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Psychochild

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Mar 9, 2009, 7:13:06 AM3/9/09
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I posted a response to Adam's original manifesto on my blog:

http://www.psychochild.org/?p=627

The short version is that I think we'll be better served by trying to
identify the core issues we want to deal with instead of throwing
solutions to see what sticks. I think Adam does bring up a lot of
good points, but if we're going to get buy-in on this from other
developers and studio heads, we need to show our work and show what
issues we're trying to address. I think this also has a lot of
benefits for the game industry beyond seeing people treated better.

I also think we should avoid being too dogmatic about this. Each
situation is individual, obviously. And, just because someone doesn't
want to, say, give equity stake to every employee doesn't mean they
don't want to work toward improving the situation.

Have fun,

-Brian 'Psychochild' Green

Andrew Crystall

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Mar 10, 2009, 11:41:57 AM3/10/09
to Game Studio Manifesto
Well, as Adam mentions this is something he's actively working for -

And I agree with him that that's the right approach. It's very well
say to say that identifying the core issues will help, but I honestly
think this has been gone over to death. People have said a lot on this
(and frankly, the IGDA's inability to get a QoL document out there
speaks volumes to me), the time to stop worrying about before-the-fact
buy in from studio heads compared with going ahead and making the
company has to come.

At some point, you have to simply show that the approach of valuing
your workers, of creating a people-focused, intensively cooperative
and open work environment is competitive. Even if Adam can't carry off
his entire program (and I'm sure a fair amount comprimise will go on),
establishing that those principles can make a game studio *work* will
do more than more talk.

I freely admit that it's extremely attractive personally to me,
because I've experienced some pretty terrible treatment at the hands
of employers in the past.

Alec Lanter

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Mar 10, 2009, 11:53:06 AM3/10/09
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It's very well say to say that identifying the core issues will help, but I honestly think this has been gone over to death. People have said a lot on this (and frankly, the IGDA's inability to get a QoL document out there speaks volumes to me), the time to stop worrying about before-the-fact buy in from studio heads compared with going ahead and making the company has to come.

I couldn't agree more.  The thing I see stall progress more than anything else is an insistence on getting absolutely everything documented up front.  There comes a time when you have to realize that certain aspects of a system are going to remain fluid and must be taken on a case-by-case basis, or you'll be permanently stuck in decision paralysis.

That being said, it does get a little more complicated with people, because you have to be sure that the flexibility doesn't leave someone feeling they've been treated unfairly.  It might just be one of those cases, though, where this kind of setup won't work unless everyone involved has enough vested interest in making it work that they're willing to overlook petty personal things for the success of the idea.  (Hmm...starting to sound like a propaganda agent, aren't I? *lol*)

I think the dedication to transparency will help, though.  It's easier to get rid of people who are actively hindering an organization when the whole world can point to the documented problems and say, "See?  It wasn't a personal issue.  That person was a bad influence on the company."

Just my two cents. :)

-- Alec
"There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." -- Unknown

Wiqd

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Mar 11, 2009, 1:15:26 PM3/11/09
to Game Studio Manifesto
I made a somewhat length reply to Psychochild's blog post, but I'll
repost it here as well:

"I think it's funny that even in an industry that's supposed to be
"fun," the gaming industry still falls prey to business practices that
make it hell to work in some places.

I have a friend who worked for Square on FFXI, then moved to working
for Blizzard on WoW. I heard from him once a year: just before the
launch of an expansion or content patch when he got a break. That's
horrible to be under that much workload that you basically work at the
bottom of an ocean and have to resurface just to communicate with the
outside world.

I ran a management test once while I worked at BYU in Hawaii. I was
given a project and had a team of 6 students with me. Instead of
setting down a bunch of rules and regulations, time management ideas
and whatnot, I told them "Look, you've all been chosen because I
believe you want to learn and do whatever it is you're studying. This
project will give you the opportunity to do both ... a lot."

I didn't tell them they had to work after hours or any longer than
what they wanted to. The only rule I made was "If you break it, fix
it. I don't care if you have to research it or ask for help from me or
others, but fix it yourself so you know how to fix it next time."

Long story short, they would come in at all hours of the day / night /
weekends and even SUNDAYS (apparently that's a big issue for mormons)
to do work. Not because I asked them to, but because they wanted to.

