith ConcernedApe is a decent person who means well. Asking him to do better with a job listing isn't an indictment of his character. It is an opportunity for him to be decent and show good faith himself. If he doesn't want to, that to me is an immediate cause to be suspicious.

Again, I don't know him or what is in his head. But we shouldn't get in the mindset of letting someone - even someone we trust and like - cut corners that are all too frequently cut by others to open up avenues of exploitation. Stardew is one of the best selling indies of all time. He has resources and leverage. Maybe he wouldn't exploit someone, but that doesn't mean he should be allowed to deviate from best practices.

ConcernedApe has clarified his post and I think we can let the topic go now. As someone in a household with 2 qualified applicants in Seattle it seems like a fine job to have with the clarification. (we won't be applying for our own reasons)

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

Asking him to do better with a job listing isn't an indictment of his character. It is an opportunity for him to be decent and show good faith himself. If he doesn't want to, that to me is an immediate cause to be suspicious. .... doesn't mean he should be allowed to deviate from best practices.

What's wrong with the job listing? It now specifies no overtime, and I think the duties and requirements have been significantly toned down. It doesn't have a salary range, but I can't remember ever having seen a job listing that did. How does it deviate from best practices?

fenomas wrote:
TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

Asking him to do better with a job listing isn't an indictment of his character. It is an opportunity for him to be decent and show good faith himself. If he doesn't want to, that to me is an immediate cause to be suspicious.

What's wrong with the job listing? It now specifies no overtime, and I think the duties and requirements have been significantly toned down. It doesn't have a salary range, but I can't remember ever having seen a job listing that did. What else is there?

Specifying no overtime is great - and very helpful. I hadn't seen that adjustment. That addresses a key issue. Now it just needs an expected salary range and listing of potential benefits. To do even better, it could go into more specifics.

https://twitter.com/ConcernedApe/sta...

"The free 1.4 content update for Stardew Valley is nearly finished... after the XBOX/PS4 multiplayer updates are out I will reveal more about it!"

We're getting close, everybody! Best be putting on your work boots and slipping into some jeans. It's almost time for us to go back to our farms.