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What is it like working at a company after releasing a negatively-received game? (reddit.com)
247 points by danso 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments



This is exactly the kind of post where I'd love to engage in the discussion, but I end up not doing so because I just feel exhausted and demotivated once I consider the necessary disclaimers (not a spokesperson, my opinion is my own, ...), what I am allowed to say and how sure of that am I, what if I make a misstep and it blows up, will I be able to engage in follow-up questions...

EA has a surprisingly open social media policy which encourages employees to engage in discussions as long as they are clear about whether they're an official spokesperson and don't divulge anything they're not allowed to.

Still, every time I see something like this I become really excited, start thinking of what I can say and what not, how I should say it so it's within acceptable .. You know what, never mind. And this is without even considering that what I'm considering is saying "Hi, I'm from EA" in a forum where people generally express nothing but vitriol towards that company.


Not to mention that you'll probably end up with death threats or worse if you say something that one gamer group dislikes. The behaviour of gamers on social media has been awful beyond belief these last few years.


At Amazon I was friends with a very talented woman who had finally gotten a well-deserved promotion to product management, which she had worked on for well over 4 years. It was a pretty big deal: she was the product manager over video games, specifically new console releases, right around the time that a new console was going to be released.

I still remember her crying to me over coffee about how much her new job sucked. In her words: video gamers are monsters. Apparently they had tracked her down because she had her job title on her facebook page, and even though her facebook page was private, they were able to get some insider at facebook to do the search for them. Once they found her name, they made her life a living hell. Why? Because one of the manufacturers ended up shipping fewer units than they initially promised, and so she had to delay a couple dozen preorders by a week.

Even if I were an avid gamer, there is no way I would work in the industry.


"They got some Facebook insider to do the search for them"

She should report it, with the timeline of events. People I know at Facebook say there is zero tolerance for this kind of thing.


>Even if I were an avid gamer, there is no way I would work in the industry.

The anime industry is the same way, and I'd imagine has a lot of crossover in the gamers/fans. There's been a recent #MeToo incident in the anime world that I'm 2 degrees of separation from, and the horror stories of what the people directly involved have had to suffer are absolutely appalling. The attacks are anywhere from drive-by posts to public social accounts all the way to death threats (which are being directly turned over to the FBI). I worked in the anime world directly for 18 months. By 6 months in, I knew I didn't fit in. By 12 months in, I was actively looking for something else. At 18 months, I was finally at a new job. That was the shortest stint on my resume.


A very recent example of this is the passing of Luke Perry, who was the voice of Sub-Zero in the cartoon series of Mortal Kombat.

MK Co-creator Ed Boon expressed him sympathies on Twitter and a number of fans replied to him, asking why he wasn't including specific characters in the next installment in the series.


Things have gotten so bad that people doing voice-overs for characters are getting threats.

The absurdity of this is numbing on so many levels.


Gaming, especially with the blow-out of BR games, has become idolized by the masses. And the culture around them is changing for the worse.

I can't help but think that this is just the effect of gaming becoming a part of mainstream media. It absorbs the culture of what mainstream internet culture is. A place where the loudest, ugliest voices stand out in the crowd.


You mean the behaviour of people.


No, he meant gamers. That doesn't absolve others from bad behaviour but "gamers", i.e. group-conscious, very online, hardcore players congregating on /v/ and many other such places, are probably _the_ most vitrolitic group on the Internet rn., save for those parts of the alt-right that don't play games.


"Gamer" has come to mean the worst aspects of the online gaming community, like having unhealthy obsessions, of slamming people for their appearance, sexuality, gender, or anything that sets them apart from "normal" gamers. It's trash talking that's been weaponized and perverted into something deeply dangerous.

That whole scene should be burned to the ground starting with 4chan.

If your community can't keep your members in check, can't provide good examples, you're going to slowly corrupt and mutate into something you can't control. It happens every time.


...the gamers that have specifically been cultivated as fans by the AAA distributors and their studios. For years.

There are plenty of people who consider themselves gamers that won't touch "gamers" and their community with an 11-foot pole.

I am particularly miffed about the current gaming business environment, wherein many games require a constant network connection, force you to play with strangers, and set up the gameplay to encourage frequent in-game purchases. And you can't pause it for a week and pick it back up right where you left it. Why would the major distributors care about people like me, who will wait until all planned DLC is released, then buy the complete package on sale and then not buy anything else for 6 months, when they can string along addicted superfans who will pay $15 per month, forever, and also take the place of well-programmed NPC scripting and AI by being a vicious live-human opponent for everyone else that plays?

See Fallout 76 for an egregious example of this. There are no NPCs in it. So the intentional experience for players is to wander around an empty-feeling world, full of mutant animals whose main challenge is to kill them before they eat you, getting quests from holotapes, and to have human griefers--who are bored with the game, but still either want to get their money's worth out of what they paid for it, or to punish the developers by ruining the gaming experience for others--pestering them constantly to activate the dueling function or launch nukes at each other. I'm not going to subject myself to that, or pay money to allow my misery to be someone else's fun.

But I had zero hesitation whatsoever in snapping up West of Loathing, or its DLC, Gun Manor. That's single-player, offline, pausable, scripted, funny, and has simple mechanics with clear win conditions.

No online leaderboards or competitive mechanics or guilds or clans or PvP means you don't ever have to play with people who make the game less fun for you. If there's no meta-game, you never have to touch the out-of-band communities. The "gamers" become irrelevant. Maybe someone writes a FAQ with spoilers, that you might look up if you get stuck.


Haha.... somewhat familiar from my time playing Ark:Survival Evolved.

On the PvP servers, you needed to be part of a huge tribe, otherwise a huge tribe would find you and wipe you out. At the very least they would 'own' the servers and demand tribute, on threat of complete wiping. The megatribes themselves seemed to be run as slave labour. No taking a week or even an evening off. It didn't help that the game seemed to be written around grindy, long-duration tasks.

On PvE, where you couldn't destroy anyone else's stuff, people would jsut spam the entire map with the cheapest thing they could build, denying others the ability to play.

Any criticism of this in the game forums was quashed by the studio. And on reddit was usually met with superfans screaming that "You're just not hardcore enough" or "You're just sore you didn't get there first" or "Of course you can't have good stuff in the game unless you put in 40 hours a week..."

F*ck that, frankly.


Exactly. I don't need a game to be my second job. And if the game allows its grinding to be bypassed with slave labor, I know that it is that way because the developers designed it that way. Why the heck would you publish Slavery Simulator 2019, with a catchier name?


The term gamer means nothing anymore. The only requisite is to have an interest in playing games. There's no conditions attached to the point where people argue over what is a "real gamer". The only way to discern gamers as different "groups" is by what games, forums, sites, and platforms gamers frequent. Reddit, 4chan, ign, eurogamer, pcgamer, kotaku etc.

I find toxicity is often attached to multiplayer games of the competitive variety with player interaction.


Is there evidence that gamers are the most vitriolic? Seems a common accusation but not a commonly sourced accusation, especially with a source that controls other variables. I know there are plenty of anecdotes, but there are such anecdotes about other groups as well and it could be that vitriolic from other groups isn't given equal coverage.


It'd certainly be interesting to see the stats here, as well as how it breaks down when actual violence is taken into account. Gaming has seen a lot less actual violent assaults/fights than sports, and even arguably quite a bit less than film/tv/music.

There aren't any gaming hooligan groups I've heard by any means.

For online toxicity it may be a bit closer, but again, it'd be interesting to see the breakdown by hobby or interest. Stuff like the last series of Doctor Who and Ghostbusters and Star Wars have certainly seen a few controversies recently, and it seems reactions to films/online film criticism can at least as acerbic as anything said about games.


Dunno, seems to me a subset definitely took ethics in games journalism to an extreme. Are they the most vitriolic? Don't know. I tend to avoid such groups so I can't say. But they definitely made a bit of noise.


Watch out man or the knitters will come for you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_bombing


haha, never heard of that before but that's comical. The socks on the statue is gold.


The problem is when you view that extreme subset as the whole group because of an opinion and point of view that happens to align.


Many other groups are, based on the Reddit data, full of "gamers", like alt-right (/pol) politics and pits of despair like The Donald.


Depending upon how you define gamers, almost everyone I know is a gamer. Even my mother is a gamer as she plays Candy Crush. My father who dislikes video games is a gamer because he will spend a little time playing some fishing games. I think you'll find that not only are some of the worst groups full of gamers, but so are some of the best groups.

You can try to limit the scope of the term so it doesn't apply to effectively everyone with access to either a computer or smart phone, but care must be used so that it doesn't become a fishing expedition as the criteria eventually settle to be whatever is needed to obtain the desired result (this is a significant problem anytime one looks for trends in large data sets).


Just like all the other subreddits. That's a poor way to associate anything.


Reddit itself has turned to complete garbage apart from a few gems in the rough.

Looking at you /r/justrolledintotheshop and /r/woodworking.


How could you ever hope to measure and compare the relative vitriol of internet communities? Anyone's perception will be heavily biased by what the media likes to report on (drama on Potted Plant Watering.com is a lot less likely to make the news than tweets about violent video games, which are on the list of talking points already). The most vitriolic ones are probably sub-forums that we've never even heard of.


