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EA Cancels  Tiberium , Cites Quality Issues
EA Cancels Tiberium, Cites Quality Issues Exclusive
October 1, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander

October 1, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    151 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Citing ongoing quality problems, Electronic Arts has terminated its in-progress FPS set in the Command & Conquer universe, Tiberium, which had been in development at EA Los Angeles.

"The game was not on track to meet the high quality standards set by the team and by the EA Games Label," says EA spokesperson Mariam Sughayer in an official statement to Gamasutra, commenting that "...there were fundamental problems with the design of the game that the team struggled to correct."

She added: "A lower quality game is not in the best interest of the consumers and would not succeed in this market."

When EA Games boss Frank Gibeau recently spoke to Gamasutra about EALA, he told us a strategy was in place to address the studio's past quality issues, and specifically mentioned "evaluating" Tiberium, along with the Medal of Honor brand.

EALA is also developing Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 and the titles resulting from the publisher's deal with Steven Spielberg, and has just signed a deal with 300 director Zack Snyder.

The company says that further delaying Tiberium to resolve its issues was not an option, as it had already delayed the title out to fiscal year 2010. The company also declined to specify the financial investment in the game and says it has no plans to do so.


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Comments


Anonymous
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oh, I called it! Here it is in a nutshell, the next couple of moves for both EA and ATVI



Tiberium woes:

A Designer who had originally built only 1 mission on Halo was promoted by then manager John Batter, who had a hard on for Hollywoodesque big talent. John poured milliions into James Bond over Medal of Honor. This mean that less experienced personal got bigger salaries than the MOH teams. The designer "Dan Orzlak" experience on 1 mission in Halo was quickly used to calm DANJAQ's butterflies. He was promoted to Design Director. Although very personable, he only understood Halo's systems superficially. Why? Beause he was never a system's designer. Boom, fast forward to the next project.



The Producer pretty boy from marketing (insert his name) and Dan came up with a game called "vertical" that never saw the light of day. Neil young then moved them to Tiberium. While Neil squashed the old guard and created his own kingdom, FEAR fell upon all those working on Tiberuim. In other words no one wanted to make a design decision.



5 years later, Dan and team had changed the weapons 5 times. Hired a myriad of clown hack jr designers, all who wanted to be the "AI designer!" Dan was let go, and in came Tim Coolidge, who left after 2 weeks.



The company tried to hire experienced designers instead they hired a couple of more less than jr designers to save the project, one was let go after 1 week (please post why) I believe they came from now soon defunct Spark Unlimited.



The new lead designer Andre Garcia was left at the helm with 1 month to save the a doomed project full of hacks. BTW Andre was probably the only real working experienced dev on the team.



At the same time, MOH's creative director Jon Paquette who never wanted to be a designer in the first place, left to his long wishes of becoming a wannabe writer. The MOH team for the first time ever, used the same technology to create a prototype. You see every previous MOH game the engineer felt compelled to "refactor" and "redo" the entire engine, those rooks!



So the MOH demo rocked making Tiberuim team look like they've had their amateur thumbs up their nice asses. What are the execs and stock holders to think? James bond gone to ATVI because of a misplaced design director and now millions lost because of a jr team?!



In other news, ATVI is literally violently working on their newest Call of Duty which from what I heard is going to be the most VIOLENT game ever! Not a surprise that HBO wanted the same thing for Band of Brothers Pacific, which was canned.



Will COH PAcific ship at the same time as Speilberg's new BAnd of Brothers Pacific (Which happens to be super violent as well?)



YOU BETCHA!



Will we see cannabilism and toasted people?



YOU BETCHA!



This goes to show you as my predictions said.

-EALA will shut down, the RTS team is great but only sells 1mill units, hardly enough to stay in business for EA

-Tiberuim shuts down, lays off jrs, moves experienced to MOH

-MOH team is moved to Pandemic, keeps same GM as Exec Prod. on new IP.

-EA Casual, which has now hired a horrible ex Brasher SR Prod Trujillo, will also move to Pandemic.



All in all the house that MOH built has fallen to horrible hands of horrible Producers and every worst hiring practices. Hey EA next time check mobygames on the resumes!

Aaron Casillas
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Stick to the core of the game and a small highly experienced team.



Last be painfully honest and have high intergrity values always.



Wish those kids the best.

Ian Fisch
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Holy shit. I hope that first comment doesn't get deleted. I wish more incompetence was brought out into the open like this.

Anonymous
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Interesting comments by the above poster, who if you worked with him are not SHOCKED to know who it likely is.



The thing is, Tiberium, along with MoH and all EALA/EA games, have one core fundamental problem, and that is an unnecessary and bloated amount of management. They not only gobble up the project budget while they contribute nothing to the project but needless and uninformed change, they at times only can survive by doing so, and thus are forced to, less they appear "uninvolved."



While many of the above statements are true, one statement needs corrected. An opinion shared across the team except by a select few, is that the "jr." designers, some with 10 years or more experience in the industry, were far more knowledgeable and proven than their lead Orzulak, or his student of the fine art of smoke screening, Andre Garcia. This was not only supported but reaffirmed by other level designers brought on loan from the Medal of Honor team, also with far more experience than their leads. Since you talk of MobyGames'ing a resume, you'll find Andre Garcia, a QA tester for nearly a decade, quickly went from nothing, to a design lead position, thanks to his friend Dan Orzulak.



However, despite the narrow focus of the above poster, the demise of this project, and others, was in the hands of a higher pay grade than is likely visible to the above poster. Previous games such as MoH:A survived even less competent design leaders, such as the aformentioned Jon Paquette, a creative director with even less design experience than Orzulak. No, this would not ordinarily be enough to sink a ship at the well funded studio...







The real story of Tiberium's fate was a project being led by these incompetent leaders, as is par for the course at EALA, but was recognized as an opportunity for a new team of management to make a powerplay for their own development team. At first they made the right moves to win over the crowd, eliminating Orzulak, "pretty boy EP," and their "no action is the best action" technical director, along with demoting the similar philosophy senior development director in one fell swoop. The team rejoiced, and invested their full faith into the newcomers...



While their hostile takeover of the team would include the clause they had to save the project, it was in their best interest NOT to be credited with the mess left behind by their incompetent predecessors. When the title ships, no one outside the studio knows what really happened on the project, all they know is who is in the credits. It's one thing to have your name on a disaster, but it's entirely another if you didn't create it.



Every step of the way, the new management team sabotaged Tiberium from intentional failings of milestones from day one, to laying off of key contributers to its success so far at the desperate end. If you want to know who wasn't pulling their weight on Tiberium, they were the last ones left. Up until the last day you could walk around the office and look into almost any cube at random, witnessing people surf the web, due to purposely misscheduled workloads. If the above poster wants to know why that one designer was let go, it was because he was the last one doing his position, and without him, the work could not be done.



This is how the new management team brokered their own team, and at the same time quietly took Tiberium out back and put it down, so they would not be known as the owners. They got field promoted to captains, then sunk their damaged ship, so they could take their new titles on to a fresh vessel, and killed all the witnesses.



No need to be upset... it's just business.

Anonymous
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I've personally worked with Andre Garcia on MOH European Assault, he is one of the few able bodied level designers.



Jason Alejandre "Dre" was another designer of high experience, nearly 10 years who was misplaced creativly. He just recently quit.



How can a designer of 10 years be ignored? In the past there were many other great designers in EALA's history that were misplaced from Lynn Henson (the original designer on MOH) to Aaron Casillas (yes old man c, always pushed for the facts, best levels at EALA too), Johnson (24hour worker), Castro (script master), Church, Bass, Berger, Dell the list goes on and on.



The problem was the EA PRoducer crew, who are these fucks? I mean these are people who can't engineer, cant make art or design, so guess what they produce and run the shop...how stoooooopid. Versus look at COH4 EXEC PROD Sam Nourani, he came from teh depths of QA hell for years, he earned his keep....EA prods are just armchair gamers. There is a reason why COH4 was #1, because it was made by people who love games and put REAL time into the industry. EA not so much. Look at PAtrick Gilmore and his cronies they are just pretty boys, they don't know games, period. Rex Dickson? He was the cause of the fall of Turok 3, WTF?! Now on MOH, check mobygames, unless he lied on his resume like the other half of the EALA crew.



One of the greatest goof ball stories about designers had to be the bungling on the recruitment of Jeremy Luyties and Mike Denny. Two designers who were offered 5g to move to EA from Grey Matter on the basis that 5g is EA. How STUPID!



I was peronally angry at this bullshit move on two create designes and tactical hires. 5g because its EA? Gimme a fucking break. Should have given them 20g each and destroy ATVI.



HR was at fault here, and upper management should have offered each 20g's. Why? Because each eventually went on to work on MOH's competition and one of them is now the Creative Director on the next James Bond, which EA lost. You see what I mean, superior incompentance at EALA. That HR person is now working at Microsoft on the HAlo team, expect more stupidity.



Imagine that 20g inc salary would have disrupted ATVI's business for the next 8 years! But I guess not...EA rooks.



Andre stepped in when Coolidge left after a couple weeks to goto Monolith. What could he do? Coolidge move was probably a salary raise, I can not blame him at all. The grades at EALA have been jacked up for years. I personally know and heard that the jr designers were fighting over all wanting to be the AI or the "systems guy." Stupid.



On Jon Paquette, well, he was much loved by management, to the point that one time he recieved "employee of the month" even though he was out sick with ulcers for that entire month! I've personally also sat in a lot of meeting where these guys LIED through their fucking teeth to management about what was going on....You have to be kidding me! Alot of the designers forementioned would stand up to Pacquette and Dickson alike to correct their bullshit.



I recall a meeting where they wanted to cut some of the better and fundamental mechanics in moh...now they take credit for them!



I personally recall having a discussion which turned into an arguement with Orzlack about the number of hours the MOH team was putting in.. I use to walk around this area to see it empty for months...He claimed he was working, but his door was always closed and no one was home. While we slaved away on MOHEA he was gone....that was a fight to remember. I hardly talked to the guy after that....



Unfortunately, in EA culture, telling the facts is a NO NO. You must always paint a pretty picture otherwise you are a Naysayer. Talking about the FACTS and the Pink Elephant in the room is a no no as well. IT will Kill your Career.



They'd rather spend hours with 20 designers in one room trying to figure out the simplest of systems. Or hire a group f story board artists to design out the mission tempo, HOW STOOPID.



Why does this happen? Because EALA has never really had a real Design Director with Creative power. Just a crows nest of Producers.



In the final analysis, EA needs to start to having a written test for designers to weed them out. Being a tester or a USC grad does not make you a designer. 3-4 years exp min to be accepted.



Cut your producers, Cut all your Dev Directors sans 1 per team.



I'm ticked because I own stock and after looking at how poorly it is now, I want heads to roll, I expect EA to have the most experienced people ever.

Anonymous
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What did Jon Paquette have anything to do with what happened on Tiberium? JPaq was a great design director and I would work with him again any day. The reason why the game was canceled is because it was a bad idea...from the start...you can't execute a bad idea. Doesn't compute. Excessive management doesn't ever help a bad idea. There have been many bad ideas and excessive management at EALA all along. That's a recipe for disaster...I can't see how the doors will stay open.

Anonymous
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I guess the points are about people in positions they don't belong in, especially if they never wanted to be in them in the first place or don't qualify for them.

Anonymous
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what jpq designed 1 whole mission by himself and helped in bunch of others, his entire goal was to always become a writer...that does not bode well with the cabal of designers....which is an example of the EALA way, put someone in a position they do not belong.

Omar Aziz
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We know who you are.

Anonymous
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Omar is another hard working engineer that EA back stabbed.

Aaron Casillas
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What's up Omar! Haven't seen you in the neighborhood...



I hope they have a post mortem, man this sounds like a crazy soap opera.

Anonymous
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The real problem started with them placing Chris Plummer in charge. The dude had no idea how to make a video game and had mostly marketing experience - no actual game dev experience other then a few nightmare projects at EALA. He didn't listen to any of the more experienced staff and changed his mind every few months, causing the team to churn and burn things over and over. The project ended up costing as much as a Hollywood movie and wasting years of people's time. You simply cannot succeed when the guy at the head of the project has no idea what he's making, and no idea how to really do it. I'm amazed they let him churn and burn for 4 years on it. Sad... there were some great ideas in the game and some great people on the team.

