Former EA dev: 'I felt like a factory worker'

World of Goo cocreator Ron Carmel says he left publisher because he felt company was a "machine" that curbed his creativity.

Former Electronic Arts developer and World of Goo co-creator Ron Carmel has explained why he chose to leave the company in 2006, likening the firm to that of a factory.

"The reason I left EA was because it really was a machine," Carmel said at the XOXO Festival recently (via Kill Screen). "There was the designer/producer who came up with the design document--it’s literally this packet of paper that’s 50 pages deep--and it was handed to me."

Carmel said he was not able to flex his creative muscle in any significant way while at EA, noting that he felt like he had a "lot to contribute to the design process," but was not in a position to do so.

"It was my role as an engineer to implement the design document, and so I could steer it maybe one or two degrees in any direction," he said. "But I really felt like I was a factory worker more than a creative worker."

Carmel added that factory-like conditions are not exclusive to EA. Rather, such conditions are a foregone conclusion at any large company, he said.

"It's inevitable that when you're at a large company, you are a specialized tool," he said. "That’s kind of how the work gets divided. It’s the exact opposite when you go off and do something independently in a small team."

An EA representative was not immediately available to comment.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

0 comments
Kastigador
Kastigador

A lot of the larger more creation/innovation reliant companies combat this pitfall by encouraging employees to pursue their own ideas/projects by allowing them to allocate a significant amount of work time weekly towards whatever their heart desires. Guess EA doesn't do that and, frankly, it shows.

Wreexx
Wreexx

Okay so NOW we actually notice that... -_-

_Silent_Jay_
_Silent_Jay_

So, wait, he's complaining that as a junior developer, he didn't have the decision making power of a senior developer?  Wow, what an ass.  His team must have been glad to see him go.

JulyAeon
JulyAeon

let's face it, the decline of quality in most follow up games in the last few years has been noticeably painful. costumers have noticed and complained, but art integrity has prevailed.........loss of money that could have been earened has been blamed on listening to the fan's wishes.......moronic marketing......i feel very sorry for the real creative people who are being stifled by tickbox work environments.

franzito
franzito

Having your creativity hindered is the most terrible thing that can happen to creative people, which pretty much means that the devs and publishers today aren't looking for them! They want people to work in an assembly-line environment, quietly and compliant...

rollerloller
rollerloller

If only corporate work could take as long as you wish so you could get something done whenever you're feeling creative, the fans aren't hot-headed impatient brats, and the funds are unlimited coming from good will billionaires who aren't interested in making profits off of their investments.

 

On the other hand, EA just isn't some hippie anarcho-capitalist gaming utopia like Valve or something.

tightwad34
tightwad34

So this guy is helping to justify what everyone on the internet(gaming sites at least) have been spouting? Will it change a thing at EA, of course not. Greed rules and that is one reason I have almost lost all faith in humanity. Not because everyone is greedy, but because the people in power are.

keyb0red
keyb0red

Maybe spend a few days in a **REAL**  factory in China, then go moan about how they're stfiling your awesomeness

 

seriosly though -- who's heard of world of goo???

DD-Plus
DD-Plus

Not that I am a big fan of EA but why in the world would his "creative input" matter? He stated himself he was an engineer, so naturally he shouldn't be "inputting into the design process". That is not his job, if everyone tries to have their ideas put into a game then its going to turn out to be a mess.

 

His job is to implement the ideas of what the design team has come up with in the best way possible, simple as that. He shouldnt have a real bearing on the overall design of the game, what the story should be, how the art design looks like, etc. Everyone cannot be the Director on a game, can you imagine if the guy in charge of lighting stated that he didnt think the script was good enough?

 

Now this is not to say that all input is bad, the guy in charge of lighting may bring up a legitimate point that can be addressed. However, his primary job is to set up the lighting, sure he can make suggestions here and there but it isnt his say on how the overall product should turn out.

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

No surprise. I left my previous job too as I felt more of a glorified email router than a real application developer.

