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Quantic Dream - Dust has Settled (Gaming)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 11:02 (48 days ago)

So I haven't played Detroit so far because of the controversy and allegations surrounding the company. It seems as if the dust has settled on this, and the 'facts' decided.

In this case, it appears to have been resolved. Labor courts have sided with Quantic Dream regarding the hostile work environment allegations. They did however have to pay out to the employee who raised the complaint about the photoshopped images. And even then the details are more favorable. He initially accepted the company's apology, but only escalated the issue when they refused to fire the person who made them.

It also seems they have made a real change at the studio. I think I would feel ok playing this game now.

There is no danger in playing it safe. Quantic Dream says the studio is fine. Waiting has done nothing but ensure I can make an informed decision.

I've been asked about Last of Us 2. The crunch was so brutal 70% of the senior team from Uncharted 4 quit. But if we refused to play games simply because of crunch, then we'd have all missed Halo 2.

There's a difference between mismanagement, and willfully toxic behavior. But they key is also willingness to change. Quantic Dream did. Blizzard and Riot haven't, for example. They are off the table for me.

I guess the bottom line is, don't be afraid to wait on playing games until you know what's up. Better to be eventually right than initially wrong.

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Crunch

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 14:09 (48 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I share your concerns when it comes to issues of literal abuse or any kind of illegal activity. But when it comes to the issue of crunch, I have a real tough time caring. It’s not that I like the idea of crunch, or that I lack sympathy for people who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves in that kind of position. But I happen to believe that working for a AAA game developer is not an intrinsic human right. Nobody is forced to work for studios that foster a crunch culture.

Now before anyone accusing me of being callous, please understand that I am 100% aware of the pressures to earn a living and provide for one’s family. And i’m aware that the pressures of real life frequently put people in situations where they feel like they have no good options (do I stay in this job which demands more of me than I feel is fair, or do I put my family’s financial security at risk?). These situations suck. I’m right smack in the middle of one myself.

But the crunch situation has layers to it that make it far more nuanced than the workers rights movements of the early 1900s.

First of all, some people like to crunch. There is a small percentage of the population who are absolutely obsessed with work. Many of us look at these people as having an unhealthy work/life balance, and that is probably true. But these workaholics are also responsible for many of our greatest achievements. So right there, something like “eliminating crunch” strikes me as counterproductive. A far more interesting and potentially helpful approach might be something like “how can studios identify crunch-lovers and put them into positions where their work habits are maximally beneficial, without requiring EVERYONE on the team to meet the same standards?”.

Another issue is that at this point in time, crunch in the industry comes as a surprise to literally nobody. We have enough information to know which studios are particularly bad when it comes crunch, and which studios have taken steps to prevent crunch. Between media coverage or websites such as GlassDoor, all this info is more readily available than ever. Generally speaking, if you have the training and skill set to get yourself hired by a AAA game developer, you’ll be able to find good paying work in other industries too. But people go into games because it’s something they’re excited or passionate about, or because it pays better than many other fields... these elements all come with a cost, though. Game development is a viciously competitive field, and any competitive field will reward those who are willing to push themselves harder and farther than those around them.

This leads into the most difficult problem with this whole situation; it isn’t exactly clear that anyone knows how to make great video games without crunch. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible, but it’s far from solved equation. There are exceptions we can point to. Halo Reach was supposedly done with far less crunch than previous Halo games. But that was also a veteran team making their 5th consecutive game in a single franchise, allowing them to draw directly from a huge pool of transferable knowledge and experience. Most of the team leads had been making Halo games for 10-15 years at that point. They had it down. And even then, I haven’t heard anyone claim that Reach was “crunch-free”. Just that the whole process ran more smoothly, that the game was in a fully playable state a year ahead of launch which allowed way more time for test and polish, etc.

Looking elsewhere in the industry, Ubisoft is the developer who I think is farthest along in trying to solve the issue of crunch. But they’re also in a somewhat unique position to do so, thanks to their sheer size and number of studios. They have so many games in development at any given time, when the art team at Ubisoft Toronto finished their work on project A, they can get them working on project B which is being lead by Ubisoft Montreal, rather than just firing the whole team until Toronto starts their next big project 2 years later. So this helps curb the ballooning and busting of team sizes that comes with crunch, but there are still periods of crunch for each and every team in each and every studio, as they approach their various deadlines.

Still, this is all dancing around the elephant in the room that I brought up earlier; we don’t know if making great games is consistently possible without crunch. I’m sure we can all admire Bungie’s dedication to sparing their team from crunch. It’s nice to see a company take such interest in the wellbeing of their employees. But we can’t pretend that Bungie has been doing particularly great work of late. I’d argue that the quality of Bungie’s output is the worst I’ve ever seen it in nearly 20 years. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why, but I have no doubt that lack of crunch is part of the equation. Just look at how often Bungie themselves bring it up as justification for why feature X or Y won’t be returning or happening again. They did it in the past, but they had to crunch to make it happen, and they refuse to do it again.

I was at an Xbox One launch event in Toronto back in 2013, chatting with a bunch of game developers who were there. A bunch of people from Ubi Toronto, as well as smaller local teams. A journalist who was there asked everyone “what’s your favourite game that has come out lately” and every single developer in the group said “GTA V”, and then they all said something to the effect of “... but i’m glad I didn’t have to work on it”. I was standing beside a Ubisoft creative director and I said I was surprised by their answer, because while I thought GTA V was impressive as hell, I didn’t think it was actually that fun. He told me that he wasn’t even thinking about it that way. Some people find fun it it, others don’t. But from his perspective, he simply couldn’t get over the sheer number of moving parts in the game, the scope, the detail, the mechanical breadth AND depth, and the fact that it all works. He said that as a developer who knows what goes into making games, something like GTA V shouldn’t be possible. And THEN, he said “you know, it’s like the pyramids. We look at them and can’t believe that they exist. They’re this amazing example of what human beings can do. But they were built by slaves.” If THAT doesn’t hammer the point home...

It’s funny that i had this conversation with a Ubisoft employee, because the more recent games that come closest to the sheer scale and scope of GTA V have been the last couple Assassins Creed games. They’re just mind-bendingly vast in a way that transcends gaming. They’re getting close enough to genuine time travel that I’ve been using AC Origins and AC Odyssey to teach my daughter about ancient Egypt and Greece. Origins’ recreation of Egypt is so detailed that you can’t help but learn about the Egyptian religion and culture, the tensions between the Egyptian and Greek peoples as more and more Europeans travelled south, the connection that those people had to both the land and their ancestors and how intertwined it all was for them, all just by walking around in the game. And while I’m sure there was no shortage of crunch involved with the development of these AC games, we don’t hear the horror stories that we hear about studios like Rockstar or Naughty Dog. So I think there is hope. Some people are figuring out pieces of the puzzle. But I don’t know if we’ll ever reach a point where true masterpieces are made without significant sacrifice. I don’t think the latest God of War would exist without the all-consuming effort that the team put into it for nearly 5 years.

All this to say, if we start boycotting games because of crunch, I’m not sure any of us will get to experience the greatest games that get made. And i’m not sure that’s a problem that can ever be truly solved.

For the record

by MartyTheElder, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 16:04 (48 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

A bunch of us crunched on Reach.

I’ve never worked on a game without a certain amount of crunch. As a matter of fact, I’ve never worked on any creative project that didn’t have some sort of crunch.

It’s a matter of personal passion - when world’s collide.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 16:30 (48 days ago) @ MartyTheElder

A bunch of us crunched on Reach.

I’ve never worked on a game without a certain amount of crunch. As a matter of fact, I’ve never worked on any creative project that didn’t have some sort of crunch.

It’s a matter of personal passion - when world’s collide.

There is a spectrum to it though. There's a difference between perpetual crunch, and crunching occasionally during deadlines or milestones.

But I see a lot of veterans in the games industry - older folks who have been doing this a while and have a lot of experience, being forced out because of crunch. Crunch is a young person's game.

Maybe holding onto talent just isn't important enough to eliminate crunch. Last of Us 2 will be an interesting case, since because of the high turnover as a result of crunch, the majority of it was done by junior level people.

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For the record

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 18:26 (48 days ago) @ MartyTheElder

A bunch of us crunched on Reach.

I’ve never worked on a game without a certain amount of crunch. As a matter of fact, I’ve never worked on any creative project that didn’t have some sort of crunch.

It’s a matter of personal passion - when world’s collide.

Thanks for clarifying that. I'd heard from a few places that Reach's development was smoother than Halo 2-3, but I assumed that there was still crunch involved.

Also...

As a matter of fact, I’ve never worked on any creative project that didn’t have some sort of crunch

I'm so glad you brought that up. I was tempted to bring that in to my other post, but it was getting long winded already :)

Every creative project that I've been even slightly proud of has involved a degree of crunch. It just goes hand in hand with trying to create anything great or meaningful, I think. Whether its Peter Jackson and his whole crew working themselves into the ground to create the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or JK Rowling spending every spare moment of every day writing to finish each new Harry Potter book... Jimi Hendrix was famous for having a guitar in his hands at all times. He even took it into the bathroom with him.

At the risk of delving into philosophy and chasing away anyone reading this post, I have spent years trying to figure out the knee-jerk negative reaction that so many people have towards artists who become successful. I think I recently figured it out, at least partially. It plays into that old saying that "I don't know how to define art, but I know it when I see it". How. HOW do we know art when we see it. Well I've begun to think that the thing we detect... is sacrifice. I think that when we look at art, real art, we see things about life and about ourselves that are out there on the fringes of our understanding, and we see the artist bringing these things ever so slightly into focus. Art teaches us about things that we're vaguely aware of in the back of our mind by bringing it forward and shining a light on it in a way we can recognize, at least partially. And i think that we intuit that this is only possible through a kind of sacrifice on the part of the artist. They've taken a piece of themselves that we all share, but where most of us tuck it away and avoid it, the artist brings it into the foreground, explores and re-lives it, and through that examination we all learn something about ourselves that we kinda knew before, but now it is more clear. More real. And I think we all understand, at least subconsciously, that this process takes its toll on the artist. It is not a process that a typically happy or well adjusted person would often subject themselves to.

Thus, the nature of suffering that goes hand in hand with creating art gets watered down into the stereotype of the "starving artist" (a relatively recent stereotype from the past 100 years or so, which takes hold in part because more and more people today seem to think that lack of money is the root of all suffering, and therefore a person who has money can't possibly suffer... an idiotic idea, but that's another rant entirely). And I believe it is this foolish idea, that a person with money can't suffer, therefore an artist with money isn't a real artist, which drives the knee-jerk reaction to dismiss artists who succeed financially as "sellouts".

I really did bring all that up for a reason, though :)

Going back to the topic at hand, there is a fantastic documentary about the making of the latest God of War game:

I think this game is a masterpiece in just about every possible way. Most shockingly of all, the story is one of the best, if not the best part of the game. The way it explores the feelings of failure and regret that often come along with being a parent, and the journey to accept one's own failures while simultaneously rising above them at all costs... it hits home, hard. So while watching this documentary, I found it impossible to miss the running theme expressed by several of the team leads repeatedly; making this game was pulling them away from their families, particularly their kids, in ways that they were really struggling with. It's not that they specifically set out to create a game that conveyed these feelings... it's that those feelings were so wrapped up and entrenched into the making of the game, that they couldn't help but bleed into it. The team was living it, so it became part of the game. That, along with the spectacular execution, is what makes it a work of art. It is a reflection of real life. And without that crunch, without that sacrifice, it almost certainly wouldn't have happened. God of War would probably have been a good game, instead of arguably being the greatest game this generation.

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For the record

by cheapLEY @, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 18:55 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

So. Hmm. I don’t disagree with your point. I don’t think crunch is inherently bad. Working long, tough hours can be beneficial and rewarding. I think the current video game industry takes that to the extreme, and I don’t get the feeling it’s done in a healthy, beneficial way, but rather in the series capitalistic way of taking advantage of workers.

I do disagree with your final paragraph about God of War though. I absolutely think they could have made that game without actually having to suffer away from their families for so long. People have better imagination and artistic abilities than that, I think. In any case, even if what you say is necessary to make that game, I’d rather have the good but not masterpiece version of that game than to force people to endure such shit conditions. If the driving force of your narrative is mirroring your actual life in the way you are neglecting your children and that neglect is necessary to make the art, I’d argue that’s not a worthy trade off at all.

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For the record

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 22:21 (47 days ago) @ cheapLEY

So. Hmm. I don’t disagree with your point. I don’t think crunch is inherently bad. Working long, tough hours can be beneficial and rewarding. I think the current video game industry takes that to the extreme, and I don’t get the feeling it’s done in a healthy, beneficial way, but rather in the series capitalistic way of taking advantage of workers.

