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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 Zaph on Tue, 10/02/04 - 7:55 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Jacana
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.

I think there are two different types of "Overtime" - and it's important not to confuse them:

Type 1: Overtime from bad planning - if the overtime is being used just to ship (i.e. the game is unshippable without it) then management have failed in planning for the project. This is avoidable overtime. This is bad, the industry needs to stamp it out and treat people like professionals.

Type 2: Overtime to make the game better - This business is very much artistic and creative, there are always more good ideas than there is time on a project. In the final weeks of a project (or a major milestone) there are things that can be done to take a game from merely 'shippable' to something great. This is where those people with a passion for the game will almost always be working overtime, sometimes management will push the issue because we all want to make a better game. In this case it wouldnt have mattered if you'd had another six months to work on the milestone, the final weeks will *always* have more ideas to improve the game than there is time in an 8-hour day, so overtime is inevitable for those who want to make the best game possible.
This is also sometimes the time for feature-creep - usually a bad thing unless it is carefully considered. If you are lucky then it is a time for game changes based around focus testing or similar, and it will improve the title and hopefully sales (and your personal satisfaction that you made the best game you could in the time you had)

Of course, if you work for a company with infinite money and no publisher deadlines then you can just keep making the game, working 8-hour days, until you are happy with it... *cough* Duke Nukem Forever *cough* Team Fortress 2 *cough* and you'll even get free advertising in the VaporWare Awards !

Zaph, who has worked his share of crunch time, but is doing his best to make it the right kind.

Submitted by TidyKiwi on Sat, 14/02/04 - 7:47 AM Permalink

Overtime is very common. But some of it can be sorted with good pre-planning IMHO. My specialty is audio and I know for a fact that most of the problems with audio related stuff is that it gets left till right at the end of a project.

Producers take note - big mistake - don't leave audio until two weeks from alpha. Man! THAT is overtime.

Anyway, I've read some great articles about project management and only some of it can be sorted with pre-production, planning etc. If you have only 18months to ship, you're gonna have to squeeze some things in a very tight timeframe.

My 2c

TK

Submitted by kingofdaveness on Tue, 17/02/04 - 2:56 AM Permalink

There are generally no overtime payments in the industry. One company I know payed overtime in letting staff order anything they like from the takeaway, and have all the drink they like from the fridge.
It basically goes like this...

*Work only the hours you want to.
*Remember that you wont get that time back. You will resent this if you dont like the project.
*Dont let anyone pressure you into working overtime.
*Remember to get a life outside of work, it helps you detach from disasters inside work.
*Take breaks every twenty minutes to relax and stretch. Try to focus your eyes on a distant object.
*Never do overtime on a project you dont relate to.
*Three hours of overtime with no sleep = one hour of work time rested.

*

Submitted by Red 5 on Tue, 17/02/04 - 3:50 AM Permalink

I know of a game company that takes all it's employees and their immediate families abroad to a resort holiday destination to make up for unpaid overtime... I think it's a great idea plus it works out very well for both the employee's and the company tax-wise :)

Submitted by Zaph on Tue, 17/02/04 - 8:35 AM Permalink

Zaph foolishly gets himself deeper into it :-)

quote:Originally posted by kingofdaveness
It basically goes like this...

*Work only the hours you want to.
*Remember that you wont get that time back. You will resent this if you dont like the project.
*Dont let anyone pressure you into working overtime.
*Remember to get a life outside of work, it helps you detach from disasters inside work.
*Take breaks every twenty minutes to relax and stretch. Try to focus your eyes on a distant object.
*Never do overtime on a project you dont relate to.
*Three hours of overtime with no sleep = one hour of work time rested.

My personal 2c worth: (these are my feelings, not those of my employer)

"Three hours of overtime with no sleep = one hour of work time rested" - I disagree here, I think that if you take a break and eat a proper meal then 3-4 hours of overtime is still productive... everything beyond that can get ugly (and can actually go negative... 8 hours solid overtime often equals -2 hours due to the damage done!)

"Work only the hours you want to." - well, maybe only the *overtime* hours you want to - you are still going to have to work the 40 hour week if you want to keep your job!

"Remember to get a life outside of work" - Yes Yes Yes Yes... and this doesn't just mean girlfriend/boyfriend/family - play a sport, go to the movies, etc.

"Take breaks every twenty minutes to relax and stretch" - do more than that, get up and walk around the office - go outside for some fresh air for 5 minutes (not a smoke!). Have some nerf wars around the office to get the blood flowing again!

Basically kingofdaveness is right, you don't HAVE to work overtime, and if you do you should be doing it for the right reasons.

However if you intend never to work a few extra hours then you should make sure you never take advantage of the slack time earlier in the project where people turn up at 10:30 and leave at 5, you'll need to be putting in the full 8-hour day every single day of the project for 18 months or more. In most jobs if you get paid overtime then you don't get paid for not being at work... or for playing CS/DoD/CoD/BF42/Q/UT/etc [8D]
If however you do find yourself finishing work one hour early on just one day a week (even if it is "company sanctioned").. then you probably 'owe' your company about 75 hours of overtime... or 2 hours per night, 5 days a week, for almost two months...
If your game-company-office 'relaxes' on a friday night at 5pm (most do) then you probably just put in a 6-6.5 hour day... you do the math...

(my wife works in an industry with overtime... she doesn't get paid when she leaves work early, she clocks on and off every day - a single hour missed is an hours less pay.)

On the other hand, I've seen people forced to work 12 hour days, 7 day weeks for months on end. That is insane - even if they paid overtime, and I believe there is no excuse for it (unless you own the company, then you work your arse off to save it).

Like I said, these are just my opinions, I know I'll be starting a flame war but I think it's important to see more than one side to a war - even (especially?) if you disagree.

p.s. replace 40 hour with 38 or 36 - whatever you've signed on to do.

Zaph (puts on galoshes of +1 flame protection)