TIM COOLIDGE
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Omar, who is it? who is it? Do tell.

Hello all by the way.

Jacek Wesolowski
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You know, I live some ten thousand miles away from Los Angeles, and these stories sound disturbingly familiar, so I guess they should be talked about. But they would be more constructive if you signed them. I mean, if those guys you talk about decide to try and defend themselves, they won't be able to do so anonymously (so they won't be able to argue and brake their NDAs at the same time, for example). By contrast, I can't even tell how many of you there are in this thread.

Anonymous
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It sounds all so familiar...it's the same at Tiburon......too much producers and managers.....the ratio there is for every three dev guys there's one manager for it....go figure even the manager of the manager has a manager.....good luck in wanting to change something.......and just for your info......this game sounds like a breeze you guys should've been there at Tiburon for Superman....that was hell and the senior "executive" producer (driving a ferrari) chris gray, burned people time and money.....on a turd.......this was a nightmare a 4 year nightmare......heard though that he's now at EA LA which didn't make me wonder why Tiberium got canceled.......

Anonymous
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If you worked on Superman, let me say it wasn't a turd. I'm not at EA, but speaking developer to developer: Maybe it didn't meet sales expectations, and every game can always be better, but there were a lot of nice things about the game and you should feel proud of it overall.

Brian Holinka
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I'm fairly confident this is George Bush's fault...somehow

Anonymous
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There is a big difference between being proud of the final product and being proud of the development process. If the development process was broken then it does not matter if the final product is great, the process is still broken and still needs to improve.

Anonymous
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Superman was horrible.....if you worked on it you knew what I was talking about. 9 months of alpha, worked 16 hour days 6 -7 days a week for 9 months......including renderware when the game was already in production, and nobody in the studio had any experience to work with it....now I tell you from developer to developer that game was nightmare and a turd.......

Anonymous
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There has never been a Superman game worth playing.

Anonymous
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Having worked on 3 MOH's and with most of the people mentioned here...I can say that 80% of what's being called out here in true with regards to how things were run. Calling out people individually at any level below EP or Senior Producer isn't really necessary. Calling out how teams are organized is totally call for. Managers upon Manager upon Managers fill the cubes at EALA and I'm sure many other EA studios. There would literally be charts printing on the massive plotter printer with a full on flow chart of who was managed by who. I'm not joking. Combine that with putting creative control in the hands of movie directors, business men and ass clowns in general and I don't see how we ever even shipped a game. Spinning our wheels on one level for months showing it to people through the studio and the company desperately waiting for approval. Kind of like a kid making his first turkey hand drawing picture in kindergarten. Demo after demo after demo. Process after process after process. Then after we wasted all of our time doing that and the come to jesus "we need to get this done by X date to hit our numbers" we'd have about 5 months to make a game. Show me any company with any level of experience that could build a good game in 5 months.



Sound about right to everyone that worked there? I could go on and on but I dont work there anymore. I'm just validating the people who have the guts to post here.

Matt Coohill
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http://www.fatbabies.com/

Anonymous
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damn i thought my company was disorganized and demoralized.

Anonymous
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If a game sucks and your talent leadership can't make it better with any amount of time or money you have two choices:



1. Ship a terrible game.

2. Kill it.



Most of us would rather kill it and move on to a game that might actually be good.



BTW: The RTS group sells far more than a million per game and has a ton of talent without too many managers. In fact, the MOH team has some incredible talent, too. It's the painful stories we can't forget that cast a negative light on the whole studio. This one started years ago and is only ending now.



And finally, for us creatives... The money runs creative in most shops, most industries. If you can put together a team where creative has control AND fiscal discipline than you have found something rare and precious. With any luck EA will continue to push in that direction, but public companies have some pretty twisted rules. Welcome to the market.

Lee Davis
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So tru@calling out individual grunt level devs for this project failing, that's kind of lame. I mean, any anymous's want to blame me? Maybe if I had done a run cycle different or a weapon load better/faster it wouldn't have tanked?

I was actually worried that it was going to get cancelled as soon I got put on the project two years ago because of the slowness and difficulty of getting things approved and in game. Just getting the ball rolling in general was an enormous task. Coming from an indie studio where spending that kind of money and time was not anywhere close to being an option, it was very alarming. After a while I drank the kool-aid and rolled with it.

It's tough to shine in that kind of environment. The idea behind the game callapsed once we had the whole RTS/FPS hybrid thing taken away. It was on its way to becoming a mediocre at best shooter, in an already saturated and brutal market.

I think the MOH team has potential for greatness with this next title, because right off the bat, they already have an awesome and engaging story set up for fun encounters. There's not a bunch of designers and producers sitting in a room trying to pull gameplay out of their asses in some generic sci-fi universe.

Bah, whatever, I'm unemplployed and it's over, I'm gonna go surf.

Anonymous
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Well, let me be the first one to say that not everyone's experience is as bad as these bitter people above and things might be improving a little at EALA.



And some projects just don't work out so you have to kill them. I don't remember anyone bashing Blizzard when SC Ghost was canned.

Anonymous
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whenever somebody says that things are improving at EA is because things used to suck a lot, and now they just suck. The process is broken, crunch or no crunch is the wrong way to make games

Anonymous
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Not really. Things don't suck here, plain and simple. There's tons of room for improvement of course. But it's not bad at all.



I know for some teams it may have sucked in the past or it may still be sucky, I'm just talking about my own experience (what else can I talk about?). I can compare it with two other big names that I previously worked at and safely say this is my smoothest gig.

Jacek Wesolowski
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Based on personal experience and descriptions like those above, I'd say most projects don't work out because people don't read.



I'm currently reading one of classics - "Rapid Development" by Steve McConnell. It's a book about "serious" software - databases, word processors, operating systems and the like - and it's already twelve years old, but it applies to games very well (and not just to the part that involves compilers and header files). Written with simple terms and friendly phrase, it offers many practical pieces of advice on how to organize a project better, from both the technical and the management side.



Essentially, while the author didn't intend for that, his book is six hundred pages of explaining why GameDev sucks big time. For instance, the author spends a lot of time explaining why schedules matter, how and when to create an accurate schedule, and why it is important to risk your job trying to defend it from upper management. But in my line of work, I have yet to see any schedule at all, let alone an accurate one. And that's just the tip of an iceberg, as the list of negligent behaviours goes on and on, and on, and on.



I'm under impression that most of epic failures in our industry were just six hundred pages away from success. Sure, it's much easier said than done, but maybe it's time to actually say it out loud for once.



(oh, and don't forget to read "Peopleware", too)

Anonymous
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i think the REAL problem is that someone put a fucking 0 where a 1 shoulda been, and we racked up a $50 million bar tab trying to find that pesky bit.

Anonymous
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amen brother!

Anonymous
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HAHAHAHAH...Binary solo! 100101001001001

Lee Davis
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re:a couple comments up, I

Lee Davis
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hmmm, got cut off. re:a couple comments up, I

Lee Davis
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ok nevermind it wont post my whole comment

Lee Davis
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RIP Tiberium!

Anonymous
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claiming that some of these people are low levels or not responsible is naive. Some of these middle managers are some of the biggest liars/ass kissers I have ever worked with and are responsible for multiple games failing at EALA.



If I had one wish from a fucking green genie is that they all sucked cocked and went away, Prods and Dev Directors, from Dan Ellgrenn, Gilmore, Tarnie, Giollito, Chase, Rex, Cross, Wes, Raj the whole lot are a plague to good games. The last great dd at eala was brett close...the rest can suck cock. I'm serious.



If you look at how they actually became who they became in the industry you will see a string of people who are relative to someone or were doing cocaine with someon etc...or drunk off their asses. I'm not kidding, I am so tired of that here at EALA I hope someone at REdwood starts to drug testing a a policy!



Upper management and the real low levels are the real victims here. When all these middle managers lie and suck away at the real creatives and give out false forecast to upper management then they should be fired.



As a stock holder, you are trying to tell me that this game was in production for 5 years and no one knew it sucked? I mean how many fucking milestons were missed? Name names of people who were not shipping or hitting their milestones? Why weren't they fired? How come they are still in hte industry? Why are they working for a supposed AAA company? Why are their so many junior levels runing this company, what are their names so they don't get hired some where else!

Anonymous
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comeone Lee, the next MOH is following COH4, talking about becoming a follower now...what modern combat with drones in Iraq!? Talk about LAME! Talk about folloing ATVI! How unituitive, I'm going to set up a rental at Block buster for this game because there is not fucking way I'm going to buy a COH4 clone.



Tell me right now why it's different and why its Medal of Honor?



Comeone MOH people make a game that will make me cry!

Anonymous
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I think you're crossing the line with the suck cock and cocaine references. What people do outside of work is none of your business and doesn't change the fact that those people DID say that the game sucked and DID try to make changes but were held back by upper management. Its actually pretty lame that you have to reach into people's personal lives to find the reason why millions and millions of dollars have been wasted and many many many peoples careers and motivation have been demolished. I can see why people would need to get wasted after dealing with the shit that was dealt with. You're a damn fool if you think people like Cross, Rex, Chayes, Raj are to blame for this. You obviously don't know those people and how hard they worked to "stay the course" on plans that were made by people that A. don't play games B. don't know how to make games and C. don't care about how many peoples lives will be ruined with their nonsense ideas. "I was there!"...Thats what we said on MOHEA...its fucking true. I was there I saw the shit go down...check your shit before you start naming names anonymous. I'll stay anonymous until you start sucking cock yourself. Then I'll show up to watch.

Anonymous
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To the poster that said things are well at EA, look around. A few projects might do well, but that is the exception and not the rule. Some QOL issues are getting addressed, but the fact that is almost impossible to get stuff done with the structure in place is true for most EA Studios (except for Bioware and DICE and maybe Pandemic), the layers and layers of middle management should be an indicator that something is really wrong, as somebody else mentioned, the ratio of grunts to managers is like 1:2 or 1:3, either the grunts are incredibly stupid and need major babysitting, or the process is broken and for some weird reason it needs lots of managers. But the grunts are not stupid, there is a lot of good talent at EA. Just look at the attrition numbers, ask yourself why so many people leave EA.

Anonymous
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Waaaaah.



Buncha crybabies. Shit happens all the time in dev. You guys think you're special because you're airing EALA's dirty laundry?



You sound like a bunch of bitter, psycho ex-girlfriends/boyfriends. Gimme a fuckin' break. Suck it up and move on or leave the industry.



There are thousands of young kids fresh out of game degree factories like DigiPen, Full Sail, and (insert lame college name here) who are willing to kill you to take your places.



If you're part of a dysfunctional dev team, at the end of the day, no one's forcing you to stay there. Yes, financial reality may force you to covet your paycheck and endure a shitty project/development team, but at the end of the day, you're just there punching the clock. Is that really the reason why you're making games?



Think about it.



Stop whining, learn from mistakes, and make better games.

Anonymous
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EALA is fucked on a stick. Luckily I was smart enough to get the fuck out fast. Honestly when I first got there I thought, wow, I finally arrived. All my hard work paid off and I was finally in the big leagues. Unfortunately after being there a while I realized that all the real fucking talented people left EALA and only the fucking chaff were left, with the rare exception of Jason Alejandre and maybe a few others. management on the lowest level didn't give and airborne shit about quality or innovation. If you do care and tell someone you are a fucking boat rocker and you get dismissed out of hand.



Don't get me started on Spark, they couldn't find their collective asses if they had a road map. If any of the Designers from Spark went to Tiberium then its failure was sealed for sure.

Anonymous
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the stupid attitude of "suck it up or leave" has this industry fucked. Make no mistake, there are lots of good game dev shops out there, and NO, we do not have to suck it up. What people end up doing is leaving EA and joining game company X or Y. And yes, you are right about College kids joining EA, that is the EA model, that is why attrition is high, because people leave to join more professional companies with better practices.