>Anyone's perception will be heavily biased

i'd say biased by receiving a lot of death threats.


It would be a fascinating project, but i confess i have no idea how you'd quantify the vitriol.

I suspect that the posters here arguing that gamers are the worse are not familiar with some of the shenanigans going on elsewhere, for example:

https://fanlore.org/wiki/What_happened_with_hivliving


There are billions of gamers worldwide. It is just people.


"teenagers"


I disagree. The folks that I see who spew the most hate are in their mid-20's to late-30's.

Maybe that's just me confusing anecdotal evidence for truth?

But I believe just hand-waving and dismissing it as 'teenagers' is not giving this problem the attention it really does deserve.


Mid 20s to late 30s (aka millennials) are the largest demographic group. Assuming poor gaming behavior equally impacts all ages, by their sheer size, of course this age group would be most visible.


I hope you are wrong but I am not convinced that you are. Whenever I encounter such behaviour I just assume it's a teenager without thinking about it.


The environment is such that the only people who can get wound up that tightly are people with a lot of free time and no full-time jobs or family obligations. Students. People on permanent disability, for whom the socialization built into the game is their easiest route to socialization with anyone at all. Retirees. Otaku. Gold/character farmers that make money from the game in violation of the ToS.

Most people with full-time jobs and families don't have time to get all that worked up over a community built around one or more fantasy worlds. It still happens sometimes, though.


And companies.


Isn't this what throwaway accounts are for? Sure you can't break NDAs and the like but a throwaway can give a lot of freedom from people piecing together stuff if you posted using an account you use daily.


I could definitely use a throwaway account. The thing is, I still don't want to say anything I'm not allowed to say. I do feel loyalty towards my employer, and I'm only protecting myself if I stay clear of saying anything which identifies me. And that includes referring to knowledge which I didn't realise not many have or just generally expressing myself with my own idiosyncrasies which I may not even be aware of.


The thing is, your employer probably does not feel loyalty towards you. Protecting yourself is the real reason.


The argument of employers being these evil things that hold no loyalty is tiresome.

Loyalty is not a black and white thing.

I can list close to 15 years of small experiences that make me feel like my current employer truly cares. I’ve had very few negative experiences, and when I have had them I’ve said “hey that’s not cool”, and the company has fixed it as much as it could be fixed. The fact that I may be fired at some point does not invalidate that.

To me, loyalty between a company and an individual is not about the contract of work, it is about the environment that exists while you are working. Both I and the company have the option at any time to terminate the employment, that’s just part of the deal. That does not mean long term loyalty and expectations can’t exist.


Seems to me the argument of employer loyalty I think is more than (but still involves the matter of) whether or not an employer will go to bat for you, and speaks more to the leverage an employer has in a situation where they're faced with retaining an employee or firing an employee.

As in: most often than not, in more situations than not, they have most if not all of the leverage.


> that exists while you are working

I think that in this case when people say 'loyalty' they mean 'commitment over time'. "We'll dump you as soon as that option becomes slightly better than keeping you" is what people are reacting to.

It's different than being fired because of something you did/didn't do - it's the fear that something's going to change and this important part of your life (your source of income, of identity, of your professional status and one basis for your professional network, etc) will be yanked away without any real concern for the even short-term impacts on you.


Whistleblowing/etc aside, if you sign an NDA you should adhere to it. We should not respect people who don't hold to their agreements just because they have some juicy insider information about nothing of any consequence.


I think there's some merit to you point, but what about people who "need a job now." Not everyone is in a position to be picky about who hires them.


This is an inefficient way to operate.


So don't say anything you're not allowed to say. I think the main point of a throwaway here is to say perfectly legal things, just without worrying about potential death threats.


EA's existential problems are crappy games and customer-hostile business practices, not some secret sauce at risk of being leaked.


There are plenty of interesting things I'd love to share and fun topics I'd love to respond to which have nothing to do with what you're referring to.

I'm talking about a more broad thing where I also find it difficult to join more positively minded discussions.


nevermind

(Quick recap, since there are now replies - EA had a policy of owning everything you produce, including the off hours, and with their constant "crunch mode" they expected you to not have time for any pet projects to begin with. An inherently abusive company, and very brazen at that. It was like that when I interviewed with them several years ago, but I doubt things changed much.)


From my time in the game industry, I haven't encountered too many employers that were friendly about personal projects. I was able to get an explicit exception for one of my already released games in my contract for one of the companies I worked for, but most made it clear that they expect me not to work on anything in my own time, or that it belonged to them.

Even a game that directly led to my employment at one of the companies, as they saw my game showcased at a game convention when it was a finalist in a major game competition, saw I was local, and brought me in to discuss a possible publishing deal (which turned into a job interview).

As someone who had made and released about 8 small games on my own and liked doing it as a break from my other things, it really rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn't end up releasing that game until after I was no longer working for the company and I had lost all benefit of the free marketing I had from the contest.

It's part of the reason why I haven't gone back into the game industry since I got out. I don't want to feel like I can't make anything on my own again (especially now that I'm getting into board game design and getting game designs signed with board game publishers).

My current employer's business has nothing to do with anything related to gaming whatsoever, so even if they did try to take control of my games, they'd have a hell of a time taking me to court over it, or acting like I violated any noncompete laws.


Not my experience of working at EA for four years. There is a copyright assignment clause in the employment contract, and as unfortunate as that is, it is fairly common across the software industry. There was an internal process by which EA legal would clear personal projects, for which you would then have the copyright, but I never availed myself of it.

As to crunch most teams I worked for at EA did not crunch in the sense you're suggesting. There was widespread recognition within the company that long term crunch was both deleterious to productivity and morale. Studios were increasingly adopting a system called "focus mode" - a short period of focused work towards a specific goal (milestone/demo/etc) where non-essential meetings were cancelled, lunch catered, and distractions eliminated - which purported to produce better results without more than standard hours.

Studios at EA are fairly free to operate autonomously and they each have different cultures. Some were slower to adopt better practices around crunch, and even within the same team some disciplines would often crunch while others worked normal hours. Still, there was recognition of what better looked like in terms of production and will at all levels to make it happen. Not what I would call an "inherently abusive company".


EA has a history of acquiring previously very successful, well-loved game studios and running them to the ground.

After acquisiton, key people start leaving the studio, games released end up being rushed/crappy, and in the end they are closed.

Bullfrog, Maxis, Westwood, Origin to cite the more known ones, too many to be a coincidence.

As of now, I wouldn't be sitting comfortably if I were working at Bioware .


I worked at Bioware. I worked directly with people who worked previously for Bullfrog, Westwood, and Origin through the EA acquisitions. I also know people who work(ed) at Maxis. The narrative around EA's acquisitions is a gross mischaracterization. Each acquisition and its eventual outcome had a number of confounding factors.

In many cases the studios were acquired because they were in financial straits and wouldn't have survived otherwise. Key people leaving after an acquisition isn't surprising: your studio was acquired because it made X type of game or franchise and maybe you don't want to continue doing that; your retention stock vested, time to try something new; you're entrepreneurial at heart and want to start a studio again after a (successful) exit.

Maxis and Westwood (EA LA) went on to make their most successful titles and decade plus runs as EA studios. Likewise DICE, Bioware, Tiburon, Pogo.com and several mobile studios.


Most studios killed themself by releasing crapy games tbh. Do you think it's the interest of EA acquiring studios and shutting them down?

Take for example BioWare, they were acquired 3 years before their best game release: ME2 then they released ME3 an other excellent game then ...


I am not from the game industry or anywhere near software mecha. Can you tell me why a company would want to pay you to work on your own pet project with their money without them owning the end result? I am just confused how this is a stipulation at any job. The place I work, if I designed a model for their products on their time, with their money, it is only acceptable that they own said product. Why would they allow me to go off an compete with them?


There’s a misconception underlying this comment. A “personal project” is something you do on your own time, with your own resources.


the key is on their time. Parent explicitly mentions everything while employed there, in your free time as well.


How the F* can this be legal ?


Because in this country, contracts signed are almost always enforced.

It doesn't matter the unidirectional power assymetry. It doesn't matter if the contract is unconscionable. If you want the job, you sign the contract. And even if its illegal good luck going thru the courts to litigate. The companies also have more money and can outspent than you have to live.


Which country? The US?


Yes


Yes


For me at least, I would not use a throwaway.

The one thing we get asked to do for social media is always be clear that we have ties to the company but don’t speak for the company when commenting on things that could potentially be a conflict of interest. Both sides of that matter - I.e. I don’t want there to be any risk that someone doesn’t know I work at Blizzard when reading a comment (mostly because of native advertising rules) but I also don’t want them to think I speak for the company (mostly for fair disclosure rules).

I think that’s a reasonable request and I feel like using throwaways goes against that (and make it seem like there’s something to hide when really there is not).


You can still be responsible and give people disclosure while using a throw away. The benefit is you don't have to worry about people mining your entire post history to look for stuff they can use to draw negative conclusions about you/blizzard. You can also never look at that account again after that post so you don't have to worry about any crazies sending abusive messages about Diablo Immortal or whatever.



