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前Rockstar工作室主管Mark Lloyd谈反加班文化

发布时间:2019-07-29 09:09:50 Tags:,

前Rockstar工作室主管Mark Lloyd谈反加班文化

原作者:Mark Lloyd 译者:Willow Wu

(Mark Lloyd是游戏行业的资深人士,已有超过20年的丰富经验。他从1999年Rockstar林肯工作室成立之初就是运营负责人,一直持续了12年。他是动视旗下工作室The Blast Furnace的创始成员之一,现在的他是一名顾问。他也写过一本关于过度加班的书,书名为Zero Crunch – The Best Way to Ethical, Cost Effective Software Development。)

我希望你能想到这种情况可能发生在游戏行业的任何一个人身上。我不知道你是怎么想的,但从我的经历来看,现实总会往这个方向发展。可能你看着看着就会觉得有一种莫名的熟悉感。

一开始是我,站在Rockstar林肯工作室全体员工面前说

“纽约那边的人刚联系了我。”

这是一天中的第三次——我无能为力,只能看着地板暂时避免与他们直视。

“发行日期改了,游戏开发还得继续。其实我们早就知道事情会变成这样。”

房间里一片沉默。我能感觉到有人叹气……更糟糕的是我知道这其中的很多人又要继续疯狂加班,只能依靠不健康的外卖食品、红牛和咖啡撑下去。

“我们只能加把劲,努力把这事做完。”

大家的表情有惊恐有难过,这下所有人都在看地板了,我的处境相当艰难。当然团队以及Dianne——见上一面都不容易的妻子——也是如此。

回忆起20年前,我初出茅庐,想在喜爱的游戏行业中找份工作。

Grand Theft Auto V(from indiewire)

Grand Theft Auto V(from indiewire)

游戏行业之前

当指尖触碰到我的第一台电脑(Acorn BBC Model B,键盘的最上排是红色的)时,我就知道我喜欢游戏。

那是1981年,14岁的我被游戏所吸引。但不幸的是,出生于Bradford的一个穷乡僻壤(至今我还是不知道为什么那天继父会把电脑带回家),通向游戏的道路并不是那么宽阔。

所以,17岁时我参军了,成为英国皇家空军的一名航空工程师,修理军用飞机。时间快进到1999年,在军队呆了十多年,一个加入游戏行业的机会出现在我眼前。

Tarantula Studios是一家开发Game Boy游戏的小规模公司,是林肯工作室的前身。这就是我进入游戏行业的钥匙。最终,我也得到了机会去成立一个工作室。

写这篇文章,我知道在读者看来现在我强烈反对加班是挺讽刺的,尤其考虑到我之前领导的公司是通过长时间连续加班来完成项目的。

或许这与我的军队经历有关,我们建立了林肯团队并在核心价值的基础上——可靠、高质量——继续扩展,呈现我们所承诺的水准。这些核心价值我到今天还在坚持。

但这些价值,再结合加班可能就意味着我们会“不惜任何代价”工作。然而这样并不能确保他们远离生计危机,反而有可能摧毁团队。现在我认识到了。

错误的源头

2001年9月11日,世贸双塔遭受袭击,我们在电视机前惊恐地看着现场的相关报道。纽约这一骇人事件的发生意味着林肯工作室必须尽力为Rockstar北部工作室提供支援,帮助接替团队完成《侠盗猎车手3》,保证游戏在十月按时发行。我们完成了任务,这款产品成为了游戏史上的一个重要里程碑。我们把这第一次“真正的”长时间加班当成是荣誉勋章。

那时我们已经脱离了Tarantula Studios的开发团,而Tarantula Studios在2002年不幸倒闭,只剩下林肯QA、本地化和制作团队。我们的队伍很快就壮大了起来。《侠盗猎车手:圣安地列斯》项目是那些年我们经历过的最艰苦的开发周期。

2007年9月,《侠盗猎车手4》即将发行,这次不仅加班强度又上升了,而且周期也是最长的。团队真的是一天24小时都在工作,大家轮流上岗,每个人的工作时间最少也有12小时,这种状态已经持续了好几个月了。

长时间工作是常态,比那种早八点至晚八点换班的工作时间还长。从早上7点开始一直到晚上10点,这是很常见的。美国的时间差、项目的规模以及bug数据库的大小都在鞭笞我们加快进度,不能停下手中的工作。那通电话代表着发行日期推迟到第二年,也就是2008年4月29日。

真是太混乱了。我的团队很坚强,他们在加班期间表现出色,但每个人都遭受了重创。《侠盗猎车手4》就像其它同系列产品一样大获成功,但代价呢?所有人都牺牲了家庭。我已经好几个月没见到家人了,整个人身心状态都很糟糕,筋疲力尽,我猜团队的其他人也是如此。