Ryan MacDonald
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"There are thousands of young kids fresh out of game degree factories like DigiPen, Full Sail, and (insert lame college name here) who are willing to kill you to take your places."



Actually, most of us would not touch that place with a ten foot pole. Maybe your ego is tremendously overinflated from having "Got in the industry the good old way", but not all of us actually seeking to get an applicable DEGREE towards this as a career are as dumb as you so evidently are.



Most of us view EA as the force that is draining every single ounce of life and inspiration from this industry with its cutthroat practices and disgusting IP destruction, and quite frankly would rather flip burgers to pay off our loans than ever have that name appear on our resumes.



In short, get real and get enough balls to use your own name when insulting the people who will be making up the industry in the years to come ;)

Anonymous
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Anonymous 1 Oct 2008 at 4:52 pm PST



You got to be fucking kidding me, doing cocaine, being high or being drunk on company time. Try having a meeting with some of these fuckers and youll realize why they make the decisions they make...they are high on drugs.



Then do a cross section between those people who have recieved promotions mysteriously during the neil young era till now and youll see a group of people that were using drugs on and off of work.



Yes I;ve worked with these guys personally, and can personally tell you that seeing them get high on drugs during lunch time is not personal time when you have to come back to a meeting and make a million dollar decision. Some cock high on cocaine thinking he's making sense is no way to becoming the #1 company in the world...no wonder ATVI has surpassed!



The majority of these drug addicts stuck together in a cabal on and off of company time. In other words it was their dirty little secret and they;ll back each other up in meetings even if its to the destruction of the product and company.



Drug tests now!

Anonymous
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EA has too much management. Way too much that's all across the board. Headcount at EA Tiburon for example 600 people out of those 200 are devs (artists, programmers, ui, design) the rest is all management and producers. Why does a game need to have 10 producers? And also it is true, the best talent is leaving in droves all of the EA studios. Especially artists and programmers are fed up. But EA just thinks that outsourcing will solve the problem...good luck with that EA.......

Anonymous
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"who are willing to kill you to take your places."



And YOU'RE the one calling everyone else psychos? That's a pretty violent image there little man. If you're going to insult the state of mental health of others here, I might suggest you choose your words carefully and stop being an idiot.



I don't work in games, when I was a kid in university all I wanted was to work in games (specifically Origin, yet another great company raped and killed by EA). I still do game programming stuff on my own time, but I do work in a much better software development field. However, this story is disturbingly familiar to me. Not necessarily my company, but at a clients company (who shall, obviously, remain nameless). Management who know fuck all about their own business process have too much input on how things should be done in software. If you don't understand the business, you can't outline the logic. And when they try, it's a nightmare and leads to such a large mess that it can take a lifetime to clean it up.



Sadly this isn't limited to EA or game development. Fuck, it's not even limited to software development.



You have my sympathies.

Julio Cesar Espada Rodriguez
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We need a hero! Seriously, this industry is FULL of incompetent people that for the most stupid reasons are in big charges, and that does not only KILL the projects, but the morale of the people who have to eat what they shit.

Sometimes decisions are so absurd that even a random choice would be better.



In the end, who loss is the real hardworking people :(

Anonymous
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It's all about who you know this industry.



I've worked in a corporate game environment and now working at an independent game studio. While the current environment is more relaxing, it's by no means less stressful. There's no shortage of people that don't know what they're talking about. When your Producer comes in asking for off-the-wall features and you're already chopping features off just to make deadline, all you can do is grin and bear it.

Frank Arndt
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Wow, this is all so encouraging for me. Me being one of those fresh out of lame-name-college guys that are willing to kill for a position at pretty much any company just to get some more work experience.

Anyways, being the low level grunt I am I cant help but think that any company who spends this much time and money on a project only to call it quits is full of retards. If you dont have a solid core team with a solid design idea to begin with, why bother?

And then coming here to wash some dirty laundry and throw around accusations in a circle is real professional. I can understand frustrations building up at the office, trust me I have worked in quite some interesting environments before coming to this industry, but seeing anything at this level is ridiculous.

You people who are throwing around accusations should be ashamed of yourselves, because each and every individual who puts such an amount of effort into these accusations also seems to be highly motivated at creating the best possible game they can. Where was that drive when you were working on the game? Or were you too busy talking about who did what wrong and searching for scapegoats?

Problem just seems people have gotten a little lost in this huge clusterfuck and lost focus altogether. Maybe management is bad on a mid level. Maybe on a higher level too. But if thats the case, its up to the grunts to stick together as a team and put in work. The grunts are the first and last line of defense. Without them nothing gets done. We might take out the execs garbage, but we have power too, the power to make a good game and put our heads together and defend good ideas as well as criticize bad ones.

But if the grunts are messing up and fighting over who gets to be AI designer, along with managers who dont do a proper job, then my friends you are doomed. No matter how talented you are as an individual and no matter how impressive your resume might look, if you dont have the right spirit and motivation, it will be very hard to put together the effort required to make a good game.

If games are your passion and your company is fucked up, ask yourself the simple question why is that so? Why do I want to make a good game? Why loose time over dishing out accusations,when you can ask yourself what can I do to improve the situation? If your answer is that you dont think you can change anything, you are wrong and should go home. And not come back. Focusing on who caused the problem instead of dealing with the situation at hand is a waste of time.

And if you have tried all you can as a real team and finally come to the conclusion that you are indeed powerless and cannot change it for the better, call it quits and go surf! And find a new company.

Oh and fire the frikkin junkies please!

Anonymous
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This industry as a whole is broken. I think we can all agree on that. Hiring decisions are the killer for any company, and a bad decision here and there can sink your project, and if the company is small enough, the entire company.



Most companies I have worked for are run like high school. Where the BFF crew basically runs the place and promotes those that are "IN" whether they have a clue what they are doing or not. This eventually leads to good or smart people leaving and then the morons left basically make so many bad decisions that they run the company into the dirt (The Collective ring any bells?)



The joke is what is the difference between the boy scouts and the game industry.....at least the boy scouts have adult supervision. Until the game industry wakes up and puts competent and talented individuals in decision making positions and stops promoting people to their own level of incompetence, we are going to see this kind of drama. When someone who has NO experience other then being a soap opera actor is put in charge of a major project, and then an entire studio...come on, how can you take that company seriously?

Anonymous
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Frank, you got it all wrong, there is a big difference between grunt power, and management power. And the grunts are not the decision makers, if the grunts realize the game is fucked they do not go to the Exec Producer and say "We should change the game", before that happens you will be burried on countless meetings to validate if your feedback is valid and to capture the input of endless waves of middle management.

You are trying to put blame on the grunts, the grunts at EA are usually good, sometimes very good. The problem is not incompetence at the low level, the problem is incompetence at higher levels (which are the levels that have the money and drive the decisions), that is why the grunts leave.

craig d. adams
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Glorious!

Anonymous
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ATVI? Don't get me started on Activision. I worked at both companies and can safely say EA is much better for your mental health.

Anonymous
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I have some comments to add.



>>> Re: Superman



CCT bitches!



>>> Re: Drug use during game development



Let's not be hasty here... Have you been watching the Fox television show Fringe? Where would Doctor Bishop be if he wasn't self-medicating?



Also remember, you gotta pay da cost to be da boss.



>>> Re: Upper management responsibility vs. so-called "grunts"



I agree that studio management should never allow projects to derail this badly, but at least upper-management made the correct decision in this case and killed a turd. The old way at EA is to continually throw good money after bad.



How many games have you worked on that had no chance because of schedule, design, or technology limitations but you ended up pumping them out anyway? My guess is quite a few if you've worked there for a while.



Well, now there is a limit to this stupidity and as a shareholder I have to say; thank god and baby Jesus... It's about fricking time.



For every crying "grunt" here I'd like all of you to consider that you were all part of a team making a game. While sometimes it isn't possible to fix a feature or product yourself; you'd be shocked at what a small group of high-powered determined people can accomplish.



Even inside of EALA, say whatever you want about the results, but the team from inside managed to change the direction of MOHA and get it out the door.

Anonymous
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This whole thread resonates throughout the video game industry, not just EA. Everyone knows what the problems are, but no one has the balls to do anything about it. In a perfect world, we'd put the creative decision making process back in the hands of developers (i.e. gamers), place people that are worthy in the positions of management and have marketing answer to the dev teams (not the other way around). Sounds simple, but the powers-that-be are so well entrenched and incestuous throughout the industry, it'll take a lot of hard work to weed them out of the system. Still, one can hope...

Anonymous
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I despise the producers I have to work with.



Half of them are overpaid genuine alcoholics who try and tell me how to do my job despite the fact that just a week ago I noticed that one them was struggling to spell the word "Women" correctly, gave up and ended up spelling it "wemen".



I have an education, they don’t, so what do I do? I shut up, I smile, I do my job and I go home.



Get over it, you’re not the only one with games industry issues.

Anonymous
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I havent seen a public meltdown like this before and its about time this kind of thing came out in the open. Most of the time devs are too afraid for their future hiring prospects to ever come out publicly with this kind of shit (like me), but I am so glad you guys did. This kind of shit goes on all the time, the industry is riddled with incompetent management and horse-before-the-cart marketing types that end up smothering the baby game in the crib. This situation can only change one way: once enough money has been lost and enough people go bankrupt, we can start afresh from the ashes of incompetent, creatively barren corporate misery factories. The Valves of the industry will inherit everything from the dead dinos. From my perspective the greatest threat to development is people who are hired in key positions who have fraudulently claimed knowledge and experience in dev. There are so many infiltrators who have managed to get hired in the past 10 years since this industry became cool to work in, these people, and you know who you are, are the termites eating away at gaming.

Anonymous
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you would have to be drunk or high all day long to put up with the extreme amount of bullshit that goes on with middle and upper management at EALA.



you have guys like the aforementioned orzulak and plummer and giolito and batter and williams and ellgren and gilmore beating down decent and talented developers into the ground every day with their completely uninformed and ridiculous ideas about ho to make games.



working at EALA as a daily exercise in pride-swallowing humiliation that will stick with me forever. it's actually not that different from high school.

adam orth
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Not my car!

Terry Rosen
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Hey all,



What surprises me about this posting list is the utter lack of managerial know-how involved.



It reads like a noob whine list on America's Army, a bunch of twelve year olds accusing everyone else of aim-botting and sniper-hogging.



If any of you are in management positions, of any kind, it goes a long way to explaining why the game industry is in such a difficult place when trying to develop game production teams.



Management is not a mystery to be solved, and production is not a Half-Life puzzle mod.



Management and production have been completely and utterly understood for decades, (longer if you're Egyptian).



Unfortunately, public education in this country is in the same boat as game design, evidently.



For reading reference, outside the game industry:



Kaizen, Imai.

Millennium Management, Lareau.

The Toyota Way(Liker?)



You guys should be able to understand almost all of this content, (except some of Kaizen), and then when you weigh in on your criticisms we can read something other than, (insert your most polite version of whatever you like here).



Put another way,



Management is always at fault. Period. They are responsible for hiring, training, guiding and managing. If they mess those up, the company fails. (Oh, and managing money...)



However, management is NOT obligated to explain themselves to every little whiner they hire/fire or otherwise piss off.



Someone finally recognized reality about Tiberium, and pulled the plug. In a way it's an acknowledgment that management really screwed up. So badly it couldn't recover. Oh well, move on. Hopefully someone learned something besides what ya'll are whining about.



I've suddenly remembered too many examples to bother with....



-Terry

Anonymous
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What bothers most of us is the simple question:



How? How did this game possibly go on for four years and not have raised red flags all over the place?

Anonymous
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For the guy up there who brought Activision into this mess, I currently work for an ATVI studio, and it is by far and away the best job I have ever had in over a decade in this industry. Don't lump us into the EA turd brigade.

Anonymous
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This is all symptomatic of a young, growing industry. This happens in every area of the world, in every industry.



Nepotism, favoritism, hiring practices and inexperienced management are to blame for this situation.



The other main reason this game failed to make it out the door was posted way earlier in this thread: It was a poor idea from the start and no matter how good your team or management is, you simply can't make something bad from the beginning good.



