Red Dead Redemption 2 Devs Talk Crunch And Working Conditions
"We were told not to sugarcoat anything."
Red Dead Redemption 2 for PS4 and Xbox One is Rockstar's next giant open world epic, but its impending release has been marred this week by a controversy about working conditions at the celebrated developer. In an interview, co-founder Dan Houser seemed to imply that the studio had undergone a hard "crunch" cycle with 100-hour work weeks. He quickly clarified that he was only referring to a handful of senior members of the writing team, including himself. But in a continued effort to clear the air, the studio is now encouraging employees to speak for themselves.
Tools programmer Vivianne Langdon spoke extensively in a Twitter thread about her own experiences. She said she's never worked more than 50 hours in a week, that such overtime was her choice when she was "in the zone" on solving a tricky problem, and that she was compensated for it with overtime pay. She stressed that she's not being compensated for making these disclosures, and also cautioned that her experiences may not be universal.
Another employee, interior artist Miriam Bellard, has been retweeting several employees who say they do not feel overworked, and expressing frustration with the controversy.
Seeing people's responses to the "100 hours" articles has been so disheartening and honestly quite upsetting to read. It's been horrible seeing friends and fellow devs sharing posts that don't reflect the current situation and telling others to boycott the game.— Lucy 🎃 (@lucyofrivia) October 18, 2018
Just wanted to point out that I was never asked to work anything near a 100 hour work week in the 18+ years I have been working at Rockstar. Overtime? At my own discretion, yes.— Rich Rosado (@RichRosado) October 18, 2018
Some employees have pointed out that Rockstar has had difficult crunch periods in the past, but that the studio has made real strides in recent years to reduce the impact of these long overtime hours.
It is getting better, but it still absolutely happens. Normal crunch for me nowadays is more like 50-55 hours, and I've not personally had it as bad as other colleagues I know. I have several friends who have recently worked until the early hours of the morning many times.— Hall🎃wain (@Ploddish) October 18, 2018
And others have stated that they were encouraged to speak openly and honestly.
Nope. We were told we could say good and bad things and not to sugarcoat anything.— Wesley Mackinder (@WesleyMackinder) October 18, 2018
On the whole, the impression given by Rockstar employees speaking on social media is that it has gone into overtime, but within reason--not the 100-hour overtime some people interpreted Houser's initial comments as. On the other hand, employees with less positive things to say may feel apprehensive about coming forward on social media, regardless of Rockstar's encouragement to be honest.
This all comes alongside the official launch trailer, and very soon you'll be able to begin pre-loading the game through the PlayStation and Xbox digital stores. Red Dead Redemption 2 launches for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26. Its online mode, Red Dead Online, will follow in November.
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