CD Projekt Red orders mandatory crunch for employees ahead of Cyberpunk 2077 launch

CriticalGaming

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I truly have to wonder if you've ever worked a job in your life or even seen someone working a job. Your lack of perspective and empathy is honestly astonishing; a feral child found in the woods would have a better understanding.
The fact that you even ask that shows me that youve never worked in the real world where shit happens. If you exist in a reality in which working a 6 day work week temporarily is considered a form of blasphemy then youve clearly never had to put in any extra effort in anything youve ever done in life.

If you can honestly say youve never been told to work overtime in your life means you havent worked in a real environment before.

Freelance writers who dont report to actual bosses work extra hours on the regular for gods sake.

Yahtzee makes video games, writes books, plays and reviews a game every week, streams and also makes a debate podcast/show. You think he doesnt kill himself with over work sometimes? Real people who need to keep food on the table work extra hours.

In a perfect world we would all only ever work 20 hours a week and make more than enough to support our lives. But that isnt the world we live in so stop pretending like we do.
 

CriticalGaming

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The reason that we are talking about crunch is because crunch is not actually a *sometimes* thing. Crunch is an always thing and should not be.
Excessivw crunch is an issue. But predictable and short term crunch ahould not be viewed as any sort of big deal. 6 weeks of having to work an extra day is nothing. And the studio probably offers benefits to help ease the strain on people.

Again when crunch happened with Activison they paid for all my meals and all my transportation to and from. It was no big deal and ended up being some of the least stressful moments because the extra cash helped pay more than 1 bill when i needed it.

These days i work as a sales manager and twice a year i have to do a train of trade shows that eat my weekends and i not only have to handle a booth but also handle business back at the office making me juggle 12 hour days for up to 21 days straight. However i know exactly when these periods occur every year and i prepare ahead of time for them. Because they are simply part of my career. Again my company also pays me extra as well as covers all expenses for these periods which results in a big chunk of extra cash in my pocket for it.
 

Baffle

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Wrong, any number of things can go wrong. Especially in Game development. Unforeseen bugs, unforseen things can break when other bugs are fixed. Just like unforeseen problems can arise in many other projects, construction projects can have weather cause issues or industrial accidents can set back projections.
Given how frequently those things go wrong, it's laughable to say that being unable to deal with them isn't a failure of management. Those are literally all failures of management (construction contracts have weather clauses and insurance built in; industrial accidents are absolutely failures of management -- they occur because someone fucked up/cut corners).

I'd give a company a pass for not being able to predict a global pandemic. But a game company unable to predict bugs in their game? Give me a minute while I shit out my kidneys from laughing so hard.
 

Baffle

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The fact that you even ask that shows me that youve never worked in the real world where shit happens. If you exist in a reality in which working a 6 day work week temporarily is considered a form of blasphemy then youve clearly never had to put in any extra effort in anything youve ever done in life.

If you can honestly say youve never been told to work overtime in your life means you havent worked in a real environment before.
I run my own business. I work seven days a week for months on end sometimes (though I spend a lot of that time on Twitter), and I make enough money doing it to justify that. Because I choose to do it. This also is a failure of management because I'm not very good at handling my own workload (that is, I just keep taking on more and more work).

If I had underlings and I said to them 'Sorry lads, cancel your weekend plans for the next six weeks, I've taken on too much work again (shut up Tom, I don't care if it's her birthday)' I would be a shit boss. Following up with 'Don't worry lads, I'm going to pay you' as though that was in some way magnanimous, I'd be a colossal prick as well as being a shit boss. It is music to my extremely large ears to know there are people out there prepared to eat my shit just to get paid and maybe have a pizza thrown in.

Back when I was an employee (oh, those lazy, hazy, halcyon days), I was frequently asked if I could do overtime in busy times. If I wanted to, I could; but no obligation. It's an important distinction.

Work to live, don't live to work. Trite, but important.
 

