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Rockstar has been “working 100-hour weeks” on Red Dead Redemption 2

One of the famous Houser brothers has offered insight into the making of Red Dead Redemption 2, and the work behind the title sounds intense.

The game has been in development for the best part of seven years, with Dan Houser talking to Rockstar San Diego about how a sequel to Red Dead Redemption might look as far back as early 2011, as revealed in an interview with Vulture.

A broad outline was completed the following summer, with rough scripts for the game's story and missions ready by autumn 2012. But it seems the workload has ramped up significantly this year as Red Dead Redemption 2 finally approaches release.

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NeodeosX36d ago

And that, ladies & gentlemen, is nothing to be proud of. It's the absolute cancer of this industry, and it really needs to be fought. Shame on you Rockstar, don't give a single shit if the game is exceptional or not, NOTHING can justify ruining your employees' lives.

assassin2k36d ago

Was gonna say something similar. Hear hear. 100 hour weeks are not ok for anyone. Those kinds of hours make people seriously ill, not even mentioning the knock on effect to those around them.

Skull52136d ago

As long as employees are properly compensated I don’t see a problem. In the end they’ll have a product that is going to make serious money, and will be the finest game of the generation. That is something to be proud of. Hard work pays off. There has been so many games released this generation in piss poor states or blatantly unfinished that probably would have benefited from some extra work.

bluefox75536d ago (Edited 36d ago )

What if an employee chooses to work that? Should they not be allowed to? I certainly wouldn't want to work 100 weeks, but shouldn't that decision be left up to the individual?

Bladesfist36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

@bluefox755 In the UK an employer can ask you to waive your max weekly hour rights but they can't fire you for saying no. So you can work it if you want but you can't be forced to do so (unless you are a minor, you can't waive those rights as a minor).

Army_of_Darkness36d ago

84hrs a week is working 12hrs a day /7 days a week.... Nobody wants to work that much. Nobody! Compensation or not, it's not humane and will put a toll on you physically and mentally... I cannot imagine working 100hrs a week!? Like wtf?!

NecrumOddBoy36d ago

What's sad is the voice actors who make millions put in maybe 100 hours total and sue and use unions for more "fair compensation" when an artist gets divorced making a game he is stuck working 100hr work weeks on for such a tyrannical managment system and fear that at any moment he/she could be out of a job.

Skull52136d ago

Maybe if you guys complain enough we’ll get lucky and they’ll just delay the game for 6 months.

abstractel35d ago

If tl;dr, this is not ok but we in the industry are still privileged.

When I got into this industry I wasn't aware of the hours (I started in the late 90s at 18yo). I don't hate the industry, but different companies handle overtime differently so I respect different places differently. Rockstar is a bad place to work unless you really enjoy overtime, so is Infinity Ward and Naughty Dog. You can't really speak up using your own name or you quickly become blacklisted -- excepted for the very talented and experienced.

Also, keep in mind, a lot of game houses lie about their OT when you are in the interview process and they really want you (I know because I'm lucky enough to be in this position, so I end up charging way more than other developers sitting next to me make -- which is extremely unfortunate).

In the end I consider myself privileged, despite the amount of hours I've put in at work and the hours outside of work making sure I stay current with the latest tools and trends. I make more than most people in the US, and there are people with way worse jobs -- even if they only do 40 hour weeks. BUT that doesn't justify these companies' policies. They are ruining relationships, physical, and mental health. It's not black and white issue. We need a union IMO. I don't see myself working like this in 10 years unless it's for something I'm insanely passionate about or personally invested in.

abstractel35d ago

@Bladesfist8h Legally they can't, but if you don't conform they'll find a legal reason to let you go. Fun fact, Sony in Silicon Valley work around the rule that you can't be a contractor for more than 2-3 years (by that time the company has to make you an employee by law) by forcing you to take an unpaid leave for 3 months every few years.

Gaming10135d ago

All the idiots carrying on sitting on their couch with their controllers in their hand saying "Well so what, hard work pays off and they chose to work there" are missing the point.