I do disagree with your final paragraph about God of War though. I absolutely think they could have made that game without actually having to suffer away from their families for so long. People have better imagination and artistic abilities than that, I think. In any case, even if what you say is necessary to make that game, I’d rather have the good but not masterpiece version of that game than to force people to endure such shit conditions. If the driving force of your narrative is mirroring your actual life in the way you are neglecting your children and that neglect is necessary to make the art, I’d argue that’s not a worthy trade off at all.

Here’s where I’d make an important distinction though. Who’s forcing these people to do it? Because if they literally are being forced, then I think I’d fully agree with you. But they aren’t being forced. They’re choosing to dedicate such large amounts of their time to the project. Now I know that’s a bit easier to say about the team leads, for whom this game is very important on a personal level. But maybe there are 80 people on the team who don’t care, and would rather be putting in 40 hour work weeks (at this point in my life, I’d fall into the latter group). One could say that even if nobody is forcing those people to crunch, they feel like they must so as not to be replaced. But that can only be true if there are other people willing and eager to take their place, crunch and all. Which just points to my original statements that some people like throwing themselves into a project on that level. And perhaps that’s what it takes to get a job at Sony Santa Monica. They’re trying to be the best in the world, and there’s zero evidence that you can achieve that within a 40 hour work week.

Again, I’m not trying to defend practices that burn people out and destroy families... far from it. I AM saying that maybe most people aren’t cut out to be THE BEST. Maybe success in creative, competitive industries like video game development takes a certain amount of sacrifice.

I do however think there are examples of crunch that are far tougher, if not impossible, to justify. I look at what some of the teams behind the big annual sports titles go through; cranking out a game in 9-10 months, year after year, not given any of the time or space needed to make real improvements, worked into the ground... I can’t find much to defend in those kinds of practices. For me, if we’re going to try to sway parts of the industry away from crunch practices, starting with the studios who are creating the greatest games ever made is probably not the right approach. I’d rather call out the studios cranking out garbage mobile game after garbage mobile game and stuff like that.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 00:19 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

Sometimes you are forced. This is not like Canada where everyone gets healthcare. If you don't like the job, yet you need medication or are sick, or someone in your family is, then you have to stay at your job. You can't quit because then you lose healthcare, and Cobra is crazy expensive.

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For the record

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 09:11 (47 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Sometimes you are forced. This is not like Canada where everyone gets healthcare. If you don't like the job, yet you need medication or are sick, or someone in your family is, then you have to stay at your job. You can't quit because then you lose healthcare, and Cobra is crazy expensive.

No, i’m aware of that. But once again, that is incorrect use of the term “forced”. Nobody is forcing these people to take jobs AT THESE COMPANIES. That is a CHOICE. Yes, people find themselves in situations where they feel like the crunch is too much and they want to get out but that would cost them their health insurance. That is a shitty situation, but it is one they got themselves into. Again, crunch surprises NOBODY. We all know that video game developers operate this way. So if somebody doesn’t want to crunch, don’t go and work for a video game developer!

Again, we need to remember that most people working at these big studios have skills that could easily land them jobs in other industries. It is really hard to get hired by one of these studios, precisely because they are looking for highly developed skills. Leaving a job is always scary and stressful, but I’m way less worried about programmers and animators being able to find new jobs that many other people.

It doesn’t matter how any of us feel about crunch, nothing will change as long as thousands and thousands of people are clamouring to get into the industry every year. This is supply and demand, 101. If people stop applying for these jobs due to crunch, then we’ll start to see more and more studios making efforts to entice people in through better hours and working conditions. But right now, every single person at a team like Bungie or Ubisoft has a thousand people behind them who are desperate to take that job. So if you are someone who doesn’t want to crunch, go work in a different industry, or better yet, start your own “crunch-free” development studio. You’d have no problem attracting talent.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:24 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

So if you are someone who doesn’t want to crunch, go work in a different industry, or better yet, start your own “crunch-free” development studio. You’d have no problem attracting talent.

Nintendo has figured to how to avoid crunch. So it can be done. Animal Crossing was delayed in order to prevent crunch, and it's one of the biggest games in the world.

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For the record

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:50 (47 days ago) @ Cody Miller

So if you are someone who doesn’t want to crunch, go work in a different industry, or better yet, start your own “crunch-free” development studio. You’d have no problem attracting talent.


Nintendo has figured to how to avoid crunch. So it can be done. Animal Crossing was delayed in order to prevent crunch, and it's one of the biggest games in the world.

I said as much in my post above. I said that we’ve seen examples of good games being created with relatively little crunch (although even that claim is suspect... I bet if you asked the team “did you guys have to crunch on this game?” You’d get different answers depending on who you talked to). But even so, that’s 1 example. 1 data point. And popular as it is, animal crossing is not The Last of Us or God of War.

I think the tension at the core of this issue is that it is impossible to have a team of 150+ people create something groundbreaking, new, and innovative while also doing it on time and on budget. It’ll happen once in a while by sheer luck, but there is no reliable way for anyone to say “We’re going to do something that has never been done before, and it will be finished in exactly X hours and cost exactly Y dollars”.

One thing that would help, IMO, is if publishers did a better job of differentiating between “games as mass-produced entertainment product” and “games as innovative creative endeavour”. Valve got it right. They decided that they wanted every single game they released to be innovative and groundbreaking, and they knew that the only way to do that would be to break free from usual dev cycles. They needed to give themselves room to sink years into a project that might never get released if it didn’t click. So they went and developed an alternate revenue stream that was steady and reliable and would keep the lights on while funding their creative projects.

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 11:18 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

I said as much in my post above. I said that we’ve seen examples of good games being created with relatively little crunch (although even that claim is suspect... I bet if you asked the team “did you guys have to crunch on this game?” You’d get different answers depending on who you talked to).

This is true. I asked a friend at Naughty Dog if he had to crunch, and he said he didn't at all.

But even so, that’s 1 example. 1 data point. And popular as it is, animal crossing is not The Last of Us or God of War.

Granted I have not played Animal Crossing or God or War.

I think the tension at the core of this issue is that it is impossible to have a team of 150+ people create something groundbreaking, new, and innovative while also doing it on time and on budget. It’ll happen once in a while by sheer luck, but there is no reliable way for anyone to say “We’re going to do something that has never been done before, and it will be finished in exactly X hours and cost exactly Y dollars”.

Likely true. But I'm not sure why this means 'crunch' instead of 'delay'.

One thing that would help, IMO, is if publishers did a better job of differentiating between “games as mass-produced entertainment product” and “games as innovative creative endeavour”. Valve got it right. They decided that they wanted every single game they released to be innovative and groundbreaking, and they knew that the only way to do that would be to break free from usual dev cycles. They needed to give themselves room to sink years into a project that might never get released if it didn’t click. So they went and developed an alternate revenue stream that was steady and reliable and would keep the lights on while funding their creative projects.

Valve works very differently than a typical game studio. People just work on what they want to. You can start making something, and let it grow, or give up and move to something else. There's almost no structure to it. There's little that is actually mandated. So imagine the guy making guns for Destiny saying, you know what? I think I want to work on matter now, and then being able to go do it. I'd say this actually leads to stagnation creatively, as there's no fire to your feet so to speak. Just look at their output. Their last groundbreaking game was Portal. Or is it Half Life Alyx? I don't know enough to say since I hate VR. Either way, there's 13 years between those games.

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.

But don't Live Service games require crunch? The releases and updates need to be timely and constant. Fortnite was a big moneymaker but a gigantic crunch for all. So are you saying you always need to sacrifice one team to the crunch to save others?

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For the record

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 13:29 (47 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.


But don't Live Service games require crunch? The releases and updates need to be timely and constant. Fortnite was a big moneymaker but a gigantic crunch for all. So are you saying you always need to sacrifice one team to the crunch to save others?

I don’t know. Possibly. It just seems to me that strict budgets and deadlines can only be maintained when there’s a high level of predictability involved with the product being made. The only way a large team can say with any certainty “this project will take us X years and Y dollars” is if they have produced that exact product before, multiple times. That doesn’t really fit with most video games, but some live service games have the potential to come close. If their business model is “we release X new maps, Y new characters, and Z new game modes every year”, that at least has a level of predictability and repeatability that lends itself to accurate budgeting and realistic project management.

Any remotely artistic creation is just... so NOT that. Most game leads will say that when they start on a project, they don’t even really know what they’re making yet. It takes months or years of banging ideas around within the team before things start to crystallize. That leads into another part of the problem... for many AAA games, the developers themselves aren’t really sure if their game is going to be fun until late in development. They might get 3 years into a project before the technical hurdles are finally conquered in a way that allows their creative vision to come forward. And many times, those technical hurdles don’t get solved in time, and the game AND developers suffer as a consequence.

Maybe part of the solution is to shift more development focus into the prototype phase? Maybe large studios should have 5-10 small teams all cranking out prototypes all the time, and only when one of those teams puts together a prototype that is already fun to play does the project move forward and into full production? That might help, but what about the games that start out one way, then pivot mid development and become something completely different. If it had been up to Microsoft, Halo May never have been Green-lit based on the initial prototypes.

So yeah, I don’t know what any of the answers are, lol.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 16:18 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

If it had been up to Microsoft, Halo May never have been Green-lit based on the initial prototypes.

Super funny you say this, because at the time they were bought, Halo was essentially a prototype. An engine, but no actual levels or 'gameplay loop' so to speak. Macworld and E3 2000 were basically smoke and mirrors with no actual AI implemented. The story was a 2 page text document with no formatting. It was a tech demo. It was not yet a game.

Three years of tweaking, and what finally got Halo done was Microsoft giving Bungie a deadline.

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For the record

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 08:24 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Valve works very differently than a typical game studio. People just work on what they want to. You can start making something, and let it grow, or give up and move to something else. There's almost no structure to it. There's little that is actually mandated. So imagine the guy making guns for Destiny saying, you know what? I think I want to work on matter now, and then being able to go do it. I'd say this actually leads to stagnation creatively, as there's no fire to your feet so to speak. Just look at their output. Their last groundbreaking game was Portal. Or is it Half Life Alyx? I don't know enough to say since I hate VR. Either way, there's 13 years between those games.

Dota 2. That was made 7 years ago, but I'm sure it's making them a bunch of money right now. Very quick google search says that Dota 2 made 406 million in the year of 2017.

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For the record

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 20:28 (47 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY
edited by Cody Miller, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 20:32

I… don't think this is true.

It presupposes you have exact knowledge of the artist and their process. How can you determine how much "sacrifice" it took to create a work merely by looking at it? If your estimate was high, does the work suddenly become worse?

I think you're also overly inflating the importance of sacrifice in art. Go watch Sullivan's Travels (1941) right now.

Hating popular artists is based on the much simpler notion of envy.

The vilest bullshit

by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 20:41 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

At the risk of delving into philosophy and chasing away anyone reading this post, I have spent years trying to figure out the knee-jerk negative reaction that so many people have towards artists who become successful. I think I recently figured it out, at least partially. It plays into that old saying that "I don't know how to define art, but I know it when I see it". How. HOW do we know art when we see it. Well I've begun to think that the thing we detect... is sacrifice.

This is one of those lies that kills artists. Stop telling it.

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The vilest bullshit

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:31 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

At the risk of delving into philosophy and chasing away anyone reading this post, I have spent years trying to figure out the knee-jerk negative reaction that so many people have towards artists who become successful. I think I recently figured it out, at least partially. It plays into that old saying that "I don't know how to define art, but I know it when I see it". How. HOW do we know art when we see it. Well I've begun to think that the thing we detect... is sacrifice.


This is one of those lies that kills artists. Stop telling it.

Bullshit. Art and artists kill artists.

I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by and/or working in the arts. My mother worked in theatre, and she’s an artist herself. I’ve been a musician since I was a child, and I was heavily into visual arts from childhood up through my teen years. My late teens and entire 20s were completely devoted to music. Writing, performing, recording and producing. All my friends since high school have been artists of one form or another (I went to an arts high school). Musicians, painters, actors, dancers... all of them. After school, every job I’ve had has been related to either visual art or music.

All this to say, I actually know a fair bit about art, artists, and the entire creative process. My opinions are just that: opinions. But i’m not pulling them out of nowhere. I have 37 years of experience with art and artists, their lifestyles, temperaments, pains and triumphs. Both as an artist myself and as a friend and fan of others.