It doesn't help EA's image that they decided to call their game launcher "Origin," so we can remember all the game studios they've murdered any time they try to force us to use it. However, I will not blame you, poor cog, for management's unethical behavior. I hope you can find a better job someday.


I always love encountering content and discussions from engineers or game designers who work at big games companies. I've befriended a few game developers over the years and they always have incredibly fascinating "war stories" which they share in private.

Your hesitation is understandable, though. A lot of people forget that there's real humans behind these big faceless companies. There's lots of potential downsides to sharing stuff online, without many equivalent upsides. However, I think if developers were a bit more open and people got to peek behind the curtains a little it would help to humanize these big faceless entities. Even adding minor things like developer commentary to patch notes can cause a drastically different reaction from the community. If I'm often playing a game and something gets changed I think it's reasonable to wonder about the reasoning behind those changes. Being more open and communicating frequently with the community helps set expectations and build trust.

To give a parallel from another industry, all of my favorite book authors are writers who give frequent updates and are quite open about their progress. Informing readers about your expected timelines helps temper expectations and it shows that you care, making people more likely to want to invest time in your series. If there's any kind of delay or a deadline gets missed the best thing you can do is communicate it quickly. Based on my experience, people tend to be incredibly understanding when they actually know what's going on. If all you get from an author is a vague date and it keeps getting moved around without any additional information it kinda feels like you're being jerked around.

Since we're on the topic, I've also encountered people that work at game companies who are incredibly resentful towards their customers, which doesn't seem very healthy. Hating your users is probably a good sign that it's time to move on to something new. Taking on this attitude appears to engage a negative feedback loop as well, causing things to degrade further. The absolute worst attitude I've seen is calling customers entitled because they didn't buy your game, although I'd like to be charitable and say that it was likely due to the person being under an overwhelming amount of stress.


Yeah I honestly can't see how an insider, in this particular scenario, could feel comfortable and expressive without being at least 5 years removed from the situation. Seems like there'd be a natural inclination for the memories/discussion to devolve into nasty blaming, and/or the added pain of remembering if the company's disaster coincided with a personal tragedy/downtime.

I've been fascinated with some of the most recent big blowups, like Bethesda's Fallout 76 and BioWare's Anthem. The former seems to be a product of heavy complacency; the latter has been such an unexpected disappointment that the reasons for failure seem like they could be innumerable.

On the other hand, recaps by developers of their successes have almost always been the most fun things to read about, e.g. Starcraft [0], Crash Bandicoot [1]

[0] https://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/tough-times-on-the-road-to-...

[1] https://www.naughtydog.com/blog/making_crash_bandicoot_by_an...


It's funny. This happens in most Internet forums. People ask questions often to seek validation rather than illumination. So they'll turn on you when you don't validate.

And in the end, throwaway or not, why help anyone who really wants to bite your face off? The insiders will continue to be privileged wrt information because the outsiders can't behave.


Thanks for sharing this insight!

In your experience: What is the biggest misunderstanding that customers (or critics) seem to have about the game development industry?


I'm not the original poster, but also work at another publisher similar in size to EA, and I'd say that the whole idea of complaining about day-1 patches from both gamers and critics makes no sense, especially in the era of "live" games which receive ongoing support all the time. Like, we're releasing a game this month, right? Do you know when we sent our master builds for submission? In December. It honestly takes nearly 4 months for the game to go from a finished build to a disc you can buy at a store near you. And the team working on this game is something like 600+ people. What are they going to do between closing the master build and March? They continue working on the game, of course. And the culmination of this work comes out as the day one patch. In fact, the day one patch was submitted and approved couple weeks ago, and the game isn't even out yet - we're now working on the second patch that's going to come out few weeks after release.

I'd say in general a misunderstanding of how impossibly long things can take is an issue. Even if we wanted to create and publish an emergency patch for one of our games today, it would take at least 3-4 days before it would go live on PS4/X1. It's just how it is. Bug reports can take days to percolate through support, then to the right studio, then to the right team, then to the right person. Yes, it might be an "easy" fix of just changing a value or two in a text file, but between the customer support taking a report and us pushing a patch out it can take a week or two.

And in general, it's quite frustrating that as a dev I sometimes see someone having an issue on a forum for our game and I know that I can't reply with advice, because if someone found out that I work for this company it could be misconstrued(as an example - I know that you can get around a particular error by using a VPN temporarily, but I can't be in a position where I'm advising people to download and use VPN software) - so instead I say nothing, and it bothers me that I could help someone but at the same time I can't.


It's cool that you share your thoughts on this! I hope what I write below does not sound too aggressive.

> It honestly takes nearly 4 months for the game to go from a finished build to a disc you can buy at a store near you.

But we do not buy games in stores anymore.

I do think you miss why day-1 patches are hated. It's not really about the patch, it's about the state of many AAA games on release, in that they are released with significant bugs. I understand why that happens - time is short, testing on PC with all the possible configurations is very hard - but when really basic things are broken as a customer you feel betrayed. It does not help when console ports have completely unusable UI on PC and games have always-on requirements that fail on game launch, etc. All this "vitrol" gets merged with day 1 patches and that's what this is about. At least partly, I think.

> especially in the era of "live" games which receive ongoing support all the time

That's kind of a funny thing to say in a thread about EA when they and others shut their multiplayer game servers down all the time to sell the next very similar installment of a franchise. In the current climate, this "live" service thing stinks like corporate speak for an ongoing stream of new micro transactions. We just had games getting micro transaction + lootboxes shortly after the reviews were over. Not a good precedent to set.

> It's just how it is. Bug reports can take days to percolate through support, then to the right studio, then to the right team, then to the right person.

That seems to be very common in large enterprises in general, but it is also very sad. I think having these crusted large-enterprisey structure on one side is a big factor of why gamers feel developer studios/publishers are disconnected from their reality. But there are means to combat this, Riot for example was very successful in reaching their base with their champion spotlight and nicas community shows while already having a huge number of players, at least that seemed to work well for a while.

> But I can't be in a position where I'm advising people to download and use VPN software

VPNs are not illegal. Is it that your EULAs forbid using one? That would be ridiculous. In a good company you should be able to give that advice.


No offence taken ;-)

>>But we do not buy games in stores anymore.

Well yes, I meant release in general, not discs specifically - it takes few months for the game to come out on Xbox Live/PSN mostly due to certification process as mentioned by Agentlien. The actual production process for discs has almost no impact on this.

>> It's not really about the patch, it's about the state of many AAA games on release, in that they are released with significant bugs.

Yes, I do see that. The dark side of what I said is that sometimes our master build has a significant issue, but it can be waived through because "we have 4 months until release, obviously we can fix it until then". And then for whatever reason it doesn't happen and the game launches with this critical problem that we totally knew about just didn't fix it in time. It's partially linked to the almost complete inability to push release dates back due to some technical issues, I could probably write a whole blog post about the amount of pressure things like preorders are putting on the push to release "on time".

>>In the current climate, this "live" service thing stinks like corporate speak for an ongoing stream of new micro transactions

Well, from the inside, all it means is that teams are not rolled off a project after it ships. I've worked on both "traditional" and "live" games and the difference is that with the "traditional" game you make your master build and pretty much everyone rolls off to another project, with a skeleton crew staying around to fix any bugs that pop up after release. But in 2-3 months after launch no one is actively working on it anymore. With "live" games the entire team stays on and is still in full development mode, even though the game shipped already. They are producing new content, and well, yes, they need to be paid somehow. So you get more content for a game that is unlikely to sell more copies than it already did by either making this content paid or by selling so many copies that you can effectively afford this development until next paid expansion ships. But hey, I'm a C++ developer, I don't have any control over this stuff ;-)

>>VPNs are not illegal. Is it that your EULAs forbid using one? That would be ridiculous. In a good company you should be able to give that advice.

No, it's just that if I say "use Tunnelbear to get around this issue" and someone finds out I work for this company then suddenly it's "Company X endorses Tunnelbear!". If I just say "try using a VPN to get around this problem" and someone downloads some dodgy VPN software that gives them a virus, then again they will present it as our fault. And gaming press is very very quick to pick this kind of stuff up so it's just safer to not say anything. If not for the company sake then for my own, you don't want to end up in spotlight by accident.


It's interesting to see that we both brought up the same thing about day 1 patches in our responses.


Wow, that's a really tough one. Turns out my answer became a really long one and touched on a number of things.

The biggest one is probably that developers aren't hearing or understanding feedback. We're in the same forums, reading the same posts. When players have concerns, the developers have mostly raised the same concerns long before the game was shipped. But identifying a problem isn't enough. Sometimes fixing problems are very difficult or very expensive. Sometimes, thorough design and testing has shown that all the obvious improvements are actually worse in non-obvious ways. So developers do read the feedback. We just, for reasons I already touched on, mostly don't comment.

On a similar topic, it seems a lot of players don't realise that we're not an army of drones in suits aiming to make money. Most of us, by quite a margin, are really passionate gamers who've decided we love games so much we want to make them our vocation and spend at least 40 hours a week on them. Every time I see a post about how "the developers" don't understand what "the players" want, I look around the office and see nothing but players, most of whom share the same feelings and concerns.

