The biggest Lego Star Wars game to date, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, reportedly took its developers nearly five years to make, a process that included a lot of crunch, mismanagement and high employee turnover. Polygon report.
Released today, April 5, the game has had a turbulent development since 2017. Several current and former developers from TT Games – the Knutsford, UK-based studio and TT Fusion, Wilmslow, UK – describe a culture in which overtime is actually mandatory Concerns about the company’s ongoing problems have largely gone unresolved.
One employee said overtime was “a very soft-spoken extortion” and was told “if people don’t start working overtime, there will be problems.”
When the company was founded in 2005, TT Games considered overtime to be voluntary and paid, but that changed in 2010. The studio’s department head decides whether to classify the extra hours as overtime or “flex time.” Overtime will result in extra pay or time off, but “flexible hours” are capped at 40 hours and can be exchanged for tardiness and extra vacation time. Developers have been warned against the consequences of putting in extra hours of work, they’ll let teams down, and say it’s resulted in many working 80 to 100 hours a week, six days a week, during critical periods.
According to Polygon’s sources, in addition to long hours, both TT studios are hostile to women. Women were bullied, made comments about their appearance, and were paid less than most male employees.on April 5, 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report, women at the company made up just 2.4% of the highest-paying jobs and just 8.7% of employees in the upper-middle hourly wage quarter.
Much of the development of The Skywalker Saga was held back by the decision to use a new game engine. TT Games is known for its multi-platform Lego games that use a proprietary engine, but to avoid licensing fees from Unreal Engine, it’s putting the game in an untested new game despite staff concerns about its stability and impact on development Above. The developers say that the new engine causes delays in executing animations and crashes frequently, reducing work time.
Towards the end of 2017, in the face of the complaints, managing director Tom Stone held a feedback meeting and, according to employees, not much was done to alleviate the problems. Stone told Polygon that he had “no reports of bullying” at the time and that “for balance, we had a lot of people, even the same person, saying, ‘I really like being here, I love working on Lego games.'”
TT Games employees said the Skywalker Saga was riddled with scope issues, which they believed to be a significant factor in its lengthy development cycle. The directors are asking for new mechanics just hoping they’ll change soon. Management told developers to “go for an 85” throughout development – a reference to their desired Metacritic score. The game has been delayed three times since it was announced in 2019, a fact that developers interviewed by Polygon said isn’t surprising.
TT Games has undergone several management changes in 2020 and 2021, including the departure of studio heads and design heads. According to Polygon, at least 40 employees have left TT Games and TT Fusion since the beginning of 2021.
When asked about the company, TT Games told Polygon that it was “committed to creating a respectful, fair and inclusive workplace for every employee” and that “in recent years, under new studio leadership and Warner Bros. With the support, we put in a lot of effort.. games to foster a culture of collaboration and work-life balance that our employees are proud of.”
Sources at Polygon say that TT Games has decided to move away from the NTT engine for future projects and instead use Unreal Engine. They also said it had been more focused on limiting the overtime hours its employees could work over the past few months.
One new trailer The Skywalker Saga launches today, highlighting a redesigned combat system, upgrades, and new Force powers. It seems that all of this has come at a huge cost in the lives of its developers. TT Games’ culture of crunch contrasts with studios like Double Fine and Respawn Entertainment, which tout little to no crunch during game development.As more studios face crisis and developers’ Increased interest in joining unions, hope that working conditions everywhere are starting to improve.