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Homefront Crunch Time

Develop has complaints from an "inside source" at KAOS Studios complaining about a "seven-day crunch for two months" at the THQ-owned studio as they work to complete Homefront, their upcoming first-person shooter. They spoke about this with David Votypka, KAOS general manager, who confirmed the game is in serious crunch mode. "If this seems unique or abhorrent, I would have to suggest that any assessment regarding a 10-hour work day would need to consider a much larger segment of the American workforce," Votypka tells them. "Unfortunately, it was misstated that this [seven-day crunch] has been going on for two months. Thatís simply not the case. For the record: no Kaos developer has worked 60 days without a break. That will never happen here."

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28. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 18, 2011, 19:44 Yosemite_SLAM
 
OMG many of you people are totally clueless.

I am an industrial engineer for a company that makes billions each quarter. I am also salary. If my bosses had their way I'd be working 12 hours days, every day... weekends too. Some of my counterparts do just that.... the single ones. The ones that don't have dinner time, and homework time, and football games, soccer, band recitals, etc etc. The point is priorities. All companies look at ROI (return on investment) Their priority is to make money. Their priority is greed. They will push and intimidate and say whatever needs to be said so that the salaried workforce stays focused on work. I should know... I work with and am also one of the decision makers. You should hear what they say about the workforce. You'd be quite shocked.

I don't work the hours they want. Why? Because my priority is to my wife and kids, not to how much money the company makes. If I am not there for them then before I know it the house will be empty and I will have missed out on so much.

So understand this. Salary does not equal slavery. Get your priorities straight. Live a life, not a prison term with perks. And always remember: it's easier to be forgiven then to get permission.

...Of course to have the balls to do that your work better be tight.
 
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27. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 21:58 eRe4s3r
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 13:46:
1) No one is arguing that 2 months of 7 day weeks is a good thing. We are arguing that some crunch is a good thing. 2 months of 7 day weeks is bad. 2 months of 5 12 hour days is not. Hell, I have friends that consistently work 100-120 hours a week. I'm over 60 every week.

You work over 60 hours a week and consider that normal? Maybe you have no hobbies and no life (or don't want to do either during the week and not just on weekends?), but i know hardly ANYONE who would even consider such a job, no matter how well it paid. And I live in Germany for reference.

Heck, 48 hours a week are the gov regulated MAX for gov jobs with 2 hours overtime per day AT MOST and overtime is limited as well (and you HAVE to take free days with your overtime hours at some point). So your job sounds pretty dang bad to me

Also I'd want to see those friends of yours and tell them what it means to live, because that is not a life they have, that is slavery. When you are old you will direly regret wasting your life with just work work work.
 
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26. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 20:33 Wolfen
 
I worked crunch at every company I was at. Sometimes it was because a publisher pushed a date, sometimes it was poor management, some times it was just a bunch of the grunts faults for slacking to begin with. There are many reasons a crunch can happen. Its not JUST poor management, but poor management can be a cause alone at times as well. Overall though, its common, a little too common since over 11 years of working in that biz and every single job had some kind of crunch. Did I like it? No. Did I complain? Sometimes. Depended on why we were crunching.

I remember a job where we forced to all come in on a weekend because a different group (design) had to come in. So to make it look all "fair" we had to come in. Even though we were caught up. Kinda sucked. Silly. But what ever.

If I was working 10 hours, 7 days a week for two months. I would of left. Thats just ridiculous. I particularly believe Votypka that no one has worked 60 days with out a break. How ever, that isnt to say some one hasnt worked 30 days with out a break. =P
 
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25. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 20:32 Akuinnen
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 13:46:
I'm over 60 every week.

Kick that habit. Life is too short to work that much.

In WA there is no overtime for tech workers, salaried or not. I'm not opposed to working late for a week or here and there. I've seen too many people give up their lives at tech companies for cake that never comes.
 
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24. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 18:56 Unknown Soldier
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 13:46:
Hell, I have friends that consistently work 100-120 hours a week. I'm over 60 every week.

You have friends that work 17 hours a day, 7 days a week? When do these friends have time to hang out with you?

That's not work, it's indentured servitude and it's not healthy.

Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 13:46:
When you're on salary there is no "overtime." You're responsible for getting your work finished, not being in the office a certain amount of time. It's a "perk" of being on salary.

While this is technically true, there are limits in both directions. I work much faster than most people on my team, and if I did the same amount of work they do, I could be out of the office after 3-4 hours a day. Think that would fly in most companies? No.

On the flip side, nobody is going to reasonably expect a salaried employee to work 120 hours a week... just because he's salaried. That's excessive to any reasonable person and employers will end up paying through the nose if they try to pull that kind of thing on a regular basis. Salary != free overtime.
 
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23. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 18:20 eRe4s3r
 
Isn't that what I just said? You don't "race" to fix NOR find a bug. As Q&A needs to play through the game repeatedly - after each bug is fixed, to make sure fixing it doesn't cause new bugs - , try stupid things, try retarded things, try things on 200 different system configs etc. This is exactly how game breaking bugs and hardware issues escape the bug hunt and end up being patched by an emergency patch on release day.

