[TRENCHES] Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - Guest Art: Mackenzie Schubert



  • Finnish_LineFinnish_Line Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Two new tales!

    Pure Incompetence
    01/20/2015 - Anonymous

    I have a ton of stories about mismanagement. Here’s a good introduction to the type of leadership my company has had for the last few years.

    I work at a fairly well known game distributor.

    The company was failing, so the board fired the exec team (founders), and hired a new crew to come in and clean up. The new CEO leaves within 2 months, so the COO gets bumped up to his position. To note: He and those brought in with him are from an internet services company that had layoffs, and we are a gaming company. He brings in more execs, with zero experience in this field, at 6 figure salaries (mostly people from his old company) while firing hundreds and shutting down offices worldwide.

    So, in short, not a good time.

    We have a Holiday Party at a bar shortly into his and his cronies tenure. This fucking guy stops the music and declares that it’s time to reward some of the people for their hard work. Fair enough, some of these people have watched good friends get laid off and many had been there for 5, 7, 12 years.

    Each award he announces is to one of his cronies, and it’s basically some dumb certificate of excellence for “putting up with all the crap” and “fixing the mess we’ve inherited”. Nice slap in the face to everyone there.

    Later that year, while wages are still frozen and layoffs are still going on, two of the new execs take an important client to dinner. Mind you, at the time we were having financial hardships that were causing payments to be made late to the clients.

    So it’s these two execs and two “lower ranking” people that handle the day-to-day with the client, out at a bar with reps from the client.

    The two execs get ragingly drunk and start talking about how whenever they’re upset they just “buy a new car” and they feel fucking excellent after. They even then suggest to the other two employees with them to “show the client a good time. “Tomorrow you should take them shopping at ‘x’”. “X” is one of the most expensive areas in the world to shop. The client and the employees there were mortified.

    We soon took to calling our company business as “executive welfare”, as it became a place to hire execs with no experience (one even admits to never having worked in e-commerce . . .and he’s in charge of product development at our e-commerce company), give them huge salaries with guarantees in case we let them go (so we can’t let them go) while freezing wages and laying off everyone else.


    Serendipity for me, Sorry for you
    01/22/2015 - Anonymous

    I accepted a job that was supposed to be 40% customer service (because “everyone starts there” and “it gets you familiar with how our product works”) and 60% development work. I was supposed to move up to full-time in the development team within a year (“or two, tops”). It was in the middle of the depression and jobs were scarce, so I took it. One nice thing, this job DID pay well.

    Needless to say, the development side of things quickly disappeared, and I was working 100% customer service, with all the idiotic phone calls that entails. Still, the pay was good.

    We’d been extremely shorthanded, but our company added an auxiliary location in a different US city so that if our phone system went down, we’d still have support up. The people they added doubled the size of our department, so we were starting to feel pretty good.

    In early November, I flew out to spend time with my boyfriend, and came back super-excited because we got engaged that weekend. I planned to quit my job before too long and move out to join him after the wedding.

    Two days later, each of the members in our local department got called in for meetings. Turns out, the auxiliary department wasn’t so auxiliary… they were going to take over our jobs, and our entire department was laid off, effective the end of the year.

    I’m pretty sure the HR person who was trying to “break the news gently,” was a bit confused by my reaction, as I was actually ecstatic about being let go. Between the severance pay, my savings, and the unemployment compensation, I had enough funds to last until my wedding. (The other members of my team were not so lucky, but our boss let them take time off to make it to interviews for other jobs, some were hired before the end of the year.)

    But since the layoff didn’t take effect for another 6 weeks, that also meant that we had to spend the next month and a half still working with (and training) our direct replacements. Who, by the way, had only worked for a couple of months and were scared stiff of taking over the entire department.

    Did I mention we had ZERO documentation? Almost every issue was dealt with by personal familiarity with the quirks of the system, or by asking one of the senior members of the team how to handle it. And my team had all of that undocumented knowledge in their heads when they left the company. We did our best to help out the new guys, as it wasn’t their fault. But there is only so much you can do in that little time…

    The last week, we let them handle everything on their own, to simulate what would happen when we left.