Another big one, and this is something I realised that I myself was clueless of before joining game development, is how difficult it is to react quickly to feedback, fix bugs and add features. You often see players complaining that they've raised a concern weeks ago, and it still hasn't been addressed. Being allowed to release a game on consoles requires going through certification with the console manufacturer. This is a really big, costly endeavour which takes a lot of time and requires making sure you adhere to a staggering amount of rules.[0] This and other concerns regarding distributors and retailers mean what's on the physical disc needs to be in place months in advance, making it pretty old once the game is released.

Add to that the fact that bringing out a game patch for PS4 or Xbox is very expensive[1] and requires you going through cert again, and you'll see why many developers try to schedule their patches way ahead of time. Obviously, you want to do rigorous internal testing to make sure you don't have to go back and forth with cert more than necessary. Which suddenly means you have a month-long gap between something being submitted for testing and the patch reaching your loyal paying customers. It's definitely painful, watching the angry comments flow in about an issue you solved weeks ago. Now, I'm not complaining about this. The cert rules and patch restrictions are almost always very logical and there to ensure high quality for the players. But they do come at a cost.

[0] https://kotaku.com/so-how-long-do-sony-and-microsofts-approv... [1] https://kotaku.com/wait-it-costs-40-000-to-patch-a-console-g...


To be honest I don’t blame you. I have the same anxiety whenever I consider posting anything on the internet. Once it’s posted, there’s no going back.


I'm sure a lot of casino operators feel the same way.


The awful comments and attitude that fans of games leave also seems to correlate with the type of game. Violent, competitive games will have fans with a similar attitude toward the game. There's a great article where creators of 'cozy' games talk about their nice interaction with fans.

"The others on the panel also echoed that practical sentiment, and pointed out that developing kinder, cozier games had led to more positive fan interactions. The group jovially argued over who had the best group of fans. "We break their save files every update," said Saltsman, referring to Overland. "No one complains."" [0]

[0] https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-11-05-how-to-des...


I used to moderate a really busy gaming forum back in the day. The GTA forums were always the worst.

The Civilization and other TBS type game forums were spotless as far as behavior goes.

One day they made a change on the forum and moderator names looked different from other users (it wasn't intentional but some old formatting that accidentally was leaked out). I was posting like usual on the Civilization forums and they noticed my username looked odd, folks were surprised to hear there even WERE moderators. There simply had been no moderator action on those forums that anyone could remember. The community simply policed itself and users corrected their behavior on their own in a way that could never happen in GTA forums.

That was also the place you saw "reasonable" criticism of the game and respect for it from everyone. It wasn't all positive all the time, but it was balanced in terms of understanding the ying and yang of game development decisions.... and an acceptance that maybe as a user they don't know everything.


Flight simulator forums are also generally pleasant to use.


We certainly don't frequent the same flight sim forums... The users, the devs, it's an entire scene I'd rather keep at arms length.

To give an example incident. Last year, a well known developer called Flight Sim Labs included malware in their $140 A320 addon. They stated this was DRM. It's purpose was to send a user's Chrome passwords to the developer if they believed the addon was pirated. It did this by checking the name the addon was registered with.

As a community populated by developers, I think people here would recognise this as a bad thing to do. No detection method is perfect, but the specific mode used is particularly crude, and also stealing people's passwords is a no go even if they did pirate your software.

There were users spamming forums to both condemn this behaviour, but also users portraying users who decided to no longer support FSLabs or ask for a refund as simply being cheapskates unwilling to support the flight sim scene (developers are few and far between, and in terms of "number/detail of simulated systems", the FSLabs A320 was the best addon to a consumer grade sim for A320. Obviously most users are not equipped to accurately assess the accuracy of the addon, but it was widely believed to be accurate).

Or vatsim. Vatsim is an online community for people to simulate pilots with actual ATC. Vatsim itself is meticulously organised with rules of conduct, appionted/elected officials etc. This comes into conflict often with the "It's just a hobby/relaxation" crowd. Also giving people power, even over flying pretend airplanes brings out a certain type of person.


Games that lack leaderboards or clear winners are often far more pleasant to use.


o_O All the flight sim forums I've ever seen have been filled with angry children. Everyone always fights to see who can be the most pedantic while also bashing the devs for not being perfect in every way. That's just the average user, don't get me started on the rivet counters...


I think a lot of it has to do with the games being popular rather than violent, though I guess you could say in the current culture of gaming, violent games are more popular. For example, parts of the Pokemon community are extremely vitriolic and relentlessly criticize every new entry in the series. As a fan base gets bigger, its easier for people to dehumanize each other over the internet and thus be meaner to one another, where as smaller fan communities don't have that problem because you see a lot of the same names around and maybe even have an easier time talking to the actual devs. It's less of an anonymous mob, so people are less terrible to each other.


I'ts both, FPS games trying to look like COD get a lot of flak even at small scale, and the cute stuff like Pokemon gets a lot of flak because the fanbase is in the millions and therefore includes all kinds of people, specially when people with completely opposite opinions but equally passionate about it meet each other ("best pokemon game ever!" then "shut up! its the worst pokemon game ever!")


I call convenient excuse. Only because most games do as little as feasible to get adequate behaviour from the users and fans. In many games it's encouraged, whether overt or implicit matters little, as far as they can get away with. Far too much abusive and offensive behaviour is simply ignored, presumably as it increases overall sales.

AAA titles are far more likely to moderate when you become strident and critical or running a bot. Offensive or entitled jerk gets a much easier time - they always get away with it. There is a lot competitive, violent games could do to preserve accountability as the correlation did not used to be there. Design mostly goes the other way in the way PvP, leagues, matchups and competition that tends to temporary, one off, pair ups and teams. It's encouraged.

It's one of the main reasons I avoid online titles now. I'm having a much happier time with games that treat online as a secondary or optional component, or entirely solo, and are from Indies.


I think part of it is, despite being around for a long time now, our technical culture hasn't caught up to this fact: If you host an online community, you are responsible for providing and investing in moderation.


Couldn't agree more. I find it ruins the fun inhabiting a world of out of control 13 year olds. A parent, referee, or moderator would make all the difference.

I think a lot of the early systems accidentally encouraged more friendly ways. When pvp was between and within guilds you played with every game, being an asshole often came with consequences. Or you got famous for being the touchy one who will throw toys etc. As its become ever more individualised, and you don't need to pick an individual server with just a fraction of the total users, those natural checks don't apply.


I see the poor attitudes more with other types of games. "MOBA" games are only mildly violent but have a terrible reputation. I blame the all or nothing win conditions and that a typical match takes 30-40 minutes. You can easily lose because of one player, which can seem unfair.

Whats changed over the years I think, are there are more sore losers. The internet provides enough anonymity that they get away with it.

Also, some people are literally addicted to the games, so they are unhappy to be playing and lash out at anyone getting in the way of their fix.


When I'm on gawker sites, the sarcasm is pretty high, but it is still jarring when I end up reading a Kotaku story: the distinct air of spoiled entitled teenager runs through their comments and stories in a way the other gawker sites do not, and considering the trashrag nature of most of the gawker stories, that says a lot.

But that is the nature of their target demographic. Why can AAA studios drop a repolished doomclone/shooter turd each year and do good sales? Same reason there are always preteen pop groups every couple of years: because there's a new crop of kids each year to sell your crap to.

I almost like the fact that these games are now polluted with lootboxes, it just lays bare the contempt the studios have for the players, even if it probably is producing a generation of gambling addicts.


There is a personality classification system for gamers based on the four suits of playing cards.

Hearts game for the positive social interactions. They like to chat, and give each other "hugglepounces" all the time (whatever those are). They're the ones joining RP guilds, perfecting their avatar appearance, decorating residences, and organizing player-led events for participants from level 1 to level 1023. They actually use the emote gestures. Might cyber with you, if you are nice. If they kill you, it is mainly to watch the victory dance.

Diamonds game for the glory. They want to climb to the top of the leaderboards. If the game gives points, they have a lot of them. They lead PvE dungeon raids, and give helpful tips on how to increase your DPS by 0.1% with only a complicated series of keypresses that must be memorized and replicated with perfect timing. They have max-level characters, with all skills unlocked, and several have solo'd the Big Bad Boss designed for group raids. They do speedruns.

Clubs live for PvP. They lead AvA raids and guild wars. They feel that AI opponents are no challenge at all, and the only way to truly master the game is by defeating human players of equal or greater skill. All griefers are majority Club.

Spades wish to dig up all the secrets. They explore every area, and know where all the easter-eggs are hidden. They have done every quest and read every FAQ, and have likely contributed in some fashion to the wiki. They perform complicated experiments to verify hypotheses regarding formulas and mechanics. They may make obscure references to in-game lore and real-player history and expect you to get them.

