Today is a big day for Lego Star Wars, having just released a new gameplay overview trailer for its upcoming April 5th release. But the exciting look comes alongside a lengthy — and frankly depressing — Polygon writeup about the extensive crunch at developer TT Games, which has been making the title for the past five years and already faced numerous delays.
The culture of crunch at TT Games goes back nearly to beginning of its lengthy tenure making Lego video games, exacerbated by a need for yearly releases due to both working for movie tie-ins and specifically making “kids’ stocking fillers” (e.g. the game needed to be out by the holidays). Reports of bullying, mandatory overtime (that wasn’t treated like overtime), and other horrid accounts (the QA team was particularly poorly treated) abound, resulting in what several former staff members referred to as “PTTSD.”
For The Skywalker Saga specifically, issues abounded — management pushed a new unwieldy “NTT” engine instead of switching to Unreal like a lot of workers wanted, feature creep was a prevalent issue, and the game’s direction seemed to focus on areas that ended up being dead ends. All of this has occurred with shifts in management along the way, and while there’s been slight improvements in some areas, it still looks like ~10% (roughly 40 of 400 workers across TT’s offices) of employees have left the company since the start of 2021.
Now the game has a release date after a laborious five year process, with both former and current staff fairly confident that it will ultimately satisfy fans, but everyone’s left wondering why they had to go through all this to make it happen. Hopefully the spotlight will put more pressure on TT to fix things going forward.
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