I have never, not once, met an artist who produced truly moving creations, who was also happy and well adjusted. Every one of them was suffering or struggling with a deep unrest, unhappiness, or obsession at the peak of their creativity. Many of these people found greater peace and more happiness over the years. And when they did, their creative output slowed, and dulled. Without exception. I went through it myself. In my early 20s, I was a music-creating machine. I’d come home from work, sleep for an hour or two, go to band practice, go to a club after to watch a few bands perform, go back home and work work on recordings for a few hours, sleep for another hour, then wake up and go back to work. Repeat that for 6 years, with a few hundred live shows, a handful of recorded EPs and albums, a bunch of collaborations, and that was EVERYTHING. So don’t tell me I don’t know anything about crunch. I know what it is to sink EVERYTHING into something, and not feel like you’re getting anything back.

The thing is, if I’d kept going like that, 1 of 2 things would have happened; either I would have made it somewhat big (I was making progress in that direction) or I would have snapped and died from a combination of lack of sleep, rampant drinking, depression, or all of the above.

Luckily, I managed to turn my life around, developed better relationships, learned how to properly care for myself. And it was almost comical how quickly my creative output dried up. It wasn’t until years later, when life threw some very heavy hurdles my way, that the creative spark came back. I now find myself walking a tightrope between using art and music as a way to express these newer pains, while keeping at least 1 foot grounded in my family, job, friends. I’m proud of the music i’m making now, but compared to what I was doing in my 20’s, well... it pales.

And that’s not just my experience. All those artist friends of mine? I watched every single one of them plunge themselves into pots of depression and addiction, OR pull themselves away from their creative obsessions while also straightening their lives out. No exceptions.

This “lie” you accuse me of spreading? Well, I’ve lived it, and I keep hearing other artists, big and small, say they’ve lived it too.

The vilest bullshit

by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:37 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

Being taught a lie is not an excuse to repeat the lie. The primary function of depression and misery in creative work is to stop creative work. Take it from someone who is both a full time writer and a trained psychologist. You are wrong, and worse, you are wrong in a way which creates the very cycles of suffering which you think are necessary for creativity.

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The vilest bullshit

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:54 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta
edited by CruelLEGACEY, Monday, May 25, 2020, 23:28

Being taught a lie is not an excuse to repeat the lie. The primary function of depression and misery in creative work is to stop creative work. Take it from someone who is both a full time writer and a trained psychologist. You are wrong, and worse, you are wrong in a way which creates the very cycles of suffering which you think are necessary for creativity.

That just doesn’t line up with reality. Nobody says “I want to be an artist, but artists are supposed to suffer, so I guess I’ll go fuck up my own life”. Every great artist I’ve ever met or known of was already fucked up before the art came. It’s entirely possible that there’s an exception or two out there that I haven’t heard of, but I’m perfectly comfortable saying that almost any artist that any of us can name was running from something, fighting something, or trying to fill some kind of hole.

Next: I didn’t say “suffering” is necessary. I said “sacrifice”. Those are very, very different things.

(I did later bring up suffering as one of the things that drives creative output, but I never said it was the only thing).

I think I see where we have a bit of a disconnect. It very well could be my fault, although I thought I was being clear in this. Let me try to clarify it a bit:

It’s not difficult to come up with a short list of priorities that are crucial to maintaining a healthy, well balanced lifestyle and state of mind. We might say things like “Good relationships with friends, family, healthy work/life balance, exercise and proper self-care, hobbies...” stuff like that.

My argument here is that no true art ever gets made without shoving some of those elements to the side. And the really important distinction here is that i’m talking about capital A-R-T. The kind of thing that grabs people and moves them, makes them cry, or jump up and down with excitement, even though hardly anyone can explain why they feel these things. I know plenty of people who like to paint or write poetry in their spare time. It’s a hobby and a creative outlet for them, and that’s wonderful. I think everyone needs something like that. But I wouldn’t call any of these people artists (not that they couldn’t be). Some people are so technically skilled that the go professional. They tour with musical companies playing in the orchestra, or they get a job with a marketing company doing graphic design. They’re skilled the way a tradesman is skilled. But that too is an entirely different thing (to be clear, i’m not saying that these professionals are never creative artists... just that it is possible to work in such fields without being a particularly artistic person).

The reason I draw this distinction is because anyone who has really sunk themselves into a creative endeavour knows what it feels like to have something inside you that you need to get out and you just can’t stop. When it’s 5am and you have school at 9am but you have a picture in your mind and you can’t put the pencil down until it’s all out on the paper in front of you. Or when you’ve been mixing the same song for 26 hours straight but you can’t stop yet because there’s a sound in your head that you’ve never heard before and you need to figure out how to create it before it slips away and is gone forever. Sometimes it’s more of a purely emotional state. Like a scream that has to come out of you and you can’t stop before it’s done because you feel like you’d explode.

That feeling, that compulsion, is such a key part of the creative process, but it always comes with a cost. You are always giving up something. One of those “priorities” that I mentioned above is getting shoved aside. I can’t begin to estimate how many artists have told me over the years that they feel like their creativity is a curse... that they’d stop dancing or painting or writing if they could. Because it gets in the way of their health, happiness, and well being, and they know it. But they feel like they can’t stop.

This is why Bono said “imagine how you’d have to feel about yourself in order to need 50,000 people screaming ‘I love you Bono!’ every single night, just to feel normal”. This is why John Cleese talks about how he had to stop doing comedy once he finally got over his anger issues and depression, because he just isn’t funny anymore. His comedy always came from a very dark, manic place. Hell, watch just about any interview with Robin Williams. He was wrestling with demons every minute of the day, as we all sadly know.

In closing, i’m sorry that you think my opinions are “vile bullshit”. But I know what i’m talking about here, and the body of evidence from across the entire art world is on my side, as far as I can tell. I’m all for sharing disagreements and different perspectives, so if you want to do so with a less petulant attitude, i’m all ears. Tell me why i’m wrong, not just “because I say so”. Or don’t... your choice, obviously.

The vilest bullshit

by General Battuta, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 08:04 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

You'd make a fantastic motivational speaker for studios in the last months of crunch. Get in there, tell 'em to bandage up their self-harm cuts, pound their morning vodka shots, file their divorce papers, and get back to work! No great art ever happened without sacrifice! Push a little harder, and you too can get this game out the door for your 64% Metacritic, no bonuses, and an invitation to 'free donuts' a few days after launch where you are immediately fired. (this did not happen to me, but it does happen a lot!)

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"The Suffering Artist" Cliché

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 10:20 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

Balian of Ibelin asks; “What is Jerusalem worth?” to which Saladin replies, “Nothing.” He steps away, then stops, smiles and adds quixotically, “Everything!”

~ From the Movie Kingdom of Heaven (Director's cut); Scene- Battle for Jerusalem (1187)

I wonder if this idea of suffering (or sacrificing) for ones art is a self fulfilling prophecy, as well as self perpetual. A, "my teacher suffered/sacrificed", thus I must as well. An, oh my artiest friends are like this as well, so this is just how it is. This must be what "Normal" is. And so things are, because we make them that way. Whether we do so rationally or irrationally is another topic entirely. That... pressure. And while, yes, some elements may be beyond our control, masterpieces can't be masterpieces if one dies first.

What is art worth?

The scary part of that question is that shear number of responses it can bring. An art in its self, no doubt dictated by the approach of the one who answers it. It is to this I must also add, while YES, the dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, if one can tap into the joy of creation, the joy altruism, the joy of understanding ones craft; that is when "art" becomes truly... unlimited. A different sort of the same answer. It takes much longer to do, of course, but... it's nice.

Finally, it seems to me that what you speak of is more "the internal need to make". Such a thing is different from institutionalized "Keep making or you are fired". OUTPUT OUTPUT OUTPUT! Where the motivation lives can be very different, and thus the stripping nature on ones humanity. Even then, while time (à la "sacrificing") is always something that must be invested, efficiency is something too. Just because something required 26 hours straight to make, does not automatically mean that it shall be a work of brilliance. Same as how not every teenager is an artistic savant.

Crunch, to ebb back to the main topic, is more often then not the result in a failure of efficiency. Of course, even if there was some Pegasus 100% efficiency, if the deadline and scope are unreasonable... well l l l l l.

Now THAT is crazy.

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"The Suffering Artist" Cliché

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 11:22 (46 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

I wonder if this idea of suffering (or sacrificing) for ones art is a self fulfilling prophecy, as well as self perpetual.

Reminds me of a saying. If someone says "Quit your bitchin. I went through the same thing and I turned out fine", then they in fact did not turn out fine.

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"The Suffering Artist" Cliché

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 12:38 (46 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

Balian of Ibelin asks; “What is Jerusalem worth?” to which Saladin replies, “Nothing.” He steps away, then stops, smiles and adds quixotically, “Everything!”

~ From the Movie Kingdom of Heaven (Director's cut); Scene- Battle for Jerusalem (1187)


I wonder if this idea of suffering (or sacrificing) for ones art is a self fulfilling prophecy, as well as self perpetual. A, "my teacher suffered/sacrificed", thus I must as well. An, oh my artiest friends are like this as well, so this is just how it is. This must be what "Normal" is. And so things are, because we make them that way. Whether we do so rationally or irrationally is another topic entirely. That... pressure. And while, yes, some elements may be beyond our control, masterpieces can't be masterpieces if one dies first.

One of my problems with the “suffering artist” cliche is that it is just so narrow. First of all, EVERYONE suffers. If not now, then sometime in the not too distant past or future. Suffering is something that we all must face and deal with. My interpretation of the creative process is that it is inherently consuming. It needs fuel, and it takes up space. And this is where the disruption comes in. For some creative people, a time of great suffering in their lives becomes fuel for their creative output, and then that creative output takes up space which could otherwise be filled with a loving family, strong social network, diet and exercise, or generally healthy things of that nature. I would never say that all artists are suffering all the time, but I would say that I’ve never met an artist who didn’t have a fairly strong imbalance in their life of one kind or another. That’s why passionate artists are so hard to live with and have long-term relationships with. Just ask any artist, lol.

While i’m sure you’re on to something with the whole romanticization of the “starving artist” cliche, I don’t think that exhausts the issue. I have met many posers over the years. People who try to play the part of a starving artist because it seems like a hip thing to do when you’re 22 years old. But 2 or 3 years later, they’re inevitably working at a bank or an office, taking care of themselves, moving on with their life. They grow out of it, because they soon realize “hey, this isn’t particularly fun”. It also isn’t always accurate. I know many artists who are successful. As I said right at the start of this whole thing, the stereotype that a true artist must be broke is pure BS, IMO. What some people miss is that it is very possible to be rich and still have problems, imbalances, issues that haunt or drive you, etc. And THAT is the element that every artist I’ve ever known, met, or heard of has in common; some greater than average fixation on something which at the very least borders on obsessive.

What is art worth?

The scary part of that question is that shear number of responses it can bring. An art in its self, no doubt dictated by the approach of the one who answers it. It is to this I must also add, while YES, the dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, if one can tap into the joy of creation, the joy altruism, the joy of understanding ones craft; that is when "art" becomes truly... unlimited. A different sort of the same answer. It takes much longer to do, of course, but... it's nice.

Finally, it seems to me that what you speak of is more "the internal need to make". Such a thing is different from institutionalized "Keep making or you are fired". OUTPUT OUTPUT OUTPUT! Where the motivation lives can be very different, and thus the stripping nature on ones humanity. Even then, while time (à la "sacrificing") is always something that must be invested, efficiency is something too. Just because something required 26 hours straight to make, does not automatically mean that it shall be a work of brilliance. Same as how not every teenager is an artistic savant.

Crunch, to ebb back to the main topic, is more often then not the result in a failure of efficiency. Of course, even if there was some Pegasus 100% efficiency, if the deadline and scope are unreasonable... well l l l l l.

Now THAT is crazy.

I completely agree. What i’m trying to figure out though is, in the case of video game development, are these 2 issues completely separate?

We keep saying “video games are art”. But then we try to create video games like they are NOT art. Clearly, something needs to give, but I don’t know what can give. If you have creative people doing creative things as part of the process, there’s a meandering, exploratory element to creation that it’s impossible to get away from. But there are obviously real-world constraints on getting all this stuff done.,Are game studios a team of artists, or a factory of workers? To me, it looks like they are both at the same time, and I have no idea how to solve that problem.