Gethsemani

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Back when I was an employee (oh, those lazy, hazy, halcyon days), I was frequently asked if I could do overtime in busy times. If I wanted to, I could; but no obligation. It's an important distinction.
This. There's a massive distinction between choosing to do overtime and being told it is mandatory and you just have to suck it up. There's also a difference between well-defined bursts of overtime ("9-5 every saturday for the next three weeks") and vaguely defined overtime ("At least 9-5 every Saturday for at least the coming six weeks, maybe more if there's need"). CDPRs employees haven't had the choice, they are being told that they are now crunching at least until release, and if the release is buggy you can bet that they'll crunch for a while longer to ensure a quick patching process post-release.
 

CriticalGaming

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I run my own business. I work seven days a week for months on end sometimes (though I spend a lot of that time on Twitter), and I make enough money doing it to justify that. Because I choose to do it. This also is a failure of management because I'm not very good at handling my own workload (that is, I just keep taking on more and more work).

If I had underlings and I said to them 'Sorry lads, cancel your weekend plans for the next six weeks, I've taken on too much work again (shut up Tom, I don't care if it's her birthday)' I would be a shit boss. Following up with 'Don't worry lads, I'm going to pay you' as though that was in some way magnanimous, I'd be a colossal prick as well as being a shit boss. It is music to my extremely large ears to know there are people out there prepared to eat my shit just to get paid and maybe have a pizza thrown in.

Back when I was an employee (oh, those lazy, hazy, halcyon days), I was frequently asked if I could do overtime in busy times. If I wanted to, I could; but no obligation. It's an important distinction.

Work to live, don't live to work. Trite, but important.
The problem with your point here is that you imply you are springing you extra work out of nowhere.

In the case of video games, they know the crunch is coming months in advance. It isnt a surprise put on them. The developers are usually very very transparent about when crunch is going to happen. So it isnt like it pops out of nowhere for them.

Given how frequently those things go wrong, it's laughable to say that being unable to deal with them isn't a failure of management. Those are literally all failures of management (construction contracts have weather clauses and insurance built in; industrial accidents are absolutely failures of management -- they occur because someone fucked up/cut corners).

I'd give a company a pass for not being able to predict a global pandemic. But a game company unable to predict bugs in their game? Give me a minute while I shit out my kidneys from laughing so hard.
You dont understand how coding works.

I have worked on many games in ahich the devoloper fixes a fairly simple bug that causes major issues somewhere else in the code. Like fixing a small lighting bug in one area that cause the rest of the lighting in the game to break. Or fixing a animation glitch only to cause the game to crash somewhere else.

With a game the size of cyberpunk there is a lot of shit to check. And you can bet your ass if they dont do it and the game comes out people will be upset.

"Well the public insisted we didnt crunch so we didnt have time to make sure the last bug fixes didnt break the game. We are continuing to work normal hours to fix the game and expect to have a patch available in 6-7 weeks." I can see the statement now.

Every single game you have ever played since at least 2004 has had a crunch period behind it. And what CDPR is doing for Cyberpunk is very very minor.

Now i will defend this type of crunch because it is predictable and short term.

I will not defend the bullshit Rockstar reportedly did for RDR2. There is a difference between a short span of 6 day work weeks and a long span of 100 hour weeks. We should absolutely be against egregious crunch.

But overtime is always a factor at almost any workplace and it is important to split the difference between what is reasonable OT and what isnt.
 

Baffle

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You dont understand how coding works.

I have worked on many games in ahich the devoloper fixes a fairly simple bug that causes major issues somewhere else in the code. Like fixing a small lighting bug in one area that cause the rest of the lighting in the game to break. Or fixing a animation glitch only to cause the game to crash somewhere else.
Right, you know these things are going to happen -- it's so common you've worked on many games in which it does; it is, in fact, a predictable occurrence. So it would be good management to schedule for this. Right?
 

CriticalGaming

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Right, you know these things are going to happen -- it's so common you've worked on many games in which it does; it is, in fact, a predictable occurrence. So it would be good management to schedule for this. Right?
Again, that's not how coding works. Did you even read what I said?

At some point the company has to make a decision about a release date, things are set in motion from production of physical copies, to marketing material, and distribution logistics. So as with most businesses there becomes a hard deadline. This project MUST be finished by X date. So near the end of that deadline, the developers will put in extra hours to make sure that the product is as good as it can be before it goes out the door, which includes when extra shit breaks that wasn't supposed to.

This isn't rocket science. I don't understand what drives people nuts about this. It's like people are so afraid of working, that they are literally mad about other people having to work.
 