You can be far more efficient hiring more people working 40 hours per week instead of hiring fewer people but working their fingers to the bone paying 60 hours of overtime per week per employee. It's simple math. Additionally, the company morale suffers, people's performance suffers, you don't get people operating at 100% for all 100 hours per week. After a certain point you get a reduction in output per input, it's called the "Law of Diminishing Returns" for those of you who actually read.

Skull52135d ago

Once you set a release date you are left with 3 options. Work more hours, delay the game, or put out the product in an unfinished state. Any company worth a damn is going to work harder to finish the product, in a complete condition, and on time.

DogJosha35d ago

My normal hours is 7 12's with work weeks going well beyond 100 hours. On top of that I have a more physical job than developers. My longest shift so far has been 32 hours, with 43 days before getting a day off of work. I am not overworked and I would be disgusted by anyone trying to argue on my behalf for shorter work hours. There are entire industries that work these types of hours and we would never give it up. Been doing this for years and I don't see an end in sight.

I say thank you to those that do what it takes to make my few hours away from work enjoyable. Keep up the good work.

stupidusername35d ago

@DogJosha
That’s insane and very uncommon. But good for you if you enjoy your work and are fine with it being your life. But for most other people, we value our free time. Spending time with family, friends and my hobbies matter way more to me than my job. So if someone asked me to work 100hour weeks in the proffesion I wanted to work in I’d be heartbroken. Especially if my job was on the line if i said no.

bouzebbal35d ago (Edited 35d ago )

So stupid to hear such slavery in 2018 in a so called civilized world..
100hours weeks is just not acceptable.

@Skull521:
you really think that? why do you think they forced 100hour weeks through the employees throats? well because they have a ressource budget and a deadline to respect.
compensate for extra work would only explode the budget big time. if that's the case, no need to 100hour weeks in the first place, just move the deadline some months, which will result in more days of work..same same..

@bluefox755:
haha so you are saying no to your employer to do overwork? and in the US? Well just GTFO, they will just find someone who would. This is business, feelings have no place.

DogJosha35d ago

@stupidusername
It only seems insane because you don't partake in the huge world that exists that makes your life as feasible as it is. This is the American way of life and extremely common. Like using any kind of paper products? How about plastic? Maybe you like using gasoline to get to and from places? The fabric of your life runs off of people that put in the time to get the job done. Do you not want the luxuries you enjoy such as transportation? Does it not bring you comfort knowing that if you are in a deadly accident, that the surgeon saving your life isn't going to quit at 8 hours because he isn't some sort of slave? You guys act as if these hours aren't necessary, yet in my own industry there is probably about 2 to 3 times as much work as there are employees. I say that AFTER saying those employees are already working 86 hour work weeks as a minimum a lot of the time.

As for how common it is, consider that there are over half a million welders in the US. Chances are that if you are a welder, you are used to those work hours. That is a single career path. Throw in inspectors, operators, safety, coating specialists, so on, so forth. You are looking at millions for a single type of industry. Now throw in your health specialists, programmers, legal aids, successful businessmen, and so on. Do you really think it is rare, or that maybe you are just extremely sheltered?

BlaqMagiq135d ago

@Skull521

You don't see a problem with workers being forced to work 100 hour weeks? Keep up that ignorance then.

kneon35d ago

@DogJosha

I expect you are paid hourly, and so overtime means extra cash, possibly lots of extra cash if you are making time and half or more. Most developers are salaried unless they are on contract. I once had to work 16 hours days, 7 days a week for 3 months straight. They couldn't hire anyone to help, no one else knew how to do what I was doing. As I was on salary they weren't obligated to pay me overtime, instead I got a big bonus and a huge amount of extra time off once the project was done, but I expect that isn't normal.

DogJosha35d ago

@BlaqMagiq1 Slavery was abolished quite some time ago. No one is forced to work anything. Maybe you would want to consider using a more appropriate word like "pressured".

@kneon Yes, I am hourly but that shouldn't make a big difference. For every salary job I've seen, you either get 1 of 2 things. Either you get "approved overtime" which isn't really that different than an hourly's overtime, or you get comp time. In the end, most jobs pay you what you work. Sure, your industry could be different, but do you know who's fault it would be if it is different? Not the greedy companies. The fault lies in the workers that put up with it.