It really makes me think of the movie "Grandma's Boy." If gaming
studios worked like THAT, I think it'd be a fun place to work and
people would WANT to be there. Problem is, everyone in charge always
sees their company as a business FIRST. I know you need to make money
and to think of it otherwise seems counterproductive, but
seriously ... If your employees WANT to come to work and WANT to do
extra work for overtime or whatever, you're doing something right."

To add on to it:

The manifesto is great in that it tries to deal with some things that
Adam has undoubtedly come across and that even those of us not
directly in the gaming industry can relate to. It also goes so far as
to ask for help, which several people have provided. The issue again,
as stated by Alec, is that all it is is basically a technical document
for how the studio will be run. This is important for VCs who want to
know everything is going to be run properly, but if you're trying to
convince people that your place of work is heads above the rest, you
really need to get into the lifestyle that the studio will promote and
employ.

That may be getting away from the scope of the document or this little
social project you have going, Adam, but I'll present an example:

Netflix (I believe it's them) once reported on their office lifestyle
a while back. Their employees work only as much as they think they
need to. They are given a deadline, but they're not required to be in
the office. At all. They can work remotely, they can work in the
office, they can go on vacation and work from a cruise ship if they
want. They ARE expected to meet their deadlines and be productive for
their projects though.

This is the kind of thing your manifesto reminds me of. You, of
course, haven't stipulated everything you're thinking of, I'm sure,
but the ideas are there. In the previous post I made on your actual
blog post (minus the wage part) I still believe that workers do their
best when they don't feel forced to work.

There are so many pieces of software out there that promote
collaborative systems (game engines like Hero Engine, Microsoft's
Visual Studio) that requiring face time in an office isn't necessary.
Some people LOVE to go to the office, others hate it. Some people
can't work from home because of distractions, some can. I think the
idea that if anyone should adopt it should be the gaming industry, is
the idea of options! The gaming industry of late has been riddled with
questions and concerns about options in the games being produced
today: subscription or microtransaction? MMO or local multiplayer?
console or PC? stuff like that. Why not incorporate the idea of
options into the very fabric of the game being built? Provide options
for your employees; options they actually want in a workplace.

Work doesn't HAVE to be boring. It doesn't HAVE to be mundane and it
certainly doesn't HAVE to require crunch times. Crunch times are for
companies who don't plan well, don't execute well or don't manage
well. Most of these things can be eliminated if your team (and senior
team) have as much invested personally as well as financially in the
project as anyone else. Your idea of team ownership is very good for
this, but you'll always have to be on the lookout for those who just
ride coattails. Your idea on transparency will deal with that though,
so it works out.

This is long so I'll stop, but hopefully I haven't rambled incessantly
and some of what I say makes sense.

Peter Harkins

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Mar 11, 2009, 2:10:50 PM3/11/09
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On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 10:15:26AM -0700, Wiqd wrote:
> Netflix (I believe it's them) once reported on their office lifestyle
> a while back. Their employees work only as much as they think they
> need to. They are given a deadline, but they're not required to be in
> the office. At all. They can work remotely, they can work in the
> office, they can go on vacation and work from a cruise ship if they
> want. They ARE expected to meet their deadlines and be productive for
> their projects though.

I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Best Buy here (well, maybe Netflix
does it, but I know BB is the poster child). They call it a
"results-only work environment" and wrote about it in the book Why Work
Sucks and How To Fix It. It works as you describe and was a great read:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001OMHV0K/pushcx-20/ref=nosim/

There's also a pair of books by Ricardo Semler. He was the CEO of Semco,
a manufacturing firm in Brazil that has diversified into a number of
areas. Employees are given very direct control over their work days
(even extending to assembly-line employees choosing their schedules) and
overall company direction.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0446670553/pushcx-20/reg=nosim/


I got a lot about work-life balance out of these two books. I have
personally seen how flexible hours and telecommuting can work well for
creative professionals (eg. designers, coders) but had assumed that work
that had hourly staffing requirements (eg. customer support) would have
to have traditional management and scheduling. After Semler's book, I
think it's at least worth an experiment: make sure employees have the
data management would themselves use in scheduling and understand how
their performance will be measured and judged. And then take your hands
off, let employees pick their hours and practices. I'm not sure it would
work, but now I think it's worth the experiment.