Any given player can exhibit multiple types. A Diamond-Club likes to hit the top of the PvP leaderboards, specifically. They want to be named Emperor, or Warlord, or Arena Champion, or whatever title is awarded to the best at PvP. A Diamond-Spade has earned all the possible achievements, especially the secret/hidden ones, 100%ing the game. A Diamond-Heart will group with you to help you earn levels, and will gift you with a master-crafted set of equipment. Heart-Spades will organize scavenger hunts and make puzzles with user-created content. Club-Spades obsessively analyze the metagame, and invent weird character builds specifically to defeat the most popular builds. Club-Hearts are rare, and may do things like organize a fight club of RP duelists.

In my opinion, it's the Diamonds and the Clubs that tend to ruin a game's fan community, with elitism and anti-cooperation. Too many Hearts can make it a bit saccharine, and too many Spades make it nerdy, but as long as either of those two types dominate, the community remains civil. A non-competitive, casual game, or one that favors strategy over twitch/reflex skills tends to drive off the Diamonds and Clubs. While griefer Clubs can make a game tedious for others, a guild of Diamonds is the worst--they're like the cool kids clique in high school, and you aren't good enough to eat at their table. If a game cannot effectively insulate Heart-ish players from the Diamond-dominant and Club-dominant, they will abandon the game, and the community will grow toxic.

If your game does not cater to Hearts, you probably won't want to moderate its message boards.


Or major the violent/ competitive games just entice more hardcore gamers who care more about the games they play.


I wouldn't say that somebody who plays a violent/competitive game is more of a "hardcore" gamer than others.

If you look at the hours played per user grand strategy games and simulations seem to be on the front row. And grand strategy gamers are probably one of the most balanced individuals I've met.

The only definition that I could come up for in the few minutes I spent thinking about it is that the "usual" flaming, hating and insulting gamers just seem to have an unhealthy emotional balance. Some of these I know in "real life" seem to be very disconnected from emotions "offline". But as soon as they turn on the computer, they release all of these stored emotions.


Just based on averages the games with the highest average playtime per player are usually strategy games, I would agree, but if you look at super hardcore player like the ones who devote more than 1000 hours to a specific game, the vast majority of them from my experience play games that are super violent or competitive like csgo, lol, dota, fortnite, etc.


Violent games attracting more violent types is an easy deduction to make. So the grandparent's comment makes sense.

But why, as you imply, more violent games would attract people "who care more about the games they play" (over other types of games)?

Don't e.g. chess players care as much "about the games the play", perhaps more so than some violent FPS player in times spent? Or RPG players?


Chess could definitely use some more content to keep players interested, maybe some new characters or a better story-line. And I'd kill for a graphical update, the game looks like it was made a thousand years ago! Unfortunately I think the devs have abandoned the project.


They said "violent/competitive", not just violent.


Which doesn't add much to the argument.

Would non-violent/competitive games also attract users more passionate for their games too? In that case competitive becomes synonymous with "games that attract passionate users", and the violent vs non-violent distinction is moot.

Else, "competitive" is irrelevant, and it's the "violent" part that matters. In which case, my argument holds: I don't see any reason to believe users of non-violent games are less passionate about their games.

And why would violent games be any more competitive than e.g. Chess, or Poker games, or some multiuser strategy game?


The competitive gamers that play PvP have a lot of feedback for game developers since bugs, design flaws, etc. can impact their gameplay and chance of winning. At least from the perspective of a gamer that is.

For example they play a battle royale genre game and 20-30 minutes into a match they are one of two teams left and then die blaming some perceived thing that happened like game physics getting in the way, it appears they were shot through a wall, etc. The immature gamer (aka 10-20 years old and maybe beyond) may believe their talents are greater than reality.


> aka 10-20 years old and maybe beyond may believe their talents are greater than reality.

This goes beyond age and is common outside of just competitive gaming. In the work place you see plenty of people who think e.g. manager's or other departments don't do anything, that they could run the company better, etc etc. On the flipside, I love hearing about people (in e.g. Overwatch) who get stuck at some ranking, hit a breaking point where they stop blaming others and focus on themselves, then slowly start to ascend.


It is very frustrating however to loose an advantage because the game is buggy


Yes and what I was alluding to is how do you know if it was buggy or you were just outmatched? If what you perceive happening leaves you thinking a bug caused your demise and not poor strategy, crappy gear, etc. then you will accumulate anger and resentment towards the game developer even if it is unwarranted.


Some bugs are just obvious. Rubber banding, walking and loosing health due to collision (or missing indicator that you got hit by an enemy)


”Caring more” or not, antisocial behavior is antisocial behavior.


I'm not one to define what makes a gamer "hardcore" (much as I despise the term), but surely someone who follows the industry and takes risks on unknown indies and genres is more "hardcore" than someone who will blindly buy the new AAA shooter-of-the-moment every year?


If they care so much, why do they play games they hate made by companies they hate? Why equate hardcore with caring? Do hardcore heroin users care the most about their dope and dealers?


well because they don't actually hate those games / companies and are just showing their frustration with stuff. I remember when fortnite was released and updates every week and their pro community stance. everyone was happy on them, now you go to their discord and is mostly negative


Hate is probably not the right word - someone (entirely out of your control) is tinkering with your favorite hobby in ways that you feel are bad. The strong reaction probably speaks more to the fan's deep connection vs actual hatred. I imagine if that same fan was taken on a trip to visit the devs/studio, their attitude would be very different.


Your comment seems almost tautological, especially the last part.


I rather wonder what it's like to work at Facebook.

Do people still readily tell that they work at FB? With more and more shit coming to light and no impression that Facebook is seriously interested in fixing things, I suspect people would question ones judgement to keep working there? At least I do, to be honest.


Maybe they feel they're building products that are actually adding value to people's lives? A decade ago, we hardly kept in touch or were aware of lives of people beyond the immediate circle but now we do? Maybe their products gave self expression to millions of teens and twenties who found a way they could share their opinions and shape conversations without political or high society connections FOR FREE? Maybe they feel they've rescued people from watching unskippable ads on TV and replaced with far less intrusive ads on the feed?

While I neither work for nor really use Facebook products beyond WhatsApp, I do think they have added tremendous value to the world and would encourage you to also explore viewpoints different from the standard narratives.


This isn't facebook's fault but for me SMS and then social media after I feel as worked the opposite. I maybe keep mildly aware of people I haven't seen in months or year because of social media but close friends I used to call daily or weekly and have long talks. Now it feels like bad manners to call someone which might disrupt their time when I could have messaged, emailed, slacked, tweeted instead. The result is I get/have no talks. Just a few short messages over a week or month.


I definitely agree with that, but I've started to hear a lot of people argue that social media is inherently bad. Reasons I've heard include wasting people's time, giving a false sense of community, and causing depression.


I connected with long lost people on facebook. Most of them just upload a fake happy life on social media and it made me compare my life with them more.

After deleting my facebook profile it never felt like I lost something. I don't want to know what's going on with everyone's life everyday. I just use phone call to connect with people I care about and few real friends now. It feels much better.


After college, many people busy with their lives don't post much on FB. There's a particular subset of friend I don't feel like I know very much about-- they're busy with their careers, relationships, etc. I couldn't passively watch my feed to know what's going on their lives, I'd have to pick up the phone and call.


Lol, what precious, hysterical overstatement. You think hat ten years ago we hardly kept in touch with people beyond our immediate circle because you were 13.

All of your “maybe they...” rhetorical questions have a firm answer outside your bubble. You’re not going to like them


Most people who work there believe the press is wrong or overblown.

> I suspect people would question ones judgement to keep working there? At least I do, to be honest.

You're part of a small minority. 99% of people you talk to in the real world still just think Facebook is a fun app for memes and baby pictures.


I can't say about your environment but at least in France it is completely wrong. The general opinion on Facebook is extremely negative. It does not prevent people from using it, but they have as bad a reputation as oil companies. Even when talking to random peopme in the countryside it is a very negative view.

The main reasons are ads, fake news, data stealing, tax evasion from Facebook and in general a dislike of big American tech companies thinking they are better than everyone else (the importance of those factors obviously varies depending on the person).


People working on React at Facebook don't seem particularly fazed to me, but I think it's weird when people declare that working at Facebook is bad because Facebook does some bad things.

The countries we live in do lots of bad things but we can still be proud of our country, pay taxes, and keep ourselves away from the ethically dubious activity. Similarly, someone working away on React in Facebook doesn't have to get involved in face tracking or whatever.


> I think it's weird when people declare that working at Facebook is bad because Facebook does some bad things

It's about making ethical decisions when a choice is available. One of the advantages of being a software engineer is that there are too few of us to go around: if you are halfway competent then you get some choice as to where to work. Involving some ethics in that decision is appropriate. It would be different if you were unskilled and needed any job to pay the bills.

You don't get to choose what country you are born in. You do get to choose who you vote for (in many countries), and that's the place where your ethics comes in.


> you get some choice as to where to work

People's career decisions tend to be motivated by money. If you're looking to maximize your compensation, the options are Big Tech (Google and Amazon have similar levels of ethics issues as Facebook) or finance (depending on your views, potentially even less ethical).

I'm not saying working at one of these places is the right decision, but it's very much an understandable one.


Is 'maximising your compensation' the only goal?

Isn't maximising your earnings supposed to be a means to something greater, not an end in itself?


The only goal for your life? Hopefully not.

