Anthem

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: Anthem

Post by Magical_Isopod » April 3rd, 2019, 7:53 am

nickturner13 wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 1:38 am
Good article. I always thought the game looked a bit sparse and so have never played it, it looks like a game that might be fun for 5 minutes until the fun of flying wears off.

really interesting to see that in a 7 year dev cycle they didn't even know what the game was, or invoved, 18 months before release!
Let's be real, they STILL don't know what Anthem is. Look up some of the longform reviews of this game - it doesn't have much of a story, the gameplay loop is dull, the quests are about on par with early MMOs in their complexity... I'm not even sure I can say it has a cohesive art direction, they can't seem to decide if they want to go neopagan or space marines or Dune or Ark: Survival Evolved.... The fact that they got a product out the door at all is probably the only thing keeping Bioware alive right now -- but one has to wonder, like, would EA as a publisher have been better off letting them have an extension? Or leaving it to meander in the shit?

Quite strangely, and in opposition to the public perception, it almost seems like the biggest problem was EA giving Bioware *too much* control. That no one stepped in to say, "Yo, guys, there's no leadership direction here, we're bringing in an outside director" shows, to me, that EA actually gave these guys breathing room and creative control - and they completely screwed the pooch. Having that many rotating bosses attached to one project is insane - and that most of them couldn't make mud from water and dirt is absolutely baffling. It's an utter failure of management.

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Flabyo
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Re: Anthem

Post by Flabyo » April 3rd, 2019, 12:58 pm

Jason Schreier has started to be the ‘guy you talk to if you want to be sure your anonymity is preserved’.

That piece reads like a missing chapter from his book ‘blood, sweat and pixels’ which I can absolutely recommend if you like reading about the horror of AAA game dev from the people who do it.

Sadly there are no new revelations in this anthem piece, the failures are the same failures I’ve seen personally myself and hear about all the time from others.

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Re: Anthem

Post by Scrustle » April 3rd, 2019, 1:21 pm

Frankly, Jason Schreier's recent work, as well as similar stuff from other writers, has thoroughly put me off the idea of ever wanting to get in to the games industry. It sounds like absolute hell. Brilliant journalism though, of course.

As a bit of a continuation on this story, Polygon did a piece covering Kotaku's story, as well as Bioware's response. It sounds like the message hasn't really sunk in, and they may be doomed to keep making the same mistakes if they don't have a change of attitude very soon.

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Re: Anthem

Post by Suits » April 3rd, 2019, 6:00 pm

Fantastic piece from Schreier.

I read it again today. I mean, I think we all know the sort of issues these places have when games end up like this but actually seeing it put down and delivered like that is always a sad but fascinating tale.

Stress leave, such a complicated, nasty illness.

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Re: Anthem

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » April 3rd, 2019, 10:17 pm

Scrustle wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 1:21 pm
Frankly, Jason Schreier's recent work, as well as similar stuff from other writers, has thoroughly put me off the idea of ever wanting to get in to the games industry. It sounds like absolute hell. Brilliant journalism though, of course.

As a bit of a continuation on this story, Polygon did a piece covering Kotaku's story, as well as Bioware's response. It sounds like the message hasn't really sunk in, and they may be doomed to keep making the same mistakes if they don't have a change of attitude very soon.
Thanks for that link!

Gotta say, I was already turned off Bioware after the one-two punch of Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem. The "good old days" of Bioware are long gone, never to return. Still got my KOTOR, Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect classic on the shelf, so there was some former love.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: Anthem

Post by Magical_Isopod » April 4th, 2019, 7:44 am

Scrustle wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 1:21 pm
Frankly, Jason Schreier's recent work, as well as similar stuff from other writers, has thoroughly put me off the idea of ever wanting to get in to the games industry. It sounds like absolute hell. Brilliant journalism though, of course.

As a bit of a continuation on this story, Polygon did a piece covering Kotaku's story, as well as Bioware's response. It sounds like the message hasn't really sunk in, and they may be doomed to keep making the same mistakes if they don't have a change of attitude very soon.
It's not just the games industry though. Crunch is a major issue in labour *in general*. I work in the industrial automation industry, and has much as I have my complaints about my current job... I only work 84 hours biweekly. When I was working for integrators, the companies actually building and installing automated systems, 60 hours WEEKS were considered short. My record for hours worked - and I never once asked for OT - is 113 hours. The reason this happens in automation is probably the same reason it happens in gaming: Shithead sales people. Automation, especially for automotive, is competitive, and profit margins are not huge. So in order to keep steady work for the shop, the sales guys will guarantee impossible deadlines -- which is stupid, because it ends up costing everyone more money in the end.