--
Peter Harkins - http://push.cx - http://NearbyGamers.com

Bruce Hennigar

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Mar 11, 2009, 3:13:49 PM3/11/09
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Best Buy may do it on a corporate level, but as someone who worked for Best Buy as a floor computer salesperson, I can tell you that they do NOT work at that level for everyone and therein lies my point. You say that certain positions may require certain styles and I'll agree with that to an extent, but I also heavily agree that experimentation needs to be done.

If you make a lifestyle for your office, the ideas and execution of that lifestyle should trickle ALL the way down to every single person who works there. 1 person can ruin the morale of an office very easily and if you have a group "looking in from the outside" like you do with customer service or something, jealousy is a very real possibility and you want to avoid those types of feelings and mentalities in a workplace.

It seems Adam wants to establish a sense of equality across all jobs from the CEO to the janitor, which is a good idea. I've been in jobs where the CIO / CEO sits with his staff and his door is wide open. Hell he even played Wii with us while we were doing an overnight product upgrade.

I've also been in work environments where everything is very structured and you don't talk to the CEO unless you talk to your manager, who talks to senior management who talks to his assistant who emails him about it. That really sucks because you're reminded of your insignificance on a daily basis. 

It all goes back to making a place where people WANT to go. What I would do is figure out who your staff is going to be, figure out what kind of atmosphere you want to provide, then ask people what they would want in a work environment. Adam is on that path now with advertising the manifesto, so I think he's off to the right start. I know it seems kind of weird to quiz the people before the company is even made as he probably has no clue who he'd hire (or maybe he does) but also remember to take it with a grain of salt. People will put down their most awesomest idea for a place to work and then list no repercussions for not following that. There has to be limits, but if everyone in the biodome is thinking alike and it's been created by them, for them ... it could work out very nicely.

Bruce Hennigar

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Mar 11, 2009, 3:14:49 PM3/11/09
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Oops, Wiqd is me, but I sent this reply from my inbox instead of logging into the groups thing. Sorry if there was confusion.

Steven Davis

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Mar 11, 2009, 3:58:14 PM3/11/09
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While it is entertaining and provocative to talk about manifestos. Wouldn't a core "Code of Conduct" be more useful and likely to be accepted?

There is a real difference between choosing or advocating a style of management & operation than basic standards for treatment of workers.

If you are proposing a business structure for your own studio and want comments, that is very different from challenging the IGDA's Quality of Life activities (or lack thereof).

Steve


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Adam Martin

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Mar 12, 2009, 8:45:01 AM3/12/09
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2009/3/11 Steven Davis <c...@secureplay.com>:

>
> While it is entertaining and provocative to talk about manifestos. Wouldn't a core "Code of Conduct" be more useful and likely to be accepted?
>
> There is a real difference between choosing or advocating a style of management & operation than basic standards for treatment of workers.

The IGDA has been really looking at it in what I consider a very
hopeful (and perhaps naive) "if we build it, then they will come" kind
of way, by assuming that if they invent some guidelines that would
benefit workers then this will be gradually adopted.

What?

Why?

Why would that ever happen?

If the workers could go around happily adopting such things, why would
they need to wait for the IGDA to come along and tell them what to
adopt?

I applauded the efforts, and hoped they'd work, and that I was being
too judgemental and negative. It seems not, at least for now.

I've spent a lot of time talking with people over the past 3 years who
preach a highly optimistic view of organizational culture and mutual
respect between individuals; the problem I saw over and over again was
that there wasn't enough in it for the company for any company (bar
the occasional very rare exception) to adopt it.

And the biggest problem with that is one that I think many of us have
seen: if the company culture is incompatible with a new incoming
management team, it's generally the culture that loses; the CEO
doesn't usually send round an email one day saying:

"Hey, guys, you're all nuts, and I don't really benefit enough
personally from your culture, so rather than try to impose something
on you all, I'm just going to hand in my resignation today, and let
you get on with your happy lives".

So ... I've been looking for overall systems for a company that both
"encompass" the code of conduct stuff but also "depend upon" it. It's
a lot harder to destroy a culture if it's intimately wound in to how
and what the company does.

