Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees

To whomever it may concern,

In response to the unfortunate circumstances, some wives of Rockstar San Diego employees have collected themselves to assert their concerns and announce a necessary rejoinder, in the form of an immediate action to ameliorate conditions of employees.

The turning for the worse came approximately in the month of March of 2009. Till present, the working conditions persists to deteriorate as employees are manipulated by certain hands that wield the reigns of power in Rockstar San Diego. Furthermore, the extent of degradation employees have suffered extends to their quality of life and their family members. Though it is presumed, this unfortunate circumstance is due largely to ignorance and unawareness of most, with enlightened knowledge, action must be taken to protect the rights of employees and those who depend on them. Realizing that such broad claims could hardly spark any interest to take a stand, a better illustration of the wrongs made unto Rockstar San Diego workers is necessary. Futhermore, the detailed descriptions about to be given can serve as a starting point as it will provide a clearer direction for change.

As a R* employee for a certain amount of years, let me first say that I feel like a proud citizen of my clan, but I like many of my peers seek a reprieve from the issues that the wives have boldly brought to the media's attention. I suppose I've been one to personally let things slide a lot over the last few months as I work many long hours, many of which I feel have been somewhat forced upon me, because I love my job so much, and every second I spend in my chair in front of my screen is only a second that comes completely natural to me. I like to make games, and I like to solve game problems. That being said, I also have a very supportive significant other half, and we have no children to feed and spend time with. Also because I'm in fairly good health, I don't find myself complaining about quality of life so much as I may complain of other issues at the studio that directly affect me. But I also do have close friends at the studio who have had their health and lives deteriorated in some way, and whether or not the long hours have directly contributed to these ailments, it certainly hasn't helped. And just because I may feel just fine today doesn't mean I'll still feel fine tomorrow or months down the road when it all catches up to me. And I acknowledge the day we have a child of our own may be a day of reckoning.

The blaming finger can be pointed in various directions here, but here's my take on the situation: We're producing a fantastic game right now, but in times past, it seemed to have little in the way of direction or conception. If it did indeed have these attributes, they were largely lost upon the majority of the development team, and many of us had little knowledge of what kind of product we were actually trying to put out there. I think we all do now, but it's in no thanks at all to any concerted effort whatsoever to actively motivate the team and evangelize the product to the developers themselves. I do believe that many of us didn't see how what we were doing could be important when we didn't really know what kind of game we're supposed to be making. Ultimately, I think we've all sort of "figured it out" and things started falling into place, but at the same time, I think this collective realization has put the pressure on all of us, management included, that we really need to nail this thing and get it out on shelves on time. There were extended core hours, frustrations rising, and then a false promise of the dropping of mandatory Saturdays, which seemed to last for about three such Saturdays.

But, perhaps an unsung root of the problems we face is a technical one, where many hours of productivity are wasted by everyone just waiting to get a build of the game that actually runs every time we need to update anything. Without getting too technical, lets just say that most of us are not happy with our build pipeline, and there are hundreds of errors and showstoppers that slow the game iteration down very significantly, in addition to many thousands of warnings that developers have littered about in both the build pipeline and the actual game itself for what we would assume are valid reasons, that pop up and nag, but there seems to be little effort on the part of the technical leads to enforce that these warnings be addressed. This I believe has brought us to where we are today. If these problems were minimized from the start, the game would have progressed much more quickly, and there would not be this frantic realization of being behind schedule and over-budget in the last year of development.

What Bitter PartyOfMany says about the "boys in New York" is also spot-on. For years there seemed to be indifference on the part of the big wigs everybody knows are really in charge, and the product never seemed to have true leaders. Directives come from people local to San Diego, when months later they are overridden arbitrarily by New York folks and work gets re-done, until they lose interest again or change their minds. Then of course we suffer their sustained scrutiny and sudden interest in what we're doing only in the last few months of development, and the weight and power they command often intimidates many of the leads at R* SD to the point where they may unnecessarily impose unreasonable expectations on the development team for the completion of a particular feature or bug fix, which may often not be universally agreed upon as particularly important.

When it's all said and done, I love my studio, I love my game, and I love my team, and I wouldn't give this up for the world. I just would like to see things improve for all of us, including our management.

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