    Poor, poor replacements…

    Finnish_Line on
  • SkunkapeSkunkape Registered User regular
    When she said " The Depression" I was thinking , they cannot mean the Great Depression. I actually got excited to think that someone who lived through the Great Depression had a story to share on here. Sadly I realized that was not the case, but I am still trying to figure out what time frame she is calling "The Depression"

  • Finnish_LineFinnish_Line Registered User regular

  • BrettxPWBrettxPW Registered User regular
    Maybe meant to say "recession"? Makes a lot more sense.

  • Finnish_LineFinnish_Line Registered User regular
    Why is this thread on page 3?

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    BrettxPW wrote: »
    Maybe meant to say "recession"? Makes a lot more sense.
    The difference between a recession and depression is one of semantics; a depression is basically a large recession. When it's known as "The Great Recession," there's a bit of an inkling that the reason it wasn't called a depression is because recession doesn't sound as bad.
    Why is this thread on page 3?
    Lots of tales!

  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    It's just sad, so many unanswered questions remain in the story :/

    Perhaps it's time for a new Strip Search? Winner takes over the trenches?
    Maybe more appropriately, loser takes over the Trenches.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    New tale today:
    QA Bug Detective
    01/27/2015 - Anonymous

    Dear Share Your Tale,

    It is an ego thing. Hopes, dreams, expectations. Developers learn that the gaming industry isn’t what they expected. It’s all math calculations and deadlines from the higher ups. I used to want to be a QA for the gaming industry, but I’ve learned that QAing, the business as it is now, is just not right. Developers will ask if it’s in scope of the project: If not, bugger off.

    It’s not different from the film industry. I’d know. I worked as an editor and a screenwriter: But I’ve found myself in the position of a QA for a survey company. It’s not gaming, but I still put in 12+ hours a day to do my best.

    Every day I feel like I’m about to lose my job, I’m a single QA to a project that involves 10 developers. Every day is a regression test and THEN test the new add-on. (Automated testing is slowly being constructed) I was originally a contractor for the company, moved to a salary position. Not what I expected, my voice CRACKED when that happened.

    Every company operates differently: You’ve got your usual industry standard that works off fear of people afraid to get fired. Then you’ve got the small fries of people who dropped out of college and wanted to hit their dreams running. Their inspiration will fuel those under them because they will always throw themselves in the trenches.

    Our CEO still takes up customer support calls if we’re short on man-power, stays up late to help the development team to hit their 7 day deadline for a major release. The company’s belief is to put in over 100%. If a customer asks for something, we’ll give it to them and go steps further that’d take them off guard.

    I’m the QA that checks out the stories to make sure the fixes work out and do not break anything else along the way.

    We started adopting the “Open book” method, where people could voice their opinions anonymously. It backfires when there’s only 1 QA. I stood up and said “I’m proud of all the code you put out and how fast you guys react, but I will watch your back. You are proud of what you do, but as a QA, it’s my job to make sure it’s PERFECT. I’m psyched to see what you push out. BUT I will cover your mother f***ing a**es to make sure it’s perfect. You can shrug me off and say it’s out of scope, or you can gain the company’s respect with a 1 line code change. Your choice.”

    QA and Development are in the same pot (even though off the books we’re two different groups), they do not realize this. Once we realize we’re in the same trenches, and both sides put aside their egos, we can push out the best products out there that the world will be psyched to see. The funny thing is this. Brand names are just that: Names. The developers and QA’s create the code and solidify it. Without it, they’re just names.

    I’m now a QA to 10+ developers. When the developers learned we’re all on the same side, things got better. But it comes down to if they’re willing to listen. If they’re not, it’s better to look for people who are willing to. The war is won when the scout says “Tanks with support’s coming.” not with “We can take it with hand guns.”

