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RocketPoweredRodent
22-01-2008, 04:41 AM
This post is a big whinge and also a heart-felt lament about the change I saw in the industry since I started in it around twenty years ago. I am hoping this year to finally end my career in this industry and do something else with my life. Here's why:

When I started in this industry it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. My first day on the job I thought I had walked into a zoo. It was a big open floor with every kind of dude and freak, and the room was filled with the sound of videogames like an amusement arcade. There was laughter, noise, general chaos. We had CULTURE. Lunch hours were long, starting hours was anything before midday, although some guys prefered to work night shift and come in at 4pm so as not to have to communicate with anyone else. I used to stay back late because my mates were there drinking beer and playing games and I didn't want to go home. It seemed sort of ridiculous that I also got a paycheck once a fortnight.

Game designs consisted of one or two pieces of A4 (written mainly for the publishers benefit) which was quickly disgarded so that we could make up cool shit. The only date that mattered was the end of the project, although we usually over shot that. Hiding funny cheats and rude stuff in the game was manditory.

Once email was invented company wide flame wars of the most hilarious kinds were the daily norm - people then seemed to have WIT. If a cool new game came into the office, all work ceased instantly and we played it until we finished it. Monkey Island II caused a near company wide down-tools for almost a fortnight, to say nothing of Ultima Sygian Abyss.

It was fun and cool and creative. It was ZANY!!!

I'm not sure when it happened, but the PROBLEM seemed to come with the hiring once upon a time of HR people... I don't know where they came from, but one day they were here to stay. This new type of character in the business then set about laying down ground rules about work hours, the amount of time spent playing games, making sure lunch hour was only an hour, formalizing work time to be between 10-6 etc. GLOOM! BORRRRING!

Strangely it did not seem to make us more productive either. Now you just needed two men to do the work of one.

Immediately the REAL freaks and eccentrics quit because they couldn't cope with such structure (never mind the fact that they were geniuses, even if they did have autism and couldn't communicate with anyone). This made me sad, because I wondered where the hell they would go? Surely this was the only possible industry where these types could function?

So they went and everything seemed more "normal" (i.e. ordinary).

It was subtle, just one small change at a time so as not to cause a general revolution. That said, EXODUSES happened all the time as a result; i.e. the glorious quitting of one man as an act of defiance sometimes caused a domino effect and others tossed in their job just for the fun of it as HR People looked on in dismay. As a gang we would storm off to the pub after an exodus and drink for the rest of the day.

Thats how it all started.

Now I look around this place and it is clearly a factory. Row upon row of desks populated by pale youngsters with their headphones on. The place is deathly silent except for the hum of the air conditioner as these poor dweebs work in a trance-like state on the next monolithic but souless release. Rules dominate this place; its wound so tight you could hear a gnat break wind. I have to say I think there is a general atmosphere of FEAR underlying it all. The smallest infraction brings down the swift hammer from HR in the form of an sinister but polite email containing the threat of formal warnings.

All of this is what killed it for me.

If this trend has followed the path of any other business, it would be the animation industry. Talk to any traditional 2D animator who worked for the big animation studios and they will run to their therapists couch and jabber about rows of desks with slaves working silently with their heads down.

sillylittlefreak
22-01-2008, 06:10 AM
Your "good old days" sounds like my current days, except we have an HR guy. Who's really cool and understands we are different from the usual business office.

And replace the games you played with Rock Band on our 60" plasma.

The downside of that is the owner of our company plays the Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly" at least 5 times a day at full volume, rattling the windows.

Basically what I'm saying is that there are still devs out there that are fun to work for, pay well, and have kept the spirit of game development alive.

Mouseshadow
22-01-2008, 07:28 AM
A lot of the old lone-coder 8-bit types simply can't work in a team. I've always generally considered this to be a bad thing...whoever it is. I think most sensible people do, but get strangely protective when the same expectation is applied to "their hero" of old.

dr3n
22-01-2008, 09:21 AM
Couldnt agree more.. The industry is nothing like it was back in the 'good ol days...'.. I remember when a (decent) game design was scribbled on the back of a beer mat and the schedule was summed up in a single sentace of 'we'll try and finish it for next June..'

now it's all TDD, GDD, LDD, MDD, MPP, RA, PP, TA bollocks... and that's before you've even signed on the dotted line with your respective publisher...

it's a different world now thats for sure...

:deadcrab::deadcrab::deadcrab::deadcrab::deadcrab:

revenge of c64
22-01-2008, 11:38 AM
I also tend to,sometimes, think warmly about 'good old days'; especially it is true that 'freaks' are gone; this century saw the rise of companies who frown upon people who got too much of personality.

But to be fair, it was not all so brilliant in the old days either. You could manage small project with anarchistic approach, but you cant do the same with bigger projects. So the direction is understandable. Also it seems none of you remember the fights, the arguments, bosses who deceived you and then ran off with all the money, horrible working conditions or shit pay?

Also, some of the old-timers were also sometimes guilty of being childish, egoistic and rude, though I consider this a smaller sin than being a career-driven, ladder-climbing backstabber.

My last company was a big, professonial company that did well and paid well. I left them in disgust. Now I'm back to square one, doing my own stuff in my home, freelancing and making living by myself.

There is no point crying about change in industry. You cant help it.

You make your own life worth what it is - do not expect anyone else to do that for you.

But I do agree that most of the imagination has left the industry. That will only hurt big players themselves. And I'm not crying about that.