Spark Unlimited Reviews

Updated February 5, 2015
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3.1
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Craig Allen
8 Ratings

14 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

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


  2. Long hours, poor compensation, heavy layoffs

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

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Great people who were dedicated to the project.

    Cons

    Over hires leading to multiple layoffs over the course of a project. Way too much crunch, we're talking months.

    Advice to Management

    Plan better.


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

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

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

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


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  5. Helpful (1)

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

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

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Great people swimming in chummed water

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    It is most likely way to late


  7. Helpful (1)

    Not Stable

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

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


  8. Wonderful place and great people. Talent runs deep.

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

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

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


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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  10. Terribly run, but a good learning experience.

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

    I worked at Spark Unlimited full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Everyone is really nice and the work standard is very relaxed. It's normally a pretty low stress environment for a game studio.

    Cons

    Haphazard scheduling, no one wants to take responsibility, management doesn't like to listen. The quality of work is very hit or miss. Because the company seems to be run so badly it can mean long hours when they could have easily been avoided. Stay away if you are looking for a stable company that puts out good work! There is a hire and fire project to project mentality.

    Advice to Management

    Management really drops the ball. They need to really tighten the ship and get better at planning and scheduling. Some senior management seems to have completely lost touch and they are sinking the ship.


  11. Good company and great team

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

    I have been working at Spark Unlimited full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The company has always treat me with respect. The atmosphere is very positive and the team responds well to the challenges. Location is pretty good too.

    Cons

    Previous reputation is very bad, hopefully it will get better after Lost Planet 3. Pipelines in some areas can be improved for smarter productivity.

    Advice to Management

    Spend more time in planning and review production pipelines.



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