    Regretfully that gaming industry will always be filled with wide eyed youths who think the brand name will score them the dream they want to live, but for those who are thrown into the industry inside and outside of gaming, where a mistake can cost a company thousands of dollars in a day’s time, we’ve got to stick together and back off when the higher ups ask for unreasonable deadlines and expectations. If they expect us to fail, let them realize the fault of their ways. The best things come out of team work, not out of exploitation.

    This is over 400 words, but I hope it’s a good read. It’s still just me: I still put in 8+ hours a day, but there’s something to it when you’re in the office with the CEO and the developers, for a 60+ employee company, still working late in the building with you. Laughing, joking, and trying to perfect the application that makes you feel appreciated. Sometimes the old system’s and BS needs to be torn down to make way for a better adaptable company. If you speak up and everyone turns their back on you, let them. Get to know those who share your vision. Hard work is not handed to you on a silver platter, it’s done by support, friends, and team work.

    I am a QA; and I am happy with the team I work with.

    Well, that was... something.

    plki76SorceCommander Zoom
  • plki76plki76 Registered User regular
    It was... something.

    It's not actually QA's job to make sure something is perfect. That would be rather unrewarding as things will never be perfect. It's QA's job to determine if something is "good enough".

    Perfect is a trap that many young QA people fall for. They write up their bug reports with righteous indignation and stammer "How could they?!" when something comes back WF or BD. But what they fail to realize is that a product that is never released is less valuable to customers than a product that releases with a few minor bugs.

    I've seen it over and over. People get caught up with issues that will occur only in the most extreme of edge cases and lose sight of the fact that timeliness is a factor of quality.

    A "1 line code change" is:
    1) Probably not actually only one line
    2) Almost certainly not going to cause a gain in respect
    3) Prone to error since it may get checked in without the usual rigor since "it's only a small change!".
    4) Prone to getting silently checked in with another fix (and thus not regression tested) because "I was working in the area.".

    Also, every fix is another regression test which, if you don't have automation, is time you are spending checking code paths that you've already tested as opposed to finding new bugs.

    Anyway, I digress and risk ranting so I'll stop.

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    Why is this thread on page 3?

    Something about the way the bot posts the threads keeps it from getting bumped when there are new posts in it, since the original site content this thread was started for is from October.

    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Gaslight wrote: »
    Why is this thread on page 3?

    Something about the way the bot posts the threads keeps it from getting bumped when there are new posts in it, since the original site content this thread was started for is from October.
    Oh yeah, the "Most recent" date isn't being updated in the forum listing for this thread, it looks like, since October.

    New tale:
    Week by Week
    01/29/2015 - Anonymous

    I spent some time with a recent QA contracting position at a mobile game company. Development schedules for mobile games can be a bit more erratic, so contracts can be shorter than your typical six month deal. When I was initially hired, I signed a two month contract. As the end of the contract loomed close, completion goals for our game had not been met and we weren’t launching on time, so they decided to extend the contract out a month. This would be repeated once more until the project finally shipped two months late. This was when the contract extensions got ridiculous.

    After the game had shipped, production got word from on high that they would need several patches in the coming weeks, so staffing of the QA contractors became a week by week thing due to budget constraints. My manager could not tell me on any given day of the week if I would be coming back the next Monday. My hours were kept through an online site hosted by the contracting company, and on this site I could see when my contract was set to officially expire.

    One week, my contract was set to expire on a Wednesday. I had talked to my boss about making sure to either tell me I’m no longer working there, or to get that extended before I’m legally obligated to leave the office. Sure enough, Thursday rolls around; I get on the site and notice my contract was not extended. I figured my boss would have taken care of it since we spoke, but I found myself on Thursday morning working for free.

    I decided to approach my boss and let him know that I’d be out of the office until he got the contract business sorted out. He looked at me annoyed, and said, “Gahhhh, that’s right. Look, you don’t have to leave. You’ll get paid. I just forgot to talk to the producer to confirm the extension.” I stood my ground and told him in all good conscience, I couldn’t be there. I walked out.

