Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has led to extensive crunch at development studio TT Games

In late 2017, development studio TT Games began work on Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga at a time when dozens inside the company were at odds with management. Citing frustration over tight development schedules, the company’s crunch culture, and outdated development tools, more than 20 current and former TT Games employees tell Polygon that calls for change over the years had largely been ignored.

Multiple people who worked at the studio remember breaking down outside of work hours because of the workload and some of the stresses they were under.

“It was a very soft-spoken blackmail,” one former employee says. “‘If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems,’” although the problems were never specified.

Some former staff even came up with a term to describe their experiences at the studio, referring to them as “PTTSD.”

With The Skywalker Saga — an adaptation of all nine main films in the Star Wars series — management promised employees a longer development timeline and a new engine. Unfortunately, this did little to improve the situation, according to employees. Multiple staffers say that management ignored warnings about switching to NTT, a new engine being developed internally, and say that the longer time frame was unsuccessful in alleviating crunch.

Over the past few months, Polygon has spoken to more than 30 current and former TT Games employees, all of whom spoke anonymously due to nondisclosure agreements and a desire to avoid negative repercussions. They opened up about the studio’s challenging work culture over the last decade and a half and The Skywalker Saga’s difficult development cycle. Two years have passed since TT Games and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced The Skywalker Saga, and the game has been through three delays. Meanwhile, TT Games, which employs hundreds, has seen high staff turnover and has undergone a change in management since development on The Skywalker Saga began.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga screenshot
Image: TT Games/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

A Lego empire

The company’s challenges started well before The Skywalker Saga. According to staff, the culture of crunch at TT Games goes back to the company’s formation in 2005. That was when, following the success of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, British game studio Traveller’s Tales acquired publisher Giant Interactive, forming what we know today as TT Games.

Over the years, TT Games has found tremendous success with its line of Lego games, producing well-reviewed titles that have sold millions of copies and won awards. These days, they are commonly referred to as some of the most family-friendly games available, due to their simple and approachable gameplay. But former employees say that the company’s decision to release new Lego games annually resulted in a culture of crunch.

Six former employees who worked under Jon Burton, co-founder and creative director at TT Games, say he would often yell at staff to return to their desks if they tried to leave work on time, and that he regularly

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God of War’s no-cut camera built incorporating ultrawide support incredibly demanding

God of War’s Computer system port is an increased model of a fantastic video game, with a couple of features we adore to see on Personal computer like DLSS upscaling, a versatile FPS limiter, and ultrawide assistance. That past a single was a no-brainer inclusion for God of War’s builders as they started off operate on the Computer variation of the video game, direct UX designer Mila Pavlin informed me. “I consider this is just a remarkable recreation for the widescreen structure,” Pavlin said. “It has all those big vistas, the huge sweeping moments, and the cinematics that participate in to that… So I imagine that was something that was truly crucial to the staff, as we were being searching at how to existing the video game in the ideal probable way.” 

For UI designers, producing a match operate well in ultrawide contains some pretty noticeable duties. You have to ensure that UI features that are ‘pinned’ to the corners of the monitor in 16:9 aren’t uncomfortably out of perspective on a 21:9 monitor. But that’s just a single of the concerns developers have to deal with to make ultrawide work. The industry of look at at that wider facet ratio can be a massive dilemma for online games that ended up initially only constructed to support normal widescreen.

“It truly is not just setting resolution and accomplished. I desire it was that easy,” said Matt DeWald, the senior technical producer on God of War’s Personal computer port. If you widen the component ratio without the need of expanding FOV, it just won’t seem rather right to our brains. But at the time you widen the FOV, you commence viewing items that you had been in no way meant to, like in negative ‘HD remasters’ of aged Tv set displays.

“Now you will find all this stuff that was on the edge and minimize off on 16:9 that now is in the scene,” DeWald said.  “Like ‘Oh no, Atreus is warping by means of the scene because he is finding into posture.'”

“So you had to go back again and animate all all those factors. It demanded enjoying by the whole activity. And not just cinematics because we’re a no-slice camera, correct, it is really the one particular shot the full way. So it’s seriously taking part in via the full game… all these managed camera moments, like when Kratos is making an attempt to kill one thing and he goes into a locked animation, the camera’s controlled to that scene, or you will find some gameplay instant exactly where a little something demonstrates up like the Draugr popping out and Kratos whipping out the axe and it frosting up.

“Those people usually are not cinematics per se, they are just gameplay moments. You’ve acquired to go via all of individuals and check to see: Was there a Draugr on the facet of the display that popped into visibility due to the fact he’s heading to be attacking from

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From Star Wars To GTA: 2021’s Biggest Gaming Disappointments

An Ubisoft NFT helmet, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, and a character from Balan Wonderworld appear before a dark gridded background.

Image: Square Enix / Ubisoft / Kotaku / Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Hell-year 2021 is almost over. It’s been a terrible year for more reasons than I can count. Pondering all the bad, disappointing, or just plain sad news that transpired within the video game industry alone is enough to make you want to jump into bed, hide under the covers, and binge on TikTok, candy, and/or Animal Crossing until you pass out.

But instead of running and hiding, let’s take a moment to look back at just how awful 2021 really was, examining some of the biggest disappointments, worst trends, and just plain not-great news this monster of a year threw at us. If you then wanna crash and sleep until New Year’s Eve, well, no one will blame you. But for now, let us turn and cast our analytical, steely eyed gazes back over the year that was. It was really something else.


Bobby Kotick still has a job

Activision Blizzard’s terrible treatment of women, seemingly endemic problems with sexual harassment, and generally toxic workplace comprised the biggest story of 2021. The year saw multiple ongoing lawsuits, numerous investigations, and a procession of executives leaving, apologizing, or both. And through it all, longtime CEO Bobby Kotick has remained.

Even after it came to light that Kotick was reportedly an active participant in some of the toxic bullshit happening at the Call of Duty mega-publisher, multiple industry leaders spoke against his leadership, and staff walked out in protest, Kotick still remains, like a leech lodged in a hard-to-reach spot. And knowing how the world works, the odious, unfathomably well-compensated executive, who laid off hundreds of employees in 2021, will likely continue to be safely employed next year.

Battlefield 2042 botches its launch

Sure, historically, Battlefield games always launch in rough shape. But that’s not a very good excuse, and this time around folks didn’t seem so keen on paying to beta test EA’s latest big, online shooter. BF2042 suffered through a bad launch, losing a lot of players in the process, and now continues to struggle in finding its place while competing online shooters like Fortnite and the new Halo Infinite prosper and grow. Seems that even a brand as mighty as Battlefield isn’t “too big to fail.”

An example of a bad model from the GTA San Andreas remaster, featuring a character with weird arms and a broken neck.

Screenshot: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

GTA Trilogy is a buggy meme disaster

On paper, remastering the classic PS2-era Grand Theft Auto games sounds like a great plan. They haven’t aged very well, and could benefit from updated controls, improved visuals, and a bevy of other tweaks. Sadly, the long-rumored GTA The Trilogy: Definitive Edition that landed in November was a terrible mess. Sometimes it managed to look nice, but mostly it was filled with broken features, bugs, terrible-looking rain, and newly ugly character models. Following a rare apology from Rockstar, the collection is in a better place thanks to

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