(obviously, many cultures are already wound in like that - but it's
rarely made explicit WHERE and HOW the culture and company intertwine)

> If you are proposing a business structure for your own studio and want comments, that is very different from challenging the IGDA's Quality of Life activities (or lack thereof).

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. To my mind, this
advances the QoL stuff, by saying: OK, let's stop talking about this
stuff (because the IGDA's talk so far has failed even to persuade it's
own board members) and just go out and do it, and everyone can see
what happens, rather than arguing over what might happen.

Alec Lanter

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Mar 12, 2009, 9:06:48 AM3/12/09
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To my mind, this advances the QoL stuff, by saying: OK, let's stop talking about this stuff (because the IGDA's talk so far has failed even to persuade it's own board members) and just go out and do it, and everyone can see what happens, rather than arguing over what might happen.

That's exactly why I got excited when I read your original post, Adam.  When you get a whole bunch of technical people together, most of us are perfectly happy talking about things in a theoretical manner for EVER, rather than actually doing something about it.  (I'll admit, I fall into that category far more often than I'm happy with.  I stop myself when I catch it, but I don't always catch it in time.)  But get one highly motivated person to say, "F*** it, I'm doing this and you can either come with me or get left behind," and people start moving.

You've kicked the blocks out from under my wheels. ;)  Tell me how I can help.

-- Alec

Bruce Hennigar

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Mar 12, 2009, 9:13:06 AM3/12/09
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@Alec

Haha, that's exactly why I started my project late last year. I was so pissed at waiting for a game company to address the concerns I had with the games being released that I said F it and began working on my own studio making games with like minded people to hopefully prod the industry in some way / shape / form. It may never work, but it feels a lot better to do something than sit around and talk and say "I wish someone would ..."

Psychochild

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Mar 12, 2009, 6:48:19 PM3/12/09
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On Mar 12, 5:45 am, Adam Martin <adam.m.s.mar...@googlemail.com>
wrote:

> To my mind, this
> advances the QoL stuff, by saying: OK, let's stop talking about this
> stuff (because the IGDA's talk so far has failed even to persuade it's
> own board members) and just go out and do it, and everyone can see
> what happens, rather than arguing over what might happen.

Yes, at some point you need to put your concepts into action. That
doesn't mean that planning and information are the enemy, however.
While you can just leap in and start programming a game without a
design document or plan, most professionals would agree that this
isn't the way to increase your chances of success.

My point here is that we need to show our intellectual work here. We
need to make a "design document" for this plan, and just like a real
design document it isn't an immutable, monolithic document. Further,
we need to keep in mind the audience we're doing this work for.
Nobody in this group, as far as I know, is of the "fuck 'em if they
can't work 60+ hours per week" camp, so we shouldn't be writing this
for ourselves. The people we need to be writing this for are people
who are starting to get interested in this topic, and for the people
who will have a stake in the companies where we want to affect change;
those stake holders are usually investors.

The reason I want to know the core issues we are trying to address is
so that I can inform others intelligently. I can't just go to an
investor and say, "I want to do this radical thing because Adam Martin
said so!" I need to be able to show a reasoned case showing the
problem I'm trying to address and the proposed solution with any
supporting information. I also think the ideas should be reasonably
modular so that someone can pick and choose which elements he or she
thinks are important to the business. Coming up with a mass of
solutions "because we say so" is not going to be useful for people
that want to follow this. Having to reverse-engineer everything seems
like more of a hassle than just going with the flow, so I think that
will be what most people will do.

And, I think we need to accept that some speculation about an idea
will happen because it's faster than waiting for empirical results.
Even if one of us started looking for funding today using Adam's
original stated principles, it'll probably be at least a year before
we see if those principles survived in the real world. However, we
need to keep the discussion (and speculation) between willing parties,
at least initially. I think one reason why the IGDA's QoL initiative
failed is because it tried to convince people who were already happy
(ab)using the existing way of doing things, which is most of the IGDA
member companies. If we want change, we need to convince other people
who are receptive to change.

So, if the purpose here is to just go out and do these things and
report back, I guess I'm not sure of the benefit of this discussion
list is as opposed to traditional blog posts. It'll be interesting to
see, but it won't be useful for me if I can't build a compelling case
to the people who matter.

