Skip to main content

Overtime Hell

Posted by Bite Me on Sat, 26/04/03 - 8:45 AM

As a games developer working late comes as part of the job. However can someone reassure me that not all companies are like mine. I mean scheduling you to work over Easter after you've done 10 months of evenings and weekends without any overtime pay. I just hope we get some royalities even though the game is totally c**p. There has to be someone that can manage a project in this industry. Or do I do what we always do and blame the publisher even though the management don't know how to do basicly arithmetic and work out the project requires an extra 8 man years. And all they can say in their defence is this is typical in the industry. Duh!

To all managers/producers please learn from your mistakes and add on those extra man hours before the project begins.


Submitted by davidcoen on Sat, 26/04/03 - 8:51 AM Permalink

learn to say 'no'? though that can damage you liklyhood of keeping job...

Submitted by Bite Me on Sat, 26/04/03 - 9:08 AM Permalink

Yeah, keeping my job is whats keeping me back,
Yo Sal, put some more frickin' cheese on this pizza!!!

Submitted by Bite Me on Sat, 26/04/03 - 9:11 AM Permalink

plus we aren't getting paid for overtime, beat that with a bat!
Can I have this pizza half-price? it is a bit cold and forty minutes late!

Submitted by Malus on Sat, 26/04/03 - 9:36 AM Permalink

I'll take your job if you don't want it? :P

Don't mean to sound harsh but isn't that something you realised about the games industry before you applied, I'm expecting to live there when I finally get in, damn I'm looking forward to it.

If it is a major worry to you, which it seems it is then compensation for extended overtime should be something you and members of you're team could bring up as a group, less chance of reprisals.

Submitted by Daemin on Sat, 26/04/03 - 10:48 AM Permalink

Bite Me - Just Chill man, alright? Its gonna be over soon, either the Publisher will dump it or you'll go insane and kill everybody there...

Either way... ;-) :-P

Submitted by rezn0r on Sat, 26/04/03 - 3:14 PM Permalink

Yes, it will be over soon... and then begins the next project. *EVIL LAUGH*

Scott.

Submitted by souri on Sun, 27/04/03 - 5:09 PM Permalink

Not everyone wants to work absurd hours for months on end. Stress, burning out, health concerns are an issue here, I'm sure.. any dream job can turn into something you hate after a while under those conditions - especially if you're not fairly compensated for it. To say that you have to "put up with it, it's part of the package" is pretty harsh - and perhaps is just letting sloppy management off easy (bad management of projects? unachievable development goals?). It's pretty unfair for employees to bear the brunt of it. I do expect some crunchtime to happen (I'm sure there are so many variables when it comes to making games, it's bound to happen), but 10 months sounds pretty excessive.

Submitted by Daemin on Sun, 27/04/03 - 11:07 PM Permalink

I wouldn't mind putting in 1 or 2 hours overtime for each day a week if on friday we could have a whicked lan at the company's place. That would kinda be compensation for the overtime somewhat.

And tickets and travel to the adgc are also some other compensation that I would dig.

Submitted by Maitrek on Mon, 28/04/03 - 5:10 AM Permalink

I have a pretty straightforward philosphy, if I don't enjoy the work, then **** it. Sure there may *not* be a heap of jobs out there, but I would rather be self-employed/bum than be self-tortured.

Submitted by davidcoen on Mon, 28/04/03 - 10:26 AM Permalink

well, i was serious about learning to say 'no',

'no' you can not have this feature in untill we get this working,
'no', if you want this feature, we can't do this other thing
'no' you can't change your mind once i have implemented something
'no' i'm not making changes till i have reached my deadlines you have set...

(bitter and jaded? moi?)

Submitted by Daemin on Mon, 28/04/03 - 12:06 PM Permalink

david - those are some good points... and really a good software project manager should be able to balance the three "values" of development, resources, time, features (from Game Architecture and Design).

I guess saying "no", especially as a novice / entry-level person is important.

Submitted by Pantmonger on Mon, 28/04/03 - 6:30 PM Permalink

Saying no is an important skill to cultivate. Just because you are now working in the 'fun' game industry does not mean that the usual employment rules go out the window. Remember unpaid overtime is a request, you have the right to say no. If they fire you over that, you also have the right to a wrongful dismissal trial.

Don't get me wrong the occasional overtime is to be expected, and a bit of a block of it at crunch time. But when it happens all the time, thats not the industry, thats and excuse for exploitation. If enough people let it happen it will continue to happen. But if enough people challenge it... Maybe its time our industry got some union action?