 

*sob* They made me work on Lotus Domino... *sob*

fastfoodjunkie
fastfoodjunkie

well, you gotta respect yourself enough that you have to quit if something doesn't make you happy anymore...

fanaticsm
fanaticsm

awwwwww.....let me give u a hug.........

EpycWyn
EpycWyn

At least the end of the world will get rid of EA. Valve is like, invincible so it will just watch and laugh while saving all of humanity from certain destruction in Half Life 3.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

EA continue to damage the industry.

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

Clearly the world of Goo maker is just sitting on the next Halo. Now he's free to make it. Also, why the pic of a Young Andrew Dice Clay?

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

Man, sounds like this guy was at a job!!!! God forbid EA actually would want their games to be made in a timely manner. 

 

Draconous79
Draconous79

Well he just described about 90% of all software engineering jobs in large corporations. The only way you can have true creativity is if you go indy or work for a small company... but then you can kiss your job security goodbye....your choice really...

drgribb
drgribb

 @rollerloller anarcho-capitalist??  do you even read the words coming out of your mouth? lol

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

 @blue_francis14 Uh, what is Lotus Domino?  Not that I don't think you don't have a valid point.  App developers should be making apps, not passing around e-mails.

StinkySkunkGirl
StinkySkunkGirl

 @Husko I was not a fan of World of Goo. Despite being enamored by physics and puzzles, it just didn't appeal to me much. However, it was not a bad game by any means, and, whether the end product is wholly original GOTY material, an uninspired, bug-ridden hodge-podge of a flop, or something in-between, having the freedom to develop the game that you want to develop is never a bad thing.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

 @Husko Not a lot of people can make World of Goo, it takes a certain undeniable genius.

t3hninj4
t3hninj4

 @Husko World of Goo had brilliant, extremely clever puzzle  design, great (if perhaps overly Burton-esque) art, and was often laugh-out-loud funny. There are a lot of so-so "me too!" physics games, but that doesn't somehow make World of Goo anything less than great. It's generally considered to be a great game, and the average metacritic score is 94. Note to internet commentators: being a cynical asshole doesn't automatically make you right.

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Husko Yeah but World of Goo was such a ground breaking game because. Umm. Because of the uh. Oh what was it again - you know. It did that new thing, with Goo. You built things, like bridges. And it was cheap. And uh. Well, I can't remember why exactly but we all know that it was a really important game. 

megakick
megakick

 @BeateDrabing

 Yep he left job in a industry where publishers like to lay off employess. I guess he over look lack of steady work? What exaclty is his position? Developed that can mean many things? Developer is the same as Director? The company is huge if everybody was able to do what they like it would be chaos. Maybe Ron should start his on company.

megakick
megakick

 @Draconous79

 

Looking how the industry is ATM there is no job security all i read about is lay-offs.

If you go on your own and you are wanted you will never run out of work.

rollerloller
rollerloller

 @drgribb I can read the computer-processed electronic signals sent from the key matrix if that's what you mean. Now explain what's so enigmatic and unfathomable about the hyphenated word you emphasized on.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@Gelugon_baat I think you may have me confused with someone else. I've been quite consistent in my disapproval of the business practises of EA.

Draconous79
Draconous79

 @Gelugon_baatWhoa!!!! I never said what was better or worse and I never mentioned financial security. There is a big difference between financial and job security.  I was just stating that the situation described is pretty normal across the it industry when dealing with large corporations.

 

 I fully agree that some people... myself included... would love to go indy given the opportunity. Its all down to personal preference.

 

rollerloller
rollerloller

 @TheLamaKnows  First of all, you seem rather shocked that I introduced a phrase outside of mainstream Keynesian economics 101 courses, so just look up Ludwig von Mises for an understanding of anarcho-capitalism. Second, it was a tongue-in-cheek take on Valve vs EA by making Valve sound like something completely different from the rest of corporate money-grubbing game industry, since they seem to be more popular among hardcore PC gamers, and EA don't. Since that flew over your head like llama spit, it was to be expected that angry accusations and a torrent of "fact"-diarrhea would follow. 