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"The Suffering Artist" Cliché

by Robot Chickens, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 13:11 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

While i’m sure you’re on to something with the whole romanticization of the “starving artist” cliche, I don’t think that exhausts the issue. I have met many posers over the years. People who try to play the part of a starving artist because it seems like a hip thing to do when you’re 22 years old. But 2 or 3 years later, they’re inevitably working at a bank or an office, taking care of themselves, moving on with their life. They grow out of it, because they soon realize “hey, this isn’t particularly fun”. It also isn’t always accurate. I know many artists who are successful. As I said right at the start of this whole thing, the stereotype that a true artist must be broke is pure BS, IMO. What some people miss is that it is very possible to be rich and still have problems, imbalances, issues that haunt or drive you, etc. And THAT is the element that every artist I’ve ever known, met, or heard of has in common; some greater than average fixation on something which at the very least borders on obsessive.

I have a friend who is a designer. He works passionately to make the user experience of receiving insulin from pumps the best it can be. He is also an artist- music, painting, woodworking. He's taking care of his and his family's monetary needs but he still produces some of the best art I know. He's found ways to balance his work, his family, and his need to create without having a personality defect. He is super thoughtful, self-aware, and although he is acquainted with suffering, he does not rely upon it to produce art at the cost of his other life commitments.

I think what you describe is a common experience for artists, but you subtly slip into universalizing this experience and defining what true art is out of this universalized experience. My friend does not fit this trend and I know he's not alone.


Further thoughts:

Experience is the fuel of art. Sometimes that is suffering, sometimes it's something else. Art resonates with us when it rings true in a non-superficial way. Often, that means we are conditioned to recognize suffering because so much of our lives mask suffering. Often, we are told to interpret our lives in ways that make it more palatable to others. When art honestly reflects our experience or shows us new ways to interpret our experience, we recognize it as true. However, suffering is not the gate through which art must pass to achieve this resonance in our lives. Joy** is hard to capture, but when we find it in art, it can be exhilarating. Art not only reflects, but it can point to something new.

All that to say, I'm not comfortable with the idea of reducing art to the byproduct of one particular fuel.

**My personal sense is that joy is must be acquainted with suffering (as opposed to happiness), but it is not dependent upon it. It's complicated though.

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+1

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 13:41 (46 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

While i’m sure you’re on to something with the whole romanticization of the “starving artist” cliche, I don’t think that exhausts the issue. I have met many posers over the years. People who try to play the part of a starving artist because it seems like a hip thing to do when you’re 22 years old. But 2 or 3 years later, they’re inevitably working at a bank or an office, taking care of themselves, moving on with their life. They grow out of it, because they soon realize “hey, this isn’t particularly fun”. It also isn’t always accurate. I know many artists who are successful. As I said right at the start of this whole thing, the stereotype that a true artist must be broke is pure BS, IMO. What some people miss is that it is very possible to be rich and still have problems, imbalances, issues that haunt or drive you, etc. And THAT is the element that every artist I’ve ever known, met, or heard of has in common; some greater than average fixation on something which at the very least borders on obsessive.


I have a friend who is a designer. He works passionately to make the user experience of receiving insulin from pumps the best it can be. He is also an artist- music, painting, woodworking. He's taking care of his and his family's monetary needs but he still produces some of the best art I know. He's found ways to balance his work, his family, and his need to create without having a personality defect. He is super thoughtful, self-aware, and although he is acquainted with suffering, he does not rely upon it to produce art at the cost of his other life commitments.

I think what you describe is a common experience for artists, but you subtly slip into universalizing this experience and defining what true art is out of this universalized experience. My friend does not fit this trend and I know he's not alone.


Further thoughts:

Experience is the fuel of art. Sometimes that is suffering, sometimes it's something else. Art resonates with us when it rings true in a non-superficial way. Often, that means we are conditioned to recognize suffering because so much of our lives mask suffering. Often, we are told to interpret our lives in ways that make it more palatable to others. When art honestly reflects our experience or shows us new ways to interpret our experience, we recognize it as true. However, suffering is not the gate through which art must pass to achieve this resonance in our lives. Joy** is hard to capture, but when we find it in art, it can be exhilarating. Art not only reflects, but it can point to something new.

All that to say, I'm not comfortable with the idea of reducing art to the byproduct of one particular fuel.

**My personal sense is that joy is must be acquainted with suffering (as opposed to happiness), but it is not dependent upon it. It's complicated though.

Thanks for summing up what I was basically thinking this whole time but had no chance of actually making it a coherent thought that could be relayed to other people.

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"The Suffering Artist" Cliché

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 14:07 (46 days ago) @ Robot Chickens


Further thoughts:

Experience is the fuel of art. Sometimes that is suffering, sometimes it's something else. Art resonates with us when it rings true in a non-superficial way. Often, that means we are conditioned to recognize suffering because so much of our lives mask suffering. Often, we are told to interpret our lives in ways that make it more palatable to others. When art honestly reflects our experience or shows us new ways to interpret our experience, we recognize it as true. However, suffering is not the gate through which art must pass to achieve this resonance in our lives. Joy** is hard to capture, but when we find it in art, it can be exhilarating. Art not only reflects, but it can point to something new.

All that to say, I'm not comfortable with the idea of reducing art to the byproduct of one particular fuel.

**My personal sense is that joy is must be acquainted with suffering (as opposed to happiness), but it is not dependent upon it. It's complicated though.

This is almost exactly what I was trying to say, but looking back I realize I may not have differentiated clearly enough. I said that for some people, suffering can become that fuel some of the time. But I did not mean to imply that it was the only fuel for anyone.
Like you, I believe art is a reflection of life and all that it entails. The good and bad, ups and downs.,You said it much better than I did; it comes from experience.

I still maintain that the great works of art require a kind of single-minded focus that simply does not fit within a balanced lifestyle. It’s an ongoing challenge for me, as someone who is trying to maintain my creative output while also being a better husband, father, and provider. One of the tricks I’ve learned is that when i’m working on a recording, I work on it constantly in my head. I’ll spend days and days mixing in my mind. Then when I actually have time to sit in front of my computer for an hour, I can implement all the ideas I’ve been working on in my head. It lets me come closer to a balanced life, but in some ways it is just faking it. I try really hard not to let myself do this when i’m spending time with family (although my mind does drift off from time to time), but I’ll spend entire days at work putting 80-90% of my attention into the mixes running in my head rather than my actual job. I get away with it because I’ve been doing my job for a very long time... i’m so proficient at it that I can do it well while barely paying attention. But there’s no doubt that I could be doing better at work if I gave it my full attention. This obsessive mental work also keeps me up at night most nights. I’d be healthier if I could shut it off, no question. I could probably be a better husband and father, too. Anyone looking at my family from the outside would probably think I’ve struck a great balance, and I am certainly trying. But it all comes at a cost. This gets back to where I started with this whole train of thought. In my experience, there is ALWAYS a cost. And the more productive and prolific the artist, the greater that cost becomes.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 15:51 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY
edited by Cody Miller, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 15:55

Doing anything worthwhile is going to take effort and a significant portion of your time.

So why do we not talk about the engineers designing the space telescopes the same way you talk about an artist? The people working to produce a vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 as we speak? The people searching for Dark Matter? The people designing electric cars? The people designing faster and faster microchips? This stuff is way more intense, both intellectually and in terms of time, than making art.

So why is the 'artist' special? What makes you think creativity is somehow inherently different than other human efforts?

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Robot Chickens, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 16:43 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Doing anything worthwhile is going to take effort and a significant portion of your time.

So why do we not talk about the engineers designing the space telescopes the same way you talk about an artist? The people working to produce a vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 as we speak? The people searching for Dark Matter? The people designing electric cars? The people designing faster and faster microchips?

Good relevant thoughts and reflections.

This stuff is way more intense, both intellectually and in terms of time, than making art.

Vile bullshit

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 17:20 (46 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

This stuff is way more intense, both intellectually and in terms of time, than making art.


Vile bullshit

Hundreds of thousands of people working for decades, and we still don't have an electric car that's good enough. Art comes out all the damn time. To say it is easier to create a masterpiece than to cure cancer is an absolute understatement.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Robot Chickens, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 18:07 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I don't think I have the time or patience to walk through this argument. Suffice to say, this is a pretty big false equivalence in terms of scope, project participants and size of various staging etc.

I'm not even sure how to respond if that's your initial basis of comparison.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 23:55 (45 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

I don't think I have the time or patience to walk through this argument. Suffice to say, this is a pretty big false equivalence in terms of scope, project participants and size of various staging etc.

So then why do we fetishize the suffering of the artist but not of the people solving humanity's toughest challenges?! Or even as Vortech pointed out, the lawyer down the street? Because that person is suffering for sure. Working a long ass time to pay back a big ass loan.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 10:17 (45 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I don't think I have the time or patience to walk through this argument. Suffice to say, this is a pretty big false equivalence in terms of scope, project participants and size of various staging etc.


So then why do we fetishize the suffering of the artist but not of the people solving humanity's toughest challenges?! Or even as Vortech pointed out, the lawyer down the street? Because that person is suffering for sure. Working a long ass time to pay back a big ass loan.

What about the plumber or the electrician, while we're at it? Suffering is the freaking default, dude. One of the most important functions of art is that it helps us better understand our experience or at least helps us assign it meaning. I think we think about artist's suffering because we think about the origins of art, and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering. And to create art that does this for humans across time and space is a damn difficult challenge and pretty damn important, too. Your comparisons of these challenges with practical problem-solving involve conflating different kinds of knowledge and making value comparisons between them. That's a little ignorant.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 10:20 (45 days ago) @ Kermit
edited by Cody Miller, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 10:25

and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering.

I don't think so at all. An artist's job is to create something that gives pleasure. Are you saying a piece of art, that discovers, reminds or reaffirms some beauty in this world is not art?!

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Romanticization of the Artist

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 10:49 (45 days ago) @ Cody Miller

and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering.


I don't think so at all. An artist's job is to create something that gives pleasure. Are you saying a piece of art, that discovers, reminds or reaffirms some beauty in this world is not art?!

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really. That is the point of art, it's up to the observer to see what they get from it. That is why art can't really be compared to what you are comparing.

You are trying to assign value to what art gives somebody vs what a technological advancement gives someone. I just don't think you can do that.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 11:03 (45 days ago) @ MacAddictXIV

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really.

These things are ultimately pleasurable. Why do people go see scary movies? Or read sad books? Or look at grotesque paintings? We enjoy the negative feelings through proxy.

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You are insufferable

by Pyromancy @, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 11:26 (45 days ago) @ Cody Miller

and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering.


I don't think so at all. An artist's job is to create something that gives pleasure. Are you saying a piece of art, that discovers, reminds or reaffirms some beauty in this world is not art?!

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really.


These things are ultimately pleasurable. Why do people go see scary movies? Or read sad books? Or look at grotesque paintings? We enjoy the negative feelings through proxy.

https://youtu.be/xjVgKG465F8?t=61

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You are insufferable

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 12:00 (45 days ago) @ Pyromancy

and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering.


I don't think so at all. An artist's job is to create something that gives pleasure. Are you saying a piece of art, that discovers, reminds or reaffirms some beauty in this world is not art?!

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really.


These things are ultimately pleasurable. Why do people go see scary movies? Or read sad books? Or look at grotesque paintings? We enjoy the negative feelings through proxy.


https://youtu.be/xjVgKG465F8?t=61

Does that mean I can't be an artist? :-p

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You are insufferable *IMG*

by Pyromancy @, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 14:15 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller
edited by Pyromancy, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 14:23

and part of an artist's job is to transfigure suffering.


I don't think so at all. An artist's job is to create something that gives pleasure. Are you saying a piece of art, that discovers, reminds or reaffirms some beauty in this world is not art?!

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really.


These things are ultimately pleasurable. Why do people go see scary movies? Or read sad books? Or look at grotesque paintings? We enjoy the negative feelings through proxy.


https://youtu.be/xjVgKG465F8?t=61


Does that mean I can't be an artist? :-p

[image]

.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by breitzen @, Kansas, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 17:13 (45 days ago) @ Cody Miller

An artists job is create something that imparts something to the receiver. It doesn't have to be just pleasure. It could be insight, pain, joy, or anything really.


These things are ultimately pleasurable. Why do people go see scary movies? Or read sad books? Or look at grotesque paintings? We enjoy the negative feelings through proxy.

Hard disagree. Limiting the value of art to an audience’s pleasure is terribly naive for someone as intelligent as you.

Now in your industry and video games, broad appeal is a goal because the final product is commercialized, so often pleasure is sought after.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 18:20 (45 days ago) @ breitzen

Hard disagree. Limiting the value of art to an audience’s pleasure is terribly naive for someone as intelligent as you.

Why? I'd love to hear your side.

When you break it down it seems to be the essence of all art. We choose to view art because it ultimately is pleasurable in some form. Any negative emotion a piece elicits is in service of a greater pleasure.

Pleasure doesn't just mean "makes me feel good right now".