    An hour later, I get a text from him (yes, a text), alerting me things had been worked out and to return to work. I decided I would, since I needed to eat and pay rent that month. This business went on for several months before I was finally let go on the last day of one of those weekly extensions (no warning before the day of).
    Good on the trencher for not working for free (it sounds like he only worked one Thursday morning without promise of pay).

    marsilies on
  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    Familiarity Breeds Contempt
    02/03/2015 - Anonymous

    Never have I believed a set of words to ring so true.

    It all started so fantastically, so innocently, an old school friend; practically a childhood friend, from the past extending an offer after a brief reconnection through social media, to join a group of independent developers to build games together. I had just begun to master the arts of the various areas of Games Design, from creation to development through programming and 3D modelling, beginning my formal education. I was so eager. So naive.

    We hadn’t spoken since those years, but to me, everything seemed sincere enough. I wholeheartedly agreed to join and work under my old friend. I began to lend my skills and advice. I created 3D models, gave ideas on game mechanics, and opinions. After a year of projects, we had nothing to show for it. That should have been the first warning sign to bail. Constant indecision plagued all decisions and no project lasted more than half a year, being sometimes built up to neigh completion then suddenly quashed simply because our leader changed his mind.

    Things began to reach a high at the start of the new year however, when new talent was recruited, doubled, with two groups becoming one, leadership suddenly divided between two individuals. I should have hopped out then, looking back. It was a pure recipe for a bad ending. Sure enough, familiarity bred contempt, a little old phrase I’ve seen repeated many times, yet I feel I never understood it until then. I had become a familiar resource. I wasn’t to be replaced by people more skilled than me. I was to be replaced simply because I didn’t play the group politics as well as our new ‘co-leader’. After a short opposition, I was ruthlessly dispatched.

    The thing with working both in a working environment, is that if you’re working personally with people you’d consider friends outside of what you do, it’s going to come back to bite you. Every time. It burns into your soul, your passion, even more when things get personal.

    After painstaking countless hours, working on projects, an entire year and a half of work and dedication, just one day, as we finally reached our latest goal, I was told to go. Bye. I don’t need you anymore, old chum.

    Thankfully, I left with my all my personal work, my half-finished game, all else lost, but one thing I didn’t leave with was neither my pride nor my passion.

    Nothing personal, I was told. One might ask what start-up Indie can afford to cast away a decent programmer and modeller so casually? One who asked for no reward and never questioned your leadership?

    Of course it was personal.

    I’d like to say this has built my resilience, only hardened and forged this young developer’s endurance and fortitude to succeed, to find some semblance of pride in rising above this, but this was the foulest dagger in the back.

    Gone is that naive belief of an Indie developer’s honor, pure and untainted by the greed, coldness and necessity to make ends meet of the game making ‘business’ I’ve read off this very page. Even the smallest of mice are capable of disposing of you when there isn’t even a dollar at stake. Things get remarkably petty in development of games big and small.

    Funnily enough, I will keep working, finish my project, and that old familiar plot of friends turned into the worst of rivals I once dismissed as so cliché, may just be the one truth in my future.
    Similar to the tale from Jan 27, I wish this tale was both shorter and more specific. Pretty much everything after the 3rd paragraph is redundant.

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    Got bored, so updated my stats:

    Date of current guest comic: 10/14/14
    Length current guest comic has been up: 113 days (so far)

    Season 1 08/09/11 - 02/16/12
    Season 2 03/20/12 - 11/15/12
    Season 3 01/08/13 - 09/05/13
    Season 4 11/19/13 - 09/16/14

    Break between Season 1 & 2: 33 days
    Break between Season 2 & 3: 54 days
    Break between Season 3 & 4: 75 days
    Break between Season 4 & 5: 141 days (so far)

    Note that I'm not counting guest comics, concept art, or sketches as part of the seasons.

    Durations calculated using:

  • SkunkapeSkunkape Registered User regular
    BrettxPW wrote: »
    Maybe meant to say "recession"? Makes a lot more sense.

