A former Red Dead Redemption developer recently spoke out about Rockstar San Diego and he wasn’t congratulating the company on their recent VGA Game of the Year Award.
The former Rockstar employee, 'Zero Dean' recently published a post on his blog titled “My Life at Rockstar Games.”
Back in 2007 the game artist started work at Rockstar San Diego on their latest old western title which would later be revealed as Red Dead Redemption. In his post on “The Zero Dean Experience,” Dean points out alleged flaws that he claims took place at Rockstar San Diego during the development of their hit summer blockbuster, Red Dead Redemption - problems which apparently started from the beginning and continued throughout his stay with the developer.
Here are a few highlights from Zero Dean's post:
"When I asked about learning materials I was told that 'maybe' something could be done and there 'might' be something in the budget to buy some Gnomon instructional videos (my suggestion) – nothing ever came of this."
"It really wasn't until after my first year at the company when people (higher-ups) started freaking out about how long the project had been in development, how much money was being wasted, and — and this is the big one — release dates."
"And that's when the increase in the deception and manipulation by management began — slowly at first — and then over time it got totally nuts (by my standards)."
There's no doubt that these are heavy statements, not only about a certain area or section of development, but definitely put a spotlight on the whole San Diego company branch. Dean implies they have issues with opening to improvement, team organized, and have instances of deceitful management.
It’s not very often that someone who was a part of something so successful would speak negatively about a project or company of this magnitude - especially in the open. Dean certainly runs the risk of appearing unprofessional and untrustworthy. So what got this guy so fired up? But Zero Dean spoke out some more:
"The situation at Rockstar only got worse. Hours increased from 8 to 12 — and days increased for 5 to 6. Anyone on a salary was not compensated for the additional hours – as far as our paychecks were concerned, we were still only putting in 40 hours per week."
"Morale continued to deteriorate as the lies increased," ... "And everyone was on edge. And we were being spoken to in meetings like incompetent 10 year olds."
These last two statements are particularly interesting. It is against the California law (even for salaried employees - in most cases) to abstain from paying overtime for any work exceeding eight hours a day or forty a week. Dean seems to claim that not only were employees not receiving overtime pay, they may not have even been receiving compensation for working over 40 hours a week.
When employees confronted upper management, Dean claims employees were rebuffed - treatment that would definitely lower morale in the game development workplace (or any workplace for that matter).
Despite all the problems, Zero Dean remained at Rockstar San Diego, at least for a bit longer. He changed his mind when he claims one boss in particular crossed the line:
"But it wasn’t until my boss took credit for my work — and politely argued with me about who had actually created it (I had the original documents on my desktop) — that I went back to my desk and started “cleaning” it — and then I realized I wasn’t cleaning it. I was packing."
"I was pretty upset with him over that for a while — but I realize now he deserves my thanks — he pushed me out of hell. And thank you Rockstar. You taught me exactly how I don’t want to run a business or treat employees (or human beings) ever."
Zero Dean must have had quite the experience over at Rockstar San Diego. Bad press has been gravitating towards Rockstar San Diego Since as early as July, from the Rockstar wives incident, to layoffs made right after the immensely successful launch of Red Dead Redemption. There is a question begging to be answered, however: if what Zero says, and previous allegations made are true, then how did Red Dead Redemption turn out to be such a great game?
Zero Dean has since removed the post from his blog - because of certain outlets reposting without permission -- and misstating claims he made in the post. Though, considering he spoke out against the creators of one of the best game of 2010, it's hard to know what would happen.
Ranters, do you think Zero Dean is telling the truth, or not? Does it affect your opinion of Red Dead Redemption and the hugely successful DLC RDR: Undead Nightmare?