虽说大家不得不以这种超负荷方式工作,作为决策者的我难辞其咎,但直到今天,我仍然认为在那个特别的时期,团队和文化(撇开加班所带来的负面影响)才是最重要的。职业道德、能力和欲望是第一。这是一个真正的团队,我们需要让公司保持增长势头,工作、生计、房贷都得靠它。

当我说这话的时候,我自己都不敢相信。Dianne总是要一次次跟我确认回家时间。你知道这是什么感觉,当你不得不告诉家人你得一直工作时,真的很难开口解释。

让这些优秀人才长时间加班以换取顶级游戏的问世,并不是什么值得褒奖的做法,我是在《侠盗猎车手:圣安地列斯》之后才意识到,为此后悔、愧疚了好些年。

《荒野大镖客:救赎》对我来说是最后一次大规模加班了。我不能再这样下去。

后悔、痛心和改变

在2011年《荒野大镖客:救赎》发行后,我离开了Rockstar林肯工作室。我再也不想过这样的生活了。

离职通知期的3个月期间,我待在家里会感觉很难过。那时的我觉得遗憾吗?或许吧……但在过去的12年里,我一直和我的朋友们(不止于此)在一起,虽然我为工作室所取得的成就以及我们所创造的游戏而感到无比自豪,但我也为超负荷加班感到非常愧疚,我没能将团队从这种困境中解救出来。

是的,我们度过了很多欢乐时光,建立了深厚的友谊。很多事情我们都不计较,为彼此帮了很多忙。无论是学习、能力还是成长都受益颇多。但我认为这期间实际耗费的人力成本比我们以往所谈论的要多。我们的家庭、生活、个人时间都受到了严重影响。

当身处疯狂的工作中时,你很难看清。但是把事情做完后,你得去思考、反省。我相信当我离开林肯工作室时,有些团队成员是能理解的,但有些人就觉得我弃船而逃了(我是这么觉得的)。

我并没有把这些感受全部表达出来,尤其是愧疚。但我有一种强烈的感觉,如果情况没有改变,我就会走向某种毁灭性结局。我觉得继续在这个职位无法实现什么改变。

直到今天,我回想起那段时间仍觉得很难过,所以自2011年起我就远离了跟林肯工作室有关的一切事宜,疏远了团队成员(除了出几个还会在社交媒体上偶尔交流的人)。这又是一个让我继续后悔的理由。那些优秀的人曾对我生活有非常重要的意义。

在过去的八年里,这种后悔让我更加坚定地远离了疯狂加班生活,The Blast Furnace是新旅途的起点——至少我是这么认为的。

新的开始,新的工作模式

2011年时,我想要以顾问的身份继续及职业生涯,但是我内心的真实意愿并非如此。我想念从前的那种紧密的团队关系。直至今日也是如此。30多年了,我工作时都是跟人们面对面打交道。

2012年加入动视、在利兹成立The Blast Furnace工作室对我来说是一次新的冒险,跟另外一个人才济济的团队合作开发出色的游戏。然而我们和其他多数由大型发行商资助、管理的工作室一样,陷入了困境。人员规模变大,要支付的薪水变多,需要管理的事务也变得繁杂起来,最终使得The Blast Furnace以悲剧收场。

我们时不时也会加班,但完全不像Rockstar那样。这个团队更有效率,我的重点是让团队保持高效率节奏,但同时也要快乐工作,能让他们感受到鼓舞和回报。然而经历工作室解散,更多朋友和同事被迫离开,我想在大公司工作的愿望彻底改变了。

2018年夏天,Dianne和我搬到了苏格兰,定居在丹地北部的一个乡村地区——这里是游戏产业的发源地之一,也是《侠盗猎车手》《疯狂小旅鼠》等游戏的出产地。可以肯定的是,当地独立游戏圈的活力已经点燃并重新激发了我的热情。丹地电子游戏的这股新活力来源于阿伯泰大学的毕业生以及独立游戏工作室的逐年增多的新游戏。

所有的独立游戏工作室都应该仔细看看他们是如何避免加班并让团队在积极的氛围中继续创意工作。这意味着你要理解在开发软件时,很多部分都是非固定的,变化是不可避免的。接受改变也是一种帮助你按时发行游戏的能力。

项目是由开发团队中的众人协同完成的。如果有人应用了错误的知识、带着恐惧工作、或者认为这个过程很容易,那么这个工作室的起点已经处在一个非常不利的位置。在支持而不是责备的文化中使用知识和能力是成功的关键。