+ Show (14) more repliesLast reply 35d ago
jznrpg36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

It sucks but they do choose to work there. There is always 2 sides . As long as Rockstar pays them accordingly and they are willing it’s not as bad as it seems. I have friends who are doctors and in the medical field and they work insane hours . There are many jobs where the hours aren’t 9 to 5 and they are away from families more than they like . It’s no a black and white issue unfortunately . I’d love to be getting benefits like Italy and other European countries with mandatory vacations and paid vacation and paid maternity for men and women but that has it’s downsides also

Bladesfist36d ago

Assuming they get Sunday off, that's 16.66 hours a day, 6 days a week. Barely enough time left to sleep and eat.

jznrpg36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

I worked many long days like that when I was younger and sometimes even now and I am getting old. It’s not an ideal situation but they chose this industry and until it changes this isn’t abnormal. A lot of industries have the exact same problem, we live in a profit before people economy and country . Until they make it illegal it will be done . You can always change jobs . Personally I’d love to be making games and if it took me a few months of crazy hours I would do it if that’s what it took. We don’t live in a perfect world

InputTranslation36d ago

I’m afraid that employees that choose to work long hours for peanuts is why we are all working more for less.

rainslacker35d ago (Edited 35d ago )

I've worked in several crunch scenarios, and while it did wear on you after more than a week, it's not like they're slave drivers whipping you to work without any breaks. Many people even can take some time off in there to get themselves back to normal. Generally, crunch time isn't 100% working. There is relaxation in there, and since it tends to be somewhat community driven in the dev house, there is a lot of understanding for a while.

I don't ever say that crunch is OK, but I think some people have a misconception about what goes on in a development house. People aren't there strapped to a computer screen, viciously coding or doing art non-stop. Usually just the play testers are constantly busy, but they tend to make bank during this time, as they're hourly employees, and they have short term employees anyhow.

@input

the marjority of developers at any studio are contract employees. They know that after release, most of them are going to be let go because they won't be needed anymore. That crunch time offers up a rather sizable paycheck for them on the way out the door.

wwinterj35d ago

Exactly this. They did choose to work there thus I see no issue. R* require this workload and some folk are happy enough to agree to it because money. Nothing more to be said and faceless people on the internet have no say in the matter too.

Akarogg 35d ago

"Until they make it illegal it will be done"

Well then your country better make it illegal right now.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 35d ago
Elda36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

Agreed! Knowing folks have families & lives including it being unhealthy working those extremely long hours.

fingazblank35d ago

WTF you bunch of snowflakes, they work for rockstar and not a production line, they are hardly laying bricks or caring for the elderly. Working on a game, im sure the hours fly by, hard work, whats wrong with hard work

milohighclub35d ago

When you work in a job you love, its like you never work a day in your life.

Any creatives here? How many time you been working on something, look at the clock and it's all of a sudden 4am?

milohighclub36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

You do know that's how great games are made don't you? The devs knew what they were in for yet they chose to remain at rockstar. I'm pretty sure they'll be getting paid a shit tonne for the privilege.

Any great creation takes time...

Look at musicians, dedicated musicians that love their work put in the same amount of hours often for low/no income.

It's called having passion and dedication for your work.

Hell, I've worked 80 hour weeks on minimum wage in the UK. Doing a job I hate and where 40% of that money is taken by the government.
I wish I could put in 100 hours at a company like Rockstar where I would be earning a fortune in comparison.

You'd only be complaining if it was delayed another year.

Bladesfist36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

No it just means there are enough young people that are willing to get exploited for the privilege of working in the industry and enough companies willing to exploit these people.

You can be passionate at work without having 100 hour weeks,

milohighclub35d ago (Edited 35d ago )

@bladefest and you know the age of every Rockstar employee how?

Some people have a good work ethic, some people get paid so much that they can justify it.
These guys won't be constantly working that many hours, just the final stages.
It's the way the industry works, it's also how you master your craft.
They won't only benefit from a tidy wage, they'll also become better developers for it.
Yeah they have families and lives but the wages they get will ensure the best possible lifes for their loved ones.

It's easy to sit here and criticise the studio but these guys knew what they were getting themselves into when they joined the company.

