Insomniac's Ted Price: Games studios must break the habit of brute-forcing through problems

Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price wants to see more developers being "creative within constraints" in order to end the cycle of crunch.

The pressures of games development, and the impact this has on staff, was one of many topics covered during his keynote interview at last week's Develop:Brighton conference.

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Rimeskeem86d ago

There is significant evidence showing that human brains are actually better at adapting to problems when taking periodic breaks. This occurs especially when someone is stuck on a problem.

EvertonFC86d ago

Totally agree, it's kinda like when you can't beat a boss after 20 tries and you just decide to sleep on it and then beat the boss first time the nxt day 😂🤣

Ninver85d ago

It never fails. Crazy how that works ay

Rimeskeem85d ago

The is actual science to show that taking 30 minute breaks after a long time focusing on a singular task results in better processing. So if you get stuck on something and you aren't making progress. Take a break and do something else, come back and you will likely make improvements.

Flewid63885d ago

So true. It's like all that practice soaks up in your mind overnight. Next day...bam. Boss beaten.

SyntheticForm85d ago

So true.

When you're flustered and frustrated you lose your judiciousness and make bad inputs to your controller or keyboard.

When you take a break, your brain puts things back into focus; focus that you lose as the deaths mount up.

Outlawzz85d ago

Never thought I would receive such great life advice off of a video game analogy.

Video games really are life lol

XbladeTeddy85d ago

So true, it's because the brain can process a problem without outside stress when you sleep. Humans have incredible brains and even sleeping you learn.

DogJosha85d ago

I can do 2 weeks worth of programming in 8 hrs when I'm focused, but if I take a break during that time, I'm back to 2 weeks. Research always treats us as if we are all the same which can't be further from the truth.

FreeFallFrenzy85d ago

I certainly wish that was the case fighting Sigrun!

+ Show (6) more repliesLast reply 85d ago
Popsicle85d ago (Edited 85d ago )

This is very true. I own a small business and anytime we are working on a big project and I get stuck after many hours, the answer to the problem will often smack me in the face while in shower the next morning. If I rush through a project due to time constraints, I often identify the very next morning the things that I could have done better. The human brain is extremely complex and the way it functions is very interesting.

Rimeskeem85d ago

Precisely why I got a BA in Psychology. I wanted to learn what I could and apply it to help people, I am trying to get a PhD/PsyD in clinical psychology!

NeoGamer23285d ago (Edited 85d ago )

I have a rule, if I spend more then an hour on a problem I park it for the next day. A large amount of the times I do that, I come back to it and have it solved in minutes the next day.

Einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That's what people do when they work on a problem too long.

Popsicle84d ago (Edited 84d ago )

@Rimeskeem psychology is my favorite field of study and the classes I enjoyed the most while taking my pre-reqs. I find human behavior to be so intriguing. I often wish I would have studied psychology instead of business. Good for you and good luck on your PHD/Psyd.

NeoGamer23284d ago

By no stretch of the imagination am I pysch expert at all. My job as architect and development manager is solving problems. Almost all day and every day. I am more that I learned it by doing it it 10,000 times and failing probably 9,000 of them. LOL.

RaidenBlack86d ago

So the final boss fight was downsized from its original design to avoid crunch.

blackblades86d ago (Edited 86d ago )

Is that all you have to say from that whole speach. Just to spin negative thought

RaidenBlack85d ago (Edited 85d ago )

Its not a spin, my god! Stop being this insensitive!
Insomniac CEO Ted Price: "Originally, we were going to have a boss battle that took you all over New York City, and it was way out of scope. The temptation is to just brute force it, put our heads down and run through the brick wall. But the team took a step back and thought about what was important to the players.
They rethought the fight and realised they didn't need to destroy half of New York to pay off the relationship. In fact, it would have worked against what we were going for.
This permission to be creative within restraints needs to come from the leaders, who set the tone for the project.
In the stress of hectic production, we often feel we can't take our foot off the gas pedal, but that's often what it takes. The team needs to have permission to pause and come up with a better way, instead of bulldozing through the problems and causing potential health problems."

GhostofHorizon85d ago

Just assume that everyone who doesn't agree with you is a fanboy?

I don't get a sense of downsizing from that article, just a more efficent way to tackle the problem they had which was literally the whole point of the article.

Perhaps you're not communicating clearly but downsizing is a wrong term here, that's all.

ColtPSSX85d ago ShowReplies(1)
Christopher85d ago (Edited 85d ago )

Things you missed from your quote "They rethought the fight and realised they didn't need to destroy half of New York to pay off the relationship. In fact, it would have worked against what we were going for."

That last part is critically important and a sign that it's a redesign that also benefited other elements.