创意遇上迫在眉睫的发行日期,额外的工作总是不可以避免的。如果这是团队想要创造具有独创性的的有趣内容,以便吸引更多玩家,那么就应该做下去。但是不要搞错,如果团队需要更高强度地工作才能实现这个目标,那么你们需要的是一个集体沟通过、一致认同的目标——既激励人心又能预见回报,无论是物质还是精神层面。

以上就是避免加班文化、获得更多成功的关键。我知道真正的超负荷加班是怎么样的,我已经深深体会到它会造成什么样的伤害、人们会有怎样的感受、家庭会受到怎样的影响,我们的生活将会如何改变。

在游戏制作方式与工作室文化建设方面做出微小但有效的改变,这样能为团队提供更可持续且更人性化的新工作模式。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Mark Lloyd is an industry veteran with 20 years’ experience. He ran the Rockstar Lincoln studio for 12 years from its inception in 1999, was a founding member of Activision studio The Blast Furnace, and now works as a consultant. He has also written a book about excessive work practices titled ‘Zero Crunch – The Best Way to Ethical, Cost Effective Software Development.’

I’ll have you consider the possibility that this could happen to any of us in this industry. I don’t know about you, but in my experience it always seems to go this way. This will be strikingly familiar.

It starts with me, standing in front of the whole team at Rockstar Lincoln in 2007, during the development of Grand Theft Auto IV.

“I’ve just had New York on the phone.”

It was the third time in the last 24 hours — I can’t help but look down at the floor for a moment.

“The release date has moved, the game isn’t ready, we already knew it was going that way.”

There is silence in the room。 I can hear the sighs… It’s made even worse by knowing that many of the team were on yet another long shift, living on unhealthy takeaway, Red Bull and coffee。

“We are going to have to push on and work harder to get this done.”

There is shuffling and unhappy faces. Everyone is looking at the floor now. I’m in a pretty bad place. So are the team and Dianne, my long suffering partner who hasn’t seen me for weeks.

Rewind 20 years and I was just starting out, looking for a way into what I loved to do: video games。

Before the games industry

From the moment of my first computer — an off-white and square Acorn BBC Model B, with its bright red top row of keys — was under my fingertips I knew I loved games。

It was 1981, and as a 14 year-old I was hooked。 Unfortunately for me, coming from a council estate in Bradford (I’ve no idea to this day why my step-father brought that computer home), the routes into games then were somewhat narrow。

So I joined the Armed Forces at the tender age of 17 and became an Aeronautical Engineer in the Royal Air Force, fixing military aircraft. Fast forward to 1999, with well over a decade in the military, and an opportunity to get into the games industry presented itself.

Tarantula Studios was a great little Game Boy development studio, tucked away in ‘uphill Lincoln.’ It would be my chance to get into the industry and, eventually, give me access to build a studio. Rockstar Lincoln’s birth and the journey had begun.

As I write this, I know it will seem ironic to readers that I now rally against crunch, especially as a former studio head within a company that makes amazing games but with well documented and lengthy crunches to get them released。

Maybe it was the military experience, but we built the Lincoln team and continued to expand it on the core values of reliability, quality, and delivering what we promised. These are values I still have today.

But these values, coupled with crunch, can mean we work ‘at any cost,’ and this is making video games. Our livelihoods are at stake, but crunch destroys teams rather than protecting them with those values that drive success. I know this now.

How we learned to crunch, and when it started to go wrong

On September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers attack happened, we watched in horror as events unfolded live on TV. The turmoil in New York meant that the Lincoln team now had to do everything it could to help Rockstar North and support the displaced New York team to get Grand Theft Auto III out in October. Lincoln played its part, and the title was a turning point in video games history. We wore our first ‘real’ and extended crunch like a badge of honour, and why not?

We were separate from the Tarantula Studios dev team by then, which was unfortunately closed down in 2002, leaving only the Lincoln QA, Localisation and Production team. We grew quickly. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas launched after the most substantial crunch so far, each one building upon the last.

In September 2007, it was Grand Theft Auto IV。 This development cycle represented the most prolonged and sustained crunch so far。 Teams worked 24/7, split shifts, 12 hours minimum for everyone, and we’d already been crunching several months。

Very long days were standard, longer with handovers at 8am and 8pm. Working from 7 am to 10 pm daily was normal. The US time difference, the enormity of the project, and the size of the bug database all contributed to the “always on” requirement to get the work done. ‘The call’ had meant that launch was delayed to the following year: April 29, 2008.

What a mess. My team was stronger, galvanized in the crunch, but smashed. Grand Theft Auto IV, like all the others, was groundbreaking. But the cost? No home life. I hadn’t seen my family properly for months. I was unhealthy, unhappy, and exhausted, and I suspect the whole team was too.