If you don't wanna work these hours, don't join the gaming industry.

You think a game with over 300,000 animations can be done on a 9-5?

Everyone had their 2cents on the situation, this is a common practise when making games... How many of you are gonna put your money where your mouths are and stop supporting it? (Note: it'll mean never purchasing a game again..)

Elda35d ago

No matter what you say working over a 100 hrs a week is ridiculous especially for people that have families & it's unhealthy.40 to 50 hrs a week is enough.I wouldn't complain if it was delayed because I'm not big on RDR games.

milohighclub35d ago

I'm not saying it isn't ridiculous, what I am saying is its their choice to do this.
What right does anyone have to speak on their behalf's? It was their career choice and I imagine they feel privileged to be making games on this scale.

You might not like it but there's people on these sights that would send them death threats if they delayed this.

I'm sure after 7yrs of development, the developers want to see their creation finished.

Like I said no one here has the right to speak on behalf of these people.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 35d ago
mrmikew201836d ago

so true, hopefully they give them a couple of months off to recoup.

rainslacker35d ago

Most are contract employees. Many of them will have the time off regardless as their contract will expire.

kevnb36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

Yet people keep calling developers lazy... they have no concept of how much work these games take to make. I think much frustrations should be aimed at publishers, because developers certainly work hard. Many times developers make awesome products only to have publishers make them change it or get rid of it all together

-Foxtrot36d ago

I think it depends on the publisher/studio

If Activision said Treyarch was working 100 hours a week on Black Ops IIII I'd suddenly think "Really? Oh f****** what?" as it's not a game which looks like it requires that much time.

While with Red Dead Redemption II I can look at the game and go "Yeah...I can believe that"

kevnb36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

@-Foxtrot
I would say you dont really have any clue what you are talking about then. Even the battle royale alone in black ops 4 is quite an impressive feat. Its got a huge map, runs very well, uses their own engine, and is the most polished battle royale game of all. Where do people get the idea of a multiplayer game with 100 people playing at once is easy to make and doesnt take much work? Look at some of glassdoor reviews for treyarch https://www.glassdoor.ca/Re...

Now, keep in mind rockstar has a much bigger team. Pretty much nobody else is spending the kind of money to make games that rockstar is.

stupidusername36d ago

It’s not easy making games. CoD, AC, Battlefield and so on need tons of work done by skilled developers, even if the games doesn’t reach the critical acclaim that games from Naughty Dog, Nintendo and Rockstar get. Taking in consideration how often new Cod, Battlefield and AC games release you’d think that they have extremely strict deadlines keeping the developers working long hours.

kevnb36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

@stupidusername I think a lot of what makes a game successful has to do with decisions made at the publisher level. It’s extremely hard to make a game like assassins creed work, even if you think the games are crap. You always wouldn’t believe how often developers have fantastic ideas and publishers force them to make the game much worse than it should have been.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 36d ago
Baza36d ago (Edited 36d ago )

What you call cancer of the industry is what makes incredible games like RDR2 and other triple A quality games. This is the reality of being at the top of your industry. Apple, MS, Google, Amazon all push their employees to meet deadlines, extremely high expectations and be the best. 40 hours work weeks don’t create the most profitable entertainment product of all time.

Hungryalpaca36d ago

Spoken like someone who’s never worked full time with a family or a real life.

I work in a similar industry that pulls the same hours.

NO ONE is happy to be working that much. It’s because the companies are cheap. Has nothing to do with quality. They could simply hire more people or contract out some work to relive stressed workers but they’re for maximizing profits.

They’re ALL like this.

BadElf36d ago

Go to Rockstar headquarters with a sign and protest then lol. They werent held by gunpoint to work like this....

stupidusername36d ago

They weren’t held at gunpoint, but their jobs are at stake. If you’re not up for working long hours you simply lose your job and you’ll have to find a new proffesion. That simply won’t do and is a sign that the industry is toxic. It needs regulation.

Hungryalpaca36d ago

Their jobs are on the line. You don’t want to be the guy with “the bad work ethic”.

Gh05t35d ago

@Stupid and Hungy

So the jobs are toxic, but they should stay and work?