Adam Martin

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Mar 12, 2009, 7:54:02 PM3/12/09
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2009/3/12 Psychochild <psych...@gmail.com>:

> My point here is that we need to show our intellectual work here.  We

Yes, I particularly liked your point about how showing the working
would make it a lot more digestible for a lot of people.

> we need to keep in mind the audience we're doing this work for.
> Nobody in this group, as far as I know, is of the "fuck 'em if they
> can't work 60+ hours per week" camp, so we shouldn't be writing this
> for ourselves.  The people we need to be writing this for are people

I think there's several different audiences, and I'm not sure if we
need a separate doc for each.

From the many comments so far, it seems that a lot of people would
like to know a lot more about the reasoning. Logically, this is the
first step. But ... presentationally, I suspect it's still the
secondary, lesser step.

Certainly, talking to investors, I would expect to (and in some small
cases already have) just show them the final doc and say "any
objections?" to which the answers were "no, that looks cool (as much
as I care to read it)". NB: I was using a much simplified version then
as well, essentially just the section headings, with most of the
bullet points missing.

Eskil Steenberg

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Mar 17, 2009, 1:17:18 AM3/17/09
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Hi

I fear that this is turning in to a two sided battle: Employer vs
Employee. I however think that there is a third and more important
side to it: Creativity.

Back in the day the Directors Guild had fought the studios to always
have the director credit up front at the beginning of the film, and
not stuck at the end when everyone had left the theater. Back when
George Lucas was making star wars, He didn't want any credits to
disrupt the start of the film, so he got in to a dispute with the DGA
and in the end was forced to pay a 10.000$ fine and subsequently left
the guild. The people who had set up rules to protect directors, ended
up invading their creativity.

Normally leaving the guild would mean you wouldn't work again, but
there was one thing that assured that George would work again: Star
Wars. He was able to fund and produce sequels all by him self, and
even if he wouldn't have been he was showered with offers. (Lucas
later remarked that the only way to direct a film and be able to be
home at 6 to be with his kids was, to fund it out of his own pocket)

I dislike corporate over lords, crazy hours, dick producers, market
researchers, and companies controlled by quarter reports just as much
as the next guy. But you know what? Life is too short to argue with
them. If your life sucks do something about it, quit, or stop being
bothered by it. Don't accept the premise of their argument: that game
development is a business. To them it may be, but to you its your
life.

Personally I'm taking control over the situation. I'm making my own
game and no one can tell me what or how to do it. If i succeed i will
be able to start my own studio and do things my way. Is it hard? Sure
it is (Lucas had a mild heart attack during the making of Star wars),
but its my choice. I would rather take control over the situation then
battle with people who don't share my vision at some company.

In a way i do respect the companies who are doing all that, because
that's what they want to do. They want to be money making machines. I
don't, but they should be free to do what they want. Knowing how hard
it is to do something from scratch they have earned the right to do it
their way, as long as they don't hurt bystanders. You cant join Lucas
film and tell Lucas he shouldn't do Jar-Jar because you will loose
that argument. Its his dream not yours. Did you get a heart attack
during the making of starwars? No? then I guess we will have some
Jar-Jar here.

Lucas film is completely non-unionized, yet people would kill to get a
job there. In fact many similar "outside the system" shops have popped
up in the film industry, like Pixar, Robert Rodriguez troublemaker
studios, Peter Jackson or wingnut films / Weta. The funny thing of
course is that the Hollywood guilds are not being challenged by
capitalists, but by artists who see them as anti creativity.

If you take a job at a company you are signing an agreement, If you
don't like the agreement have it changed or don't sign it. Remember
that you shouldn't audition for a job as much much as they should
audition as an employer. I have a little bit of a hard time feeling
sorry for people bitching about a job, they have signed on to, that
they can leave at any time and hoards of people would kill for. If
there is something i cant stand where i work, i go talk to them about
it, if they are not willing to change then ill quit, I don't think I
will be pointing to some union manifesto that i didn't write, wasn't
written with my particular situation in mind and is full of stuff i
don't care about.

Treating each other right is important, but all relations in the game
industry are volontary, i have no interest in "the the industry
growing up", there are lots of grown up industries to join if you
want. I want to work in a place that isn't rigid. If they are employer
made rules or employee made rules that make the industry rigid doesn't
matter that much.