Pantmonger

Pantmonger

Submitted by souri on Mon, 28/04/03 - 8:21 PM Permalink

I'd also like to give a slight word of caution - there's a likely chance that those who you work for could be roaming here too, so if you feel like venting on something happening at work, please don't post details that might give away who you are, or where you work etc. It's a relatively small industry, so you wouldn't want to tarnish your name or chances on future employment. That goes for comments on educational places as well.
I'm not restricting what you can write here - just be careful on what you write. (Heck, register under a new nick with no details if you like, if you want to make anonymous comment).

Submitted by Sorceror Bob on Mon, 28/04/03 - 9:16 PM Permalink

I think this is something you need to bring up with your employer Bite Me.

Some degree of crunch time is to be expected.. That level of unpaid overtime is unreasonable.. You're obviously frustrated with it, and it definately can't be good for your health being pushed so hard..

If its been like this for 10 months, steps should have been taken to improve the workload.

Submitted by sho nuff on Fri, 09/05/03 - 3:25 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Souri
Not everyone wants to work absurd hours for months on end. Stress, burning out, health concerns are an issue here, I'm sure.. any dream job can turn into something you hate after a while under those conditions - especially if you're not fairly compensated for it. To say that you have to "put up with it, it's part of the package" is pretty harsh - and perhaps is just letting sloppy management off easy (bad management of projects? unachievable development goals?). It's pretty unfair for employees to bear the brunt of it. I do expect some crunchtime to happen (I'm sure there are so many variables when it comes to making games, it's bound to happen), but 10 months sounds pretty excessive.

Too true. Im not in the industry, but a jobs a job. Just because its more interesting than ur usual, it is still privy to the same conditions. I'm with souri on this one.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 19/12/03 - 11:01 PM Permalink

My friend told me how he did 7 days a week for 3 months at a game dev. company in Melbourne. He said that after a while you just don't want to talk to anyone, or ask anyone what they've been up to... especially since they've been at work with you every damn day anyway [:)]

Submitted by Malus on Sat, 20/12/03 - 12:57 AM Permalink

On average in the past 4 weeks I've done at least 2-3 hrs overtime a night and several saturdays and some work from home.
I don't find it a problem, I do it to help my team, in this industry if you all sit back and do nothing during deadline then the project might flop and you are all out of work.

Its mainly self imposed but I would have no problem if my superiors needed me to stay back as long as its not expected everday and for no praise/reward.

I say if you don't like doing any overtime your in the wrong industry, hell I love working late it means I get to make games even more!!

Submitted by davidcoen on Sat, 20/12/03 - 12:03 PM Permalink

I don't mind the hours, i just wish my brain would stop telling me to play computer games (playing games does not increace the amount of time to get work done in) arggh.

Submitted by Me109 on Mon, 12/01/04 - 12:49 AM Permalink

I agree with Malus, overtime is what the industry is all about, and when you enjoy what you do, overtime isnt a problem. Owners and bosses appreciate to no end when employees stay to do overtime, and don't forget the rewards of finishing a project far out weighs the pain gone through to get there..

Submitted by Jacana on Mon, 12/01/04 - 1:33 AM Permalink

If things were planned better there would be less need for that expectation of overtime (as already stated).

Also, people continue to say that overtime is what the industry is about. So what happens to a person who has commitments outside of work (such as family etc) that can't afford to spend 10 hours a day at work. Do you brush that person off because they are not willing to work twice as hard for no extra pay?

Companies that expect you to work overtime from the start have bad managment practices and should be looked at twice. There is such a thing as quality of life, peace of mind, and taking breaks.

This industry is about creating an immerseive, fun, and unique form of entertainment the industry IS NOT about overtime. It's companies and people who let that drive their lives that make it about that.

Submitted by Daemin on Mon, 12/01/04 - 1:53 AM Permalink

I agree with Jacana on this one, the industry shouldn't be about doing overtime to finish a game, well not all the time anyways, before milestones it might be necessary just for a week or so.

However having said that, if you're a 20 something male, with little family life, no girlfriend, etc, then you might as well stay there, becuase you do what you enjoy, you get to be around friends and people that enjoy the same sort of thing, and you're creating something "cool".

Submitted by supagu on Tue, 03/02/04 - 6:42 AM Permalink

Marty
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10 months is nothing When I was working at Remedy doing level design for Max Payne, I did 7 days a week for 3 years. A few of the other guys were at the office everyday also. We did ridiculous hours (slept at the office etc)

Never even considered the concept of overtime pay (I didnt even read my paycheques) because everyone knew we were working on something special.