    That would put it around 2007-2009. But I remember people talking about "the Recession" in the early 1990's.

    Again I was hoping it was a story from someone who lived through "The Depression" I am sure their stories would put these to shame...

  • Morgan BlackpowderMorgan Blackpowder Registered User regular
    Sometimes on my lunch break I'll take a nap in my car, I always feel like Issac :)

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    Below the trenches
    02/05/2015 - Anonymous

    I never did get into game testing, not unless you include a few open betas where the game was pretty much finished and the test was really for checking server strength. I did get into one actual closed beta for a now-outdated sci-fi MMORPG, when it was buggy as anything but still looked like it would be awesome if they could just stop the game from constantly crashing. I still don’t count it, because it felt like the bug reports I sent in to the provided email address just fell off the face of the earth.

    My real experience with the gaming industry happened in summer of Y2K, when I did temp work for Nintendo’s warehouse in Redmond, Washington. I had high hopes that somehow this would magically land me a “real” job testing video games.

    What I actually ended up doing, for the most part, was testing used Nintendo 64 controllers to see if they could be bundled in a refurbished N64 set. I never found out what happened to the ones we put the little orange sticker on, the “failures”... perhaps they went out in the back dumpster, as they were surely a waste of time to fix.

    The controller-testing job was nearly the most coveted option at the warehouse. The only job more desired was the one which required booting up a copy of Mario 64, running Mario through a set series of steps without actually moving more than a few feet into the game world, and then turning it off to check the next cartridge. I remember imagining that surely this was more fun than what I did, but in truth was probably just as boring.

    The controller-testing program was a simple set of lines on the screen and indications for when to press which button or do what motion with the joystick. I learned the pattern quickly. It was technically boring as heck, but predictable and fairly easy. The cool part was, I got to sit on an assembly line with other people who were usually gamers, so we all tested controllers while yakking about our favorite games, movies, etc.

    In the end, the job proved entirely too unstable, because I never knew if I was going to be needed from one day to the next. One day I was called in along with a few other temps only to wait around for a while and finally be told we weren’t needed.

    Sometimes I would work for two weeks on a decent schedule. Sometimes it was one day after weeks of nothing. It was impossible to pay rent with hours like that, but my life took a drastic turn in another direction and I left that story far behind.

    Tales From The Trenches has shown me that a real job in game testing would probably have destroyed what little was left of me. For those of you slogging away at it, my hat’s off to you. The glimpse I saw of the Nintendo temp underworld probably should have been a big hint to me that what I thought was real was not actually reality, but I wouldn’t figure it out until years later.

    The most memorable part about that temp job? The yellow Pikachu Volkswagen New Bug with custom tail, ears, and paint detailing that was often parked in the warehouse. Still makes me smile to remember it.

  • AsherekAsherek Registered User new member
    Is the next season ever going to start? It's so weird/odd that this comic doesn't have a proper announcement/news section at all. Does anyone have any idea of what's going on?

  • Morgan BlackpowderMorgan Blackpowder Registered User regular
    few pages backed we talked about that Asherek, the unofficial news is that "Trenches will be back" but we don't have an ETA yet...

  • AntonNULAntonNUL Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    Be Careful What you Wish for…
    02/12/2015 - Anonymous

    One of our designers was a veteran of the golden age of PC gaming, enough that they are justified to have a Wikipedia entry. When the studio was bought out, corporate sent in a new studio head to run the place. Because he was this designer’s new boss, he figured he should have his own Wikipedia entry too, tasking some subordinates to submit a profile of his career. Well, those submissions were denied because he was, “not noteworthy enough in the games industry,” to warrant one.

    This guy was your typical psychotic, petty boss so needless to say, Wikipedia was never to be mentioned of ever again in his presence. Then one fateful day after exaggerating on his career on a national TV program, he called got out by the public and forced into resignation. The TV series ended perhaps due to no small part on his end.