The only goal for your career? Some people would say yes. Some others would say it's not the only goal but is important enough to compromise on other goals.


"One of the advantages of being a software engineer is that there are too few of us to go around"

What year is it?


> The countries we live in do lots of bad things but we can still be proud of our country

I've always found the idea of 'being proud of your country' to be a strange one. Pretty much all of my country's accomplishments were before I was born, and even the ones after I was born were done without any involvement by me.

So what's left? Should I be proud that I happeend to be born on this patch of land? Why?

“The cheapest sort of pride is national pride; for if a man is proud of his own nation, it argues that he has no qualities of his own of which he can be proud; otherwise he would not have recourse to those which he shares with so many millions of his fellowmen.

The man who is endowed with important personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short, since their failings will be constantly before his eyes. But every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud adopts, as a last resource, pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer


Isn't it like working in the supply chain of a questionable business? Ofcourse you are not doing bad things yourself but without you, others might not be able to.


Except that it’s not that Facebook ‘does some bad things’. Those bad things are pervasive and fundamental to facebook’s relationship with its users.


And the bad things your country does (whatever country you're in and whatever your politics) aren't pervasive and fundamental to your country's relationship with its citizens?

(I'm not a Facebook apologist. I think they deserve every bit of criticism they get. I just think the previous poster makes a solid point.)


It's a lot harder to change citizenship than it is for a Facebook caliber engineer to change jobs.

jwz says it best:

> If you work for Facebook, quit. It is morally indefensible for you to use your skills to make that company more powerful. By working there, you are making the world an objectively worse place. I'm sure you can find a job working for a company that you don't have to apologize for all the time.


Good point!


I think it’s an interesting analogy, but it’s also a fundamentally flawed one and doesn’t apply.

That problem does exist with countries. The mechanisms for trying to fix that with regard to countries, are things like democracy, revolutions, investigative journalism, and international pressure. We tend to be conservative about how we try to change our countries because most people’s livelihoods and even lives depend on our decisions.

This is absolutely not the case for a social media company. It’s just a capitalist corporation. One of the asserted benefits of capitalism is that we have competition and companies can simply fail if they don’t serve our needs or be shut down if they end up being harmful.

I.e. We have to tolerate countries that do bad things and the struggle to fix them is long and hard, because the costs of a failed state are enormous.

Unlike with states, don’t have to tolerate bad companies, in not tolerating them, we create the opportunities that lead to something better emerging.


Well said! Thanks for expanding on that. I fully accept your argument.


It's one thing to work on the roads and sewers, and psychology distance yourself from the military drone program. It's another when the core business model and the CEO's own stated goals are hostile to humanity.


The US government has a business model (propping up the petrodollar through military force, circulating it around the world, and debasing it ad nauseum) that is hostile towards humanity. I can't imagine arguing that working for facebook is worse than working for the US government. You can psychologically distance yourself from whatever you want to, but one of these organizations murders children and the other one markets bullshit to them (both spy). I don't like either, but I see the one doing the murdering as having more, ya know... blood on their hands.


> the CEO's own stated goals are hostile to humanity

Are you saying that is the case with Facebook? Can you explain?


I have a friend who works at Facebook. I actually asked him this question.

His answer was something along the lines of: "I don't use facebook, the problems I have to solve are interesting, and it's management that makes those decisions."

I left it at that, I've known the guy for a long time and I think that goes pretty well with his mindset. It might be a different story if he was working on a data gathering team.


That's probably what I would say if I worked at Facebook. The uncomfortable line of questioning would be if you asked me WHY I don't have a Facebook. And I would explain why I don't like giving my attention to an AI driven news feed and how I don't think Facebook is having a positive effect on most user's lives. Then I'll start wondering what I'm doing with my career.


there are literally hundreds of companies in SV solving interesting problems - i would ask him why he doesnt look for a new position


It's in part self-selecting: if you work there, it's because you want to work there in spite of (or maybe because of) what's in the press.


That would mean that Facebook basically unfixable unless you fire/replace everyone. That doesn't bode well.


(almost) nobody would dream of working for Facebook if the salaries weren't there. The "problem" with the games industry, and other industries with prestige jobs like publishing, film, etc., is that their toxicity derives from the drive of jobseekers to desire these jobs all out of proportion with their benefits and compensation. There's nothing inherent with the production of computer games that requires this attitude other than employees' and jobseekers' irrational (and very human) love of games. There are exploitative games that are bad, but there's no reason that all games have to be this way.

Facebook is toxic because it fundamentally makes money in an exploitative way that is bad. There is no way for Facebook to both be a business and not be sleezy. I think it's potentially possible we could build something Facebook-like as a non-business, but if we expect it to make a return for investors, it absolutely has to do fundamentally objectionable things to its users and society.


A lot of devs just want to work on cool stuff, which FB has plenty of, and ignore "politics".


That’s the issue, innit? All the extremely cool tech is the prerequisite for the privacy-invading, democracy-busting, user-hostile, ethics-dismissing business model of the company. You can’t disentangle the “cool stuff” from the “bad stuff,” any more than a dev for the NSA plausibly can, and we as technologists have to grapple with the moral consequences of doing cool stuff for bad people. Or, to quote Tom Lehrer,

"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? / “That's not my department" says Wernher von Braun


[flagged]


If your logic is that people at facebook want to ignore politics, perhaps you'd be better off directing your question at asians? Whites are 46% of facebook employees (underrepresented to the point of being a minority there), while asians are 41% (over-represented by a factor of ~4 vs. the general population): https://www.facebook.com/careers/diversity-report


Anecdotally, every time I've heard the phrase "I want to keep politics out of this," it's been uttered by some rich white dude.

I don't see why Facebook would be any different.


Not everybody, just upper management all the way to Zuckenberg including. They set the moral bars in projects they focus on, and most people just follow.

Since name above is quite far from moral person from most news I was able to see related to him/FB, what you state is most probably correct.


Facebook isn't a problem because of its people's personalities, it is a problem because of its business model.


> everyone

No, just the actively bad ones.

The ones who bobble along regardless because their individual tasks are not evil would bobble along just the same in a regime that does care more about doing the right thing (or, at least, doing the wrong thing less).

Unfortunately the actively bad ones are probably good at hiding behind the more apathetic, throwing a few of them under the proverbial bus every now and then.


The generous interpretation would be that the people who are there "because of what's in the press" want to fix the problems.


You can't fix things when all the politically important decisions are made in the C suite. Even the Chief Security Officer quit and said Facebook is hopeless.


Alex Stamos has never said "Facebook is hopeless." He has also never said anything to that effect in not so few words. His take on Facebook was, and continues to be, nuanced - he has said that Facebook has deep seated challenges, but never intimated that he believes they're insurmountable.

In fact, now I'm challenging you to cite this. Why say things like this if they're not true? Any broader point about Facebook doesn't even hinge on the veracity of this claim, I don't get it.


Well the good thing about so-called "AAA" is that there will be so many hundreds of people in the building that responsibility will feel so dispersed that you'll effectively be an observer of the spectacle, despite being on the inside.

The AAA term in gamedev makes me laugh. As if it's some kind of status symbol. Just call it industrial-scale or factory-farming.


Same for those who work at Facebook and Google I imagine.

"It's not my fault my company is hurtling us towards a dystopian surveillance society."

History is full of people like that.


And so is the present, which is something we'd all do well to remember.


No raindrop feels responsible for the flood


And most of them shouldn't, the raindrops on the art team didn't create always online DRM for a single player game.


I realize they didn't come up with this, but I first read it here: https://despair.com/products/irresponsibility


I’ll trade you for two: “the fish rots from the head”, and “a witty saying proves nothing”.


I don't think this discussion will be as interesting as people think.

When a game or piece of software you write is shit, you know it's shit, unless you are completely delusional. Thus once it's actually released you'll probably feel some relief that at least it's finally done and you can move on with your life, putting it behind you. Negative reviews aren't a surprise, they are expected. And in large companies there must be some satisfaction being able to say "I told you so" to fools who thought otherwise.

I think it'd be more interesting to find out what it's like being a small indie developer who banks it all on one game they've been working on for years, and then when it finally releases it's mediocre and mostly ignored, making little to no money.


But I don't think it has to be necessarily shit. It can be a good game, and you can be proud of it, but at some point a manager comes in and says "upper floors want to add microtransactions and DLCs here and there". You know as a gamer that it's (or it will be perceived as) a shitty practice and will be negatively received.

That could be for example a nice anecdote to tell (maybe the EA developer in the upper comments?).


Unless it's a "game as a service" and even after release you have to keep on polishing the turd.


As a angry and cynical gamer I want to take a moment to thank Game Developers of negatively received publishers, specifically EA and Blizzard who I am most familiar with.

First of all, I have never seen a triple A game in recent years that did not exhibit the passion of its developers somewhere in the game. Even the most rushed, MTX-riddled, poorly architected, games in recent memory would always have something that made me think, as a fellow developer/product manager, "Damn somebody worked their ass off to make that cool". Whether its extra effort put into a 3d model/animation, a unique UI enhancement, a piece of well thought out dialogue, something is always there and I appreciate it because it reflects nothing but extra effort - the game could have shipped without it but somebody did it anyways.

