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Blog: My time at Telltale Games

The next weblog submit, except in a different way famous, used to be written by way of a member of Gamasutra’s group.
The ideas and critiques expressed are the ones of the creator and now not Gamasutra or its mum or dad corporate.


(That is an interview carried out at the Recreation Dev Unchained podcast)

It is a visitor submit from a former employee at Telltale Video games that desires to stay nameless. There are portions of the item that used to be redacted in order that our visitor might not be identifiable. This submit doesn’t have an related podcast episode with it and is simply an editorial on my own.

I labored QA at Telltale video games all over Stories from the Borderlands, Recreation of Thrones, and Minecraft. I used to be a standard QA tester, and it used to be my first activity within the trade. I had heard slightly in regards to the running stipulations within the video games trade however used to be younger and desperate to make my get started within the trade, in particular a former senior stage worker I had met at PAX gave me the singular perfect bit of recommendation I won with reference to TTG: “In the future they will fuck you. Get what you wish to have out of the activity after which get out”. I did not in particular need to imagine it on the time as I had simply scheduled my interview, however the phrases would inspire me to take depart of the corporate after some abuses and mismanagement. 

    Once I began there used to be little or no time for coaching because the paintings load used to be really extensive for QA: We had been liable for trying out on all platforms (PS3 SCEE, PS4 SCEE, PS3 SCEA, PS4 SCEA, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Cell which had kind of 11 other examined skus itself) with a crew of 15 other folks. In most cases for two simultaneous tasks. Plus there used to be generally a number of testers taken to having a look on the early construction phases of the following episodes, or for a rankings construct. Out crew would later develop to round 20 at its peak all over my tenure, but it surely used to be by no means sufficient to get the entire paintings executed in a cheap period of time. I might say my reasonable week at TTG used to be round 48 hours, generally a part day used to be executed on Saturday or Sunday, with the occasional height of over 60 all over liberate weeks. And I attempted “to not push myself to exhausting” by way of most effective running that a lot time beyond regulation. The longest day I had used to be 18 hours, from 10 am to four am all over the discharge of one of the most episodes of Stories from the Borderlands.

    The time beyond regulation very much contributed to a deficient high quality of existence whilst running at Telltale. It used to be then again an evil shackled to you as the bottom pay for a tester used to be 12$/hour within the San Francisco bay house, notoriously pricey even all over my time there. So whilst us in QA had been in reality paid time beyond regulation, this most effective did sufficient to offset the price of residing in such an extraordinarily pricey position the place most effective running 40 hours per week would possibly imply slight hunger or lacking hire. God forbid if you happen to got here down with a illness and could not paintings as a result of whilst the remainder of the salaried workers got a limiteless PTO coverage, which is in itself slightly of a entice, the QA division were given zero paid day off. No ill days, no holiday, most effective time beyond regulation pay. This may ultimately alternate whilst I used to be there when the state of California made it unlawful not to supply a minimum of three ill days paid for all full-time workers. It nonetheless wasn’t sufficient and there have been various occasions I went in with a slight chilly as a result of I felt like I could not come up with the money for to take the time off. Fortunately I had a perfect supervisor who would let workers who had been coming in slightly ill take the time off and mark it as paid in order to not get different testers ill. Alternatively that modified after the corporate restructuring.

    In January of 2015 the corporate restructured. Where had grown and used to be proceeding to develop at an exponential price. It used to be round 200 after I began and used to be rising to 250 inside a couple of months and confirmed no indicators of forestalling, which triggered the higher control to reconsider its plans and reorganized its construction. This used to be additionally the time that Dan Connors “stepped down” from his place as President of Telltale, placing Kevin Brunner within the double President/CEO place. That is the place I might love to take a snappy second to explain Dan and Kevin, the co-founders of Telltale, from my critiques and point of view as any person who interacted little or no with them in my view; so take all of it with a grain of salt. Dan and Kevin had been reverse facets of the similar coin. Dan used to be implausible. He cared, now not almost about placing out nice video games but additionally in regards to the other folks and critiques of the ones round him. He would communicate to me within the elevator and would come down now and again to the QA room and ask in regards to the state of the construct, the unfiltered reality of the standing and my critiques on what had to be executed to get it executed briefly and grow to be high quality. (I’ll digress a 2d to elucidate that at my time QA used to be at the third ground of our development, in conjunction with customer support. The remainder of the studio used to be at the 4th ground. QA used to be nearly solely divested from the improvement crew, excluding the leads) Kevin Brunner used to be a Lovecraftian nightmare; an entity of worry that you just seldom noticed however may just rend your existence aside on a whim. The tales had been of him being quoted announcing that “[Brunner himself] is the one irreplaceable a part of this corporate.” in addition to reprimanding and firing other folks reputedly with out warrant. He used to be described to me by way of a dressmaker that needed to display their paintings to Brunner as “a sociopath”. So no one in my division believed for a 2d that Dan Connors stepped down of his personal volition. Moreover, with this restructuring, our supervisor additionally left “of his personal volition” With no need additional wisdom of the historical past of the operations of the corporate, that is the purpose that I might mark as “The start of the tip” for Telltale.

    My supervisor’s tasks had been then given to the internet division’s supervisor, who did not have the time, power, nor the compassion to in reality lend a hand any individual in QA. Telling any person that works 6 days per week to “Do recreation jams at the weekend so you’ll be able to end up you understand how to design” to transport into every other division is not precisely useful recommendation. This may be what drove me to seek out every other activity. However at the corporate stage issues had been choosing up. There have been extra tasks being deliberate and the per thirty days liberate agenda used to be in complete pressure. But it surely used to be costing other folks their lives, the tight closing dates and dependable rewrites that had been without delay as a result of Kevin Brunner had an unwavering and unchallenge-able imaginative and prescient for Telltale video games that may ultimately spell doom for the corporate. Everybody at Telltale knew that the fanatics had been stagnating on our method. Even in QA we arranged a small crew to discuss how shall we alternate it up within the hopes of presenting it to designers. However all of that may fall on deaf ears. I stayed within the bay house and stored involved with many former Telltalers and would frequently pay attention over beverages how considered one of them had been suggesting adjustments to a undertaking to give a boost to the sport play revel in, most effective to be strung in conjunction with ever moving assembly dates and in the long run having their efforts and concepts omitted. I might pay attention in regards to the turnover price of workers three months in feeling like battle veterans all the time in fight with the last closing dates and crunch time, ultimately to burn out and depart. Even again then maximum people knew it wasn’t a query of whether or not or now not Telltale used to be going to cave in on itself, but if it used to be going to.

[this is a repost from the original article can be found here with resources and links]

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