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The annual finger pointing dance!

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Mike Bossy


Anyone who's worked in the AAA game business knows that this is a fun time of year. Big holiday titles are wrapping up and hitting their serious crunch mode. This annual ritual is one reason why I switched to a central technology team away from the actual game teams. After going through the burn of crunch mode too many times I have no desire to ever go back again.

A little less publicized ritual that takes place at this time of year is the finger pointing dance. The way this works is that when your holiday title is in trouble you start trying to deflect blame to anyone possible should your project not make its shelf date. This means the developer starts pointing at the publisher, the publisher starts pointing at the developer, etc. It's a fun game to play and you quickly learn that there really are no friends in business. At least not when someone's ass is on the line.

This past week my upper management got caught up in the dance. The big holiday title for our company started pointing fingers at my upper management who in turn started pointing back and things got worse from there. Lots of nasty emails, face to face meetings with plenty of yelling. Fun fun.

To help make sure our team doesn't end up with the finger pointed at us last, my team is charged with helping out this title by updating some of our tech to make it work better in their game. And of course it's needed ASAP. So my team gets charged with a task that should take the good part of a month, but only given a few days to complete it. Needless to say late nights and much stress follow. Somehow against all odds we made it to the other side and produced this tech in record time. Of course we only had time to do sanity testing which means the possibility of another figer pointing dance in the future if it doesn't work as advertised.

In the mean time I've lost almost a whole week on my own project due to long hours at work and being too tired to think straight. I'm going to have to push my target completion date back a week which starts to put my submission deadline to the Intel contest in jeopardy.

For those looking for the "Stability" of a corporate job, remember that the paycheck isn't the only thing that is "steady". So are the politics, the fire drills and the nagging feeling that even if you do a great job, there's always the possibility of a drive by finger pointing to end your career.
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I'm pointing solely at you for the failure of your personal game projects. These large men from security will watch you clean out your desk and see you out.

Thank you for working at GameDev. I just had the front door cleaned, so try not to let the door hit your ass on the way out and mark it up.

And now, to have a power lunch with myself.


Me, you're fired for failing to complete your personal game projects. Get the hell out.

You can't fire you! I'm going to sue me!

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I cannot tell you how unspeakably glad I am that we're not aiming at a Christmas release on our project.

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Ah, a timely reminder of why I'm a Ph.D. student right now instead of working at a game company. Although it only took one Christmas crunch time and finger pointing dance to crush my dreams [grin].

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