    He finally did get his Wikipedia entry, though perhaps not the way he wanted. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

    These are still great to read, sucks that Trenches is pretty much dead.

  • NijhazerNijhazer Sunnyvale, CARegistered User regular
    Regarding today's Tale: Hopefully, the author isn't actually planning to proceed with a lawsuit considering how many details about the situation he's chosen to disclose on the front page of The Trenches.

  • AntonNULAntonNUL Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    Office Sex
    02/17/2015 - Anonymous

    I once wrote to you guys here about how awesome my job was. I would now like to retract that former submission.

    About six months into my job as a game master, I was wrongfully terminated.

    Now judging by the title of this story, you probably think I got caught getting busy at work, right?


    I caught two of my fellow game masters getting busy in our office gym (the shower to be precise). Not only were they bumping uglies on company property AND company time, but they were doing so while I was left to deal with the ticket queue.

    (So if you had to wait to get a ticket answered on October 13th, 2012, I’m sorry)

    I told my supervisor and she said she’d deal with it. She even called me back later and told me to take the next day off so I wouldn’t have to face the two employees. My weekend started the day after that so she said by the time I got back in in a few days, the issue would have been “addressed”.

    Three days later I got a call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was being “laid off”. I was told not to call anyone at the company or talk to anyone but him about it. He gave me his number and told me to call him to set up a way to get my things.

    You probably read about the layoffs that actually happened. They happened AFTER I was fired. I guess they thought they could lump me in with them and no one would notice.

    I noticed.

    I called the parent company. A month or so later, they fired a few people including the two people I caught doing it.

    I never got my job back, their friends at Turbine made sure of that. Painted a nasty picture of me to corporate. I guess if they were going to lose their jobs, they wanted to make sure I definitely wouldn’t get mine back.

    I wonder if my former boss will lose her job too when I officially file my lawsuit? Hmm…

    Here's the story in question. Although... who's submitting these stories?

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    AntonNUL wrote: »
    Here's the story in question. Although... who's submitting these stories?
    Did you mean to link to another story?

    Anyway, anyone can submit a story. There's a "submit your own tales from the trenches" link on nearly every page on the site. It leads here:

    And another pointless conjecture about the backlog of tales. This one cites a 2012 date, although it sounds like at least several months passed since the cited date until when the author submitted the tale. The tale also seems to reference the massive layoff at Turbine in Feb 2014, so it may have been submitted after that. Still, seems like there's a backlog of tales 6-12 months long.

  • AntonNULAntonNUL Registered User regular
    Nope, that was the story he's referring to and it pops up as Office Sex for me.

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    CEO - Crazy, Emotional, Overbearing
    02/24/2015 - Anonymous

    I started my career in the video game industry as a tester, just like so many others. My QA department was amazing. I worked with smart, motivated people, learned a ton, and fell more in love with the industry every day.

    Soon after, I switched to Project Management/Production with the same company and was fortunate enough to have great mentors. After three years I was married with a daughter, so I switched companies for a new job, the Producer title, and twice the pay—I was laid off 5 months later.

    Following the layoff, I worked as a Project Manager for a software company outside of games, but got bored after a year or so. After taking all the Project Management cert classes I could, I decided to go back into video games and accepted a position with a small game development startup. It was a small team that was spread across the country and mostly worked from home. The really exciting part was that it was owned by a real legend of the industry.

    I was to be the sole Producer, in charge of defining process, planning releases, and also directly managed the engineering team. On top of all this, it came with a little bump in pay, so I was ecstatic! My ship had finally come in!

    Soon after my start date I found out that this legend was a co-owner of the company. The CEO was actually his wife. The third co-founder was a long time friend of the family and had largely been in charge of Operations before my arrival.

    The engineering team was truly amazing. Despite them ALL working remote, I’d never worked with a more invested and motivated group. They were, however, very frustrated. The reason? The CEO had forcibly wedged herself into the day-to-day development minutiae. Despite having no knowledge of modern software development, she was, in her mind, our expert on how long a task should take, and she was also convinced that the entire engineering team was padding their numbers if they claimed anything would take a week or more to get done.