Cheers

E

http://www.quelsolaar.com

Michal Todorovic

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Mar 17, 2009, 12:18:36 PM3/17/09
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Hi,

Great mail. Agree completely with almost all of it.

One point that I did want to make is that there's nothing wrong with a
creative endeavor being a business as well. Being a business means that
you can pay your employees, suppliers, landlord, etc. and still have
some money left over, either in profits or a rainy day fund. It means
that you have a plan where your stakeholders can continue to work
together for the foreseeable future. It does not mean that you have to
ship crap-ware, or do other dumb things to support the market.

To me, having a real business means freedom; it means my company has a
diversified income stream from various sources so that none of them can
impose draconian terms. It means being able to build what we want to
without having to listen to the fantasies of those who are not
themselves capable of creating a product.

When I'm helping run a company that is a real business, then almost
everything else falls into place on its own.

Michal

Alec Lanter

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:09:21 PM3/17/09
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I think part of the problem, though, is that when you have a "real business", then you have stockholders/stakeholders who aren't part of the creative process, and whose only interest in the company is how much of a return do they get on the money they put into it.  That's obviously a valid concern for investors, but to my mind part of the purpose of the type of company Adam is talking about is to eventually turn it around so that the only people who are investors are the ones working there.  Any time you have money coming into a system from outside the set of people who are actually working on producing whatever widget the company produces, you're going to have those draconian demands that make no sense in the real world of making widgets, but which are backed by the threat of pulling funding.

-- Alec

Adam Martin

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:21:13 PM3/17/09
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2009/3/17 Alec Lanter <kinta...@gmail.com>:

> I think part of the problem, though, is that when you have a "real
> business", then you have stockholders/stakeholders who aren't part of the
> creative process, and whose only interest in the company is how much of a
> return do they get on the money they put into it.  That's obviously a valid

Erik Bethke posted a response (about perceived illegality of the core
principles, but read the comments), but at the end made a good point
in passing:

"At the end of the day, like anything this is a marketing problem.
You need to find someone with the cash to fund the company who
believes that they will make more money by sharing this manifesto."

For a long time I fretted about "what would happen if investors found
out?", but ultimately I realised it was the same issue as "what would
happen if potential staff found out?".

They would either see that this works for me, and go along with it, or
feel it would be against them, and walk away.

Which, in fact, is perfect. Of all the problems that cause budding
startups to fail, "acrimony among the staff" / "fundamental
disagreements between shareholders and executives" are two of the most
lethal, hardest to deal with - and yet sadly all too common.

I've heard it said many times that you should choose your co-founders
in a startup more carefully than you choose your spouse: for the next
few years you'll be spending more time with them and trusting them
with more of your life (finances, legal liabilities, external
representation, etc) than you would the person you marry. If that's
even vaguely true (IME it's a damn good idea, but it's also extremely
difficult to do) then you should be as up-front as possible with each
of shareholders, employees, managers, etc.

Michal Todorovic

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:18:34 PM3/17/09
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Agreed.  However, that's an ownership issue.  :-P

You either have no outside investors, or have them only control a small amount of the company so that the company's management (ie the creative guys) control the company.

However, as soon as you take outside money, you're now obligated, on a legal and moral basis, to take their interests into consideration.  Which is a departure from what we're talking about.  And with no money, no product gets made.

It always goes back to the money issue...

Michal

Darius Kazemi

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:48:09 PM3/17/09
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This is why I bootstrap rather than take investment.

-Darius

Andrew Crystall

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:50:16 PM3/17/09
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Yes, but the entire thing is about the fact that Adam (and I)
believes that his manifesto will lead to a company capeable of
delivering games.

If the investors sign up to a business with a known and binding plan
for making money, then they're going to have to go along with it.
Their choice is to evaluate the plan and decide if they think it's
worthwhile.

Yes, it's going to make some investors run screaming. But there's
venture capital out there which /is/ willing to take risks, and a
hands-off view to their money.

AndrewC

Alec Lanter

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Mar 17, 2009, 2:57:09 PM3/17/09
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That's kind of what I was getting at, but *ahem* much more better phrased. ;)

My main point was that when most people think "real business", they think of the typical setup where the people calling the shots have no code of conduct besides the old standard "Our money has to make more money", and a ruthless, dehumanizing process of making that happen.