Second, gamers need to stop expecting infinite replayability. No game can be played 10 hours a day and stay fresh, engaging, and new. This is a particular problem with multiplayer and competitive games such as Battlefield or Overwatch. It prompts a vocal minority to complain and negatively impacts perception of a game which, if played a couple hours a day, would be received much better. It also promotes game types with more replayability, causing fewer RPG and single player games and more BR games that can be binged by streamers and fans to an unhealthy level.

Third, like the airline industry consumers force policy with their spending habits. They want to pay once for a game that gets constant updates, has progressive updates, and quality customer support. On paper I suppose this is fine but for large titles involves retaining large amounts of staff that have to be paid for somewhere in the process. Collectively we've by and large rejected most monetization strategies, leaving us with the current "game-as-service" model which I don't think anyone is truly happy of.

Finally, and again, thank you for your work. Gamers are vocal and often unreasonable, but we still think you are good developers and good people. So are gamers, we need to find a better way to support each other. I am not a fan of the oligarchy of modern triple A game developement (with EA, Activision-Blizzard, and 2k) hold all the cards. Hopefully with the democratization of Unity and Indie game development we can break the painful cycle soon.


From a passionate programmer at EA: thank you!

I really needed that, because it's far too rare. It's really tough spending so much time and effort trying to make something fun and only ever hearing complaints about how your company is evil and don't care.


I second this, also as a developer at EA.


Chess and poker are examples of games with extreme replayability. The issue most AAA games have is how shallow they end up being.

RPG’s for example often represents choices as who do you want to win? That kind of story telling ends up being really expensive in development, but rather meaningless to a player. Choosing side A or B ends up being the same as picking the page in an adventure book. This can be engaging the first time, but replay ability ends up being is this book/movie good enough to read a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc time.


> Second, gamers need to stop expecting infinite replayability.

Or even long games. Not every game needs to have 100+ hours of content, especially single-player games.

I'm perfectly happy paying $10-15 on a game that I can complete in 2-3 hours. It's really no different than paying $10-15 to go see a movie in a theater.


The point about 'getting used' to poor features, or indeed even bugs, applies not just to video games but any type of software you work on for a long time (especially personal projects, where you don't have a QA team).

This will no doubt be familiar to many of us on HN.


That's my understanding of what "Hallway usability testing" from the classic 'Joel Test' meant. Having fresh eyes on a thing vs. the same people 'testing' it forever.

There's a similar phenomenon when looking at an electronic todo list. You get used to reading it top-to-bottom and skipping over certain uncompleted items every time. It's nice if there is a feature to randomise the order of the list, to give you a jolt into properly considering each item individually again.


This comment from accpi jumped out...

Engineers take the Kondo approach to Jira. The ticket doesn't spark joy, so they discard it.


It's sad that "We all know it's bad, but we'll keep doing what we're doing, and then release it and all get laid off" is still a common thread. Most of us have worked in places like this, too, and not just in game software. Totally demotivating. I guess I'd just say there are companies that don't have this attitude--look for them instead.


Back in 2011 I was a game tester on Hasbro Family Game Night 4. Definitely not an official spokesman here. It was so bad that we opted out of even having public reviews for the game from the large review sites.

Morale went way up once we released the game because everyone was so sick of working on it and knew the game was terrible. It was a product of having a low budget and tight deadlines. Sounds like my experience lines up with most of this Reddit discussion.

I think it may be different if, for some reason, the team is convinced their game is amazing before shipping. But in my experience game developers usually know if their game sucks.


Surprising lack of actually qualified respondents but I'm not about to make a Reddit account to help out. Instead HN gets my reply. Worked at Zynga during "the good years" as both a programmer and a designer.

Launched game after game for our target audience, casual gamers. These are players who don't identify as gamers but probably play games for as many hours or more as those who do. These games were well-received. 4-5 star ratings, letters and gifts from players thanking us for making them feel less lonely at home or have a new way to connect with their grandkids or whatever.

On the flip side you are universally hated by self-identifying gamers who aren't even your target audience. And worse, you're hated by other professional devs in the industry. For a couple years at GDC I would walk around with my badge flipped or my employer obscured cuz it was better to make a first impression and _then_ reveal you worked for the dog. Eventually I would rep my employer proudly, even wearing obnoxious internally-gifted whatever-Ville shirts, just to ruffle feathers. This was the start of my growing resentment for self-identifying gamers, be they players or developers, which eventually led me to leave the industry.

Zynga was a "clone shop" because they understood that their target audience doesn't trade in mechanical novelty. Find something that already works, polish it, and extend it. That was the strategy. Game ideas are meaningless, literally every employee has a dozen good ones. Execution is all that matters. Your feathers are probably ruffled by now but we adopted this strategy from EA and the rest of AAA who do exactly this year after year for the very audience that condemned Zynga for it. You think all those open world games aren't really clones of Assassin's Creed? Cuz that's how they're all pitched. It's the game industry equivalent of "Uber for X". Everything is Assassin's Creed or Halo. Open world or on-rails. Chocolate or vanilla. Then you add the sprinkles ("this time they're toffee!") and ship it. Would you criticize Ben & Jerry's as a clone shop? I mean all they're doing is releasing the same ice cream over and over!

That should be enough pretext to answer the question. Obviously it feels like shit to work somewhere where people have decided you're cancer. But deep down you know they're wrong. There are plenty of ppl out there who enjoy your game, but they aren't the loudest ppl who write the public narrative. You're on your own to reconcile that. How I did it was to accept that self-identifying gamers are entitled brats who have no idea how the things they're critiquing actually work. I use the term 'self-identifying' so often because it's an important piece of the puzzle. These are ppl who consider playing games to be their thing, in the way that a Hot Topic shopper might consider dark clothes and Jack Skellington to be their thing. When you disrupt their internal reality, say by releasing a clone of Scrabble with more power-up tiles and a chat box, they feel like you are offending them and will now spend hours online spreading hate and misinformation. It's a little like politics.

I was pitching in on a mobile design for a game about collecting and raising dragons, cuz that was a hot mobile thing at the time, right around when the Tiny Tower debacle happened. To catch everyone up, Tiny Tower was a successful mobile game by a small indie studio. Zynga had released a clone called Dream Heights and the devs decided to weaponize the frothing self-identifying gamers in a FUD campaign to protect their game from a competitor. Pretty soon the Zynga version, which previously enjoyed 4 star rating and had a growing following of fans, got inundated with negative reviews from ppl who had no interest in the game at all. The company dropped the game because the target audience can't tell this is what happened. They just think the game is bad. Zynga actually winced pretty hard internally from this. It started cancelling other clones out of fear of a trend starting. In my opinion this was Zynga listening to the haters which is never the right thing to do. That dragon breeding game I was telling you about though; it was a clone so after nearly two years of development by a team of 40+ it was cancelled. When a game is cancelled before launch you can't really put it on your resume. If you're an artist you have to smuggle the art out of the company to use it in your portfolio, labeled as concept art or something. Obviously it would be better if two years of your life amounted to a name you could drop on your resume.

And ultimately that's what it feels like to work at a company after releasing a negatively received game. The frustration of being burned alive by a witch hunt mixed with the suffocating feeling that your career has stalled.

If there needs to be a moral to the story, it's to not let the entertainment you consume become your identity. It will make you a worse person.


Interesting insight. But saying "all games are clones," and using that as justification to take an indie studio's idea doesn't come across very well.

Yes, a lot of the games but studio's churn out are all very similar. It's by design. Games are so expensive to produce that if you have a formula that works, you follow it.

Conversely, small games are a labour of love from studios. Devs often quit their jobs to work on them. And frequently, the large studios/producers will eventually buy the fresh idea though an acquisition, since they don't want to gamble on new IP themselves.

By appropriating another's idea, the freshness is lost for whoever plays whichever game first, and in this case, the company with marketing dollars is going to win. I can see the Injustice there. The player banks are at least probably separated but not mutually exclusive. If Zynga successfully cloned Minecraft, do you think it would have been the cultural phenomenon it is today?

Anyhow, you are certainly right that gamers frequently drag whatever they love to hate at the time through the mud. Sometimes I feel it's justified, sometimes I don't. I have a hard time rushing to defence of a company that rips off games because "everyone does it."

I think it's wise Zynga's leadership pulled back, but curious that they didn't see it coming to begin with.


I still chalk this behavior up to the walled-garden nature of the publisher platforms (mobile, consoles, Steam, etc). When customers have no recourse against companies doing things they don't like, they resort to mob behavior. Remove the friction from customers moving from one clone to another and you will see this disappear. However, I have no idea how you would get there.


I happily worked at a small shop that made clones of popular mobile games. I spent about 2 years maintaining and releasing new content for Match-3 games.

The team was great and I learned a lot from them.

I would typically respond to 'what do you do' with something like 'You know Candy Crush? Yeah? I don't work on that but I do work on a clone of it.'

It was nice to learn while working on a frivolous game. Felt weird thinking about who was spending money and how much, though.


This is excellent commentary and gave me insight into gaming in a way I hadn't considered. Thank you.