Baffle

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Again, that's not how coding works. Did you even read what I said?

At some point the company has to make a decision about a release date, things are set in motion from production of physical copies, to marketing material, and distribution logistics. So as with most businesses there becomes a hard deadline. This project MUST be finished by X date. So near the end of that deadline, the developers will put in extra hours to make sure that the product is as good as it can be before it goes out the door, which includes when extra shit breaks that wasn't supposed to.

This isn't rocket science. I don't understand what drives people nuts about this. It's like people are so afraid of working, that they are literally mad about other people having to work.
So what you're saying is that they chose the wrong release date and scheduled production poorly. How is that not a management mistake?
 

CriticalGaming

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So what you're saying is that they chose the wrong release date and scheduled production poorly. How is that not a management mistake?
What!? Dude they PUSHED the release back twice! More than twice I think actually. But no company can delay a project forever, and at some point they have to enforce a final deadline. And whatever it takes to get it out the door by that final date is what has to happen. Companies do not survive by not delivering on deadlines.

When you contract someone to remodel a room in your house, you expect it done by a certain date. If materials get held up, if some sort of building issue occurs, if anything happens that delays completion, are you not pissed? This usually results in a discount on your construction for a failure to deliver on time.

In the bigger business world, contracts are lost because of these failures, so people put in extra time on these projects to make sure things get done. Especially those who work on compensation for project completion.

With Cyberpunk, this is a game that had years and years of production time. This isn't a scheduling issue. This is an investment deadline. That's all.

But you know what? You go ahead and not buy the game.

Make sure you throw out every videogame you've ever played as well.

Except Digital Homicide games, you can keep those because they only take 6 hours to make.
 

Baffle

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What!? Dude they PUSHED the release back twice! More than twice I think actually. But no company can delay a project forever, and at some point they have to enforce a final deadline. And whatever it takes to get it out the door by that final date is what has to happen. Companies do not survive by not delivering on deadlines.
So ... you're telling me they got it wrong multiple times? Who's side are you on here?!

When you contract someone to remodel a room in your house, you expect it done by a certain date. If materials get held up, if some sort of building issue occurs, if anything happens that delays completion, are you not pissed? This usually results in a discount on your construction for a failure to deliver on time.
You ... think I should lock my builder in the room until he finishes the job? I'm pretty familiar with building contracts, and they have plenty of clauses to deal with known possibilities (asbestos, subsidence related to ground works, hidden drains and cables, etc. which would be analogous to bugs in a video game), none of which involve enforced overtime or locking my builder in a room until he's done. It's usually financial penalties on large-scale projects, but that doesn't apply here because we (the players) haven't contracted CDPR to produce the game -- people aren't going to not buy it because it's later than expected.

Enjoy your boots.

Edit: I said GOG, not CDPR.
 
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Gethsemani

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Every single game you have ever played since at least 2004 has had a crunch period behind it. And what CDPR is doing for Cyberpunk is very very minor.
Imperator: Rome had a total of one week of voluntary crunch that consisted of up to 3 evenings of overtime in the week leading up to release. That makes CDPRs crunch seem absolutely massive, especially since there are other reports that suggest that at least parts of the development team have been crunching more or less constantly to some degree for almost a year.

What!? Dude they PUSHED the release back twice! More than twice I think actually. But no company can delay a project forever, and at some point they have to enforce a final deadline. And whatever it takes to get it out the door by that final date is what has to happen. Companies do not survive by not delivering on deadlines.
Postponing twice is a clear sign of a badly handled development cycle. This is not a good defense of CDPR but rather more fuel to Baffle's argument.

Now, obviously a game like Cyberpunk 2077 is a massive effort and it is really hard to accurately predict how much time and effort it will take to make it so that's a clear mitigating factor. However, the best way to avoid pushing your project into the zone of multiple delays and choosing between extended crunch or even more delays is to not give a release date too far in advance. Look at how Bethesda has done this with games of similar scope, Fallout 4 was announced half a year prior to release because that was when ZeniMax felt comfortable with how far development had come. You don't do what CDPR did and come out 2,5 years in advance and go "COMING SOON!" when you can't even show a playable alpha and by all accounts don't even have a stable pre-alpha build.