    I spent months playing peacemaker between her and the entire team, it was all I could do, on a near daily basis, to keep them all from quitting. That third co-founder I mentioned was soon forced out of the company for a disagreement with her as well. With him gone, her blame for everything that didn’t go her way fell on me.

    As a last straw, I finally received a phonecall from the CEO at 11pm one Thursday night. She was in tears, sobbing into the phone to me because one of the engineers had written her a “nasty email” in which he clearly expressed his frustration at being called back in to work, at 9pm, from the first date he’d had with his fiancee in over a month. I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life. It was the single most unprofessional thing I’d ever been exposed to, and that’s saying a lot.

    During those 20-30 minutes of listening, I applied for three jobs. Things moved fast and I interviewed for one the next day. The interview process continued over the weekend and I delivered my two-weeks notice on Monday.

    During those two weeks, I was never spoken to once by the CEO and on my last day she let me know I would not be paid fully for final two weeks, because she was going to fire me the day I delivered notice. I should also be thankful that they allowed me to save face by working out my notice.

    As I worked happily for my new company, my old coworkers kept me abreast of the meltdown. Within a month, their paychecks had stopped coming reliably. The three month mark saw them all being asked to work without pay “until the next deal closes.”

    I watched from afar as the entire engineering team slowly had enough and left the company.

    As of the last I heard, a federal investigation was underway… I’m still not back in the games industry.

  • RaiibanRaiiban Registered User new member
    Gotta be that company that John Romero formed with his wife Brenda, Tom Hall had some involvement with it for a while. Loot Drop was the name I think. Not sure if they're in business still.

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    New tale:
    So you want to be a tester…
    02/26/2015 - Anonymous

    We all have out horror stories, success stories, and woes from the trenches… But this is more of a PSA for the ones who have nothing but horror stories.

    In my years of QA, I’ve worked alongside a bunch of people who really didn’t care about how good of a job they did, quality of the product they were working on, or even the coworkers they stood face-to-face with daily. Those kind of people gladly stab anyone in the back for a chance to fail at proving themselves, as they gladly do over and over. These kinds of testers come in each morning to do the minimum amount of work to not get fired, bitch about the free catered food, take days off when the team needs them the most, then wonder why they were laid off.

    I’ve worked 5 years straight in QA with 4 studios; never once laid off because I had the foresight to prepare and set up better opportunities. And I love my job. Every damn day of it. The point of it is that there are 2 kinds of testers: The kind who want an easy job playing video games - you will be hired to fill a seat as a project ramps up to launch; The kind who pursue a career creating a type of artistic media that they are passionate about. Which kind are you?

    Long story short: If you actually give more than half a sh*t about the quality of your work, others will notice, and that’s all you need to do to move forward in this industry: have your genuine efforts become noticed.

    Good luck :)

    The tale comes off as preachy and a little self-righteous.

  • merytmeryt Registered User new member
    I would say it's downright dickish. He's calling everyone who wrote in previously either a liar or stupid, and doing it with a smirk to boot. ("You're all obviously fireable and too dumb to find other jobs before you leave, but good luck with those failings!") I've been reading these stories since they started, and most of them mention excessive overtime and bosses that were shady about firing everyone - there's no reason to assume they're just putting in the minimum amount of effort, taking days off (in fact, stories frequently mention the testers' inability to get any time off at all) or that their lack of backup jobs to go to is some kind of character defect. If you aren't aware that the company is working on a huge deficit, why would you spend your five hours off hunting for another job, when you need to sleep?

    I'm not even in the industry, but this one irritated me so much that I had to create an account and rant about it.