You people crack me up. If its toxic you should be encouraging them to leave not stay. If they stay I assume they are being fairly compensated because anyone with any backbone doesnt stay at a toxic company that doesnt compensate them fairly. I guess the other explanation is that Game devs are just weak and dont know how to manage their own lives and need "government regulation" to manage it for them.

Every companies power is in the employees. If you dont like the compensation LEAVE. It really is that easy and once you realize that you will start making more money because someone needs your talents and will pay you for them. Or no one will in which case you were getting paid fairly and had no right to complain.

rainslacker35d ago (Edited 35d ago )

It's not exactly easy to just replace a bunch of developers because they decide they don't want to work, especially at the end of a project. It can take a month or two to replace someone. Some people don't work those hours in most dev houses, and they don't lose their jobs.

milohighclub35d ago

@stupid

I'm sure a rockstar employee can get a job any studio, a small one with less hours.. They ain't forced to stay at rockstar.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 35d ago
MoshA36d ago

If not for this level of ambition, Witcher 3 & this would have been mediocre. You have to decide.

-Foxtrot36d ago

Yeah seems like he's bragging about it the way he's been going on. Literally just seen this with one of Jim Sterlings videos and he nails it.

https://www.youtube.com/wat...

bigc07200436d ago

Not true. I've worked 80 hours of actual manual labor. I was a selector in a warehouse. We were paid 11 cents per case. Brought home 3k a week....in a WAREHOUSE. Granted, it's still not good for the body, but it's almost over, and they will be glad they did it after it's over. They will reap the rewards in the long run. I'd have no problem working on it for 100 he's a week, if I were qualified somehow. Entrepreneurs work their asses off to get their businesses off the ground. It's part of the grind. I bet there will be gamers who grind this game 100 hrs in a week. Again, I would too, if I were unemployed 🤣

rainslacker35d ago (Edited 35d ago )

I don't mind doing it occassionally. I understand that sometimes, it's important to the success of a company or product, and since I tend to take pride in my work, as well as any product I create, I do what I have to do to make sure its done. With where I work now, I have weeks where I end up working 60 hours. I'm not required to. But since I make tools for people who make games, I know how important it is to make sure my products work. So, if I need to make something work for them, I'll stay late, work from home, go in early, skip lunches, or just do what I have to do to make sure that everything goes as smooth as possible.

About a year ago, one poor dev was working on something that was critical to get done for a milestone pay out. His part was the last thing that wasn't working, and no one in his studio could figure out why. he, and a few others were working as long as they could stay awake trying different things, testing, trying to fix again. They were sleeping at the office so as not to waste time in the morning or evening. When they couldn't get it to work after a week, they contacted me, and I ended up working 4 days straight in a similar manner. I had a bit of leeway to go home and shower, but I spent a good amount of time at home going over their code, or asking them to try new things, or rewriting functions of my own tools to see if it would help. All in all, I probably put in 65 hours in those 4 days, along with the rest of my job I had to complete, and still had to go in on Friday and Saturday. But I ended up getting interested in making sure that dev got their job done.

People sometimes don't realize the kind of feelings that people get for the product they're making during the process. It often becomes something that they care about deeply.

I worked on a few AAA games in my early career, and on one we had a few weeks of crunch, 60-80 hours a week(too stringent of a deadline and we got behind). One we had about two months of crunch, about 50-60 hours a week(planned from the beginning of the project), and one which really just had some days where we had to work longer(we were way ahead of schedule, and actually just staying mostly to implement features that ended up being locked out during the feature lock stage, so it was completely optional, but many people wanted to make that game better. The first two games rated in the 80's, the third, which was ahead of schedule, rated in the mid-90's, and was considered to be a great addition to the series.

The point I'm making is that not all crunch is bad, nor as bad as some people make it out to be. 100 hours is excessive, but manageable in short sections, but there is a lot of down time in developer houses, even during crunch. The reason the people often work extra hours is to get something done to make sure that the next day they can move onto the next step after testing. Some of it is because there are major bugs which poor management feels can be fixed through crunch, but places like that usually release sub-par games.