You changed my mind, so, thank you :)


I worked at the two companies that made the two most important games I ever played. My experience at the first directly led to me keeping a bit of detachment the second time.

At the first, the company made some decisions that were unpopular with players. I was young and got caught up in frustration over those decisions on behalf of players, as a player myself, and over the damage to the company's image.

The second time was years later and I was able to advocate on behalf of players while not getting so emotionally caught up in the outcome of those decisions to affect my career there.


It's depressing, but keep in mind for a lot of people in game development that do not have a lot of credits - they just want to complete a game to add it to their CV. It used to be (back in the 90's/2000's not sure how true this is now) that companies would not even look at your resume if you had not worked on a game that shipped for a lot of positions. I can remember being surprised at my first job in game development how passionate the arguments were in team meetings about how people were listed in the credits.

Also, I've worked separately at a publisher and company that contracted development of work to smaller development studios and I can remember it was much more common in my experience for the publisher or primary company looking at the milestone work and deciding it was not good enough and to terminate the contract and then having to look at the source code/assets and trying to assess the state and resurrect those games and that was no fun either, just sad to think about the opportunity cost for those involved and people who were probably going to get laid off, though usually one could look at the code and see the big picture problems in a day or two.


The atmosphere feels exactly the same as in this thread.

The discussion isn't about the game. The discussion is about the discussion about the game.

It's not "Should we do loot boxes?"; it's "Reddit trolls are being toxic about loot boxes. How can we deal with toxicity?"


A little bit late to the party, but this article about a prematurely released game seems like a good addition to this thread, as an example how the releases are rushed by executives:

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/03/05/left-alive-suffe...


I would suggest to read Jason Schreier's book: "blood sweat and pixels" - it opened my eyes about the process of building AAA games - which sometimes is soo chaotic that is hard to believe they could build anything.


From the comments: "Engineers take the Kondo approach to Jira. The ticket doesn't spark joy, so they discard it."


The worst part isn't when the game launches and does poorly, but during development.

Most devs are passionate gamers themselves, and even if our own priduct doesn't turn out great, doesn't mean we don't know what makes a good game. So most of us know that the product we're working on isn't gonna be a GOTY.

There's a few stages to it, similar to the stages of grief:

    Denial: "If I pull extra hours, I can fix this feature. We can turn this around."

    Anger: Frustration and anger that's usually directed towards upper management ("why did we have to make this decision? why don't we have enough staff? why are we launching in three months?"

    Acceptance: "Whatever, you can't always bat 1000. As long as my job is secure after all this, I'm fine."
And worst of all, apathy, where the passion you once had has been sapped from you, and what you thought was a dream job, has turned into just another routine motion you go through.


While you can still edit, please use a different style for your quotes. Using code formatting makes them a pain to read. Just make them cursive with the star characters. Thanks! :)


It's mysterious that people think this (fixed width for anything other than a short code listing) is a rational formatting decision on HN. Does anyone use a wide enough screen to accommodate that "anger" line above?


It would fit fine on my 4k monitor, but it still gets wrapped in a box with scrollbar so that I can only see the first 2/3 of it.


If you use that formatting, you need to keep your lines short. I make sure to keep my lines short when I use this style.

It's not a great way of formatting, but there's not a lot of options here.


Looks okay in lynx :)


One of HN design principles is that usability is irrelevant because people come here for the community and minimizing software development effort is a point of pride.

People use the code identuse there is no way to create a blockquote


As GP said:

Just make them cursive with the star characters.

That's a block quote!


For even further clarity, I like the very prescient '>' in combination with italics:

> this is a block quote right here

It's very clearly a distinct block


In a sense, this is right back to the original problem, because there is no natural beginning to lines in prose.

> This line looks fine.

> How about this line? It's quite a bit longer so it may wrap around to the beginning of the line, depending on screen size and other factors... where would one place additional ">"s?


I think it makes sense just to wrap it. The block ends when the contiguous text ends, no?

> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus non sagittis sapien. Fusce ut lacinia ligula. In accumsan efficitur eros, ac ullamcorper mauris. Fusce consequat, magna id lobortis convallis, ante nibh tristique dui, sed laoreet elit tellus non augue. Pellentesque a vulputate mauris. Donec ac nunc venenatis, ultrices nibh nec, congue urna. Duis justo leo, auctor ac tempor at, faucibus id felis. Cras et neque in dui commodo faucibus eget eu erat. Donec tempus sapien felis, ac tristique est dapibus ac. Donec sed suscipit velit. Praesent leo ante, volutpat nec aliquam ac, tempor eu magna. In blandit purus a enim molestie posuere. Sed suscipit suscipit nulla a pharetra. Vivamus fringilla id neque accumsan sollicitudin. Nulla rhoncus fermentum lorem eget iaculis.

Though you might use multiple '>' for multiple paragraphs, eg:

> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus non sagittis sapien. Fusce ut lacinia ligula. In accumsan efficitur eros, ac ullamcorper mauris. Fusce consequat, magna id lobortis convallis, ante nibh tristique dui, sed laoreet elit tellus non augue. Pellentesque a vulputate mauris. Donec ac nunc venenatis, ultrices nibh nec, congue urna. Duis justo leo, auctor ac tempor at, faucibus id felis. Cras et neque in dui commodo faucibus eget eu erat. Donec tempus sapien felis, ac tristique est dapibus ac. Donec sed suscipit velit. Praesent leo ante, volutpat nec aliquam ac, tempor eu magna. In blandit purus a enim molestie posuere. Sed suscipit suscipit nulla a pharetra. Vivamus fringilla id neque accumsan sollicitudin. Nulla rhoncus fermentum lorem eget iaculis.

> Vivamus cursus mi diam, a euismod augue tincidunt quis. Ut et arcu feugiat turpis luctus dignissim. Morbi ornare, leo ut porttitor euismod, leo urna suscipit neque, ut lacinia metus velit ut ipsum. Duis ac lorem interdum, congue magna sit amet, accumsan odio. Nam eu tempus metus. Praesent venenatis tortor lacinia dapibus blandit. Mauris semper odio in faucibus feugiat. Praesent id nibh nulla. Phasellus fringilla risus vitae lacus sollicitudin, et pharetra odio ullamcorper. Phasellus at lacus in nulla egestas maximus a eu libero. Nulla sodales nulla vitae ipsum laoreet varius. Donec quis gravida erat.


Using asterisks makes the text italicized, not cursive.


Why is this the top comment? It's literally just a copy and paste of one of the linked Reddit comments (and badly formatted to boot).


Woa, have people started stealing top comments and crossposting them to farm karma?


Yep. This is probably the third or so time that I've seen a comment stolen from a related reddit thread get posted on HN by a new account and get called out. Who knows how often it happens and no-one notices.


nothng new... about as old as the web


Seems reasonable to flag it--new account, straight-up copy and paste even including "priduct", karma farming, no good can come of it.


know that the product we're working on isn't gonna be a GOTY

Is there more than one game of the year? Is it more important to get the adulation from critics or from gamers (I guess measure in sales?). Or do gamers really listen to critics?


Yes, everyone and their grandmother can be a critic and there's about an equal amount of GOTY's

however, I took that more as an indication that they know the game wont be well received, rather than literally not beeing GOTY


I know, but, that's not what I'm saying. There's being well received by critics (GOTY) vs well received by gamers (sales, I suppose). These aren't always the same the other media like film, tv, music, etc.

What's really more important to a game studio? That their customers like them or meaningless praise from game critics (which, as you suggest might not have the best credentials).


you want both, and they're usually quite correlated. Having a low score on Metacritic is a pretty good indicator that your game will not sell.


My experience is that developers are generally very well aware of all the issues mentioned in reviews and player feedback, but might not be prepared for how those are weighed against the good points.


Of course, none of the mentioned AAA developers are taking part in this conversation. "What's it like?" - "Dunno, not in the AAA business, but it sucks, at least in the indie business!"

I'm not sure what the question aims at. Should developers avoid AAA publishing studios altogether? Or should they leave AAA development for indie? The problems of shitty games mostly stem from the business/investment and management part of development, not exactly due to lack of talent. But, without good management even the most talented artists are prone to failure. Rare exceptions confirm the rule.


It’s quite common in AskReddit threads especially if the target of the question is too specific. If it’s asking for people of type X, comments will often start: “I’m not X, but...” or the self-aware version: “Obligatory ‘not X but’...”

Checking AskReddit for a specific one that is there at the moment: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/ax7cfl/folks_wit...

2nd top comment (sorted by best), starts “I don't have a blind parent, but I taught a child who did.“ There are a lot of responses that fit the wording of the question but a lot of others that have specific examples addressing the general topic.

Sounds like you’re thinking the question must have an agenda. I think it’s just opening up the topic of what is it like to work on a technical product that gets bad reviews.


Small and indie companies have their own problems and can also have games that aren't received well. In those cases it tends to put the company out of business entirely, as opposed to just some people being laid off. I've worked for three small game companies, two of which shut down after a poorly received game and one that laid off 90% of its people and limped along for a few more years before shutting down.

I'm no longer in the game industry (I am working on games in my spare time, though, but progress is pretty slow).




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