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    meryt wrote: »
    I would say it's downright dickish.
    Yeah, I was trying to be nice, since sometimes the people who write the tales also show up in these threads, but that tale really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Anyway, another month has gone by, so updating my stats:

    Date of current guest comic: 10/14/14
    Length current guest comic has been up: 139 days (so far)

    Season 1 08/09/11 - 02/16/12
    Season 2 03/20/12 - 11/15/12
    Season 3 01/08/13 - 09/05/13
    Season 4 11/19/13 - 09/16/14

    Break between Season 1 & 2: 33 days
    Break between Season 2 & 3: 54 days
    Break between Season 3 & 4: 75 days
    Break between Season 4 & 5: 167 days (so far)

    This break is now longer than all 3 previous breaks combined. It's over twice as long a break as the 2nd longest break. Note that I'm not counting guest comics, concept art, or sketches as part of the seasons.

    Durations calculated using:

  • PublikwerksPublikwerks Registered User regular
    Hell, this Guest Comic should count as "Season 5"

  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    marsilies is doing a fine job as the Trenches downtime curator, no sarcasm intended.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    forty wrote: »
    marsilies is doing a fine job as the Trenches downtime curator, no sarcasm intended.
    Thanks. It's good to now people are getting value out of my posts.

    Speaking of..

    Downtown Orwellsville
    03/05/2015 - Anonymous

    I worked in a small game studio for about 5 years on the Art team. The first year there was hell because of a shitty AD. Then the rest of the artists (all 3 of us) convinced the CEO that he was useless and we got rid of him.

    The next few years were great, working on small games, each one progressively getting to be more and more game like. I was promoted to lead and to creative director eventually. Everything was going well it seemed.

    Then a switch went off in the heads of management. They seemed overly preoccupied with ass in seat mentality and didn’t care about quality, or quantity of work getting done, so long as you were in your seat for X hours a day.

    They increased the mandatory be at work time, they installed cameras in the office pointed at the staff so that the CEO and Office manager (or whatever his title was at the time) could have a screen set up in their offices so that they could “watch” us work… You know for the 3-4 hours a day they were actually there. They started monitoring our IM’s searching for keywords, and rumor has it that they fired some employees for talking shit about their jobs over IM.

    When all of this went down, being a person in between management and the art staff, a lot of the artists came to me to voice their concerns and to ask me to be a reference for their resumes.

    Stupid me, I decided to tell management about the low moral, and asked what they were going to do when half their staff left because of these changes in policy. Management decided to confront some of the staff about it, and they all said “no no, I am happy here”.. of course that is what you would say, even if you were actively looking to move on, you wouldn’t want to tell them that. So they confronted me about it calling me a liar and strike 1. Strike 2 was when I mentioned that a certain staff member was leaving, apparently they don’t like to tell people that staff has left or is leaving. Not sure how strike 3 came about, but I had been working 12 hour days for months and doing the bulk of the art work on 1 project, redoing the GUI on another project, and reviewing and fixing artwork on 2 other projects when I was “laid off.”

    They said I didn’t have the necessary skills for the company going forward even though leading up to my dismissal, I had to train multiple artists on how to do my job. Nice! A few weeks later they laid off another bunch of highly qualified staff, looks like they were cutting people based on salary in the end.

    I am in a much better situation now, working 8 hour days, and have time for my family.
    The problem with creative works is that it's hard to quantify the value of the work being output, so those that are overly anxious on having a metric they can measure fall back on the "ass in seat mentality." It never seems to end well.

    I'm trying to figure out the part about "being a person in between management and the art staff"... did the author get promoted to Art Director after the previous one got fired (that's what AD stands for, right)?

  • marsiliesmarsilies Registered User regular
    Well, new comic means new thread:

    And thus, the final stats

    Date of thread's guest comic: 10/14/14
    Length guest comic was up: 147 days

    Season 1 08/09/11 - 02/16/12
    Season 2 03/20/12 - 11/15/12
    Season 3 01/08/13 - 09/05/13
    Season 4 11/19/13 - 09/16/14
    Season 5 03/10/15

    Break between Season 1 & 2: 33 days
    Break between Season 2 & 3: 54 days
    Break between Season 3 & 4: 75 days
    Break between Season 4 & 5: 175 days

    Durations calculated using:

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