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On the Value of Art

by breitzen @, Kansas, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 08:07 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Hard disagree. Limiting the value of art to an audience’s pleasure is terribly naive for someone as intelligent as you.


Why? I'd love to hear your side.

When you break it down it seems to be the essence of all art. We choose to view art because it ultimately is pleasurable in some form. Any negative emotion a piece elicits is in service of a greater pleasure.

Pleasure doesn't just mean "makes me feel good right now".

Pleasure:

  • The state or feeling of being pleased.
  • Enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one's one liking; gratification; delight
  • Worldly or frivolous enjoyment


Do you mean catharsis?

Here's an example: The movie Eden Lake (not a great movie) still to this day makes me angry when I think about it. I don't get any pleasure in thinking back on that movie, but it was incredibly effective at making me feel angry. I think that's valuable.

But above all, I believe in the inherent value of creation. Not how it is perceived (because we experience art subjectively). So if we circle back to the "job" of the artist: I think an artist's "job" is simply to create something. For the most part, artists do create something they want to share and have others experience, but that's not The creator, the audience, and the consensus all add or subtract value in their own vacumes, but how we FEEL about the creation doesn't affect IT.

The enjoyment of art is subjective. We may have collective consensus, but even that changes with time. Measuring the value of art by how it services the audience seems silly to me. I'm not saying that pleasure is an incorrect way to find value (subjectively of course), but it's not the ONLY way.

I hope that's clear... I rewrote a bunch of it. lol

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On the Value of Art

by cheapLEY @, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 08:34 (44 days ago) @ breitzen

I’m curious. Do you think video games are art?

I think they can be, but I actually don’t think very many of them really clear that bar for me. I don’t think Destiny is. Most games certainly have artistic aspects, but very few are actual capital A Art.

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On the Value of Art

by breitzen @, Kansas, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 09:17 (44 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I’m curious. Do you think video games are art?

I think they can be, but I actually don’t think very many of them really clear that bar for me. I don’t think Destiny is. Most games certainly have artistic aspects, but very few are actual capital A Art.

I think that if I simply it down to the bare bones, yes, video games are (or at a minimum can be) art.

Perhaps the creator's intent needs to be considered as well? The bigger/more complex/more commercial games and movies get, the harder it is for me to define THE THING as art, versus PIECES OF THE THING as art.

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On the Value of Art

by cheapLEY @, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 09:26 (44 days ago) @ breitzen

That aligns with my thoughts pretty closely. Games are commercial products first and foremost. Lots of art is commercial though. I think, for whatever reason, it’s more difficult for games to bridge that gap, for me. Destiny doesn’t, I don’t think, while The Last of Us does. It is tricky to nail down.

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On the Value of Art

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 09:36 (44 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I think they can be, but I actually don’t think very many of them really clear that bar for me. I don’t think Destiny is. Most games certainly have artistic aspects, but very few are actual capital A Art.

If I get what you mean when you say Capital A Art, then I'd say three:

Metal gear Solid 2
Death Stranding
Nier Automata

If you are going for A- art then the list is in the dozens, possibly hundreds.

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On the Value of Art

by cheapLEY @, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 10:00 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Yeah, I think that’s probably right. Never played MGS2, but the other two games for sure.

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 13:35 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I do think it's capital A art, but it's more of a poem than a novel, like The Last of Us. The latter was the first game to really clear that bar for me.

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 13:45 (44 days ago) @ Kermit

I do think it's capital A art, but it's more of a poem than a novel, like The Last of Us. The latter was the first game to really clear that bar for me.

Who reads poetry anymore :-p

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O_O... >_>... ._.

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 14:28 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 17:16 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I do think it's capital A art, but it's more of a poem than a novel, like The Last of Us. The latter was the first game to really clear that bar for me.


Who reads poetry anymore :-p

The sales record for poetry by a Canadian author is like 1100 copies. So to answer your question... not many people XD

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Robot Chickens, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 17:37 (44 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

I do think it's capital A art, but it's more of a poem than a novel, like The Last of Us. The latter was the first game to really clear that bar for me.


Who reads poetry anymore :-p


The sales record for poetry by a Canadian author is like 1100 copies. So to answer your question... not many people XD

Maybe Canadians just aren't good at poetry...

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by cheapLEY @, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 17:19 (44 days ago) @ Kermit

Journey is a good one that for sure makes my list.

So is The Tetris Effect. One of the most emotionally impacting games I’ve ever played.

I actually think lots of smaller games have an easier time clearing the bar.

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 18:06 (44 days ago) @ cheapLEY
edited by Cody Miller, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 18:14

Journey is a good one that for sure makes my list.

So is The Tetris Effect. One of the most emotionally impacting games I’ve ever played.

I actually think lots of smaller games have an easier time clearing the bar.

I mean, I figured your use of capital A was going to reserved for seminal works of social, cultural, or intellectual importance.

Part of the problem is that we interface with video games very differently than "traditional" art. Notice how the greatest game of all time, Deus Ex, was not something I listed as Capital A Art.

Maybe it is, I don't know. They did put Clerks in the national film registry this past year.

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Robot Chickens, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 18:31 (44 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Journey is a good one that for sure makes my list.

So is The Tetris Effect. One of the most emotionally impacting games I’ve ever played.

I actually think lots of smaller games have an easier time clearing the bar.


I mean, I figured your use of capital A was going to reserved for seminal works of social, cultural, or intellectual importance.

Can it only get a capital A if a lot of people know about it?

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 18:42 (43 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

Journey is a good one that for sure makes my list.

So is The Tetris Effect. One of the most emotionally impacting games I’ve ever played.

I actually think lots of smaller games have an easier time clearing the bar.


I mean, I figured your use of capital A was going to reserved for seminal works of social, cultural, or intellectual importance.


Can it only get a capital A if a lot of people know about it?

I was going to say no, until I realized that Nier Automata somehow sold 4 million copies.

Kentucky Route Zero probably belongs on the Capital A for art list. It's essentially the great American novel of the digital age.

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by Robot Chickens, Friday, May 29, 2020, 11:35 (43 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Journey is a good one that for sure makes my list.

So is The Tetris Effect. One of the most emotionally impacting games I’ve ever played.

I actually think lots of smaller games have an easier time clearing the bar.


I mean, I figured your use of capital A was going to reserved for seminal works of social, cultural, or intellectual importance.


Can it only get a capital A if a lot of people know about it?


I was going to say no, until I realized that Nier Automata somehow sold 4 million copies.

Kentucky Route Zero probably belongs on the Capital A for art list. It's essentially the great American novel of the digital age.

I've never heard of it. I'll have to check it out thanks!

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I can't believe you didn't mention Journey. ;-)

by cheapLEY @, Friday, May 29, 2020, 12:25 (43 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

It’s on Game Pass!

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Romanticization of the Artist (this got long)

by Vortech @, A Fourth Wheel, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 18:07 (46 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

Doing anything worthwhile is going to take effort and a significant portion of your time.

So why do we not talk about the engineers designing the space telescopes the same way you talk about an artist? The people working to produce a vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 as we speak? The people searching for Dark Matter? The people designing electric cars? The people designing faster and faster microchips?


Good relevant thoughts and reflections.

This stuff is way more intense, both intellectually and in terms of time, than making art.


Vile bullshit

I simply refuse to believe that we’re going to be able to define “art“ when hundreds or thousands of years of philosophers have failed, and yet this entire thread is predicated on the idea that people can start gatekeeping what is and what is not art - so that they can provide self-selecting anicdata about whether or not it was required - which means it’s an entirely useless waste of time at best and a raging trash fire tearing us apart at worst. But all of that said, yeah. If Art is something that is mostly or only made by people who are exhausted, then it must not be as hard as work that can only be done by people who have their full capabilities.

Causality Fallacies all over the place. Crunch being common in a world of art, even if we are going to accept that is true, does not mean that it’s required it simply means that it is common. So is artists being at a disadvantage - a power imbalance — to their source of money. Once upon a time it was an artist dependent on A patron lady bountiful, now it takes the form of people who argue after the fact that they don’t need to pay for what they ordered because they were repaid in exposure or because it doesn’t match what they expected or decided they wanted. Artists are typically independent contractors who have all manner of things stacked against them in the system from taxes to healthcare and it’s considered that it’s supposed to be that way because art is so fulfilling, as they say out loud, and that art is done by people who are Adolescents regardless of their age, the part they don’t say out loud. Artists are considered to be able and required to do this kind of work style because they are looked down upon and not valued.

Confirmation bias all over the place. I don’t think it’s true. I think this is correlation, not causation. I think you may just as well say that a college exam paper “cannot be done without crunch“ simply because there are millions of examples of it being done in crunch. It does not mean it is required, it means it is common. The reality, of course is that there are many people who quietly and without notice plan their time effectively but because most don’t does not make it required.

When you hear hoofsteps behind you you think horse, not zebra. Unless they are an artist. I know lots of lawyers and investment bankers, retail clerks, and plumbers who work too long or too hard and damage other parts of their life. Nobody says of them plumbing requires sacrifice. Nobody says we could not stop them; the lawyering just has to come out of them because their brains are touched by divine muses who won’t let them rest until their singular lawyering is on the pages of the brief for the world to see. Nobody says you can’t scan bar codes unless you are in your tenth hour of work today. No. We say the partners gave them too big a caseload. We say they have no union. We say they are not guaranteed a living wage. We say they are hiding at work from problems at home. We assume those hoofsteps are a horse. Workahaulics are not unique in creative fields, but creative fields uniquely view them as “doing what they love” or an unavoidable cost. See also, drug abuse in Art.

Now add in thousands of complicating variables across hundreds of people and it does in different business is subject to problems of technology and timing and tell me that games that aren’t done with crunch don’t qualify as “art“ I don’t see how the argument is possible. And I don’t see how counter-argument is possible When you can simply take any example, should it be that someone found an absence of drama notable somehow and thus made it recorded for posterity and therefore sits waiting to be used as an example, and declare it not art. For we have no bright line rules for inclusion to begin with.

I’m willing to believe it is a hard problem to solve, but the fact that certain parts of the world of Art are having a harder time solving it strongly suggests to me that it is a problem with that industry, not with “Art”. But if I am wrong, if this is what is required for Art, then we have a new problem. We need to decide how society is going to make sure that we have much less Art. Because calling someone an artist does not justify treating people like shit, running their lives through a juicer so that society can have the juice of their lives as a break from their more humane non-artistic jobs, or writing off their suffering as unavoidable.

I’ll leave this here, because otherwise you won’t understand why I keep wanting to tell the people defending crunch to go jerk off into some geraniums.

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*Slow clap*

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 08:06 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

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+1

by marmot 1333 @, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 10:43 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

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A+

by kidtsunami @, Atlanta, GA, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 11:11 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

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That last paragraph may be a thread killer. I like it.

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 11:54 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

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Nice.

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 15:35 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

I especially liked the bit about causation, which I think is the problematic bit in Cruel's presentation (which I think can be distinguished from his intent).

The clip was hilarious.

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I think we finally did it

by Robot Chickens, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 18:23 (45 days ago) @ Vortech

In this thread we finally successfully defined art. We're doing guys!

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We're Doing Guys?? 0.o

by Morpheus @, High Charity, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 21:09 (44 days ago) @ Robot Chickens

I stepped into the wrong thread again...

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We're Doing Guys?? 0.o

by Robot Chickens, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 21:22 (44 days ago) @ Morpheus

I stepped into the wrong thread again...

Bwahahaha

Fantastic omission of a word for the win.

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Romanticization of the Artist

by bluerunner @, Music City, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 16:45 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I'm an engineer. I do think of my designs as art. Functional art. Even stuff that is purely mechanical and not part of the "aesthetic" requirements I still feel the need to have a look and feel that is pleasing.

I also do pyrotechnics as a side business. In my little pyro company I work with we consider ourselves making art with explosives. A lot of companies just throw up a mixture of shells for the required time period for the show. We actually spend a lot of time planning and experimenting to get unique shows. And as far as suffering artists, the 4th of July is brutal on us. Last year I put in a 26 hour day to shoot a city show, then turned around and shot a 2nd show a day later. That's in Tennessee heat.

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The vilest bullshit

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:35 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

At the risk of delving into philosophy and chasing away anyone reading this post, I have spent years trying to figure out the knee-jerk negative reaction that so many people have towards artists who become successful. I think I recently figured it out, at least partially. It plays into that old saying that "I don't know how to define art, but I know it when I see it". How. HOW do we know art when we see it. Well I've begun to think that the thing we detect... is sacrifice.


This is one of those lies that kills artists. Stop telling it.

Is there a better word that works—commitment?

