Rockstar employees defended the company after criticizing 100-hour work weeks.

    The Rockstar Hauser brothers are rarely interviewed. It is unlikely that now they will want to do it more often.

    The Red Dead Redemption is coming out the other day - their first game in five years after GTA V. I think she will be fine without classical journalistic reports from the office, but the Hausers still chatted with Vulture and told how the development went. In the huge text there was a lot of important and interesting, but only one remark interrupted the rest, replicated and grew into an unpleasant scandal on the eve of the release (which, however, is also unlikely to interfere with success).

    Dan Hauser said: “In 2018, there were weeks when we worked 100 hours each.”

    The game is huge, it amazes with attention to details of all who have already seen it. And obviously - to bring to mind such a colossus was not easy. But not everyone agreed that for this it’s worth working 14 hours a day without days off. Recently, recycling is a very sensitive issue in games.

    Crunchy - the infamous feature of gamedev

    “Crunch is not the same thing as just rummaging: it is a special type of a long trail, typical of the gaming industry.”
    From the preface to the Russian edition of the book Blood, Sweat and Pixels.

    For example, Marcin Ivinsky from CD Projekt - the studio where they made the trilogy about The Witcher - considers crunches a necessary evil . He says: “People think that games are easy to do. But it’s hard work, it can ruin your life. ”

    There are many supporting examples. The work of many blockbusters - Skyrim, Mass Effect, Uncharted - is talking about working seven days a week with breaks only for sleeping. Clint Hawking, aUbisoft designer, described how he encountered partial memory loss during hard work on Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Several months of life were erased from his head, which he was surprisingly restoring from conversations with friends and colleagues.

    “Stress and anxiety literally hurt my brain,” he writes.

    Bret Duville recalled how he was a lead programmer at Lucas Arts on the Jedi Starfighter project. Guide set the task to make the game in 11 months. 40 hours a week turned into 80. One day, after five months at that pace, Bret simply could not get out of the car - he sat paralyzed for an hour and thought that he had a heart attack.

    In 2015, the IGDA gaming association conducted a survey . 52% of those surveyed indicated that they had been cranking more than twice in the last two years. Another 32% said that they are required to have long periods of processing, but this is simply not called "crunchy".

    And perhaps the loudest scandal happened recently.Studio Telltale Games was closed , hundreds of people were left without work and told about the terrible conditions due to unrealistic deadlines.

    Rockstar hurried to justify

    Of course, in such an atmosphere, Hauser’s revelation drew criticism.
    He hastened with explanations:
    In fact, the interview was only about the work on narration and dialogue, and not about all the processes in the studio. After seven years of development, the team of leading screenwriters - Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humpfries, Laszlo Jones and I - have been actively finishing all three weeks. Three weeks, not three years. We have been working together for 12 years and we always do this, we feel that we have to do this in order to complete everything. After so many years of working on the project, it was necessary to double-check and finalize everything.

    But most importantly, we do not demand such an approach from the rest. The company has Siniora who are very invested in the project, and this is evident from the final quality of the games. But additional input is a choice. Many Sinioras work in the most usual way and do it productively - I'm just not one of them. No one, neither shiniorov nor junior, we do not force to recycle.
    This is not to say that the statement completely extinguished the fire, because the crunch has one peculiarity. Often they are voluntarily forced. People start to recycle out of solidarity with their colleagues. Recycling becomes the unspoken norm, and in the end, if you get up and go home at seven in the evening, you are treated with disapproval.

    Perhaps that is why, after Hauser’s comments, the studio allowed all employees to speak frankly in social networks about their work. And most of the developers took the side of Dan.

    What do the developers themselves say

    I have never worked more than 50 hours a week (and this is probably the exception), but I usually have from two to six paid overtime hours a week.

    I get paid for processing from one and a half to two times more if 8 extra hours a week are recruited or more than 12 hours in one day - all according to California laws. Also for all three and a half years at Rockstar I was asked to work on the weekend once or twice.
    RDR 2 was one of the least stressful projects in my life. My team and I were able to find a healthy balance between life and work, which always seemed like a holy grail in the gaming industry. Once I caught pericarditis - an infectious heart disease - and I had to leave for the hospital. I went to work the next day, and as soon as HR found out about it, I was sent home by taxi and gave a week-long vacation. They said not to come back until the doctor allowed, although I wanted to work.

    In two years of working on RDR2, I didn’t have nearly 100 hours a week. Of course, there were crunches, but nothing extraordinary. We worked on the game by the sweat of our brows, but no one pressed on us. Maximum work 60 hours per week.

    During the time that I am in the company, workflows have improved significantly. The crunch on RDR 2 was much softer than on GTA V when I worked more than 70 hours a week for a whole month (although the boss drove me home).
    However, there were also anonymous messages that came to journalists. For example, VG247 published this :
    Not all studios pay for processing. We are definitely not paid. Many departments write that no one forces them, but I doubt that you will see many tweets from designers and testers. For example, I regularly work more than 50 hours a week from the moment I came here.

    What do you think

    I don’t really want to believe that recycling is a necessary evil. But waiting for Red Dead Redemption 2 for another year and a half (and then half a year fixing bugs) is also not cool.

    So let's take a survey. Who thinks what?

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    Crunchy - a necessary evil gamedev?

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