Treyarch – Santa Monica, CA
Here, you will challenge yourself with our weekly workshops that focus on each essential engine component including AI, Gameplay, Graphics… Treyarch
I have been working at Treyarch full-time
Best education in your life on how to not to do things in a software / entertainment company.
Antiquated and folklore development are done because they were done yesterday and the day before. Can ask "why you do things", and the answers you invariably get are, "oh, that's just the way it's done." Nobody knows why they do what they do other than it was done years ago. Nobody thinks about things very deeply and are very naive when it comes to analyzing other games in the franchise, and more importantly, their own work. Workaholics, too many of them who enjoy 12+ hour days throughout most of development even during non high intensity periods, some combination of either they don't have a life, watch Netflix at their desk all day, or just scared to go against the status quo to improve work environment. Culture at the studio celebrates it as you care more or get more done, when in reality, those people just work more often creating more problems than they solve. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them and make up for intellectual laziness with brute force, resulting in inelegant solutions. You can see coworkers on Facebook / Twitter / etc... bragging about how little sleep they get because of work as if some sort of badge of honor, in reality they are bragging about how incompetent their performance and grumpy their attitude is going to be when they can't stay awake tomorrow or report someone because they value maintaining their marriage / social life and left after a productive 8 hour day. Makes those who don't stay late feel inadequate for "merely" working reasonable hours, leading to guilt and poor morale all around. Management doesn't mind a butt-in-seat mentality, people stay late out of obligation even if they aren't really being productive. Toxic Meetings, creative killers that interrupt people's flow and rarely have a clear agenda, easy to drift-off subject and convey abysmally small amount of information per minute. Often contain at least one goofball that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone's time with nonsense. Because there is only one meeting room in a far off part of the building, people resort to meetings at desks which interrupt everyone else around them when there's 5+ huddled around and talking, or they are held outside in the atrium where 3-4 other groups are having meetings within arm's reach and that isn't counting the occasional airplane firing up engines for takeoff. Hierarchical structure, very micromanaged. Army of middle men production staff ensuring upper management holds absolute control and insight of everything, creates lot of inefficiencies which most people won't mind because it's easier to watch Netflix or play games on the clock than to question things that could be done better in a few hours as opposed to 2 days or 2 weeks to actionate. Also creates smoke and mirrors because upper management refuse to shed light into their decisions or the future of the company, it makes it hard for team members to self evaluate how they are contributing when there is a disconnect with upper management who aren't transparent and are averse to a direct feedback loop with them.
Advice to Management
Fire workaholics. They may claim to be perfectionists, but that just means they’re wasting time fixating on inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task. They don't have sound judgments, their values and decision making are skewed. Non-workaholics are home at a normal time because they figured out a faster way to get things done, not because they care less. Reduce the turnover. Don't make people managers because they are good at doing their job, how they do their work and how they handle people have no correlation. Lot of managers are talented and there's no question about their technical skills, but they often lack sociological people skills. There's a lack of trust when management doesn't have clarity or the framework of handling people beyond just issuing out work. Look at the BO3 credits on how many "Additional Work By..." there are for people who departed the studio, why are there that many and does anyone ever evaluate why there is a culture where people get to a point that they want / have to leave. Empower your people. The best people are the ones who understand the content and they're a pain in the butt to manage but put up with it because they're so great at the content. And that's what makes great products, it's not process it's content. Reduce the amount of over collaboration. Too many meetings with what feels like a producer for every person present. Again, check the BO3 credits and you'll find 25 production staff compared to the other studios in the franchise (or even any studio) who have a 6th of that figure at most. Better life-work balance. The credits of BO3 open with thanks to employee families for enduring the hard sacrifices of, supported by evidence from other reviews here, failed marriages, missing out on time with your kids, career advancement, or personal development. Why does there need to be a thank you for enduring that, let alone, such sacrifices to begin with. There is a lot of room for improvement, why isn't it actively being addressed.