Many factors lead to crunch in the video game industry, and part of it is a lack of boundaries and balance, which becomes a way of doing business, and everyone feels the pressure to do the same as everyone else.

On another level i do think art requires you to say no to fun things you would rather do. That could be described as a sacrifice. What it means is that you do the work even though it’s not easy. Hat tip to Stephen Pressfield.

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For Future Reference

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Friday, May 29, 2020, 11:25 (43 days ago) @ MartyTheElder

[Thread Link]

Wow, you go away for a few days and...

I skimmed the thread on Detroit/Crunch/Suffering/etc and it was quite fascinating.

Here's what I know. Creative projects that turn out great are the result of passion, vision, and focus. Most of the time there is some sort of crunch involved. Crunch can be good and it can be bad. Halo 2 was bad, but sort of in the same way the road building scene in Cool Hand Luke was bad. Somehow, regardless of the leadership screwups, the end result and camaraderie made it all worth it - even though it should have never happened and should never happen again.

I've never been a "suffering artist". Perhaps what I've made isn't fine art, but anything that I look back on fondly was made with passion, vision, and focus. There were times when I forgot where and when I was, which caused a bad balance in my life (might be considered suffering) but not really all that terrible. I've been married for almost 43 years (so far), have two great kids, and two grandchildren. There have been sacrifices made for my passion, but it hasn't really hurt all that badly.

Just about all Bungie problems were self-inflected wounds. I contributed at times, and at other times I was a target. Bad crunches are the result of bad internal management along with bad outside influences. Bungie didn't have a problem with shipping on deadlines. Bungie could stumble over managing the vision, which could lead to a lack of trust, and then - disaster.

It ain't easy, but it ain't all bad.

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Insane might be a spam account

by unoudid @, Somewhere over the rainbow, Friday, May 29, 2020, 18:48 (42 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

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O_o ... Wat?

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Friday, May 29, 2020, 19:16 (42 days ago) @ unoudid

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Crunch

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 16:17 (48 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

All this to say, if we start boycotting games because of crunch, I’m not sure any of us will get to experience the greatest games that get made.

That's literally what I said…

I ordered Last of Us 2 and intend to play it. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

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Crunch

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 17:42 (48 days ago) @ Cody Miller

All this to say, if we start boycotting games because of crunch, I’m not sure any of us will get to experience the greatest games that get made.


That's literally what I said…

I ordered Last of Us 2 and intend to play it. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

No I got that... I wasn't arguing with you, just adding my thoughts on what a tricky subject it is.

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Minor Qubbles

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 16:59 (48 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

This leads into the most difficult problem with this whole situation; it isn’t exactly clear that anyone knows how to make great video games [in a timely manner] without crunch. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible, but it’s far from solved equation. There are exceptions we can point to. Halo Reach was supposedly done with far less crunch than previous Halo games. But that was also a veteran team making their 5th consecutive game in a single franchise, allowing them to draw directly from a huge pool of transferable knowledge and experience. Most of the team leads had been making Halo games for 10-15 years at that point. They had it down. And even then, I haven’t heard anyone claim that Reach was “crunch-free”. Just that the whole process ran more smoothly, that the game was in a fully playable state a year ahead of launch which allowed way more time for test and polish, etc. ... ...

(One reason) crunch exists is because you need to get to get the game out before the money does. Tech too as I think of it. It's all about the almighty deadline (as it is with many industries). Some games come out of development hell that look like what "AAA" might have looked like when they started, which of course can effect the sale. Can't recall any examples though, just the concept.

For better or worse, not every studio can be Valve.

... ...I was at an Xbox One launch event in Toronto back in 2013, chatting with a bunch of game developers who were there. A bunch of people from Ubi Toronto, as well as smaller local teams. A journalist who was there asked everyone “what’s your favourite game that has come out lately” and every single developer in the group said “GTA V”, and then they all said something to the effect of “... but i’m glad I didn’t have to work on it”. I was standing beside a Ubisoft creative director and I said I was surprised by their answer, because while I thought GTA V was impressive as hell, I didn’t think it was actually that fun. He told me that he wasn’t even thinking about it that way. Some people find fun it it, others don’t. But from his perspective, he simply couldn’t get over the sheer number of moving parts in the game, the scope, the detail, the mechanical breadth AND depth, and the fact that it all works. He said that as a developer who knows what goes into making games, something like GTA V shouldn’t be possible. And THEN, he said “you know, it’s like the pyramids. We look at them and can’t believe that they exist. They’re this amazing example of what human beings can do. But they were built by slaves.” If THAT doesn’t hammer the point home...

That is one 'ell of a quote. Oof.


It’s funny that i had this conversation with a Ubisoft employee, because the more recent games that come closest to the sheer scale and scope of GTA V have been the last couple Assassins Creed games. They’re just mind-bendingly vast in a way that transcends gaming. They’re getting close enough to genuine time travel that I’ve been using AC Origins and AC Odyssey to teach my daughter about ancient Egypt and Greece. Origins’ recreation of Egypt is so detailed that you can’t help but learn about the Egyptian religion and culture, the tensions between the Egyptian and Greek peoples as more and more Europeans travelled south, the connection that those people had to both the land and their ancestors and how intertwined it all was for them, all just by walking around in the game. And while I’m sure there was no shortage of crunch involved with the development of these AC games, we don’t hear the horror stories that we hear about studios like Rockstar or Naughty Dog. So I think there is hope. Some people are figuring out pieces of the puzzle. But I don’t know if we’ll ever reach a point where true masterpieces are made without significant sacrifice. I don’t think the latest God of War would exist without the all-consuming effort that the team put into it for nearly 5 years.

Remember all the bugs and what not that were in the launch variant of Assassins Creed Unity? That was because of crunch. Folks were apparently so ragged that the best course of action was to stop the "Assassins Creed" treadmill they were using to pump out SO MANY GAMES of that brand at one point. Crunch isn't bad, per se, if handled intelligently (which sadly it often isn't). ...


All this to say, if we start boycotting games because of crunch, I’m not sure any of us will get to experience the greatest games that get made. And i’m not sure that’s a problem that can ever be truly solved.

... It's about health and performance. Best Case; If everyone under a crunch time table is happy, healthy, and doing their best work, it's functionally solved. We are not built to do 17 hour months or even years of crunch, which through scuttlebutt is roughly is what I've heard CD Projekt Red was all about at one point, don't recall which game. Probably one of the Witcher games. Plus, and this is surprisingly rarely mentioned, it's all about the folks you work with too. It's amazing how just one asshole, and it doesn't have to be a manager position, can suck the life out of a project. That's when you can really feel the crunch, though I suppose that drifts into other topics as well.

+1

by someotherguy, Hertfordshire, England, Monday, May 25, 2020, 08:37 (47 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 20:37 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY
edited by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:02

I could try to explain it to you, but I don't know if it'd do anything for either of us. You have no understanding at all of the cost of the process, the reasons people are drawn into it despite 'forewarning', and the fundamental waste and stupidity of it.

Having gone from a bright-eyed kid flying into Seattle for his first real job out of grad school to a suicidal wreck in a padded cell over six months of Destiny crunch, I can tell you that crunch is not the reason we get great games. It's the reason we don't get more great ones.

If you've ever wondered 'why doesn't Destiny have more writing like the Books of Sorrow and the grimoire in the game itself?' the answer is crunch.

And before you try to tell me that I don't have what it takes to work at Bungie, my work is still good enough they're bringing me back on freelance. Destiny could have my writing full time. But the studio used me up in six months of crunch instead of keeping me for six years (as of this March) of sustainable work. I did the Books of Sorrow in a week. Imagine what I could've done with more than 300 weeks of creativity on Destiny.

Instead, I spent hundred hour week after hundred hour week filling out excel spreadsheets of gun and item names.

I lost nearly everything—my friends, my writing career, my health, my life savings, very nearly my life—to those six months. It's probably not an exaggeration to say they're the worst thing to ever happen to me. I'm still recovering (and my writing career probably never WILL recover from the years of total block I had afterwards—I will likely never be a marketable author under my real name again). It took years of adjustment to find the right combination and dosage of drugs to get me back on my feet.

Think about how many times this story has happened, to how many excited young people.

Think about what kind of games you could be playing if they were still with us.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:55 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

I could try to explain it to you, but I don't know if it'd do anything for either of us. You have no understanding at all of the cost of the process, the reasons people are drawn into it despite 'forewarning', and the fundamental waste and stupidity of it.

Very presumptuous of you, and not the best way to start a conversation. And as far as being “drawn in despite forwarning”, I can think of many reasons people do it (I don’t know if i’m thinking of the same reasons you are) but that doesn’t mean they are good reasons. How can anyone take a job in game development and say with a straight face “i’m not going to need to crunch”. It’s as close to a guarantee as it could possibly be without being a natural law. (And for the record, I do know that many incoming devs are lied to about what kind of crunch they should expect... but THAT fact is also entirely well known).

Having gone from a bright-eyed kid flying into Seattle for his first real job out of grad school to a suicidal wreck in a padded cell over six months of Destiny crunch, I can tell you that crunch is not the reason we get great games. It's the reason we don't get more great ones.

If you've ever wondered 'why doesn't Destiny have more writing like the Books of Sorrow and the grimoire in the game itself?' the answer is crunch.

And before you try to tell me that I don't have what it takes to work at Bungie, my work is still good enough they're bringing me back on freelance. Destiny could have my writing full time. But the studio used me up in six months of crunch instead of keeping me for six years (as of this March) of sustainable work. I did the Books of Sorrow in a week. Imagine what I could've done with more than 300 weeks of creativity on Destiny.

Instead, I spent hundred hour week after hundred hour week filling out excel spreadsheets of gun and item names.

I lost nearly everything—my friends, my writing career, my health, my life savings, very nearly my life—to those six months. It's probably not an exaggeration to say they're the worst thing to ever happen to me. I'm still recovering (and my writing career probably never WILL recover from the years of total block I had afterwards—I will likely never be a marketable author under my real name again). It took years of adjustment to find the right combination and dosage of drugs to get me back on my feet.

Think about how many times this story has happened, to how many excited young people.

Think about what kind of games you could be playing if they were still with us.

Yes, that sounds like hell. As I’ve said from the beginning, I know how bad it gets. Not that it will or should make you feel any better, but your experience with crunch is not every experience with crunch. You’re taking your personal experience (which sounds horrible, and I truly empathize) and laying it over top a very wide topic. I know you are absolutely not alone. There are many MANY people who get chewed up and spat out by crunch. But we can’t ignore the fact that there are also many people who work at game studios for 10, 15 even 20 years, through crunch after crunch after crunch, and they’re still there, THRIVING. There are 2 extremes at opposite ends of this issue. My whole point from the start is that simply saying “get rid of crunch” does not account for the other end of the spectrum, and it also assumes that it would be a purely net benefit. I don’t think we can say that with any certainty.

You claim that Destiny would have been a better game without crunch, but it seems more likely to me that Destiny would never have been finished without crunch. You can’t just keep sinking other people’s money into a project forever.

Did the team leads/management on D1 make huge mistakes in the game’s development? Absolutely. I’m I defending what they did? No, I think their mismanagement of the project is unacceptable, for the human cost alone. Do I know that stuff like this is too common in the games industry? Also yes... anyone who’s paying attention knows. Is this what ALL crunch is like? No. Has any true masterpiece of a game been made without crunch? No. Has any truly masterful creative endeavour of ANY KIND been completed without crunch? None that i’m aware of. Sadly, almost tragically, most crunch does not end in a work of art. But i’m not convinced that any masterful project on the scale of a big game (movies, novels, albums, etc) can be achieved without crunch of some kind. It just doesn’t seem to happen.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:01 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

But we can’t ignore the fact that there are also many people who work at game studios for 10, 15 even 20 years, through crunch after crunch after crunch, and they’re still there, THRIVING.

Name ONE person in the games industry who has personally been crunching for 20 years straight and is thriving.

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Reading comprehension, Cody :)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:56 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

But we can’t ignore the fact that there are also many people who work at game studios for 10, 15 even 20 years, through crunch after crunch after crunch, and they’re still there, THRIVING.


Name ONE person in the games industry who has personally been crunching for 20 years straight and is thriving.

I didn’t say anyone has been CRUNCHING for 20 years straight. I said people have been working in games for 20 years, going through many crunches in that time. But they’d obviously be working through the periods between crunches as well. Surely, you don’t need me to start listing people who have worked in the games industry for 20 years, do you?

You don't understand anything about crunch.

by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:03 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY
edited by General Battuta, Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:07

"Has any true masterpiece of a game been made without crunch? No."