No, let me phrase it better. Crunch time (to meet a deadline) is (imo) why games have release day patches.
 
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22. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 15:34 RenownWolf
 
I understand what you're saying now beamer. A little bit of crunch will happen with a set release assuming a couple set backs during production (common in the industry due to the random nature of art) while big crunch is indeed a failure of the project management.

In a perfect world, OT wouldn't be needed, but issues always crop up. Unless your stars aling and you get done early (engineering company in Brisbane just got a few million bonus for being 3 months early).

In the case of this game, disappointing, but I hope they learn from their mistakes.
 
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21. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 15:19 Beamer
 
But again, I'm not saying that 2 months of 7 day weeks is smart or good or necessary.


I'm saying some crunch is necessary. If your project is sliding in with everyone doing 40 hour weeks straight through it's going to lack the passion of a game with people staying later and working more at the end.
A huge part of that staying later and working more is people getting in the zone and killing bugs.

Some people here keep mentioning projects they do outside of entertainment. Those typically aren't passionate labors of love.


Something that is will keep you in the office longer. Again, not 2 months of 7 day weeks, but putting in 60 hours the final 8 weeks of a 130 week project isn't a bad thing. It can be a very, very good thing.
 
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20. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 15:11 Beamer
 
paying people OT for poor results... there are all kinds of laws and regulations in place about this sort of crap


Untrue.
These people are salaried. They are not paid overtime. There are no laws about this. 60 hours a week for a salaried employee is not considered barbaric.

Again, you only ever need to get into crunch when someone screwed the pooch somewhere on dates and making sure milestones were met on time and under budget.

At the very least I'm sure some people here have done major website launches. I'm sure most of them have spent the final few days working longer hours doing all kinds of testing, and felt that they got more accomplished in those final days than any prior.
 
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19. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 14:56 Cutter
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 14:22:
Again, if the project manager did his job correctly and schedule correct tasks with the correct amount of time things wouldn't need overtime.

I've said again and again that the industry sucks at project management, in large part because they tend to promote the best at their job rather than seek good leaders/managers, and in part because they fear "suits" that tend to be quite good at this.


But you'll have crunch regardless. It's an inevitable part of any project.

No you won't. That's the trumpet call of the incompetent manager. I used to work for EA and dealt with this shit all the time. Its one of the reasons I got out of the industry. When I was doing corporate sales engineering juggling multi-million dollar projects we never had crunch time because we had project managers and general managers who understood time management and could provide realistic dates. Again, you only ever need to get into crunch when someone screwed the pooch somewhere on dates and making sure milestones were met on time and under budget. And if that all went south than the initial estimates were all wrong, again, due to someones incompetence and/or being unrealistic.

And no, most industry does not have crunch time in any way shape or form because it's cheaper using PT workers and 2 or 3 shifts per day than paying people OT for poor results. And that's what crunch gets you and it boggles the mind that the gaming industry is still the only one - and even this is slowly changing finally - that doesn't get this. And this is not even mentioning that there are all kinds of laws and regulations in place about this sort of crap, and that those sorts of work environments are what led to labor laws and unions in the first place. It's nothing but bad.

 
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18. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 14:22 Beamer
 
Again, if the project manager did his job correctly and schedule correct tasks with the correct amount of time things wouldn't need overtime.

I've said again and again that the industry sucks at project management, in large part because they tend to promote the best at their job rather than seek good leaders/managers, and in part because they fear "suits" that tend to be quite good at this.


But you'll have crunch regardless. It's an inevitable part of any project.
 
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17. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 14:18 RenownWolf
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 13:46:
2) When you're on salary there is no "overtime." You're responsible for getting your work finished, not being in the office a certain amount of time. It's a "perk" of being on salary.

Again, if the project manager did his job correctly and schedule correct tasks with the correct amount of time things wouldn't need overtime.

This takes me back to my first job in engineering... 8 months late and massively over budget. Changed companies and it was a different story, similar scope of works yet without the failures for every milestone due to project management (not giving enough hours for tasks).

I hated that job because of all of the crap, and I was paid overtime while on a salary. Then again, I was apart of a well known union and had industry standards to protect me. This is why the game development guys need to stand up and form a union and get on the same level as other engineers.
 
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16. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 13:46 Beamer
 
1) No one is arguing that 2 months of 7 day weeks is a good thing. We are arguing that some crunch is a good thing. 2 months of 7 day weeks is bad. 2 months of 5 12 hour days is not. Hell, I have friends that consistently work 100-120 hours a week. I'm over 60 every week.

2) When you're on salary there is no "overtime." You're responsible for getting your work finished, not being in the office a certain amount of time. It's a "perk" of being on salary.
 
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15. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 13:43 Beamer
 
Development is about getting into the zone and staying in that zone as long as possible.

Yup.

But I'd question any of you that have a job with big projects and tight deadlines. Do you ever get things finished ahead of time and sit back and relax? Sure, it happens, but not often. Typically you get in the zone when you're close to the deadline. Things start fitting together. You start seeing the project as a whole instead of pieces. You get that adrenaline kick, not from the deadline but from the project finally looking like a project. You end up putting in long hours without realizing it just because it feels good.
 