It was the right move to cancel the game, it was just made 3 1/2 years too late.

Anonymous
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EALA has been a sea of red flags. There was a valiant push to correct the course while Neil Young was the GM but unfortunately he left before we could finish turning it around. The interim GM didn't do much and I feel sorry for Mike Verdu. He is a stand up guy and a proved leader/winner. Nothing he could do about Tiberium. There's about 20 posts here describing why it failed.

Anonymous
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I read this in EA's time.









Anyway; If you can't deal with the games industry, find another job.

Anonymous
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This goes out to Tim Rosen's comment about management.



That is total bullshit, you must be a manager yourself to talk like that. Management basically sucks in every industry and especially in any industry where the processes are still being defined (like sw develeopment)



Everybody understands that management is a necessary evil required to get things done, but don't give me this MBA bullshit that there's actually an art or science to it.



I'll acknowledge there are good managers but they're very rare and hardly worth mentioning in this sea of bullshit technicians.



I don't work in the games industry (i'm a HW designer) but I can tell you from my experience that *EVERY* single engineer (who didn't aspire to be an mba manager himself) in software and hardware development I have every interacted with has been the victim of retarded management decisions. I don't claim I could do better, especially since a lot of these issues are institutional but that doesn't mean we shouldn't expose and condemn bad management. In that sense this whining is constructive as we are exposing this incestuoust self-serving management culture which saps the vital energies of our industry, our economy and (for you stupid neo-liberals) stockholder value.



All these bullshit parasite managers from mid-level to C*O need to be continuously exposed as part of healing this dysfunctional corporate culture that is destroying north american industry.



Let me tell all you game devs that this kind of shitty management is everywhere in north american industry and is not limited to your industry.

Anonymous
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As a fan of the games you all slave to create (even Superman - I liked it), 10 years ago you all inspired me to join the industry, granted, from the journalism side.



It is eye opening and amazing to read these comments.



Part of me (the unrealistic optimist) feels that if more of the people on the other side of this equation (the consumers and fanboys) were aware of these issues, and the harsh conditions many of you experience, there would be a greater appreciation of who you all are and what you do - not just the big name designers that take all the glory. Maybe that appreciation would have formed a backlash, a letter campaign to EA condeming what their managerial actions have done... I would like to hope there would be more than insiders in this thread rooting for those with the bravery to speak up, even anonymously....



Just know there are people out there that care about these things, and while many of us are powerless to do anything, these are stories we will take with us....



Simply amazing and unfortunate. I hope everyone from that team that got an unfair shake find better, more lucrative employment.

Anonymous
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"Anyway; If you can't deal with the games industry, find another job. "



how about we just change the industry and stop eating crap sandwiches instead?

Anonymous
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Revolution!

Anonymous
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Back off Spark. It was a good little studio while it lasted. Sure, it had its share of horrible managers like any studio, but there was a good amount of talent there as well.



I interviewed at EA, saw what condition Tiberium was in, and I'm not suprised it got cut. I have no idea what happened during the development, probably the same thing that happens to most bad games. Too many people involved in the making decisions, too many mid-level management types who needed to justify their jobs on a daily basis by mucking with stuff, and not enough trust put into the actual devs in the trenches.

Anonymous
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Hey, don't paint the whole studio with Tiberium's shitty brush. Some of us like it here quite a lot and are actually making fun games.

Anonymous
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Well, at least the promo art for Tiberium was purdy...

Anonymous
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For those that believe that the Industry is screwed as a whole, your frame of reference is EA, but there are other publishers and other studios that have moved past the ethernal crunch and crappy management syndrome. Yes, the grass is greener, there are good studios taking care of their people, making awesome games, with good management and good process/structure.

Joseph Garrahan
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Yeah, it sucks for the Tiberium team. The concept art looked really nice. As a big fan of Command & Conquer though...it didn't make sense. Squad based FPS? That sounds too complicated for my liking. First-person, single-player experience with a cool story and live-action cinematics sounds more like C&C. And of course it would need some multi-player stuff, but C&C always provides awesome single-player campaigns.



I think the post about painting all the EA Studios with "Tiberium's shitty brush" might be true. I was really sad to see Westwood go, I disliked EA for a while. C&C Generals did not feel like C&C.



But I could tell C&C 3 was made with passion and it FELT like a genuine C&C (after they flipped the mouse buttons controls). I was very surprised, since it's a new team. They just had the passion, talent and budget to be faithful. C&C: RED ALERT 3 also looks very fun, they went all crazy with ideas and seems very original. Point is, in those games, you can tell the developers are passionate about the project.



Tiberium never felt this way.

Anonymous
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We can to do one thing to change this industry: to be united !!!

That's possible: we are all actor and participate in this industry.

Because the people united will never be defeated!

It's for this reason, it's so cool to make a videogame.

It's always a collectivity project:

a real professional wants to give the better in his career job, knows if the timeline is correct and respect it.



And what do not create a firm to demonstrate at everybody that's possible to make a game with a real professional people in a real professional environment.

To show like an example to others firms: it's a collectivity who permit to create a great game.



Let the place to people who is not a blabla or egocentric person. (it's just a job, not to be a star);



Fired the bad, junkie or licking-ass incompetent people even thought they are in a key position:

they the first responsable of bad game;

And they are very good remunerated for that;

(In real, that's the real scandal!)

Because they kill the industry and the pleassure to make a game.

Because it's not healthy and not reasonable to work in this condition.



Where is the demo-maker spirit? Where are they?

Hello!!!

Anonymous
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If you think the entire industry is this fucked up, it's not, you just haven't worked at a good studio yet.

Anonymous
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I just wanted to be part of this legendary thread.



"If you think the entire industry is this fucked up, it's not, you just haven't worked at a good studio yet. "



That much is true, at my last studio I was so frustrated that I was ready to leavve the industry. I'm glad I didn't, because at my current studio I've found the passion and love of my craft that got me into games in the first place.



Oh, and everybody knows that EA has like a 4:1 manager/developer ratio. From reading some of the comments here about the place it sounds like shit floats over there. Thank you for convincing me, and everyone I can forward this article to, never to work there.

Richard Riddle
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Most of you are advocating to let "The inmates run the asylum." Never going to happen. Bottom line is you need bosses to force us to "put your pencils down" and start shipping. All I want is to work on a game that ships! I will forgo my art to avoid becoming a starving artist.

Anonymous
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I want some to look out for me. I want a union. It works for Hollywood. It will work for Marina del Rey.

Jacek Wesolowski
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There's no need to be sarcastic about "revolutions". Some respected people treat this kind of concepts quite seriously. If you excuse me pointing to a book again, DeMarco and Lister do talk about revolution as something very real in "Peopleware". They call it "a sleeping giant". The way they see it, development team is a sleeping giant that's very hard to wake up, but once it awakes - it's unstoppable. Simply put, if the whole team is united against you, it doesn't matter if you fire them all as punishment or not. You won't get the job done either way.



I've actually seen the giant wake up, once. I was working for a local company which develops low-budget first person shooters. Their projects typically span over six months. You've probably never heard of them, and I assure you it's for the better.



I was hired to work on one of their new projects. They had just bought a licence for an engine they had never used before. The plan was to create a first person shooter with twenty missions in it, in six months.



One month before the project started, a writer was contracted to create a story outline. He's an alcoholic (which is a well known fact, not a rumour), and he had never had anything to do with games before. He didn't deliver any outline until late February, so we spent first two months learning tools and generally being bored.



When the story outline came in, we just sat and cried. It wasn't even a summary of a traditional story. It was gibberish. One of us got angry at that point and created an outline of his own overnight. It was by no means high art, but it was quite a nice feat, because what little we knew about project requirements was as follows:



1. It was meant to be an actual story, rather than a collection of unrelated events.

2. It had to contain a mission that had the player descend from a mountain on skis (which implies the presence of mountains and snow).

3. It had to take place during Second World War on the eastern European front.

4. It had to contain at least one mission taking place during a historical event called Warsaw Uprising.

5. It had to be factually accurate in terms of geography and timeline, because here where I live this kind of knowledge is common and going against it would be a shot in a foot.



Now in case you just happen not to know, Easten Europe is as flat as a table and Warsaw Uprising started in August. So those requirements were somewhat self-contradictory.



Speaking of tables, the team had 15 people in total (remember the six months deadline?), and each member except for the project manager was sitting by a small table, with all tables located in the same room, each right next to another, with no cubicles or such. All you could fit on those tables was a keyboard, a mouse, a CRT monitor, and a sheet of paper. In order to isolate themselves from all the noise, my three nearest coworkers used their headphones all the time, and I could hear the music they listened to. All at once. Also, our concept artist had speakers, and nobody tried to force him not to use them, because everyone respected him a lot. Now imagine me sitting in a corner of the room, unwillingly listening to a mix of:

- 60s rock,

- 90s rock,

- heavy metal,

- all kinds of "strange" music, mostly Bjork and japanese pop.

I swear - if I ever have a say in such matters, everyone on my team is going to have a whole room just for themselves. And the walls will be sound-proof.



The project manager was sitting in a separate room, and visited us once or twice in a week, for about 15 minutes at a time. We had a few longer meetings, too, but they weren't very constructive. For instance, the most important plot device of that outline I mentioned was something we call "skrzynka". It's a very general term that means "box", "crate", "chest", and "case", but the context usually makes the exact meaning obvious. What the writer meant was a military supply crate, but the manager kept thinking it was a pirate chest. He wouldn't let us explain the difference, and I think he was doing it on purpose. He insisted on all kinds of crazy changes to the story, just so that the main plot device could be removed. One of my then-coworkers used to say the guy was excellent at solving all the problems he created all by himself. I disagree. He was just trying desperately to be at least remotely useful.



His idea for the prototype mission was as follows. It had to feature a wide open Belarussian plain in winter. All the events had to take place on the outskirts of a village, which had to look like the rural museum he had visited. He gave us pictures as reference. He openly stated that everything had to look like those pictures, including all the sizes and distances. Typical distances between huts in that village were between 10 and 20 metres. No hedges. No walls. No hills. And no foliage, because it was winter. We weren't allowed to use fog to bring the clipping plane closer. And the game was supposed to be able to run on GeForce 2.



The project manager was just a minor nuisance when compared to his boss, the CEO of the company. The CEO would visit us once in a month and change all the requirements almost completely. Harsh language was often involved. The good part was that those 20 missions soon became just 7. What was left of the story was a mess, but at least there was less work to be done. The bad part of the deal was that much of the work we did in a month had to be thrown away after CEO's subsequent visit. Nobody except for the manager and the CEO was allowed to make any design decisions, not even the small ones, and neither of those two could be bothered to make them for us. It took me four months before I managed to convince the manager to specify the set of player character's actions. I had to work on the prototype level without knowing whether the player could jump, lean, climb or mantle, because all these actions were being considered but never really decided upon.



After half a year, all we had was a very rough prototype of just one level. During those six months some of us did try to tell the manager things were going the wrong way, but he would never listen. At the end of sixth month we had a visit from another gamedev company located in the same town. One of our programmers had friends there. They were introduced to management as external experts, so the management trusted them entirely. Not surprisingly, they gave our prototype a very bad review.



Our manager got a promotion. There was a big meeting with all employees present. The CEO said he was very proud of the guy etc. We got a new manager and a generous deadline. We were supposed to be done in three months.



The new manager was a professional programmer and a very commited person. He tried very, very hard. I made a mistake in one of my previous comments: he did manage to create something that was as close to an actual schedule as possible, given the circumstances. It stated that if we made some cuts, and if we tried really hard, and if we were lucky, we could finish the project in three months.



Then I took a closer look. There were tasks missing. A lot of them. The kind people tend to forget about, like testing. So the goal of developing that game in three months was impossible. I told that to the manager. And he actually had the guts to tell that to the CEO.



There was an emergency meeting - us versus the CEO. He gave us a very bad motivational speech. If we had had any motivation at that point, we would have lost it. Then he told us:

"I know we can do it together. I want you to tell me we can do it."