2 or 3 days per year I would 'reward' myself and take a full day off (on my Birthday for example)

Was all worth it in the end *collapses*

Marty Howe

-ah sounds like heaven to me.... i spend stupid amount of time coding any way because its so fun!

Souri
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My friend told me how he did 7 days a week for 3 months at a game dev. company in Melbourne. He said that after a while you just don't want to talk to anyone, or ask anyone what they've been up to... especially since they've been at work with you every damn day anyway

- im like that already ;p

ohoohohoh codathon? >-) sw33t

Submitted by DaMunkee on Sat, 07/02/04 - 2:34 PM Permalink

Haha, don't even get me started on how wrong Overtime is!

A job is a job, is a job. Sure in games, you get to work with some of the brightest, most creative people around and usually the environment is more "organic," I would trade it all to be assured an 8 hour day, 5 days a week and no more. Life is meant to be lived and living it doesn't mean sitting on your butt in an office, not seeing the light of day for 6 months or longer.

The issue though is there is absolutely no need to crunch. Call it what you will, bad management, underestimating the requirements, learning curve, whatever. The truth is, "We are making games people!" We're not saving the world, there's no need to sacrifice our lives, our friendships, our lovers for what? Electrons.

Let us take the time and make the game right! The almighty dollar shouldn't drive our creative juices, all the almighty dollar does is dry them up! That's it, if I ever win the lotto, I'm opening a Gaming Comune where games will take however long they take to make. Where your wives/husbands and children will actually know who their parents are. Where you have time to explore other things/ideas in the evening! Oh yes, this place will be great! And I promise you this, the games that would come out of this place will be good, solid, bugfree! They WILL BE DONE RIGHT!

Submitted by smeg on Sat, 07/02/04 - 10:32 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by DaMunkee
The truth is, "We are making games people!" We're not saving the world...

haha, very nice.

cheers

Submitted by souri on Mon, 09/02/04 - 8:19 AM Permalink

Who sets milestones anyway? Publishers or the developers themselves? Is it part of the design proposal?

Submitted by rodent on Mon, 09/02/04 - 9:27 AM Permalink

I believe both the publishers and developers have a hand in the milestones, but the end date is usually set in stone and the milestones are made to show what the publishers will be paying each part payment for. So they are pretty much dictated by the completion date.

The issue of overtime has been quietly debated for many years and will go on as long as there is a games industry. I think the bottom line is that most people in the industry are paid a salary to do a job, with the salary consisting of a yearly figure plus whatever bonuses. If you need to work overtime to do the job then you either need to manage your time better, or just do it and hope that your effort is rewarded later by putting out a better game or by your employer in your next pay review. I've had my fair share of all-nighters and weeks working to midnight every night, usually being rewarded by a pizza and Coke, or a day off in-lieu. With a wife and 5 kids it's not the ideal way of life, but I love the work I do and wouldn't leave this industry in a hurry. Having said that, though, I've worked past 9pm maybe only once or twice in the last few years and can't even remember how long it's been since I did my last all-nighter. Being older and (maybe) a little wiser I've worked out what I need to do to get my projects out the door on time while working as little overtime as possible.

Jacana is right. If things are planned better there is less need for that expectation of overtime.

Submitted by JonathanKerr on Mon, 09/02/04 - 9:37 AM Permalink

Maybe there's no time being allocated for mistakes that occur - you know, a fix up period? Any plan should allow time for stuff that goes wrong.

Submitted by Jacana on Mon, 09/02/04 - 6:15 PM Permalink

From what I understood part of the way games companies in Aust have been getting contracts is by cheaper labour and shorter dev cycles. So if you tell a publisher we'll get this game out in 14 months and they pick you up then you both set the milestones for 14 months.

I think at that stage by undercutting dev time the mistake and fix-up period have been killed because the company wants the contract.

Submitted by Malus on Mon, 09/02/04 - 9:20 PM Permalink

Me109: Just to clear something up, I don't beleive this industry is all about overtime far from it I just believe it is sometimes an unavoidable nessesity in certain cases due to the nature of the industry.

Overtime is a generally down to bad management etc and should be something that is avoided, if possible.

What I was trying to get at is that the games industry is not like most industries, it has a more fluid dev cycle, things change and they change regulary so its hard (but not impossible)to keep a formulated rigged plan of attack and because of this the need for some overtime is going to happen.
Generally this should probably happen around crunch time when everything is being tested, finalised and polished etc.

If you are doing overtime from the get go something is dreadfully wrong with the attack plan or management and you have the right to kick up a stick or just plainly say no.

No one should be forced to do free work but in this industry sometimes it means the difference between a company succeeding in a titles release and half the company getting the chop, which would you prefer?