To give a "roadmap" of a typical assembly line: you're looking at 6 months time with engineering and design, 4-6 months for assembly, 2-4 months for programming, commissioning and proving... Another 1-2 months for teardown and rebuild, and then another 6-12 months for support and bug control. So 1.5 years from first deposit to final sign-off.

The sales guys will sell a contract to get it done in 8 months. Which is fucking ludicrous. So for me as a programmer, I'm basically coding for a machine *that isn't even designed yet*, having to constantly ask engineers what they're wanting, changing things on the fly, scrapping 2 weeks of work when the engineers realize it won't work... But then the project manager expects I can just dump the code in and have the machine magically work so they can ship in two weeks. But it's impossible. So I start pulling 80+ hour weeks (because I'll be fired if I don't - there is zero job protection in this industry, there are no unions), and I'm telling the PM, "There's no way this machine is going to be ready to ship," and they say, "Well, program it on site." So I ship out to some shithole, backwater town in the United States with only one trashy motel, and basically live there for 6 weeks at a time, working 12 hours a day. The plant manager is demanding they start production, so we're limping this machine across a finish line. Then an executive from GM or Nissan comes and screams at me and calls me a "retard" for short-shipping their finall assembly plant parts and it's just like, fuck off!

So I fully and completely understand crunch. I am so, so glad that so many devs are breaking off and selling their own damn games. Every Dead Cells, Celeste, Iconoclasts, SOMA, Hellblade, Hollow Knight... These are probably made by folks who have worked in games before, and got the fuck out before they killed themselves or had a major breakdown. And I will support the *hell* out of that, because I've been in those shoes. It is hell. The stress leave they mention in the BioWare article? I've been on it -- four times. I'm 28 years old. My doctor has told me, "You cannot keep working these hours, you need to take a vacation." Boss says, "You can't take a vacation, we have another massive project for you to do." So I bring a doctor's note, and he can't say no. Last thing these bastards want is the Ministry of Labour coming in, seeing how they force people to work the hours they do with constant threats. And people ask why games industry isn't unionized yet? The U word can and will get you fired -- and not only fired, but black-listed by other companies.

Perhaps you folks can detect the chaos of my tone here - it's a hell I've escaped from. Only recently have I been coming out of a deep hole of depression I basically entered in 2014ish.

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James
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Re: Anthem

Post by James » April 6th, 2019, 12:05 pm

That sounds wretched, Magical_Isopod. Glad you managed to get yourself into a better place, both employment-wise and emotionally/mentally.
I can't imagine unionisation would be a magic wand that solves such problems, but the fear of unions these companies/industries have is a strong argument in favour of unionisation for me. At least it'd open negotiations over working conditions and start to set some ground rules for the future.

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Flabyo
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Re: Anthem

Post by Flabyo » April 6th, 2019, 4:56 pm

Unions won’t stop studio closures and mass redundancies. But they will make sure that people will be treated better when these things happen than they are now. (Ie, don’t give the people you’re making redundant a reasonable severance settlement? The staff you still have will strike).

It means you have a seat at the table when things are discussed, even if you can’t ultimately change a decision (sometimes a company is just fucked).

At the moment cutting staff is the easiest way to reduce costs in a studio because the staff are by far the most expensive part of the business, and there’s no real incentive or penalty to make other options more appealing.

A unionised workforce would not have saved any jobs at Telltale, or probably even at Activision, but it would’ve meant that staff would’ve known it was coming, and would perhaps have been given enough settlement to not have to completely uproot their lives with no notice as a result.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: Anthem

Post by Magical_Isopod » April 6th, 2019, 10:22 pm

Flabyo wrote:
April 6th, 2019, 4:56 pm
Unions won’t stop studio closures and mass redundancies. But they will make sure that people will be treated better when these things happen than they are now. (Ie, don’t give the people you’re making redundant a reasonable severance settlement? The staff you still have will strike).
Which is why I'm a big fan of public, state and worker ownership. There's a major GM assembly plant closing down in Oshawa, ON, about 2 hours away from me (it's been there for over 100 years!), and the union is actually doing a major campaign to seize the factory under national or provincial ownership to be retooled as a final assembly plant for an *all-Canadian* vehicle.

I doubt it'll work, because century-old buildings are not exactly known for their longevity... But the simple fact that it's being tried, and that it seems to have support across partisan lines, suggests to me that the future of labour rights may no longer be in unions, but in public ownership. Cut the capitalists right out of the equation and watch the bastards shrivel up like worms on cement.

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