SolidGamerX36d ago

Well I suppose they could have delayed it and people could have complained about that instead, always something.

bigc07200436d ago

Exactly. I'm sure they aren't paid, nor treated, like a Walmart or Amazon sweatshop employee. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Give me my game fvckers!!!

rainslacker35d ago

While that's true, if you look at Sony, they have delayed a few of their bigger games. Sure people complained, but ultimately, they released great games.

Now, I don't know if Sony is doing this to prevent crunch, or make the best game possible, or just trying to find a better time to release a game. The point I'm trying to make though is that although people complain, it doesn't matter in the end.

That being said, I know that a lot of crunch goes on at any studio that makes games which are considered the best of the best. You don't really get hired at a studio like that unless you're willing to work like that. Many of those studios aren't mismanaged....just really ambitious to make the best product possible.

Ultimately though, many people do grow tired of that kind of thing, and end up either going to smaller studios, making an indie studio, or just leaving the industry all together. I don't know if its worth going to another studio in many cases for this reason though, as crunch is pretty typical in the industry....for better or worse.

Mulletino36d ago

They choose to work there! If they don’t like it and are talented then surely there are other opportunities. I’m sure many artists do the same thing when putting out a record, movie, or book that they are pationate about. If this is what it takes to produce rockstar quality games, and there are people willing to do it then I don’t see a problem.

PhantomS4236d ago

It's not ruining their lives if they are willingly working the hours, also there is probably insanely enticing overtime.

SierraGuy36d ago

And royalties. Once it sells like crazy.

Adirzzz36d ago

Wow.. have you all stopped for a second and think maybe they got it split? Who said same person worked 16hours per day, maybe they had like two separate teams working 8-8 hours ?? Maybe extra man replaced and rotation ? They just said rockstar worked 100hours per week not every single man.. but y’all know to bark first. And even if they did, they chose too, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t happy about that with the cash they got lol

rainslacker35d ago

Typically, you'll have different parts of the team that will be needed to work at any one time. Engineers that program may not be required all the time, because once they write their code, they have to wait for the game testers. Many are only really responsible for specific things in the game, and may not work on other parts....which is more common with projects that have teams as large as this one. Animators may not be needed in full force, and artists may just be tweaking stuff and not really needed to work more.

The one's that tend to have to work the most are the team leads, the level designers and artists....as they put things together and that's where a lot of problems come from, and the system engineers who often write a lot of the core code that makes everything work together...because that interaction between different code sets often causes issues and can be hard to pinpoint, and a lot of times, when you fix one problem, something else can come up.

In my own experiences, maybe 1/4 of the team really ends up working that many hours, while most may work regular hours, or maybe an extra 10 or so, which can come from just coming in early, staying an hour or two late, or skipping lunches....but these studios pay to have food brought in to keep people in the office.

The testers tend to work the most hours, as they are kind of the crux of making sure things they've found were fixed and now working right. They're hourly, temporary employees, and they tend to make serious bank during this time. My did an internship for a game, and I made about $2000 a week, slept at the studio, was fed three meals a day, and played a game I really didn't like(FPS) for 16-20 hours a day. Slept maybe 4-5 hours, then went right back to work. I pretty much made my own schedule, and they never got on me for needing sleep. I was one of about 30, and at least 15 others worked the same way. The rest worked a more reasonable 50-60 hours.

Adirzzz35d ago

@rainslacker TL::DR tnx for strengthen out the idea and the fact that it’s not that bad, it’s their choice, and ppl should stop make of Rockstar a SATAN. Grow the fuck up ppl, all u know is to be negative and talk shit bout others, which is surprisingly amazing that u manage to do so even in a “caring standing for” the employees . God.

MrBobSugar36d ago

Life is difficult. Quit complaining.

Muzikguy35d ago

These headlines are ridiculous. They could say that 10 people worked 10 hours during the week and claim “we worked 100 hour weeks”. So argue it doesn’t mean anything

Sam Fisher35d ago

They shouldve hired double, create night shift team, and switching teams everyday, making it 24/7 without killing employees

Seraphim35d ago

yep, nothing new here. CrunchTime!! All to meet a deadline instead of pushing it back a couple months.

rockwhynot35d ago

I know right all to make a stupid game.

wwinterj35d ago

Ah yes the cliched comment that's posted for upvotes. Well done!