There was a long silence afterwards. And then, one guy started talking. The shortest one, actually. He didn't stand up, because that only happens in movies. There was no background music, either. All he said was:

"No, we can't do it. It's just impossible."



The CEO didn't react at first. Then he turned to another employee:

"I know you can do it. What do you think?", he pointed at the employee. And the guy he pointed at said:

"No, he's right, we can't do it".

The CEO wouldn't give up. He turned once more: "What do YOU think?"

"Sorry, it's impossible. It can't be done."

The giant was awake.



In two week's time, the project was cancelled. Nobody was fired. We got new assignments. Most of the team was transferred to a new, much more humble project that had nothing to do with world wars. The second manager was assigned to it, too, and provided a lot of useful insight. He and our concept artist (the respected guy I mentioned before) led the project jointly. The two of them together were the best boss I've ever had. The new project turned out to be the most enjoyable six months in my career, in part because the CEO didn't have time to visit us as often as before.



The only slip occured when we integrated voiceovers. The CEO was very angry with us, because he forgot to tell us that he wanted all the announcements to be spoken by a woman (the only human character in the game was male).



Most of us don't work for that company anymore.



I cannot resist the temptation to mention two more details:

1. Despide all of the above, and depite the fact we're not working together now, we're still a team. We hold regular meetings. Should one of us win on a lottery, we could mount a full-fledged development team within a month.

2. The company I'm talking about used to have an internal slogan. It said:

"our goal is to become the Electronic Arts of the low-budget segment".



Not that I would know anything about the reality of working for Electronic Arts. Anonymous gossip tends to be unreliable.

Anonymous
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Hey! Some of us "Pretty Boy Producers" dont come from marketing! :)

Anonymous
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There are 3 powers in the universe. Creative, Destructive and Managing.



From this long thread list we know that there is a legitimate issue beyond what is occuring at EALA. However, having worked at several studios, I can clearly tell you, the majority of the problems could have been avoided by

a) hiring educated people. When I started in 96, I'd say nearly every director or ep was not educated. Therefore they had absolutely no critical reference point to any idea or though process.

b) Hire only gamers who can pass a standardized test

c) At EA remove the creative power of producers. They are leeches, nearly every single one of them. They can't code, they can't make art, they can't design, they just dress well. Most of them are basically armchair designers. Instead, transform the Producer position to what it is in the movie industry, the schedule and money guy. IF producers were actually responsible for something other than mentally masturbating each other in a room for hours then they would be respected.



Its like you have the wrong people in the room making decision. At EALA we have countless of these producers who have no technical know how as well, how can you respect a person who is offering the stoopest of advice outside of anything technical? And I mean having shipped a game. If it were up to me a producer would only be qualified after 10 years of experience shipping games.



I hope we here at EALA do an audit and figure out what every producer and dev director does....do we need so many people in the way of creativity and production? Why are there people titled with the words Creative Director? Is everyone else Non Creative?



When did producers become the masters of creative? I always thought it was the game designer who was designing the game....right now a designer is nothing more than an implementor. I recall at one point a producer starting calling us that and we nearly threw him out the window. Implement this mofo.



I personally reported to 5 people when I was at EA! 5! In comical stroke they all came into my room 1 by 1 seperately to ask me what I was working on next, they all walked away with their notepads, lol...what the hell? What a way to bother my productivity.



My other gripe with producers is that they sit in a room and make decisions that break the game or cause everyone outside of the meeting to work more hours. In this case it should be the Dev Director that says no, absolutely not.



In the case of Tiberuim, making a fps rpg is not difficult, I mean Battlezone was a perfect example years ago of a FPS RPG RTS hybrid and it was fun as shit....The problem is no one was accountable after missing the first milestone. No one had the balls to figure out the core of the game...



How much did Tiberuim cost to date? Anyone know?

Anonymous
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one hundred BILLION dollars.

Anonymous
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1/7 of the Bail Out Plan?

1/2 the cost of the war with Iraq



You mean we could have taken over a country or created a new one with cost of this production?



As a stock owner and as a public company, am I not entitled to know the cost of the production lost?



Am I not entitled as an owner of the company to get a list of names of people who worked on this failed enterprise and get a list of their resumes and salaries and responsibilities?



I'm an owner, where do I get this information before I sell my stock and invest into ATVI or THQ?

Anonymous
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40 million in development...60 million in lost revenue. I'm sure the C&C team will be called on to do an expansion pack to cover those loses...

Anonymous
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our executive producer is great. he's only in charge of schedule and costs. as far as i know he doesnt make any creative decisions.



its the wave of the future!

Anonymous
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Jesus- jump- starting -Lazarus!



40 million? I mean that's like a fat guy who realizes he has a weight problem at 300 pounds! I mean what happened at 230? 240? What was he thinking? I'll just job this off?



40 million, dam, do you know there are startups out there with something like 1 to 3 million? EA would have been better off starting 40 new companies that this mess!



I have a new plan, if anyone is listening out there from Redwood.



Hold all Producers financially LIABLE! Especially the Exec Producer. I mean have them sign contracts of financial liability. Or have them get out of the way. AT what fucking million dollar mark did they realize they had a problem?



Second, check resumes and hire only experience people, I'd rather hire 5 star game stars who demand red bull and facts than 2 star rooks who are yes men with no experience.



Its like how fucked up and disconnected do they have to be to realize that money is burning?



Like sending a rocket to the moon, but its caught fire and everyone is in denial.



This project started under the previous gm, from my understanding people were afraid to decisions, is this true?

Denny Steel
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Wow, Thanks for the most interesting and exciting read I've experienced in a long time.

Anonymous
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heres a great closer i worked for ea for a long time, nearly 5 years, then i left and tried to get back in, and they wouldn't take me because i was critical at the time of the power struggle between middle managers who were swelling at the ranks, inexperienced devs and just a lack of critical thinking. after being in the industry for 15 years, i seriously thought about never coming back.



The irony of the story is, the actual devs loved me, while the middle managers were afraid of my critiques and experience over them. in otherwords ego drove them from hiring an experienced person.



Then i heard about eala hiring for tiberium, I thought ok ill try that....but wow did i dodge a bullet! seems ea has gotten worse and not better!

Anonymous
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This is all that needs to be said about EA:



http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=ERTS#symbol=ERTS;range=1y

Karl Tars
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I'm sorry to hear that despite EA's many assurances of change since the last major flaring of pain from that studio, that EALA is still rife with managerial problems and poor practices. To those who have, even anonymously, stood up and reported these events for others to hear: Bravo. If no one ever said anything, then people would simply get sucked into the same cycles repeatedly. Thank you for taking the time to let us know, and to enable others to learn from the mistakes made there.



To those saying suck it up and deal, I have a succinct response -- no. If you, for some unknown reason, enjoy being trodden upon, then at least have the dignity to do so quietly. The rest of us would like to have good working conditions, intelligent and functional management, and maybe a few people in charge who have realized that plenty of computer software gets written under similarly strict time lines without going wildly over-budget, and without any serious overtime. Perhaps we could learn from those other industries and adopt some of their processes.



And to those who think it is in poor taste to discuss these things -- I strongly disagree. It is in the best interests of both the industry and EA itself that they be discussed openly, and if a site devoted to game developers is not the proper forum for such things to be discussed, then I don't know what would be. Somewhere internally at EALA, communications have broken down, and the people capable of making the changes needed aren't hearing about the problems occurring. More to the point, if EA doesn't want their "dirty laundry aired", perhaps they should take steps to correct their internal policies and management structures so there is none.

Anonymous
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To all you management types reading this thread in fear and loathing, yes especially you EA executives reading this (and I know you are, you bet your ass that everyone has eyes on this PR disaster, many careers are in jeopardy here) here is my advice, its free:



Experienced developers know what they are doing, they sincerely want to succeed and will do nearly anything to finish the game on time and with top quality. They will give blood to make the game a hit.



Don’t make the mistake of thinking experienced developers are inherently irresponsible and childishly naïve about the reality of business and money. They understand the reality, they live it, they are probably better aware of it that the so called “management” you hire to run the place.



You need management, regardless of how experienced your team is, but the worst think you can do is hire the wrong people, and too much of them. Devs don’t get projects killed, management gets project killed.



You don’t manage people, you manage processes, companies, departments. You LEAD people, and that is what real managers do.



Unfortunately instead you have too many inexperienced middle managers, who collectively burn lots of salary and destroy your project. Yes, there is nothing worse than overmanagement, it is the single most lethal cause of death for game projects. An inexperienced manager covers up his inexperience by making lots of “decisions”, in order to justify his presence. He basically interferes in the dev process, books too many meetings, interrupts work flow and generally makes a nuisance of himself. His job has become to create the appearance that he is “getting things done”, and in fact he is achieving nothing and dragging everyone else’s work down. Experienced management knows when things are working and going well, so he just shuts up and doesn’t try to fix what aint broke.



The inexperienced manager is insecure, so he becomes secretive, doesn’t share his thoughts or doesn’t explain his plan or strategy. Instead he tries to create a veil of mystery around his deep and careful “plan” that really is a smokescreen to conceal his total ignorance. This person hires like minded yes men, and collectively they kill the project, while telling Upper Management everything is fine except for the “difficult” dev team who have to be made to “get with the program”.



This is how a project can burn $40 Large over 4 years and then just get killed off.



The military has been dealing with management quality issues for thousands of years, and they have come up with the best solution:



Keep your management teams small, 2 people max for each “unit” of manpower. One man is in charge, the second is deputy. This enables the decision “noise” to be clear and consistent to the team, it makes the middle manager responsible for what goes on, and it gives Upper management clear visibility on who isn’t cut out for the job. Accountability is the key, and you cant get that when you have a gaggle of coke snorting MBA glory hound pretty boys all looking out for their own asses instead of your bottom line.

Anonymous
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If you want real management experience with real game designers, start a raiding guild in WoW. You might scoff at it, but it can really teach you a lot about how to interact and handle fanatic gamers.



My last position was doing QA. The team was made up of many different people, one which had an english degree. I was much more adept at finding gameplay issues but typically glazed over grammatical errors, entrusting that my coworker would pick them up. It was an equal trade, he would check with me on any questionable gameplay before writing it up.



Then our Lead comes up to us and says to me, here, you go through all of the dialogue on this level and look for grammatical errors. I looked at him and said, "Well, Fred over here has an english degree, he's much more suited for that". To which my Lead replied, "No, I think you should do it."



Now I'm all for working on strengthening your weaknesses, but as a manager, you should learn your employees traits and weaknesses and exploit your resources. It seems like a simple enough concept.

Anonymous
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Wouahou! That's incredible!

You're lucky to tell you're problem production.

And to have the possiblities to find a solution.



In the french industry is taboo or (if you're not friend of one of them) you're fired even though you want to be construtive: they're all afraid on them career and they know they said bullshit all the time.

They're a specialist to protect them place.



Your comment sound like a lot a french project.

Producer isn't only in charge of schedule and costs.(Now, I meet only one good producer...)

And yes, they all thinking "The experienced developers are inherently irresponsible and childishly naïve about the reality of business and money."

That's so true!

They don't remenber one thing: we are bachelors or master too. And we know what is developpement.



In my experience, I see a producer to change a deadline to know the team will make overtime. For her, it wasn't a problem and she laught to say: "well, they must to work hardly. If they can't, we give their a non ambitious project to the next time and if they continious, they're fired".

I was very schocked and very sad for this team because the deadline wasn't possible!



In other project, with the same producer, when she gone here to do an "audit", she change metodology process during the development with a "scrum" management.

It was a disaster: the block designer are never to be listen and the decision design was to be take by the block manager.

The worst of this, it's anybody knows what's the scrum (included block manager).

We lost a lot of time with the treath to be kill.



So, I really think you are lucky to have the possiblity talking about that: you're not in a dictatorial system even though a lot of people are anonymous. More, you have a site for that.



Fortunately like others french firms industry, the skill team is very good.

(I'm glad to participate in this project.)

And if the game is original, it will be not a high quality.

(I'm very frustrated to know we can to make better but it's wasn't possible for the same reason of you and I'm sad to fight to be listen.)

I wish this project don't finish with recuparate a pennant system...