Yes, many. FreeSpace 2 (maybe my pick for best game of all time) was famously done months ahead of time. My first novel was completed easily in just a few months with no crunch, and it was quite well reviewed. Movies do not routinely require crunch, and in fact there are laws and union agreements in place to make crunch prohibitive and costly. Of the four novels I've published, three were written in periods without major depression. My worst novel is the one written while I was depressed. Only one of my dozen+ short stories was written while depressed; the rest were written during periods of great happiness and productivity.

Your hypothesis is wrong.

What you see as a necessity is in fact simply a sign of poor project management. You point out that some people thrive in the game industry. You ignore the flip side of this coin: most people do not. A great deal of talent avoids the games industry because working conditions are so terrible. For example, in coding, the games industry is considered a laughable scam that should be avoided if you can get any other job.

If working conditions were less terrible, more talent would remain. Games would be better.

I hope you will carefully consider your belief that depression and creativity are linked before you choose to repeat it to those you might influence. I don't want to put time and emotional energy into this argument in a period where I'm fairly happy and productive myself, so I've asked Claude for a ban.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 23:20 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

"Has any true masterpiece of a game been made without crunch? No."

Yes, many. FreeSpace 2 (maybe my pick for best game of all time) was famously done months ahead of time. My first novel was completed easily in just a few months with no crunch, and it was quite well reviewed. Movies do not routinely require crunch, and in fact there are laws and union agreements in place to make crunch prohibitive and costly. Of the four novels I've published, three were written in periods without major depression. My worst novel is the one written while I was depressed. Only one of my dozen+ short stories was written while depressed; the rest were written during periods of great happiness and productivity.

Done ahead of time =/= done without crunch. Did the team finish it ahead of time while also working 14 hour days? I’ve finished recording projects ahead of time, but I was still crunching like hell.

Aside from that, I can’t say much about FreeSpace 2 because I’ve never played or heard of it. I don’t know what kind of ground it was breaking, what kind of new achievements it accomplished... if you’ve read through this whole thread, then you should know that I’ve been making distinctions from the start between games as entertainment products, and games that are striving to be more than just that (which is an admittedly messy and blurry line because very few games land entirely on one side of the other). For example, I would expect that a properly managed team should have little trouble delivering the next NHL game without crunch, if given the proper time and resources. I contrast that against making a game like God of War because so much of what that game is had never been done before, and so much of it was figured out along the way.

Your hypothesis is wrong.

You clearly don’t understand my hypothesis, so you’re in no place to make such a statement.


What you see as a necessity is in fact simply a sign of poor project management. You point out that some people thrive in the game industry. You ignore the flip side of this coin: most people do not. A great deal of talent avoids the games industry because working conditions are so terrible. For example, in coding, the games industry is considered a laughable scam that should be avoided if you can get any other job.

How am I ignoring the flip side? I said “ I know you are absolutely not alone. There are many MANY people who get chewed up and spat out by crunch. But...”

I’m not dismissing or justifying that. I’m saying it’s not 1-sided.

If working conditions were less terrible, more talent would remain.

Almost certainly.

Games would be better.

You have zero proof of that. It’s possible that you’re correct, but if crunch were such a purely negative factor for all involved, WHY is it so prevalent? If developing games without crunch was a magic button that made all games better, wouldn’t every single studio and publisher be tripping over themselves to adopt such a policy as quickly as possible? Isn’t it more likely that some crunch is just an avoidable disaster, but crunch is also, some of the time, an inevitable outcome of trying to cram a creative and wandering process into a tightly scheduled and budgeted mass-production effort? THAT is what i’m driving at here. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious solution to an equation that asks teams of hundreds of people to do something that nobody knows how to do yet, but do it on time and on budget and to such a degree of excellence that it outsells the competition.


I hope you will carefully consider your belief that depression and creativity are linked before you choose to repeat it to those you might influence.

You’re cherry picking “depression” which was only one of many issues that I brought up. Don’t try to put words in my mouth via omission.

I don't want to put time and emotional energy into this argument in a period where I'm fairly happy and productive myself, so I've asked Claude for a ban.

You’re asking him to ban me? Or... yourself? You’re either showing some ugly colours here, or a childish lack of self control. Maybe both.

You don't understand anything about crunch.

by General Battuta, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 06:28 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

The reason crunch is prevalent is because games are poorly funded and have very, very, very few organized labor protections. There is no game dev union. Games are also poorly planned and have very little institutional knowledge-because studios fail so often, and people are constantly burning out and leaving the industry, there’s no real chance to figure out how to do it better.

Of course I didn’t ask for you to be banned. And since I’m almost ten years younger than you I won’t take it personally if you’d like to call me childish; I suppose I can’t argue.

I assume (perhaps vainly) that if you are invested in Destiny you appreciate my work on it. If not, then it won’t matter very much to you that there could’ve been a great deal more of it. But if so, perhaps consider what I’m saying. Crunch is a self-perpetuating practice caused by poor planning and uncertainty. It is a way to sacrifice long term productivity to hit short term deadlines. It burns through the talent that could make the company better in the long run in order to keep the company afloat in the short term.

It surprises me that anyone on a Bungie fan site could stand up and speak in favor of crunch. It also surprises me to hear someone who didn’t work on Destiny tell someone who did that they couldn’t have done their job without crunch. Perhaps it’s occurred to you that I felt the same way you did going in-that I believed I was going to need to work those hundred hour weeks to achieve true greatness. Perhaps you can imagine why I’m so eager not to see the same lie handed down to the next twenty-something headed to a game studio.

You believe, abstractly, that there are people who thrive under these conditions. I doubt you can name any. I can’t, and I was there. I can name dozens of talented people who didn’t. I won’t, of course, since privacy and NDAs are a thing. But I understand this situation in a way you can’t, and it’s up to you whether you want to weigh my opinion and evidence accordingly.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by squidnh3, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 07:22 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

The reason crunch is prevalent is because games are poorly funded and have very, very, very few organized labor protections. There is no game dev union. Games are also poorly planned and have very little institutional knowledge-because studios fail so often, and people are constantly burning out and leaving the industry, there’s no real chance to figure out how to do it better.

To pivot back to Cody's original post, what would be your opinion about how best to change this aspect of the industry? Is relying on each game buyer to do a personal investigation about the working conditions of each game developer really the best option here?

You don't understand anything about crunch.

by General Battuta, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 07:22 (46 days ago) @ squidnh3

Unions.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 07:38 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

Unions.

This is probably the answer.

I see lots of pushback for this in the gaming press. They say it will kill studios and make games unprofitable. It won't. Even without microtransactions.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by unoudid @, Somewhere over the rainbow, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 07:38 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

Unions.

I agree with you and I'm also surprised that there is not one yet.

In theory, I'm a fan of unions. But in general I despise them since the ones in my area and profession are so wildly corrupt that it kills innovation and also drives project costs up tremendously.

I don't know much about the actual working environment in the game development profession, so what are the protections that you would like to see from unionizing?

You don't understand anything about crunch.

by General Battuta, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 08:06 (46 days ago) @ unoudid

Extra pay for crunch, limits on maximum hours worked per week.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 08:38 (46 days ago) @ unoudid

In theory, I'm a fan of unions. But in general I despise them since the ones in my area and profession are so wildly corrupt that it kills innovation and also drives project costs up tremendously.

But that is the benefit of unions. You elect the leaders. So change it up.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by unoudid @, Somewhere over the rainbow, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 09:17 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

In theory, I'm a fan of unions. But in general I despise them since the ones in my area and profession are so wildly corrupt that it kills innovation and also drives project costs up tremendously.


But that is the benefit of unions. You elect the leaders. So change it up.

I wish it were that simple. I'm an architect that has to deal with the various trade unions that build the buildings we design. I have no say in their leadership, but I do have to deal with the results from their leaders.

Routinely we have to switch to inferior outdated products because the various unions cannot sort out who should have responsibility for installing a new, better, and cheaper product.

Again, not saying that unions don't have their merits. But in NYC the unions were able to keep black iron ceiling grid requirements because of their pull. This added about $2 per square foot cost to a building when it's not necessary. Modern products achieve all of the same features for less material and labor costs. It's been years since I last worked in New York, so this could have changed. But there are tons of similar examples out there in the construction world.

When trade unions are able to mandate building code requirements then things can become issues. It's no longer about the life, safety, and welfare of the building occupants.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 12:07 (46 days ago) @ unoudid

In theory, I'm a fan of unions. But in general I despise them since the ones in my area and profession are so wildly corrupt that it kills innovation and also drives project costs up tremendously.


But that is the benefit of unions. You elect the leaders. So change it up.


I wish it were that simple. I'm an architect that has to deal with the various trade unions that build the buildings we design. I have no say in their leadership, but I do have to deal with the results from their leaders.

Routinely we have to switch to inferior outdated products because the various unions cannot sort out who should have responsibility for installing a new, better, and cheaper product.

Again, not saying that unions don't have their merits. But in NYC the unions were able to keep black iron ceiling grid requirements because of their pull. This added about $2 per square foot cost to a building when it's not necessary. Modern products achieve all of the same features for less material and labor costs. It's been years since I last worked in New York, so this could have changed. But there are tons of similar examples out there in the construction world.

When trade unions are able to mandate building code requirements then things can become issues. It's no longer about the life, safety, and welfare of the building occupants.

My read on it has always been that unions do help in some ways and solve some problems, but there are generally too blunt of an instrument to do what they aim to do properly. Studios of different sizes in different locations working on projects of different scopes and scales... there are just too many variables for a single, industry-wide union to properly address.

Still, crunch is so rampant, and so much of it appears (from what I can gather) to be a result of mismanagement, that a union may very well be a net benefit, at least for the time being.

This is just my gut feeling, but I’m always wary about creating a giant, monolithic, self serving organization which I can’t control in order to combat another giant monolithic self-serving organization that I can’t control. For me personally, if I were going to go work for a game developer, I would only take the position if I had a contract that stated clearly that I could not be forced to work more than X hours per week for Z weeks in a row, or something to that effect. And if no developer was willing to put that in writing, I wouldn’t work for any of them. That certainly wouldn’t do anything to help the industry at large, but it is how I would try to protect myself from these practices.

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 12:18 (46 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

My read on it has always been that unions do help in some ways and solve some problems, but there are generally too blunt of an instrument to do what they aim to do properly. Studios of different sizes in different locations working on projects of different scopes and scales... there are just too many variables for a single, industry-wide union to properly address.

Wow it’s almost as if different studios could have different contracts with the union depending on their size and ability.

https://www.editorsguild.com/Wages-and-Contracts

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You don't understand anything about crunch.

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 12:43 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

My read on it has always been that unions do help in some ways and solve some problems, but there are generally too blunt of an instrument to do what they aim to do properly. Studios of different sizes in different locations working on projects of different scopes and scales... there are just too many variables for a single, industry-wide union to properly address.


Wow it’s almost as if different studios could have different contracts with the union depending on their size and ability.

https://www.editorsguild.com/Wages-and-Contracts

Yeah, that might totally be the solution. Like I said, with conditions as bad for most developers as they currently are, i’m not at all opposed to the idea of introducing unions. I’ve never worked under a union so I have zero first hand experience. All I know is that every friend I have who does work in a unionized industry complains about their unions. This could just be people bitching because we all need to vent about work stuff once in a while... I don’t know. I’ve just gotten the impression that they introduce roughly as many problems as they solve. But again, when the problem of crunch is as bad as it currently is, it could very well be worthwhile.

Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by Claude Errera @, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 10:41 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

...but I wanted to point out that I don't think Cruel and Battuta were actually talking about the same thing, which might explain the vast difference between their viewpoints.

[image]

Cruel kept talking about that stuff that you have to get out or you'll die - that's an internal imperative. (I'm not a particularly creative person, but I've felt it on occasion, and I've certainly worked way too many hours straight trying to make it real from whatever's in my head.)

Battuta was talking about a phenomenon that's generally driven by management - "we have goals to meet, we're not there, you need to put in extra time until we get there." It's not molded by an internal fire, it's a bean counter saying "we need more from you if this is going to work."

They're fundamentally different things. They might seem similar (they can have the same deleterious effects on health and relationships, for example)... but one impels with internal force, and the other impels with external force.

And unfortunately, both have been referred to with the term 'crunch'.

I could be wrong, and they could be talking about exactly the same thing, and just have wildly different viewpoints... but this is my read.

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Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 10:52 (46 days ago) @ Claude Errera

...but I wanted to point out that I don't think Cruel and Battuta were actually talking about the same thing, which might explain the vast difference between their viewpoints.