CDPR can not claim that their announcement was fiscally motivated either, since their main money maker is GoG and they, like Blizzard or Valve, can fund development near indefinitely from third party sources. They don't have a publisher (they are the publisher) breathing down their necks and demanding a set deadline, because they are free to set that themselves. Yet they painted themselves into a corner by starting to build hype way too early and the cost of that is paid by their workers having to crunch harder. This is what bad management looks like: making large promises to your customers when you don't know if you'll be able to keep them and then forcing your work force to work harder when it becomes obvious that you over-promised.

At this point it is clear that CP2077 has been a mishandled project from the start (whether it turns out good is still to be seen), what with the multiple delays, the constant shrinkage of features (multiplayer has gone from "probably a release feature" to "will be released at least 1,5 years later" which suggests they don't even have the basics of it down) and a strict control of media access that would set of red flags if it was any other company. For what it is worth, it follows the pattern of TW3 which was also reportedly grossly mismanaged but managed to turn out great on the strength of the development team and in spite of the bad working conditions.
 

Aiddon

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Crunch is bad and crunch is pointless. You don't need to force your employees into seventy hour work weeks to get a game out. And there's no indication that it improves quality. Usually it's just a sign that the studio is an undisciplined mess and its leaders are incompetent.

Furthermore this culture of "Just suck it up!" is bullshit. It's what abusive people use to justify shitty practices despite knowing it just leads to burnout and weakens the company.
 
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CaitSeith

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Also, when people go on about crunch, does everyone else just have visions of developers doing really energetic sit-ups to push the game out quicker?
Not really; although that would make the practice a little healthier than being in front of a computer all day and night.
 

Exley97

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See the problem is the way it's worded. Like the statement is meant to imply that they are forcing people to work weekends and nights on top of the normal 9-5 weekday shifts. But this lacks context and is highly unlikely. What's more likely is that they have a completely different staff working nights and rotating people out for the weekends.

It isn't uncommon for a studio to have people working on a game 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean it's the same people. There are things called shifts, and different people work different shifts. Just like any other business that runs 24 hours a day.

Much like many of these articles, they want you to cast judgement and outrage without knowing the full story or context of the situation.
1. "Highly unlikely"??? You clearly didn't read the story because working a normal week plus one day on the weekened is EXACTLY what Adam Badowski mandated.

2. I'm familiar with "shifts." Thanks.

3. I mean....you're complaining about the lack of context and the "full story" and yet you somehow missed some very important details that are spelled out in the article. Try reading it again. If you want to argue that mandatory crunch for six weeks isn't all that bad, fine! Have at it. But if you're going to claim the reporter (who's arguably the best in the business) is distorting things to generate outrage, then I humbly suggest you read the article first before making accusations like this.
 
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Nick Calandra

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I think the reason Jason gets so much shit is simply down to the fact that he refuses to accept any sort of criticism about his reporting and blocks anyone that even slightly disagrees with him, and from my own personal experience speaking with devs for documentary projects, and I'm not exaggerating, none of them like how he (or formerly Kotaku) reports, and I'm not just talking about people in "management".

A lot of times when he reports on these things, he doesn't show the full picture and it just results in a lot of shit slinging back at the devs, who are already stressed from crunching, who now get to deal with a barrage of people online attacking the game / company they work for. Go ahead and call that bootlicking if you wish, but I'm just speaking from experience from the many stories I've heard from devs when stuff like this happens.

In this case, Jason didn't include any of the Polish labor laws to provide context to what overtime looks like there, which are a heck of a lot stricter than the United States (though in fairness it doesn't really protect contracted workers like it does salaried), he didn't include any of the reasoning for why the project is now not on time (probably COVID related, but we don't know for sure), he didn't include any comments from people actually working there and spoke for them (this is something many devs I've talked to absolutely hate about him), etc.

I was surprised at the lack of detail in this story considering he used a SINGLE source and an email that was sent out. I want to know more details, especially about those that claim they've been crunching for over a year now, which I've heard is an open secret, so that's not good obviously and I'm guessing it's the contracted workers and not those that are salaried.