While I take full responsibility for the decision to crunch in this way, I believe and feel to this day that, at that particular time in the studio, the team and culture (outside of crunch damage) was of the highest order. The work ethic, capability, and desire were second to none. This was a real team. We needed to keep studio growth and momentum going. Jobs, livelihoods, mortgages depended on it.

I can’t believe it myself when I say it. Dianne will always confirm the family ‘removal’ point back to me. You know how that feels, how hard it is to explain that you’re working again, and again, and again.

The vehicle that is crunch — with which we applied the studio’s extensive capability — was flawed, and I only started realising after San Andreas that I would start to regret and feel guilty about it for years.

Red Dead Redemption would be the final excessive crunch for me. Things had to change.

Regret, grieving, and change

I left Rockstar Lincoln after Red Dead Redemption, in 2011. I couldn’t and didn’t want to do this anymore.

For three months, I sat at home as I went through my notice period with Rockstar, and it felt like grieving. Was I feeling sorry for myself at that point? Maybe… But I’d spent the last 12 years with a team that were my friends — more than that — and while I had massive pride for what the studio had achieved and the titles we had worked on, I also felt incredibly guilty for how we just kept doing the excessive hours, how I failed to change that pain for the team.

Yes, we had many laughs, built tremendous camaraderie, and ‘over-delivered’ in many ways. The learning, capability, and growth were vast. But I think there was more human cost than we and I ever acknowledged. Our families, our lives, our time.

It’s hard to see that cost when you are in amongst it。 You do what needs to be done。 But afterwards, you have time to think, to reflect。 I believe that when I left Lincoln some team members understood, but others felt like I had abandoned ship。 (I felt like that。)

I didn’t fully express these feelings then, the guilt especially. Onwards and upwards and all that. But I had an overwhelming sense of moving towards some kind of destruction if things didn’t change. It didn’t feel like that change could be made in that role.

To this day, I still feel bad about that time, which has led to me disconnecting in many ways from the Lincoln studio and the team since 2011, apart from a few people I occasionally speak to on social media. Just another reason to continue to regret. Those good people were a huge part of my life.

That regret has fortified me over these last eight years to move away from crunching development, and that new journey started with a different approach at The Blast Furnace — or so I thought。

A new start, a different way of working

Throughout 2011, I tried to get traction as a consultant, but my heart really wasn’t in it. I missed the fully connected teamwork, the people aspects. I still do a little to this day. I’d worked with people every day in person for over 30 years.

Joining Activision in 2012 and building The Blast Furnace in Leeds was a new adventure, working with another hugely capable team and a remit to create amazing games. As with many studios owned or funded by large publishers, it didn’t work out. Larger forces at work and deals I suspect way above the studio’s responsibility and pay grade led to its demise.

We did crunch at times, but not in any way like Rockstar。 We were more efficient and effective at what we did, and my focus was on keeping the team productive, but happy, motivated and rewarded。 This time, though, closing the studio down, making people redundant as part of the process, more friends and colleagues displaced, had a profound effect on my desire to work for large corporates。

Dianne and I moved to Scotland in summer 2018, found ourselves in the countryside north of Dundee — one of the original birthplaces of the games industry, home of Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings, and others. Without a doubt, the vibrancy of the indie scene here has sparked and re-energized my passion. There is a freshness in video games here in Dundee that comes from the graduates flowing out of Abertay University and a settled number of independent studios that are making new titles year on year.

All independent studios need to really look at how they can avoid crunch and keep their teams working creatively, while motivated and inspired。 This means understanding that when developing software, there’s a requirement to accept that there are many moving parts and change is inevitable。 Embracing change, rather than fearing it, is a capability and can be a real strength in getting to that release date。

The people in the dev teams build the projects. If any of these people are working without the correct knowledge, operating with fear, or believe it will be easy, then a studio is already starting from a negative position. Managing knowledge and capability within a supportive rather than a blame culture is crucial for success.

Where creativity meets hard deadlines, some additional work is always required to catch up. If it comes from the team as part of their desire to create something fun and innovative and that will appeal to players, that’s what should happen. But make no mistake, if a team needs to work harder and do more than usual to achieve a goal, it needs to have a collective, agreed, and communicated purpose, one that is both motivational and rewarding, whether intrinsically or extrinsically.

These are the building blocks to create a studio culture of less crunch and more success。 I know what crunch really is, the damage it does, how it makes us all feel, how our families are affected, and our lives changed by it。

Making small but effective changes in how games are built and cultures in studios are fostered will enable a new, more sustainable and people-friendly way of developing video games. It starts with the creative talent of people and a methodology of delivery that will disrupt the ‘old ways.’

(source: )


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