So if I have a desire, it's to work with a skill team like the last project:

"Experienced developers know what they are doing, they sincerely want to succeed and will do nearly anything to finish the game on time and with top quality. They will give blood to make the game a hit."

And I desire to have a good management.



If I must to move outside french industry to found that with a good management, Well I arrive!

Anonymous
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I lol'd



ALL UR MANAGEMENT BASE ARE BELONG TO US NAW!!!111!!!





Srsly....l2p

Anonymous
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this thread is ricockulous.



seriously.

Anonymous
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Hopefully this will attract the attention of the big wigs at EA and see that they have a problem.....for way to long...and not only at EALA also at EA Tiburon, EARS. Makes me think if Bioware and Pandemic knew that it was that bad in the other studios, but then I think what EA created was a 2 class system, 1st class, Pandemic, Bioware and DICE. 2nd class all the studios who start with EA....... (Salt Lake, EARS, EALA, EA Tiburon and EA Mythic)........cut so much management down......we don't need a ratio of 1:3 of managers and producers. I've had the case a that an artist spend four months on creating something only to be told, cause the producers and managers had a bad night, to ax the whole thing, what a waste of money and time. Do you know how it feels to have worked four months for nothing? I ask you EA management do you know, just cause you can't plan right or just had no fucking clue about it, and everybody told you from the beginning it wouldn't work, but you didn't listened, just because your head is stuck up your ass? Do you know EA management.........do you.......

Anonymous
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I don't know why you guys didn't just make a Renegade 2, thats what the community mainly wanted........

Michael Gehri
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"I don't know why you guys didn't just make a Renegade 2, thats what the community mainly wanted........ "



That is the entire point... The producers and upper management do not listen!? If they don't care about what employs had to say, they sure the heck aren't going to listen to the community!

Jonathan Soucy
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I worked with some of the people mentioned in this thread and consider many of them friends. I thought maybe someone should say something positive about someone else on this thread.



At one point in time there was a very small team working on Tiberium. Dan, Andre, Nathan, and a couple of engineers were working very hard on forming a compelling design for a fps/rts hybrid. After a lot of interesting processes and experimentation this small team of "smoke screen" (someone here has no clue about the people they are talking about) designers put together a gameplay prototype (in an ancient engine, which was absolutely not built for FPS), that blew away most of the studio.



This prototype was really fun and really well designed. Unfortunately, before you even get into the problems with middle management at EA, you have to get through the marketing shmucks and magical gurus who run the actual company. When these people "don't get" your game design, they ask you to dumb it down and just go ahead and rip off Halo because "hey, I know how to market THAT".



So R.I.P. Tiberium, it was once a great game. Show some respect.



Oh yeah and... USA 123!!!

Anonymous
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I'm loving 'EA Spouse 2008'. Scenarios like this aren't confined to just EA, but it seems like their dirty laundry gets aired the most. Maybe if they took some of the tens of millions they spend on marketing their yearly rehash sports games and hired some management who knew what they were doing, this wouldn't happen over and over and over again.



If someone could collect all of these comments and compile a nice coffee table book, that would be much appreciated.

Anonymous
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The problem is that EA has too much management. Why then hire more so you want at the end to be ratio management/devs 2:1? It is already bad enough. I just hope that big wigs like Gibeau and Moore are reading it and know what's happening inside of their "City State"....also it would be great if gamasutra or other websites would pick up on that and bring it to their front page and made it publicly......

Anonymous
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How about saving some money and firing some managers, Design Directors. Id say at least 75% of them do more harm then good. Take the design decision making ability from them and hand it back to the people that actually know how to build a quality product, not the 6 figure salary elitists that just look at us as drones.



Rick G....seriously, you trusted this guy? He was a soap opera actor and this was his qualification to run things? Makes total sense to me. EA higher ups only respects suits to run the business since well, its a business right? Forget that two weeks before they hawking Toilet soap or whatever. Its just a SKU, a widget.



The days of running things out of Hawkins garage are long gone and EA has become the IBM of the game industry. Where processes and politic outweighs performance, competence, or results. Outmoded thinking in an industry that turns on a dime.

John Ardussi
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I worked at Westwood Studios when it was bought by EA. The problem isn't EA itself. The problem is a lack of understanding by the managers in charge who are responsible for creating fun games. That is prevalent throughout the industry. The people who get promoted to management are many times mediocre people who keep their head down. They may be skilled at using scheduling software, but they have no idea how to make a fun game. And yet, that actually is the most important thing they do. If you deliver a game on time and under budget, but it isn't fun, your company will eventually close.



The reason the people here feel the need to air their dirty laundry is that they are passionate and want to succeed. They feel frustrated that time and again they were not listened to. What I usually do now after having been in these situations many times is to write out the whole message and then delete it. There is no gain from venting frustration in public.



At Westwood Studios the powers that were then were very proud of the fact that they hired really good people, and they did. The part of the equation they were missing was that they didn't listen to them. Deadlines and ship dates were the only thing that mattered. Did it run on ship day? Yes. Then ship it.



Here is the problem in one complete thought - If you as a project manager do not know the process by which you can make a fun game, how are you able to hire people who do? Chances are you will sometimes by accident. You could rely on that. Or you could check your ego at the door and utilize the good people you hired to help you.



Bottom line - if you have a manager that listens to you, stay at that job. The rest of the world is not like that. If not, write out your rant and send it to the Trash folder. For the rest, I can't wait to read about your experiences. I love a good train wreck.

Karl Tars
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"There is no gain from venting frustration in public."



Oh really? So protesting injustice doesn't help? The spouse of a certain EA employee shouldn't have bothered to write anything? The Martin Luther King Jr. guy really shouldn't have bothered giving any speeches, it didn't improve things for anyone?



If you don't vent in public, if you don't allow others to know and to rally against such things, you're asking to be trodden upon. You're inviting those in power to continue to abuse you and others. If this were really something which was unchangable, then yes, venting would gain nothing -- but it isn't. Your inaction allows it to continue, and failing to vent, failing to take a stand and speak out is what gains nothing.

Anonymous
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to jonathan soucy... i believe "smoke screening" is about to those people's reputations for making demos and prototypes, and presentations that make it look like they know what they are talking about, but never actually being able to execute on them... hence Goldeneye, Vertical, Tiberium, etc... the proof is in the pudding so I'd say they know what they were talking about... everyone who worked on Goldeneye and Tiberium with them feels the same way... they are frauds...

Anonymous
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Similar story here. Worked for a company that didn't know its head from its ass - just ripped off another company's business model in a new industry and made a ton of money, promoted all their minimum-wage employees and country club pals to run the business. Bloops?



It actually went great. We setup things like version control, change control, design documents, timelines, user acceptance testing, and actually talked to the business (instead of insulting them) to figure out what we could develop to help them out and improve the product.



Then the incompetent management buddy system hired a "business strategist" and put him in place as IT Manager. Now the original-dev who was at that time IT Manager wasn't very good, but as bad as he was, he at least TRIED. This business strategy guy was conned into the IT Manager position and almost quit when he found out they gave him his "Business Strategy" title, but put him in charge of IT and managing a bunch of developers.



So what did this guy do? Insist they hire an experienced and competent IT Manager, like they should have done in the first place? Nope. He just starts picking the people who don't rock the boat or question bad decisions, and promoting them. That girl that was just hired with no experience who was trying to launch code with full SQL queries on a public url's GET string? Yep, she got promoted to Developer, while experienced "junior devs" who had been with the company for 2 years doing a great job got passed over.



I saw the writing on the wall every time I questioned the new boss' bad decisions, but I couldn't leave the team we had so successfully put together. Even when I had almost every developer come to me separately to warn me that the "boss" was insulting me behind my back to the dev team, I tried to hang on. But once over half the team had quit because of his shenanigans and nastiness, AND I got a nasty review myself, I didn't see any point in staying. There was nothing left to stay for, just a sinking ship.



The sad part is, the company I moved to ended up being the same as when I first started that job. No processes, no timelines, no designs, etc. It makes me realize even more how great of a team we had put together. Only to have management step in and utterly destroy it. It's amazing that software development in general is still done THIS badly at most companies, both in and outside the game industry.

Matt Coohill
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Really sorry to hear about this. Our small team happened to be laid off the same exact day, just a few miles away in Venice Beach.



I'd like to point out that the local IDGA chapter meets the first wednesday of every month. It'd be great to see everyone there.



http://igda.org/la/

Anonymous
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Matt Coohill what company was that?

Anonymous
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I was at EA and another EA associated company and we smoked everything. Rick G and Tarnie W were notorious for this methodology. The main reason they did it...beacause everyone has a Boss. Rick G had bosses he was answering too as well...Everyone remember Bing G...I've personally seen Rick G fear Bing G blush and look nervous...I mean that says alot.



While smoke screening can provide a quick way to capture the sense of the product it costs alot of money and causes alot of hacking that has to be undone.



One of the major major problems at EALA was exactly the rebuilding of technology or engines every game iteration. This seemed to be more about engineer ego and the prods believing it hook line and sinker.



Second major problem was the Dev Directors never stopped the Prod or Sr. Prod. For example, I sat in a meeting where Tarnie wanted tanks to run over buildings, objects, trees etc...all on the ps2...not one Dev Director Kosenski to Charvat had the balls to tell him that this would ruin the production schedule. The Design Director Cross didn't have the balls or was hung over to tell him that was not part of the core of the game.



So what happens no one checks the Sr Prod and he goes on believing that his creative idea is on par with what we can produce.



This type of fear and lack of balls really hurt us. It also occured on Tiberium and James Bond. No one checked Chris Plummer...



A great story about Chris Plummer, after shipping James Bond we had a giant company meeting with over 300 people. He, Dan and other were in charge of creating a new IP. He went up and said "I've found out that its really difficult to create a new IP from stratch...."



Well several of us in the bank of cafeteria got up and left. I remember someone saying, you had 20 million on James Bond to learn....and that was the start of Tiberuim's end at the very beginning.

Anonymous
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like it mattered if you ever told tarrnie williams or rick giolito "no". they wouldn't listen anyway.

Anonymous
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This is for me all a little depressing, not because what you're saying is correct, but because you're comments aren't focused and it's making our company look very bad as a whole. So you had problems on Tiberium, so you have problems at EALA, so Tiberon has similar issues, EA is huge, and there are studios in this family that don't fall into the same category as yours (I'm at EARS btw). As if EA didn't have a bad enough image already, you jackasses hop on here and start airing your dirty laundry as if you're speaking for the whole company. Please keep it focused, not all of us have shitty management, not all of us are working 16 hour days for months on end, and not all of us are unhappy with our jobs. I'm sorry to hear that Tiberium tanked, it's never easy to cancel a game, especially if you've poured yourself into it, but come on, you're not just hurting your management staff, you're hurting all the good management, good studios, and the "grunts" as you so callously put it.



As a side note, I think JR is making a lot of great choices for our company and things are really making a turn for the better. I was at one of the studios that was closed when he took the reigns, and even though it hurt at the time, it was the right decision (for the main point of the original posters). Unfortunatly EALA and Tiberon are too large and diverse to just close down, so it's going to take time to clean it up, but I know it's on the radar. On the other hand, he did support trying to aquire TTWO when more house-cleaning was needed... oh well everyone makes mistakes.

Anonymous
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This is for me all a little depressing, not because what you're saying is correct, but because you're comments aren't focused and it's making our company look very bad as a whole. So you had problems on Tiberium, so you have problems at EALA, so Tiberon has similar issues, EA is huge, and there are studios in this family that don't fall into the same category as yours (I'm at EARS btw). As if EA didn't have a bad enough image already, you jackasses hop on here and start airing your dirty laundry as if you're speaking for the whole company. Please keep it focused, not all of us have shitty management, not all of us are working 16 hour days for months on end, and not all of us are unhappy with our jobs. I'm sorry to hear that Tiberium tanked, it's never easy to cancel a game, especially if you've poured yourself into it, but come on, you're not just hurting your management staff, you're hurting all the good management, good studios, and the "grunts" as you so callously put it.