I'm glad he reports on this stuff, and it's definitely helped to make changes in SOME studios that may have not happened otherwise, but he makes himself part of the story and I think that's where things just get way out of hand and social media gets incredibly toxic.
 

SilentPony

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I mean does anyone think this game will live up to the hype? Even if CDPR's reputation is slightly better than God awful, anyone remember the first 2 Witcher games and how clunky, buggy and cringe they were? Even if I personally didn't like Witcher 3 I'll admit after years of trying they made a good game. I'm worried Cyberpunk will be the Witcher 1 of this new IP - boring, clunky, buggy, awkward, and self hyped to No Man Sky's heights.
 
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CriticalGaming

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I think the reason Jason gets so much shit is simply down to the fact that he refuses to accept any sort of criticism about his reporting and blocks anyone that even slightly disagrees with him, and from my own personal experience speaking with devs for documentary projects, and I'm not exaggerating, none of them like how he (or formerly Kotaku) reports, and I'm not just talking about people in "management".

A lot of times when he reports on these things, he doesn't show the full picture and it just results in a lot of shit slinging back at the devs, who are already stressed from crunching, who now get to deal with a barrage of people online attacking the game / company they work for. Go ahead and call that bootlicking if you wish, but I'm just speaking from experience from the many stories I've heard from devs when stuff like this happens.

In this case, Jason didn't include any of the Polish labor laws to provide context to what overtime looks like there, which are a heck of a lot stricter than the United States (though in fairness it doesn't really protect contracted workers like it does salaried), he didn't include any of the reasoning for why the project is now not on time (probably COVID related, but we don't know for sure), he didn't include any comments from people actually working there and spoke for them (this is something many devs I've talked to absolutely hate about him), etc.

I was surprised at the lack of detail in this story considering he used a SINGLE source and an email that was sent out. I want to know more details, especially about those that claim they've been crunching for over a year now, which I've heard is an open secret, so that's not good obviously and I'm guessing it's the contracted workers and not those that are salaried.

I'm glad he reports on this stuff, and it's definitely helped to make changes in SOME studios that may have not happened otherwise, but he makes himself part of the story and I think that's where things just get way out of hand and social media gets incredibly toxic.
That's part of the issue, the stories themselves are always incredibly bias to paint a narrative that working a Crunch period for any reason is the equivalent of sweat shop work. And it's obviously done to rile people up for clicks. Yet completely circumvents the fact that overtime and mandatory overtime is the reality of the working world from time to time.

The articles always like to emphasize how stressed the developers are, but they would be stressed regardless of the overtime because finishing a project you've been working on is always stressful. Remember the stress of double checking your papers in college right before the due date? Combing over the paper late into the night just to make sure you didn't miss anything. Or in some people's case, waiting until the night before it was due and pulling all-nighters to get it done. Deadlines are deadlines and in the real world sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get it done.

Now people can discuss the merits of overtime all they want. But even in the best scenario it isn't a workplace situation that can be 100% avoided even if your management was the best fucking management on the planet.

At very least this is Crunch that they knew was coming. And it isn't even a "bad" crunch the way we've seen reported from other companies (I.E. the Rockstar example I've already pointed out).

I think the reason why people get so butthurt about it is, like you said, the article does a bad job of painting the real situation and is written like a knee jerk reaction based off a minimal source for the sole reason of making it all look bad.
 

Exley97

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Nick, I understand your argument, and having worked as a games reporter in the past, I know how a lot folks feel about him in the industry -- upper management and rank & file (I still have friends and contacts in the business). But I disagree with your take on the article. It DOES mention Polish labor laws, and it mentions the bonuses the employees will get too. So I don't think it's speaking for employees as a good thing or a bad thing for them. As for the reasons the project is not on time...does that even matter? And is CD Projekt even going to say? I mean, Badowski released a statement on Twitter about the decision and said it was the only way -- but he didn't explanin why. HE is the one who should be explaining the situation, not Schreier. I think the important issue is that the company said they were going to change, promised to not do crunch, and then...turned around and did it. That people are getting pissed at him seems a little odd.

And I don't think criticizing a weak take from Colin Moriarty is an example of making himself part of the story or spreading toxicity on social media.
EDIT: Scratching that per your follow up post. I disagree with you, but I understand your point.
 
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