Things you put in that weren't at all mentioned: "avoid crunch." Causing health problems is them trying too hard to make it work, not necessarily a crunch element, but a major stress element. Especially considering how many departments would have to work on it and any changes to it throughout the whole process since it would encompass the whole game world.

HardeepTheGuru85d ago

Ted Price: Game developers are human beings first then they are game developers

Christopher85d ago

While they haven't received any awards lately, they have won many awards for the best place to work in the industry. I'm going to assume it's because of how they treat their employees.

monkey60285d ago

This coming from a studio that consistently raises the quality of its output and has for numerous years been voted as one of the best businesses to work for. More people should listen to Ted Price! He is clearly doing something right.

Eonjay85d ago

Fav comment:

He also revealed that the studio is eliminating higher education as a requirement for "almost all of [its] roles," adding: "This means if someone can't afford to obtain a university degree, experience is a valid substitute."

Love this mentality. I also must admit that kids coming out of school with a degree are often completely useless. Degree are for people with no experience. I would rather take someone with experience although they may actually be more expensive.

Tacoboto85d ago

Mmm, don't pin this on unexperienced kids. General software developer here as a degree-only guy when I graduated. A decade in now. We have a fool that commits his code and it won't even build. And yet he's kept on the team... . My favorite coworker would've proven your point though - he stormed out and quit when the boss told him he wasn't supposed to use some new technique he learned in school that week.

But the others, degree or degree-less it doesn't matter. Some people don't care about the quality of experience as long as it ticks some arbitrary X number of years. And the problem therefore lies within management. How are inexperienced grads going to get effective experience when the people hiring them invest minimal effort in training, or don't even try, or don't even care? Useless broken-build committer has been a dev for nearly 20 years. I'd take a Women's Studies grad over that pain to deal with.

(I do agree though - *quality* experience > arbitrary metrics. But when only the arbitrary metrics exist, employers need to be prepared to handle that. Instill bad patterns early on, that's what they'll be trained to expect, and the very nature of game development seems to promote bad patterns of employment and employee investment)

Eamon85d ago (Edited 85d ago )

To be honest, this has been employer mentality for the last 10-20 years.

In the 20th century, degrees were a rarity. But towards the end of that century, more and more people attended university. Simple supply/demand means the as more degrees are awarded, their value decreases because degree-required jobs aren't increasing as fast. Of course, this differs per industry. But generally speaking this is true.

That's why a lot of employers these days require not just a Master's Degree but also some form of experience - even for entry-level jobs.

One thing for sure, creativity and cognition is not measured by your university degree. All it proves is you were able to follow a programme and were disciplined and intelligent enough to finish it through.

Valve has had a culture of hiring modders since the 90s. Random people who used to make MP maps for Doom and Quake were hired by id Software.

Saaleh85d ago (Edited 85d ago )

In general, High degree only represents that the person is dedicated enough to finish the course. Usually most of the material learned in that course are forgotten.

Having a degree only represents a unique adaptive spirit toward that unique education system. Nothing more. Every person in that course have different [goals / skills/ weaknesses/ strengths/ approach / memory strength / different level of processing logic / life issues ] but what they share is the adaptive spirit. A great leadership will harnesses this attribute even if the graduate is lazy or slow as hell. All he/she have to do is follow a clear work flow. A wise leader will deliver that flow to encourage adapting and growing.

- Stop reading if what I’m saying doesn’t relate to your situation in your country, -

That’s why I hate interviews in my country when they are directed toward graduates or graduates with very little experience, companies expectations and job requirements are usually unrealistic and deliberately stupid. So they literally destroy the opportunities of many dedicated and smart people just so that they can hire cheaper workers outside my country. So both smart and slow graduates are having hard time finding a living..

If the graduate have a good spirit and with ambitions and willing to fulfill the job and learn it. Than all you have to do is bring great leaders to guide these types of workers and you will grow gems in your team, sadly companies in my country usually lack these qualities [ a reasonable HR and lack of a productive and reasonable leadership and zero reward when you exceed in the job ] . Usually their priority in Hiring and leading is mainly saving money and throwing responsibilities and deadlines without guidance or wisdom. They don’t care if you are smart or not. So even if you were hired as a Graduate you are stuck with the same low salary for 7 years if you don’t leave the company. They keep throwing unrealistic pressure/ deadlines, they throw their responsibilities on you. The more you do the more they expect from you.they always assume you are wasting time as a graduate. So all you get is drama instead of wisdom and reward. If you take a break after great progress or tough issue or if they see you helping someone, the boss calls you his office and act tough instead of understanding what is going on.

If graduates are suffering like this, imagine people with no degree. That’s why insomniac sound awesome.

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