[image]


I will say that the crunch circle could be part of it. I feel like Cruel was mentioning that a byproduct of creative inspiration was crunch (working 26 hours straight). But that is just a length of time. Crunch has to have a deadline that has to be met.

I personally think they have two very different experiences. I don't think that either one of them is wrong. I think that crunch is a very wide descriptor. It's just that when people think of "crunch" in a gaming sense they think about what Battuta was talking about. But that's not all that crunch is. In my mind, crunch is just working more time than you had planned to get something done before a deadline. That could be working 2 hours past your normal work day to get something done before the weekend. I would still consider this crunch time but no one ever calls it that because it's silly compared to what we think of it socially.

That's my two cents and now I'm running far far away.

Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by EffortlessFury @, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 10:57 (46 days ago) @ MacAddictXIV

Agreed. Crunch, at least to me, implies deadlines. The crunching of large amounts of work into a smaller than comfortable amount of time. Voluntarily working long hours can have a negative impact on the rest of the team as it sets expectations, sure, but I think calling that crunch is a misnomer.

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Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 12:30 (46 days ago) @ EffortlessFury

Agreed. Crunch, at least to me, implies deadlines. The crunching of large amounts of work into a smaller than comfortable amount of time. Voluntarily working long hours can have a negative impact on the rest of the team as it sets expectations, sure, but I think calling that crunch is a misnomer.

Yes and no. That's why I brought up what is typically called crunch. Your definition is using an undefinable amount of time. My definition is literally anything past a normal work load. Would I use the term to co-workers? No. But that doesn't mean it isn't still a definition.

I would also like to add that I think wether you are salary vs hourly greatly matters. A vast majority of software engineers are Salary, which usually means that if they work 40 hours or 100 hours a week, they are getting the exact same compensation. So to be asked to work twice as much for the exact same compensation is even worse. Where as hourly, at the very least you are getting paid overtime for your sanity and health. Not saying that is much better, but I thought I would bring it up.

Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by EffortlessFury @, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 16:38 (46 days ago) @ MacAddictXIV

The crunching of large amounts of work into a smaller than comfortable amount of time.

Your definition is using an undefinable amount of time. My definition is literally anything past a normal work load. Would I use the term to co-workers? No. But that doesn't mean it isn't still a definition.

For the record, I'm saying the same thing as you, just phrased differently. If a large amount of work is accomplished in a comfortable amount of time, that == a standard workload.

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Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 11:01 (46 days ago) @ Claude Errera

I think you’re exactly correct. “Crunch” to me is something forced upon you from above.

Working long, hard hours isn’t necessarily crunch. It’s just working hard on something you’re passionate about. It’sa right situation, because I don’t think we need to prevent people from being able to work 60 or 70 hour weeks if they want to (and I know that real crunch is far worse than 70 hour weeks). Some people are just driven like that. We must however, fight against forcing folks to crunch. That might require also forcing folks who genuinely don’t mind to also go home, at least until we can figure out how to let people work when they’re most productive. The risk of exploitation is far too high to accept “well some people thrive on long hours” and “art requires sacrifice” as an excuse.

As a consumer, it’s difficult to make purchasing decisions based on crunch. If you’re not going to play things that were made under bad conditions, you might as well sell all of your gaming hardware. Until developers stand up for themselves and demand protections, I’m pretty hard pressed to factor it into my purchasing decisions. That’s very selfish of me, I know, in that just allows me to sidestep the issue. But, as always, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, so unless I’m going to go entirely off-grid and grow my own food and make my own clothes, that’s the reality of everything money is spent on.

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Probably a bad idea to jump in now...

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 15:10 (45 days ago) @ Claude Errera

...but I wanted to point out that I don't think Cruel and Battuta were actually talking about the same thing, which might explain the vast difference between their viewpoints.

[image]

Cruel kept talking about that stuff that you have to get out or you'll die - that's an internal imperative. (I'm not a particularly creative person, but I've felt it on occasion, and I've certainly worked way too many hours straight trying to make it real from whatever's in my head.)

Battuta was talking about a phenomenon that's generally driven by management - "we have goals to meet, we're not there, you need to put in extra time until we get there." It's not molded by an internal fire, it's a bean counter saying "we need more from you if this is going to work."

They're fundamentally different things. They might seem similar (they can have the same deleterious effects on health and relationships, for example)... but one impels with internal force, and the other impels with external force.

And unfortunately, both have been referred to with the term 'crunch'.

I could be wrong, and they could be talking about exactly the same thing, and just have wildly different viewpoints... but this is my read.

I'm glad you posted this when you did, Claude, because it saved me some typing. :) From the start I felt like they were talking past each other and perhaps making category errors. I think G. Battuta defines crunch very discretely--given what he experienced with the institutionalized crunch that exists in the game industry, he has an understandably visceral reaction to anything that appears to be a defense of that. I don't have the answer to crunch in that context, but I'm always glad to hear about studios making efforts not to over-extend their talent.

I've thought a lot about the issues Cruel talks about, and I think he complicates his argument by defining "crunch" more broadly. I think Cruel is thinking about the kind of singular focus creatives have when they are in a state of flow. This is a real thing, which does blind people to all other concerns for periods of time, and time being a limited asset, what they ignore suffers. Cruel complicates his argument further by calling this sacrifice and pulling mental health into it. As far as generalizations go, what Cruel says is correct--many of the greatest works of art seem born of struggle and pain--the more we know about artists the more this seems to be true (Shakespeare seems an outlier, but we know little about him as a person). The idea of suffering for art has been around forever and that phrase itself does distort how artists think of themselves. Here's the truth: experience is necessary for art, experience requires living, and living + time inevitably contains suffering. And the seemingly causal relationship between the quality of art and suffering is widely noticed (I remember one point in The World According to Garp where the title character talks about how horribly his life is going, yet the writing is great.) The great danger of focusing on this phenomena is that when you describe it, it's easy to sound like you're prescribing it, and I think that's another aspect that offended Battuta. Artist have used this mindset to excuse abusing themselves and others for the sake of art. IMHO, Cruel comes too close to making suffering sound like a prerequisite. Suffering aways comes. It doesn't need courting.

Can I also say that I loved what Robot Chickens said about art uncovering joy? That was brilliant. Robot also acknowledges that joy must be "acquainted" with suffering. You guys ever read Raymond Carver? An alcoholic, he suffered for much of his life until middle age, where he became recognized as a master of the short story. One of my favorite stories of his was called "A Small Good Thing". An early version captured the agony, randomness, and injustice of suffering. The final version, the one I love, is an extended version. Spoiler: he finds the joy.

But let's just take suffering off the table for this discussion--I consider that to pretty much be a pre-existing condition regardless. I've come to think there's only two elements required to create art: honesty and work. The tough part is estimating how much--it's always way more than you think.

Crunch is inherently toxic

by someotherguy, Hertfordshire, England, Monday, May 25, 2020, 08:15 (47 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Set reaistic goals in the first place and you wont have to kill your staff to get the work done.

I say this as someone in the unfortunate middle-manager position. I dont get to set the deadlines, but nor do I have to be involved in the crunch (mostly). But I get to tell my team "Sorry, you all need to work overtime because someone who went home hours ago made the client a promise we have to keep for them"

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Crunch is inherently toxic

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:24 (47 days ago) @ someotherguy

Set reaistic goals in the first place and you wont have to kill your staff to get the work done.

I say this as someone in the unfortunate middle-manager position. I dont get to set the deadlines, but nor do I have to be involved in the crunch (mostly). But I get to tell my team "Sorry, you all need to work overtime because someone who went home hours ago made the client a promise we have to keep for them"

Yeah, that is a total morale breaker. For me, if I were younger and didn’t have kids, I’d probably be really into crunch if I were working on a project that I really cared about, and the whole team was pulling together on it. But managers who expect more from their subordinates than they expect from themselves is a total deal breaker, far as i’m concerned.

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Crunch is inherently toxic

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:38 (47 days ago) @ someotherguy
edited by Cody Miller, Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:45

Set reaistic goals in the first place and you wont have to kill your staff to get the work done.

Here's the thing. Sometimes they don't care.

I'm in an industry where crunch is penalized. On my last Job, we were not allowed to go into an overtime period unless a producer specifically asked us to. I ended up going over ONE day, as did the other editors. For the rest of the time, we were out on time. It would cost them. Going over would go into double pay. Having less than 12 hours between the end of one day and the start of next would go into double pay. 6th and 7th consecutive days would be 1.5x and 2x pay. These things compound, so if you worked overtime on a 7th day, you'd be making a shit ton.

But when you have a lot of money it doesn't matter. Take say, Marvel. For them, getting a movie out there and hitting a certain date is way more important. They have enough money where they just pay these penalties and don't really care. I know people who worked continuously 12+ hours 7 days a week on these films. No life. There were divorces. There is no incentive to relax schedules because the movie's release date is just more important.

Nobody HAS to do this yes, but as Cruel said someone will always be there to take the job. And so it won't change. Folks I know who have cut some of the best Marvel movies have said they will never work for Marvel again. But the machine will roll on without them.

"It's a choice" does not solve the problem in this situation. Not ALL crunch is bad, but when it is systemic then there is an issue. I don't ever want people making things to feel like it's not okay to crunch when necessary, but we need to evaluate 'necessary'.

The thing is, I wasn't there at Naughty Dog. I don't know what was 'necessary', and what was just systemic mismanagement. Look at Halo 2. Nearly everyone I've asked about its development said it was rough, but they were ultimately glad it came out the way it did (versus what it would have been otherwise).

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The Survey

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 16:17 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

The game (Detroit) lets you take a little survey, and see how other players respond. Things I've found out:

-Most people think technology will threaten humanity
-Gamers are way more atheist than the general population
-Nearly everyone would have sex with an android

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Heh, cool

by ZackDark @, Not behind you. NO! Don't look., Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 16:51 (46 days ago) @ Cody Miller

The game (Detroit) lets you take a little survey, and see how other players respond. Things I've found out:

-Most people think technology will threaten humanity
-Gamers are way more atheist than the general population
-Nearly everyone would have sex with an android

Just remember that the sample is biased by people who played this game.

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All You need to know about this game

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 00:06 (45 days ago) @ ZackDark

You get three additional questions upon finishing the story.

[image]

Fucking Burned.

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The Game

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 12:37 (45 days ago) @ Cody Miller

At this point, I'm sure anyone who's wanted to play this game has played it. The tl;dr is that is it's exactly what you'd expect from Quantic Dream - sophisticated narrative branching and graphics but with shit writing.

I was cautiously optimistic at first. The game is set in a futuristic Detroit, where androids are common and replacing a large part of the human labor force. You have a homeless man with a sign proclaiming he lost his job to an android, and folks on the street berate you as is often seen when people blame immigrants or minorities for taking their jobs. Detroit itself has a complex history when it comes to automation and racism, with factory automation within the auto industry being an important part of concentrating poverty for African Americans as whites were able to leave to find other jobs, or move to the suburbs. I thought perhaps this would be a story about how automation can influence the power structures of capitalism leading to racial inequality, and that Detroit was a great setting for that.

But then the androids get on a bus and have to sit in the back, and you realize the story is just going to be shitty 1 to 1 symbolism for the civil rights movement to tell a story about androids wanting to be free. I won't write about that. I'm sure others have done it far better.

One somewhat interesting mechanic is that the characters you control have opposing goals. One character is trying to get to the bottom of the android uprising, while you simultaneously control the leader of said uprising. But this in a sense backfired with me. Connor, the android detective, is paired with another human detective named Hank who hates androids. The way the interactions play out are quite cool. You can't just go for the 'good option' to repair their relationship, as he'll chide you as just going about your program with fake attempts to be nice. You have to be a dick sometimes when the situation calls for it, and read between the lines a little. Almost like something a… human would do. And you can tell that the game wants to push Connor into becoming sympathetic to the androids' pleas for human rights.

But I didn't do that. I figured the conflict would be much more interesting, and much more heightened if I made every attempt to resist this and keep Connor as a cold machine, set out to stamp out the resistance. As a result my relationship with Hank plummeted, leading to all sorts of backlash, but the conflict did ratchet up. It seemed like there were situations where the scenario could end, but I would forgo that course of action to keep the chase going so to speak. But as a result, it didn't feel like I was making these choices for moral or philosophical reason, but for game theory. Let's get the most exciting story possible! And I got a cool ass ending (if it were a movie lol) Yet it was devoid of any sort of emotional investment. Because at the end of the day your choices are gamified. Want the androids to be free? Then figure out what choices will lead to your revolution succeeding!

Still judging by the flowcharts the game presents you after each chapter, it appears like there is more path sophistication than any of their previous games.

But like all their games, the writing just needs to be better.

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