Do you have to have investors in order to get something like this started?  Certainly.  The trick is to find the investors who understand that the definition of "real business" is wider than what most of the world would accept.  You need the investors who will buy into Adam's manifesto as a way to get more productive, higher quality workers, rather than seeing it as a way to let the lazy, sniveling, greedy workers steal all the company's money.  ( Oh, how I loved working for a company who thought all their employees were out to steal from them.  I was so happy, I couldn't take more than three months of it. ;) )

-- Alec
--
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Bruce E Hennigar II

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Mar 17, 2009, 3:15:49 PM3/17/09
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All of this talk of business investors understanding / not understanding what is going on with the businesses they invest in really makes me wonder why people just settle with investors that have no knowledge of what they're investing in. I mean, to me it makes sense to find an investor that understands the gaming industry, the desire to be creative or even revolutionary in your drive and, while maybe not being completely hands off, will submit to the company to have the control necessary to make great games and not just ride the coattails of other ideas from successful companies.

 

Hopefully we can all admit that the gaming industry at large needs some reform in many areas, a lot of which fall in the design aspect. There need to be new ideas, ideas that actually differ from cash cows like World of Warcraft and similar 800 lb gorillas. Problem is, very few people want to put their money in ideas that go against the grain. Innovation and revolution is stifled in this aspect and to me, if I'm reading the last few messages correctly, that stifling begins with taking money from people who A: don't understand what's going on in the gaming industry and B: want total control over all aspects including the creative design aspects so the produced games function like the current money makers.

 

We need to get away from investors like that. We need funding from somewhere that doesn't need their fingers dipped in the creative process, where innovation can thrive and new things can be designed and released. It may not work the first time or the second time, but eventually new ideas will win people over and new games will be designed that get off the track of just following those who've made money in the past.

 

No one will make another WoW. Not even Blizzard. There HAS to be something new and innovative. Unfortunately, few people have the balls to accept failure before success.

Eskil Steenberg

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Mar 17, 2009, 3:18:26 PM3/17/09
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Hi

While I think it is a terrible idea to have some sort of industry wide manifesto or code of conduct, I think Adam is doing something really great by writing one for his company. In away i would say whats the point of creating one if you don't have a vision worth writing down. It may be very different from what I would do, but thetas the point. We should do different things and we should try different avenues, that's why having something industry wide is so wrong. If something works it will spread like the google 20% rule. I have written a similar manifesto for a 24H news network i would like to start (not happening any time soon...). The reason i argue with Adam, is that i want him to to think it through properly and not have a knee jerk reaction against how other companies are runned (Not to say he is), that doesn't mean i think he should do it my way. If he sets up a manifesto, and when i read it i feel like there is some reason i wouldn't want to work at that company i think i should tell him. Again perhaps he is not making a company that would hire someone like me, so it is in no way necessarily wrong.

Taking money or not is a very hard decision to make. To me ownership is like the constitution, it is this thing that doesn't set the rules, but keeps the rules and the rulers form spinning out of control. My goal is to let employees be very free and set the direction of the company, that's why I _wont_ give out stock options. Keeping ownership to me isn't about making money, its about safeguarding a creative place. I don't mind sharing the money.

If you can find someone with money that you can trust, you are a lucky man, they really are out there I know from my experience at kleiner perkins Kleiner. Find someone who bets on you, not your particular company. My feeling is that a manifesto for your company will help you tremendously with your investor relations.

Cheers


E

Bruce Hennigar

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Mar 18, 2009, 2:28:16 PM3/18/09
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On behalf of someone finding difficulty in posting to contribute, I submit this article for everyone's perusal:


Nice article, imo.

Also, I wrote a bit on everything we've been discussing about the manifesto as related to a movie I love. I just noticed the fit of the metaphor as I watched the movie yesterday, so I hope you enjoy it. It's the first half of the post, so if you get to the part about the sandboxes, that's more bent on general game design than this manifesto.


-Bruce

Eskil Steenberg

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Mar 23, 2009, 2:38:52 AM3/23/09
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Hi everyone.

Regarding how to run a game studio, let me for a moment pimp my talk on Tuesday 4:45 at GDC "Making Love" If you cant attend (or wait) Ive written up a length text mirroring my talk on my blog:

http://news.quelsolaar.com

Cheers

E
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