As a side note, I think JR is making a lot of great choices for our company and things are really making a turn for the better. I was at one of the studios that was closed when he took the reigns, and even though it hurt at the time, it was the right decision (for the main point of the original posters). Unfortunatly EALA and Tiberon are too large and diverse to just close down, so it's going to take time to clean it up, but I know it's on the radar. On the other hand, he did support trying to aquire TTWO when more house-cleaning was needed... oh well everyone makes mistakes.

Anonymous
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I agree with the previous poster. And for those of us that have worked at EALA, we can tell even if others can't, what posts have to do with Tiberium and which ones are about MOH. To the outsider, it looks like everything is about Tiberium, which simply isn't true. A bunch of people are digging up dead bodies that were fired or forced out long ago. Bringing up Rick G like he was walking around giving man massages last week, seriously? Didn't he go off on his own and sink a startup already?



Verdu, if it isn't obvious to you, you've got a long road ahead of you. Going way back to Batter a "my team vs your team" was ingrained; hardly anyone wants to cooperate. The RTS team is great, and a tight knit group, but many people on that team sadly have the same problem. It is all about waiting for the other teams to fail. A number of us have tried to change that over the years, but we obviously couldn't deal with the bullshit politics. I would like to think I have moved on to a better place with all the lessons I've learned. Many of all the people who have stuck through the years of EALA are clearly bitter and angry to the point you have to ask yourself, can these people ever be party of a healthy and functioning team? If you want to know who they are, throw a corpse out in the reflecting pool and watch the vultures swoop in.

Anonymous
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Bullshit, bringing up old ghosts has everything to do with it...steering a large company like that takes years to clear up the complete damage that occured to Dreamworks when EA took over.



You can see a complete machination of the all the issues leading to the problems that EALA now has, from Spark leaving because of EA management, to having to hire newbies with experience, to some of those newbs becoming middle managers now on Tiberium (yes shipping 2 titles can still make you a newbie, what 2-3 years compared to 10-12, I'd say so).



Once Batter left because of the decision to ship Rising Sun early by upper management and his ep and sp to use storyboarders and Batter's want to use "Hollywood" types to run EALA to Neil Young and his personal issues, divorce, partying with cronies, an affair with this secretary...it all trickles down to the teams. AT that point, Neil promoted some ridiculous individuals to their positions because he partied with them.



Verdu only took over as a default. Sorry Verdu is a nice guy don't get me wrong and he acquired years and years of abuse by incompetent and ill placed middle managers, but none the less, he became the leader de facto by default. Which is sad.



And because of the "old ghost" decisions that took place and "old names" a rippling effect has been felt across the years to what EALA is now. From recockulous hires that are now "Producers" to directors. They are all their because of their relationships with past managers.



That is why its relevant. Each of those "old ghosts" touched a version of what Tiberuim once was, from Command n Conquier FPS to Vertical to Tiberuim. The 40mil wasted was based on years and years of in experienced EP, SP, P, ASS P and some who are still there controlling the production of more than one game.



Do a check on mobygames or linkedin.com to give you their previous experience and cross reference with what games they've worked on....its public knowledge...Why? LEgally when their names go on Credits of a game then its becomes public...check it out...you'll see someone appear out of nowhere as a producer, sometimes you can see "magical" jumps to their positions...how did they do it?



Tarnie left because Chris Plummer began to call himself and introduce himself as an Executive Producer. That shows that even the Sr. Producers were battling out for positions within a nebulous corporation. If that was years ago, about 3-4, then connect the dots to what was happening, from VP's to Producers and the so called drunk directors. That trickles down to the teams feeling of utter chaos.



So Anon 4 Oc 2008 at 4:09pm PST. I'd have to say humbly you are not seeing the big historical picture here. Tiberuims failures and the future rippling failure that will be the next MOH are all connected to a large series of decisions that screwed the company long ago.

Anonymous
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here here, about 3 years ago there were many strange promotions that occured with Neil, one guy went from 2nd gameshipped, to Art Director/Producer! How the hell do you get a double promotion?



I know for a fact that the majority of this mis hires and promotions were really based on a broken system in HR...that's right HR is to blame here.



No principles for hiring means a broken studio. B people hire C people, C people hire D people, D hires F.



And that's all she wrote!

Anonymous
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Defensive poster about how EA has a bad image already. It has it for a reason (EA Spouse or the posts here are not a product of people's imaginations), others have commented about Tiburon and other studios having similar problems. So why hide it? If your group is doing well then either: 1) you are part of one of the isolated studios that have not bought into EA's production structure or 2) you are one of the very few lucky teams, which is the exception and not the rule.



Fixing EA is hard, at least until they give up on the idea of having a middle management heavy structure.



Stuff like this is good, if nothing else forces EA to reevaluate the way they work (like it happened with EA Spouse), there is a lot of fear at the "grunt" level when it comes to communicate failures, EA does not have a good way to have that feedback heard, the only alternative that exists for EA employees is to resort to public forums. Who's failing is that? EA's or the grunts'?



Keep everything in perspective, EA Spouse was about how EA required excesive overtime to ship products, EA has improved there. Tiberium venting is about how production processes are broken at EA, lets hope that this improves as well.

Anonymous
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can we ban the use of the word "recockulous"?

Anonymous
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who says that outside of middle school?

Anonymous
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Bullshit poster (I just wanted to say that) I'm 4:09 and I completely agree with you. My point was not clear. I was trying to say that rather than a bunch of random shots, we need a comprehensive history with context. Your post is excellent, has context, and a clear timeline. That is more of what this thread needs rather than the random ramblings. I agree all these stupid decisions over the years played a part in the pain the Tiberium team was forced to endure, and other people at EALA will feel in the future if they choose to stay.

Anonymous
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This whole thread epitomizes the problem with the game industry. Classless, juvenile behavior pervades all aspects of development.



Grow up, all of you. Managing teams is hard, projects are risky, things get canceled. To call people out by name on this forum is immature, unproductive and probably slanderous.





Vent all you want on this "professional" site. Then go back to your hamster wheels and churn out another derivative franchise / copycat title. You certainly aren't learning much from your failures.

Anonymous
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^^^ thank you, Mr. Middle Manager. Go back to having your head up your ass day after day.

Anonymous
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I think the biggest inherent problem with the process of making games is that many people refuse to be impartial in regards to their own work or ideas (i.e. their ideas are right, all the time, and x titles shipped by them proves it), and this goes from the highest executive producer who forces decisions to the lowest junior designer who is resentful that his idea wasn't accepted, to the 8 year vet senior developer who despite his talent has had to deal with enough of the bullshit produced by this phenomenon to become jaded and spiteful enough to hang dozens of his past coworkers out to dry.

Kenneth Patten
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As a consumer it is very interesting to read about what goes on behind the scenes in game development studios. Especially when I always wonder what is taking so long with the next release of a game or franschise.

Most gamers I know have $70 at least twice a year for a new title. I would buy one every quarter. However, there ae no good FPS games to buy. Quake Wars: Enemy Territory, Frontlines: Fuel of War, Crysis. all flops in my opinion. All took to long to produce in my opinion. Crysis and Frontkines were not even finished IMHO.

If the main companies would just realize what earning potential is being lost to Poor direction/management. Plus an apparent Good Ol Boy practice of hiring. The US banking system could have used some of these guys.

My point is. We consumers have invested money and time into game franchises. We are acustomed to a certain feel, atmosphere and key layout(Why oh Why must every game have new standard key layout) The software costs $70, but there is the additional coct of a gaming PC, Monitor, headphones, internet, ect. So please give us more good product.

Mod comunities like Black Sands Studios turn out excellent work. Do it out of love, and do not have the buget of a major studio. Why is it they can fix a game like BF2, but the patches from EA for example seem only to break things?

There is obviously to little love of gaming at the major studios. I am so dissapointed. Maybe I should get outdoor hobby, and stop playing video games. MurderDogg

Anonymous
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I think alot of EA's problems just comes from it's size and the way it gobbles up other studios. In the last few years EA has bought Mythic, Pandemic, Bioware, Criterion, just to name a few. All of these small studios have an internal culture that is a little rattled when its integrated into EA. Shit they even tried to buy TakeTwo, which would have pretty much killed the sports competition, sounds great for the customers. There are different types of studios. ALL are in the industry to make money. But I think smaller studios have more passion and pride for making games. They do it for the love of gaming and getting paid at the same time. This idea breaks down as more and more management is added into the equation. Now you have people running the studio whose number 1 priority is to make money, and they care less about the quality of the game. Soon the people with passion lose the power and things head downhill.



At the current studio I work at, all of the co-owners WORK ON THE GAME! I'm not saying things here are perfect, because they are far from it. But I do know that everyone here has a lot of passion and pride in what they do, including management.



I worked at EA, and I quit because of the management. Not all of my managers sucked. I really like a couple of them. They did everything in their power to get us what we needed and they listened to us. I didn't agree with all their decisions but they did the best that they could. The managers I really didn't like, liked to put out fires instead of prevent them. I guess its like working on really good tools. If nothing is broken nobody notices and realized what a stable product they have. But once stuff starts breaking everyone is bitching. It's much easier to look good when putting fires out and creating drama, than when everything goes as planned.

Anonymous
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EA's problems have nothing to do with size, EA has had problems before they bought other studios (and the studios that have not adopted EA's culture have done fairly well).



The issues are actually simple: layers and layers of middle management, several decision makers, and a large communication overhead. Add to that the fact that most managers are trained to deal with schedules but not with people and usually do not have direct experience on the field they are managing.

Jeff Thomas
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I started my programming career in game studios back in the late 80's and early 90's (Berkeley Systems and then Presage Software). The problems we had back then were that we simple didn't really know what we were doing. Engineers were trying to manage, managers were trying to form Quality Circles in engineering, they were strange and frustrating times (but also a lot of fun). I left games after that for more stability and better pay. I always planned to get back into it after the dust settled and things stabilized a bit, I've been waiting over decade now for that to happen.



The software industry (and by extension the game industry) is in a bit of a unique bind in that the skills required to make the software are not very compatible with the skills required to manage a project. When a company grows much beyond 6 or more people (on average) it starts to become obvious that some form of management is require, but where does it come from? Do you promote someone into it, so you're going to get someone who knows the business but probably has no management skills? Or do you hire outside management, so you'll get someone who knows how to manage (if you're lucky) but doesn't know anything about software development? You're pretty much screwed either way.



Another quantity often overlooked, something they don't really teach in business school but that is ABSOLUTLY required in a successful manager of a software team, is that they have to be a people manager, a leader. A good software team manager does typically 60% project management and 40% people management. This is because a software team is a mixed bag of artists (yes programmers are artists, they paint with logic and have all the fallibilities of their more visually oriented cousins) and they require good leadership and focused goals or things can quickly get out of hand. It's like trying to manage a cage full of testy, hungry cats. You've got to know when to give the crinkly ball to the grumpy gray tom while not ticking off the calico (who also likes the crinkly ball) by distracting her with the feather while keeping the two long hairs busy on the scratching post. All while they're programming, modeling, rigging, etc. etc.



I tried to do it, briefly, I don't think anyone enjoyed the experience.



The game industry is especially problematic because it's seen as a “fun” job, not to be taken seriously. How hard could it be to make games? They find out the hard way, and the people under them suffer for it. What to people do when they find themselves in over their head? They get more help, so more middle management is hired, but they don't know what's broken or how to fix it either, because they don't understand software and/or can't manage people and the failing begins.



When was the last time you met someone who understood software development (had been in the trenches even) and could manage complex projects AND was a people person everyone loved? They are rare, rare people, I'm certainly not one, so if you find one work for them as long as you possible can.

Jeff Thomas
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After re-reading some of the above comments and my own what really stuck out to me was that most of these issues involve a power vacuum. That "too much management" and "no direction" signify a lack of leadership.



I find it interesting that there isn't a "Director" roll in game development, we've taken a lot of the other titles from film studios but not that one. We seem to assume that the producer roll is the leader, but I think there should be a director as well. The producer is much more in the day to day management of tasks, the director would be responsible for making sure the game stays on focus and lives up to it's potential (as much as money and time allow, just like in film) by having final say over what gets put in and what gets cut, and takes the praise/blame for what works and what fails. You could say that this is a blend of the producers and designers responsibilities but it's more than that. Will Wright, Sid Meier, Doug Church, Ken Levine, Chris Roberts, we call them designers/producers but really they fill the rolls of directors of a game, ensuring everything fits together the best way possible and drives towards a certain vision they have.



