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Developers react: The #RyseFacts hashtag, and the war on crunch
Developers react: The #RyseFacts hashtag, and the war on crunch
October 16, 2013 | By Mike Rose

October 16, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    18 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



The #RyseFacts hashtag on Twitter was definitely one to watch last night. What started as a "fact" about late night office dinners for the team behind upcoming Xbox One game Ryse: Son of Rome soon snowballed into dozens of developers sounding off about development crunch.

The Crytek team is currently putting numerous extra hours of work into development of the Xbox One launch title, in the run-up to release next month.

In an ill-advised tweet, the official Ryse account explained that "we will have served the crunching team more than 11,500 dinners throughout development." The hashtag #RyseFacts was plopped on the end for good measure.

What followed was a torrent of game developers displaying their dismay at not simply the fact that the Crytek team is crunching on its latest game, but that the tweet appears to suggest a level of pride in this fact.

Below, we've collected together many of the thoughts of game developers following the tweets. Reactions range from thoughts on how crunch can affect the lives of developers, to more tongue-in-cheek criticisms of the original tweet.

For more information on how crunch affects video game developers, check out the Game Developer Quality-of-Life survey from earlier this year.



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Comments


David Navarro
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It takes a lot of pizza to come up with all those QTEs.

Alex Boccia
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Twitter is obnoxious

Jennis Kartens
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Yeah it is. The circumstances are too.

Alex Boccia
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Very true.

George Menhal III
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Crunch probably won't turn out to be as miserable as the review scores when this game launches.

It looks pretty bad so far.

Kujel s
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This tweet was in poor taste but the internet tends to blow everything out of proportion.

Gil Salvado
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It takes a lot of organisational blindness and lack of empathy to take pride in bad management skills.

Andy Lundell
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This is one of those situations where people forget that what they're doing is shameful. Like oil executives bragging about weaseling around an environmental law.

I'm sure the big-wigs at the studio really are proud that they're cashing in on the health of their employees. To them it's a successfully deployed cost-saving measure.

They just forgot that all us peons think its shameful.

Dane MacMahon
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This.

The gaming industry is so used to this exploitation they don't even think about it anymore. The ones who do realize they're being exploited know that a 22 year old is waiting to take their job.

George Menhal III
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The game development industry is notorious for brutal crunch times, but throughout the software development industry at large, salaried employees are expected to work for as many hours as is needed to get the job done. I know this from my own personal experiences as I work in IT consultancy and even we see crunch times as code is prepared for delivery.

Crunch can happen for trillions of different reasons, and it doesn't always equate quite simply to poor management. Last-minute bugs may arise, code refactoring could scale up towards the end and demand more developmental resources, etc.

But I'm not defending the status quo, which in the game development industry equates to months of overtime and unhealthy crunch. I just wanted to put it out there, that crunch is pretty much guaranteed in software development, and for all kinds of wonky, insane, last-minute reasons.

It sucks, but it's just an occupational hazard of sorts.

Dane MacMahon
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Because you accept it.

Rob Walsh
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What's amazing to me with everyone's comments is the insane amount of assumptions being done, from a single tweet. What if the conditions are not so bad? What if they're compensated properly? What if by your own self-righteous comments, you're implying that that team doesn't know any better than to get exploited??

These people are right in the middle of their crunch right now, trying to deliver a game to the very people who are probably typing faux-outraged comments on their iphones while taking a dump (to paraphrase Louis CK).

Why not try to encourage the TEAM through this period, instead of being so hung-up on having the moral upper-hand? Do you think they're not reading all this right now? Regardless of why/how/who, they're probably working their asses off to put a solid game on the shelves along with the console. I'd say most comments seem to actually care more about some "ideal" crunching team "somewhere out there", than about these real people right now.

That's my 2 cents.

Amir Barak
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I'm not sure if you've noticed the rate of experienced developers leaving the games industry but it isn't because of butterflies and goat-milk. And no amount of 'paid benefits' will solve this by the way. Providing a better working environment will, this includes no fucking death marches [ie. crunch].

A better working environment also includes many other things which are not really supplied by companies but that's a discussion for other posts.

Jacek Wesolowski
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I take pride in the fact that the development team I'm in follows these rules (some of them are easy, though, because they're in the law):
- "no one left behind" hiring (i.e. we always hire with the assumption that we're never going to fire this person)
- overtime during the week must be taken back (i.e. you're eligible to take an equal amount of paid time off that doesn't count toward your paid leave quota)
- overtime in the weekend must be either paid for or taken back (employee's choice)
- if you can't get your work done in fourty hours a week, you need to say so, so we can find someone to help you
- everyone has to have someone on the team who can take over their current tasks in case of absence
- we're open to custom arrangements (we have a few)
- the paid leave quota is 20 or 26 workdays per year, depending on stuff

We're a contractor. Our team is several dozen people, not counting QA and localisation (they're separate departments within the same company). We have multiple clients and multiple projects running in parallel. We mostly do porting, but our biggest project right now is much bigger in scope than a port. We're profitable. You have heard of games that we helped create. We have not yet managed to eliminate the crunch completely, but we're getting there.

Gord Cooper
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Crunch is just setup so that people who complain about games industry employees being overpaid can revel in our per-hour pay becoming sub-standard, under the guise of 'doing it for the love of the game', whereas the amount of employees actually working on a game they would consider for their own personal consumption is so exponentially low as to make 'the love of the game' a pejorative used to guilt people into staying.

Of course I'm being facetious, but honestly, crunch is a practice this industry could do without, and won't do without until the people who believe in it as a 'labour of love' on the production side and the people who believe in it as a cost-saving method on the business side have all been shaken and made to understand that it is completely unhealthy, and driving people with families out of the industry.

Joshua Dallman
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Good process makes good product. Kaizen not crunch.

Justin Sawchuk
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Use you abuse and throw you out like a used klenex, they know there are 100s no 1000's of people just chomping at the bit to take there place. They should be paying developers 10x the money they are look at athletes there is no way you can do it for a long time without burning out or having major health problems.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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" they know there are 100s no 1000's of people just chomping at the bit to take there place"

Maybe for junior level slots. Once you have a few years in the industry, some specialized knowledge... I doubt there are 100 people in the whole industry that can do what I do.


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