Spark Unlimited

  www.sparkunlimited.com
  www.sparkunlimited.com

Spark Unlimited Reviews

Updated December 14, 2014
Updated December 14, 2014
16 Reviews
3.4
16 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Craig Allen
9 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great People! Amazing Learning Experience!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I have been working at Spark Unlimited as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Really great people and atmosphere.
    People there are really talented and are awesome to work with.
    Definitely learned a lot from everybody there.

    Cons

    There will be times where there are a lot of miscommunications with the directors that would cause people to do a large chunk of unnecessary work sometimes. Mostly a problem when it's crunch time.

    No opinion of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent team, not so excellent management.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Spark Unlimited as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    The team I happened to work with was one of the friendliest I've ever encountered. Everyone worked hard and put forth equal effort. Sad that the entire team was laid off when the project was done. The free coffee was beneficial as was the food that was ordered during crunch.

    Cons

    Didn't manage expectations well with the publisher. Seemed to underbid the contract and then hire a team made up almost entirely of junior people to try and cut costs. Many of the mistakes made were due to there being too many junior folks who were given no direction for what they were supposed to do.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    On a personal note, I wasn't offered benefits when some of my coworkers work with the excuse that my term of employment was shorter than theirs.... BY ONE MONTH. Seriously, if you're going to offer benefits to your contract employees, give it to all of your contract employees or give it to none of them. Not having benefits was unfair and completely unnecessary. Also, do a better job picking your leads. Let's just say the lead of my department was working on the wrong game...

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Great place to work, but doesn't offer much stability

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Small, independent developer which allows for a lot of inter-deparment communication. Input is always appreciated and people are willing to listen. There's no real sense of "hierarchy" - so this allows exposure to new tools for everyone to learn. The benefits and pay were also a huge plus.

    Cons

    It's quite disorganized. I felt like management wasn't assertive enough with the Publisher, which inevitably led to poor decisions and a lackluster project. Despite management's positive attitude (which no-doubt helped boost the morale) - it wasn't enough to make the project better.

    My other biggest complaint is when I spoke with HR during my interview, I had asked if the position was contract or permanent. They responded with "it's full time" - which initially led me to think the position was permanent. Instead, it was just temporary full time. I wish the HR person would have been more clear about this from the beginning. "Full-time" does not necessarily mean permanent. Please be more mindful about expressing this to future employees. Unfortunately, once a project is finished, everyone is let go, and that's a shame - I worked with some really solid people when I worked there.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stand your ground - I feel like this studio has the potential do well and go far.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Chew 'em up, then spit them out...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Overall, a great collection of smart, hard-working senior developers.
    Excellent, mature Unreal Engine 3-based code and Maya-based tools
    Cool Ventura Blvd. location(s)

    Cons

    Management is its own worst enemy. Burns bridges with publishers, juggles money between two teams when it can really only afford one, etc.
    Only a tiny, core group of employees survive project-to-project -- everyone else gets "rolled-off," usually beginning at alpha. Management swears this is the only possible way to survive as an independent developer.
    Great games ruined at the end by management missteps, roll-offs and plunging employee morale.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stick to one project at a time! Keep as many people as possible till the end to get it right, get it polished! If you haven't pissed off the publisher by beta, you just might get a follow-on project FOR ONCE, which means the next game will be even better because you were able to keep the same experienced developers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great people swimming in chummed water

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Team Member in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Team Member in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Very experienced cross discipline team. Very few Jr team members
    Works under the philosophy of "never attribute to malice, incidents that can be attributed to laziness."

    Cons

    Spark burns every bridge that they cross. The number of publishers that they have not biblically pissed off is moving to zero.

    Has no capability to effectively manage publishers expectations.
    Dose not possess the project management skills to polish the product before it goes in the box.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It is most likely way to late

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Not Stable

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Programmer in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Programmer in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Upper management really does appreciate your sacrifice to be there working hard. Near lots of different places to eat. Most employees are competent at their jobs. Competitive pay.

    Cons

    Scrum is not so well implemented, it's more of an intrusion on your work day.
    Project managers are not very excited about making a great game.
    Parking can become tiresome. Nearly everyone gets laid off at the end of a project.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Longer sprints. Project managers need to be responsible for the backlog. Just dump Scrum.
    Get some air pots for the coffee.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Great experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior FX Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Former Employee - Senior FX Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I worked at Spark Unlimited as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very fun and friendly working environment with lots of very knowledgeable people. One of the most enjoyable jobs I've had.

    Cons

    Initially, production was a little disorganized, but that was remedied.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Character Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Former Employee - Character Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The projects are fun and the people I worked with were truly great and passionate about their jobs.

    Cons

    The only issue with spark is the lack of consistency between projects.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    My advice would be to try to keep the same team from project to project. Perhaps this will increase the quality of the products.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Wonderful place and great people. Talent runs deep.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Enthusiastic and knowledgable team and a great project mad working at Spark a blast. We used the UDK it helped a lot to author assets and turn around levels with haste.

    Cons

    Could've used more time and a slightly larger budget to make the game a stand out. The incredibly talented team wanted to take this just a little further and that gets difficult when the funds are set. Being lean and mean has its benefits but what we are trying to sell is quality, there is a price for that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trust your workers, keep things on time and be transparent, we are all in this together.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Worked with great people on a great project but top level management can be dysfunctional.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Environment Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Environment Artist in Sherman Oaks, CA

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Spark has been able to assemble very talented teams of good people in the past. However very few of these good people are left.

    Cons

    Fails to retain talent because projects aren't landed consistently. There are layoffs at the end of every project. In some ways, these layoffs have enabled Spark to cull high level members that cause dysfunction but repeatedly loses the most vital members of the team.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop over-promising and underdelivering to publishers. Installing the wrong people in high level positions without oversight has repeatedly caused drama, wasted time and wasted resources. The poor oversight may be caused by an out of touch CEO who understands business but isn't genuinely, personally invested in the product being created. Decisions become reactive instead of visionary.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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