The film industry long ago settled on the fact that a really good film could not be produced by a committee, it needs a driven and focused individual to push the film into being. I feel games need the same thing, the best games usually have one often well known name attached to them, even if it's not on the box we know who it is, and there is a reason for that. It seems actually rather unfair to expect that kind of leadership and dedication (and high degree of personal investment) from your average producer/manager, especially if they've just been assigned to the project as part of their job as they would be in any big company.

Anonymous
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wow, what visionary thinking...

Jeff Thomas
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Yes, thank you, I'm well aware that others have said similar things about power vacuums (not in so many words) and producers not being designers, particularly Anonymous 3 Oct 2008 at 3:38 am. But limiting management size and re-assigning responsibilities so they make sense is damn good advice for ANY project. What I'm saying is to make one person who cares about the project responsible for it's quality, publicly. When a film director takes on a film they are personally invested in it, they HAVE to be because their name is the last thing people see before the shit hits the fan. Almost nobody takes full responsibility for games these days, hence the furious finger pointing postmortem.



If you tell your exec producer, lead designer, CEO or who ever is charged with making all the decisions about the game that their name will appear large, on screen just before EVERY gaming session starts maybe they'd take their job a little more seriously.



Take American McGee's Alice for example. Who's fault is it that the game play didn't live up to the visuals? It's McGee's. I don't care what happened during development or who was actually in charge of game play, his name was on the box, it was his responsibility to make sure it lived up to his standards in all ways. So we must assume his standards of game play were rather low.



And if you can't find someone willing to take personal responsibility for a game, maybe it's not a good game to make. Or maybe Uwe Boll is available.



Speaking of personal responsibility, what's with all the Anonymous posters? I can understand clicking that checkbox if your about to bash your boss/company/spouse publicly but checking it just to be sarcastic seems a little immature. I reference you to John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory.

Jacek Wesolowski
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Jeff,



As for:

"If you tell your exec producer, lead designer, CEO or who ever is charged with making all the decisions about the game that their name will appear large, on screen just before EVERY gaming session starts maybe they'd take their job a little more seriously."



I'm afraid the effect depends on such person's responsibility. I've seen projects where the person in charge, if given the option you describe, would just scream something along the lines of "yeah, baby, bring it on!". These projects were no less of a mess than what Tiberium apparently was.



Some people just don't make a connection between being in charge and being responsible for something. Employees exist to be exploited. Investors exist to be milked. Games exist so that one can spend their life having fun at work. For people like these, having their names displayed in large letters means they're just going to be famous.



I do believe in the concept of Game Director, but I also feel that for the sake of the classical triangle of schedule, cost and features, it's best if each corner of that triangle is held by a different person. I would give features to the Director, cost to the Producer, and schedule to a committe of Leads. In other words, there needs to be a mechanism for providing Director with sanity checks.

Jeff Thomas
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"These projects were no less of a mess than what Tiberium apparently was."



Sadly that is true. It's not a magic bullet that will make bad managers or egomaniac control freaks go away overnight. However if their name is plastered on a well known dev nightmare bomb at least everyone will know what to expect next time, and people will think twice about working with them.



As Blizzard said to Uwe Boll about selling the film rights to World of Warcraft, "not to you…especially not to you."



On the other hand if the egomaniac control freak cranks out good game after good game people might just have to put up with them anyway, just like some directors we could mention.



And oh yes I fully agree with your triangle of responsibility, I certainly wouldn't give cost or scheduling to the Director. That would be giving the kid the keys to the candy store.

Jacek Wesolowski
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>>As Blizzard said to Uwe Boll about selling the film rights to World of Warcraft, "not to you…especially not to you."

Jacek Wesolowski
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Hey, the page ate my comment!



Anyway, in a nutshell, I think you're making a good point, but I'm not sure if such a safeguard can be used effectively, because:



1. Publishers seem to be interested in teams, rather than individuals. It's great to have a good team on your side, but many teams have deeply rooted problems that inhibit their creativity and productivity. These problems tend to be hidden, e.g. even if someone is an immature control freak, it doesn't show when they're pitching an early concept.



2. Gamers don't seem to care about problems a director can hardly control. For instance, your game may perform poorly because of a strategic mistake, such as using the wrong engine and not being able to switch to something different later, or its reception can be damaged by poor marketing or publisher strategy. As a result, you may have your reputation ruined even when it's not your fault. This kind of risk is hard to accept for a veteran with a good reputation. Those who can take such risks are people with no reputation at all, but no sane person is going to take them seriously.



3. Those uncontrollable problems tend to work as the universal excuse. Many things that need to be done in a software project, aren't being done in GameDev because "games are art and you cannot control the creative process". This isn't even a smoke screen, because most people genuinely believe it's true.

Jeff Thomas
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"1. Publishers seem to be interested in teams, rather than individuals."



That's true, for now, though not I think as true as it once was. They certainly understand the marketability of names like Sid Meier and Will Wright and I believe they're starting to understand the power of people like Ken Levine and Doug Church who can get things like Bioshock made and help turn around the quagmired Tomb Raider license.



“This kind of risk is hard to accept for a veteran with a good reputation.“



If Spore tanked would Will Wright never make another game? Would no one finance his next project? Both are unlikely. But the film industry has things go wrong beyond the directors control as well. Production companies pull budgets, sets burn down, actors phone it in, the writers go off the deep end, and even films that review well bomb at the box office. Every big director has some bombs in their closets, the directors who wont take the risk again get out of the industry, and almost no one knows who they are now. But most directors still make films, why? Because they love doing it. Why do developers stay in the game industry after experiencing something like Tiberium? Same reason.



“Many things that need to be done in a software project, aren't being done in GameDev because "games are art and you cannot control the creative process". This isn't even a smoke screen, because most people genuinely believe it's true. ”



As the industry continues to mature, and the people in control start insisting on hiring true professionals in the craft, this will improve. The GameDev industry needs to shed some of the “fun & carefree” mantle because it isn't always fun, and it's never really carefree. And you can still have Nerf gun fights and deathmatch evenings in a “serious” software company, I know, I've instigated both.

Anonymous
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way to kill the thread guys...total snooze-fest. we want blood!

Anonymous
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"Stop the Pain!" "Not my car!" "Renderware 4.5 is a usable tool set."

Anonymous
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Personally, I blame Designers.



Not specifically for anything. But for everything.

Anonymous
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Designers are at blame when things go wrong

Exec Prods take the credit when things go right...

Jeff Thomas
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Night vision cameras rolling we watch in silent horror as the anonymous dickwads descend upon the slowly bloating corps of a recently deceased thread...

Anonymous
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That's really not fair! Anonymous dickwads started the thread. Let them finish it.

Anonymous
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Jeff Thomas is a lame SEGA dickwad

Jacek Wesolowski
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You're supposed to make judgmental remarks on the topic of project management, and throw unverifiable claims with regard to your current or past workplace. You're not supposed to harass other commentators, unless they are currently employed by Electronic Arts. Please, if you really need to brawl, at least do it with some sense of convention.

Jeff Thomas
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I'm not a dickwad. I may be an ass, or a jerk, or a SOB, or any other name you may pull from you personal arsenal but lets keep dickwad reserved for those who like to throw sarcastic quips or weak insults from the inky depths of anonymity for fear of... what exactly?



Let us ponder this. Is it that you suspect your post isn't really up to snuff so you don't want it attached to your persona? Is it that you don't want people to know you read Gamasutra on company time? Perhaps you don't want your friends to realize you're the type of person who trolls dead threads days after they've gone stale so you can poke it with a stick from behind a rock. Whichever it is, it's an interesting phenomenon. Sorry if my questioning your need for a mask without any real cause makes you uncomfortable.



Hmmm, must comment on project management, make an unverifiable claim on a past job or insult an EA employee for conventions sake... oh I know!



Anonymous 15 Oct 2008 at 10:30 am PST is a lame *EA* dickwad.



There, propriety has been satisfied.

Anonymous
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Jeff D Wad Thomas, why not post about the topic instead of trying to play mr.hero...



Many people obviosly who are posting as Anons don't want to lose their jobs, but have the need to vent. Great, let them...



Why put them down...oh I forgot your the corporate hero....that's why you come off as a dickwad. Keep kissing ass or goto EA, after all they the market in sports..no sega.

Jeff Thomas
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So why are YOU posting anonymous?



I have no problem with people posting anonymous to protect their jobs, it's the rest of you that bother me. So trying to be a hero and help fix this broken industry makes me a kiss-ass and a dickwad? Then so be it.



And I feel this conversation IS on topic, the topic now being "why is game development still so painful sometimes?"



Pretty much everything you need to know about why this is true when the rest of the software industry has smoothed out can be found right here in this comment list. It's not necessarily in the thoughts presented, though there are some good ones, but in the attitude and composition of it's posters.



I lay awake last night thinking about why the large number of anonymous posters here bothers me. Then I realized, these are the people making our games? Sure there are smart reasonable people here stating their causes but even many of those are refusing to take personal responsibility for their thoughts, hiding behind the banner of anonymity when there's no obvious reason to do so. A large number posters, however, are simply acting like immature school children, wearing masks while hurling lame insults at one-and-all across the playground.



I realize this is a skewed sample, that in an anonymous setting the kruft will rise to the top, and I've enjoyed dusting off the flame war muscles I haven't used in almost a decade, but still these are people who are expected to act professional over intense year plus long development cycles? People who are afraid to take responsibility for saying "you suck?" You want to work in the close proximity of an in-the-trenches build cycle with Mr. "we want blood!" Yes it was said in jest, but it's indicative of a prevailing attitude in game development.



I was championing the idea of one person to take personal responsibility for the quality of a game, the Director, and I still stand by it but apparently lots of people aren't taking responsibility. It is a "fun" job after all, and responsibility isn't fun. This goes double for management, responsibility is their job! The failure of them to accept it, or take is seriously, is a big part of the pain felt in the above postings.



You think I'm sucking up to corporate management? You think those managers (and their managers) listed above were mature individuals who took responsibility for their actions? Obviously they weren't or we wouldn't be having this conversation.



You want game development to stop being painful? Grow up.

Anonymous
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Hello there,



Sitting safely on the other side of the Pond I would dare to ask about 2 things troubling my mind:

- what top management at EA did to prevent the decline of the studio? I mean what did some big, venomous vipers from EA HQ craving for higher stock options? The condition of the studio hurt EA business for years and it's impossible they haven't realised it. EALA was losing money and HQ will never ever stand losing money. Why no one intervened earlier? Most of the writers complain about mid-level management at EA in general. Bunch of inexperienced managers might be a plague but they are relatively easy to "fix". They were not "fixed" - why?

I know there are few obvious answers but I'm here and you are there seeing it on your own eyes so I guess you know better.



- how EA can harvest billions of USD every year with approach like this? Is there a clear line of hiring idiots to production and geniuses to marketing? Was EALA profitable until this year due to other releases? How long it usually takes to milk and throw away a good studio?



This thread is a distaster for the brand new EA image so carefully introduced for several months. Maybe more disastrous than decline of famous studio.



Last but not least, I wish you all to burn all the anger and find less toxic working place.

Voytek Plawny
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Leadership and responsibility is the key issue. To quote someone above:



"The military has been dealing with management quality issues for thousands of years, and they have come up with the best solution:



Keep your management teams small, 2 people max for each “unit” of manpower. One man is in charge, the second is deputy. This enables the decision “noise” to be clear and consistent to the team, it makes the middle manager responsible for what goes on, and it gives Upper management clear visibility on who isn’t cut out for the job. Accountability is the key, and you cant get that when you have a gaggle of coke snorting MBA glory hound pretty boys all looking out for their own asses instead of your bottom line."

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Jeff Thomas is a lame SEGA dickwad!

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I'm sucking up to corporate management.


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