 

PS. This shit is old. PM or something

TheLamaKnows
TheLamaKnows

 @rollerloller  @drgribb Other than that they are mutually exclusive? I know it sounds like a good soundbyte on the conspiracy websites, but there is no such thing as Anarcho-Capitalist. To have trade, rather than simple robbery, requires the stability of gov't and rule of law. You need a standard currency, protection from both theft and tax burdens. One needs borders to be established to even create a trade route.

It's a childish term to attempt to begin with. Get off the tinfoil hat conspiracy websites, more importantly, quit trying to sound intelligent by stealing important sounding words from their litany of stupid. It only shows a general lack of understanding of the definitions of words you are using.

Feedbackula has another round of ammo

96augment
96augment

 @Gelugon_baat  Uh, ok.

 

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, I liked that movie. I haven't seen it in so long. I want to watch it again.

96augment
96augment

 @Gelugon_baat  You keep saying that word. Pedantic.  So, if I I understand correctly, you're saying @davedrastic is annoyingly smart and obsessed with details. And if you answer back, you will be annoyingly smart? Am I getting it right?

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat 

 

I mentioned that we are not all mind readers because when you choose not to make your points clear, which you seem to acknowledge is something that you are happy to do, then you are putting readers in the position in which they must guess what you mean, unless, that is they are mind readers. 

 

No, coherent and long-winded are entirely different concepts. Not mutually exclusive, but entirely different. 

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat 

 

If you want people to understand your opinion, your point, then yes, you do need to offer a coherent explanation. We're not all mind readers. 

 

If you just want to offer a monologue, then no, you don't need to offer an explanation. 

 

Most people would agree that discussions work best when people discuss in a coherent manner. 

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat All your doing is criticizing my comments without offering any explanation to support your opinion. 

 

Which is really the same as the issue I was raising. You fail to make your points clear. 

 

What is clear is that you want to be critical of commentors, such as Draconous79  when you make such snide comments as " if you have not noticed already.",and you want to be openly insulting towards commentors like myself, but you don't want to discuss criticism of your own comments or writing style - even when it appears that you agree with such criticism. 

 

That's a shame. 

 

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat Would you be? You think that clarifying your comments will make you pedantic? Is that a general concern, or a concern that is specific only to this situation? 

 

I think that if you think that elucidating on your point will make you appear pedantic, then you probably think that your point is pedantic. 

 

Do you think that your point is pedantic?

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat Needless? Dramatizing? 

 

Well, sure this whole discussion is needless and unnecessary. I can't argue with that. Having said that I clearly felt that making the suggestion would be of benefit to yourself and those that choose to read and/or engage with your comments. 

 

I don't think my used of the terms "overly cryptic" or "the Riddler" are particularly dramatizing - certainly not as much as using the word "dramatizing". I believe the way I used those terms were an effective illustration of my point. Which, if I decipher your response correctly, you appear to agree with. 

 

And no, when you refer to the following statement:- "The only way you can have true creativity is if you go indy or work for a small company... but then you can kiss your job security goodbye" - then "going indy" is not the latter. 

 

Even if it were the latter, which it isn't, but if it were it would still not be clear to everyone that that was the concept within the statement that you were referring to. 

 

If we were to deduce that you weren't referring to job security, which I personally failed to do, then the latter would be "a small company" - and not "go indy" as you now claim. 

 

Oh you can blame me for not correctly understanding your unclear comments if you like. I personally think it would aid readers, and your ability to present coherent comments, if you were to put a little more effort into elucidating your points. 

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Gelugon_baat Regardless of what the former was, the latter was not going indy. Whatever. I'm suggesting that you put a little more effort into making your comments clear and understandable. Don't make your comments overly critptic - its not that fun for people to have to decipher what your point is. You're not the Riddler.

davedrastic
davedrastic

 @Draconous79  @Gelugon_baat I think by "the latter" she was referringh to job security. But then I really don't know because it's not at all clear what she actually means.