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14. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 13:40 RenownWolf
 
Crunch is a proof of failure to meet milestones which is a failure of the project manager.

Games are software... software engineering exists for a reason. It's younger than other engineering disciplines but that does not excuse it from the reality of systems and project management.

2 months of 7 day a week 10 hour days for all staff is a big failure and will cause massive burnout and create more issues than it solves.

Some overtime is accepted within reason, but this isn't within reason. Worked in civil engineering long enough to see when the person in charge has failed.
 
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13. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 13:38 Beamer
 
During crunch all of the bugs a game has when it ships are produced. Since crunch to meet the release deadline directly implies NO Q&A.


I don't think you fully understand what happens in crunch.
A huge part of crunch is bug killing. New features aren't being added. New levels aren't being added. It's all about tweaking and bug killing.

If you walk into KAOS today you'll see a whiteboard in every department listing the bug count. You'll find perforce listing all the open bugs with new ones being added. QA is racing to find bugs. Devs are racing to kill them. Each department is racing to be the first to declare themselves bug-free. They'll probably get down to single digit bugs on Friday, go home, come back Monday morning and see that they're back near triple digits.
 
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12. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 12:34 eRe4s3r
 
Crunch is ALWAYS a bad thing. A properly managed project is DONE way ahead of dead-line and does 1 or 2 Q&A iterations when others notice they lack the remaining 30% and have to go into crunch to meet the deadline. Which they often don't. Which is how marvels of gaming come to be, like Gothic 3 on release.

During crunch all of the bugs a game has when it ships are produced. Since crunch to meet the release deadline directly implies NO Q&A.

 
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11. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 12:34 bhcompy
 
Cutter wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 12:23:
Beamer wrote on Jan 17, 2011, 12:04:
Or market demands. You can't simply blanket blame management. Sometimes unexpected things come up, or sometimes you need to hit a certain window or else you're screwed.

Uh, yeah you can. Crunch time particularly in this context does mean management dropped the ball big time. Crunch time in fact is very bad news. The reason 8 hours is a standard is because productivity starts to drop off after about 6 hours for most people so 8 is generally all you can milk them for, anything beyond that starts getting into exponential declines in productivity. Anything beyond 10 hours starts building into serious resentment and virtually no work done, or bad work done which may need to be redone...which sounds like the case here. That's a huge red flag for this game. There's zero gain to the average worker for forced crunch time and they resent it, which results in poor work for a poor product that was poorly managed from the get go.


Development doesn't quite work that way. I'd rather work a 4/10 schedule than a 5/8 schedule if I was doing development work. Development is about getting into the zone and staying in that zone as long as possible. Crunch happens on every game prior to it going gold, and many times it's because the publisher put a date on the game before it was ready.
 
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10. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 12:30 w34sl3
 
You know, I have no sympathy for the complainers. I think David Votypka is right on with his comment. If you want compare where you are working 10 hours a day, seven days a week, to the rest of modern America, I think you will find your job much better than most. Think of all the industries out there that work either outside or without any form of climate control inside a large buidling. Hey winter isnt to bad working inside, but summers really suck. I am sure you could find lots that work 10-12 hour days seven days a week, for months at a time. Home builders come to mind, what about road contruction crews, and I am sure there are tons of manufacturing factories that are working much longer days now, rather than pay for more workers.

Seriously, how many of these complainers are salary guys, Hmm? Did you not know what you were signing on for? Did they lie to you in the interview and tell you they never have crunch time? Did you not understand the inductry you wanted to work in? Were you complaing for the almost two years you probably worked 8 hours a day while the project was coming together? Now that it is coming time to ship the product you are complaining becuase they want you to sacrafice your time for the beterment of the team?

BAH! That would be like military people whining once they started getting shot at..."they get to shoot back? thats not fair!" Come on.

You can talk all you want about how great a worker you are, but your true colors come out when the job goes to crap. If you cant stand in the trenches when the job gets tough, you probably dont deserve the job you have. I used to tell my workers, "If the job was easy everyday they would have called it fun, instead of work."

There are so many people in this country who work in worse conditions for just as many hours if not more, i cant even believe this is somehow news. We wont even touch the people and conditions outside this country.

 
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9. Re: Homefront Crunch Time Jan 17, 2011, 12:27 Lit_Reflex001
 
I don't know about the rest of you, but I felt that Frontlines: Fuel of War on the PC was a very fun FPS.

Sure it was a console game (regenerating health), but it sure was fun. I loved the bullet physics. The blood effects were fun too. As were the additional weapons that unlock during a game. I'll never forget shooting down jets with my EMP launcher.

I say give 'em a chance. Maybe Homefront will be rushed out the door, but if they make it as good as Frontlines, it'll be worth buying.

I just wish I could find my Frontlines CDs. I miss that game.

EDIT: FYI just in case anyone's thinking about single player, Frontlines was really just a multiplayer game.
 
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