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Working overtime without some sort of commiseration should be illegal, yet it is typically expected in a lot of salaried work. Even my local groceries makes their workers spend 10 minutes cleaning up before close, 'off the clock'. Game studios are notorious for the crunch at the end of a projects life cycle because of the random off the cuff date a publisher needs to fill up a void in their yearly lineup or quarter.

The thing is they don't explicitly say 'work over time' they say 'this feature needs to be complete and working by Monday or else' What does management think the developer will do, pull it out of our behind? Reminds me of Steve Jobs, actually.

I once had my boss explain to me if these features don't get completed before the end of the month, he will lose his house. I had already previously told him that it's impossible and had to explain we will need to compromise to reach that date. We released 1 month late but the software has a lot of issues and I'm now blamed for this as the lead developer of only two programmers. I worked 12 hour days 6 days a week for 1 month and he wanted me to work more. He still has his house.

It's a zero sum game. Developers only have so much time in a week and the more you chip at sleep and rest/play time, the more it's going to cost the developer's health and the project's cost.

It's frustrating because I'm just a developer (mostly contractor to boot) and yet I feel like I have valuable constructive criticism that would benefit management and the productivity of the project on the whole if they adapted it. You can rarely pull that off tastefully. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe these things exist for a good reason and I'm seeing this differently because I'm not in management so I have some confirmation bias. That's possible, but I've experienced the exact same scenario as you and it always seems harmful for the developer and harmful for the project.

I'm new in this industry, but based on my life, the experience of some close friends, and anecdotes like this, my impression is that you need enough career security and cash savings that you can just ignore stupid requests from your boss and not care about the fallout. Of course that is probably unsustainable outside of entry level jobs, so I am sort of convinced that I should have a 6-10 year plan to exit it

That's an interesting way of thinking about it. I'm not very assertive, so perhaps If I stood up to management a bit more everyone would be better for it anyway. Although it's easier to stand up to your boss when it falls under your domain (technology), but when it's their domain (managing people) it's harder to be assertive.

Also what happens when it just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy? Regardless, if you experience terrible management you should probably be finding another job anyway.

You're absolutely right. But sometimes it's just the confidence and competence. If you're actually good at your job and you know that, you can push back on insanity and not panic if you come up craps.

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