13 votes

Starbound developer Chucklefish allegedly did not pay around a dozen of its workers

12 comments

  1. Grzmot
    Link
    I sincerely hope that all this coming forward about business/work practices in the video game industry makes some people seriously consider joining it. What the people here are describing is...

    I sincerely hope that all this coming forward about business/work practices in the video game industry makes some people seriously consider joining it. What the people here are describing is another classic tale of people enthusiastic for their work being used and abused because the higher ups are telling them that it'll help them advance their career in the industry, which is obviously a huge promise to a new big-eyed dev who just wants to work on his life-long passion: Video games.

    The Lawhead situation is similar, although she obviously suffered through some real abuse as well. She was in a foreign country, constantly strung along because they needed her and she was invaluable to the project and she was under the the impression that this job would be a massive advancement to her career.

    I'll hopefully have my Computer Science degree in a year, and I'm never ever planning on getting in on this shitshow. Sure, maybe it won't be as "exciting" playing IT admin for some corporation or being a software engineer for commercial projects, but damn, no crunch, no constant industry drama, no harassment from rabid fans or people who (rightfully) hate the industry's predatory business practices but don't understand that that's not on you as a junior or even senior developer.

    I could imagine doing something on my own in my free time, but I'm never joining a video game company.

    12 votes
  2. SourceContribute
    Link
    If the developers were "donating" their time, there's no issue but I assume they were under certain deadlines and worked together as if they were employees. If a department (or ministry?) of labor...

    If the developers were "donating" their time, there's no issue but I assume they were under certain deadlines and worked together as if they were employees. If a department (or ministry?) of labor finds that people worked as if they were employees, they are entitled to the same protections as employees. I've been in that situation in Canada where I was on a 1 year contract but treated exactly like an employee (vacation time/pay, health benefits, and so on). So there was no difference between me and the full time employees. The ministry of labor said that made me an employee no matter how an employer tries to spin it.

    This may be the same case here. If those developers count as employees, then they're entitled to at least minimum wage.

    This is why I always advocate for people to keep timesheets even if you're working on an sweat-equity basis. You need documentation of the work you did. Commit logs for developers can help because they show you worked on particular days at least, but a timesheet shows more granularity.

    5 votes
  3. [8]
    LukeZaz
    Link
    List of archived tweets from some of the workers in question Really looking like a mess here, and it totally caught me off guard. I figured Starbound had some troubled development, but nothing of...

    List of archived tweets from some of the workers in question

    Really looking like a mess here, and it totally caught me off guard. I figured Starbound had some troubled development, but nothing of this magnitude. From the looks of things, nothing illegal was technically done in so far as I can tell, but plenty of people were strung along for ages with implications of potential jobs or payment that never came. Another sad reminder to never work for free, unfortunately.

    Of note, Chucklefish has since responded to this:

    “We’re aware and saddened by the current allegations against Chucklefish regarding Starbound’s early development.

    During this time both the core crew and community contributors were collaborating via a chat room and dedicated their time for free. Community contributors were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours. Everyone was credited or remunerated as per their agreement.

    It’s been almost a decade since Starbound’s development first began, and from then Chucklefish has grown considerably into an indie studio that has a strong emphasis on good working practices, providing a welcoming environment for all employees and freelancers.

    Our doors remain open to any related parties who wish to discuss their concerns with us directly.”

    3 votes
    1. [7]
      FZeroRacer
      Link Parent
      These attempts at damage control are fairly poor since Chucklefish already had a history of being shitty to developers. That's why both the Risk of Rain developers as well as the dev behind...

      These attempts at damage control are fairly poor since Chucklefish already had a history of being shitty to developers. That's why both the Risk of Rain developers as well as the dev behind Stardew Valley stopped working with them cold turkey.

      I earnestly hope that people stop working with both Chucklefish and Nicalis since it's been very clear that they're doing the publisher equivalent of grifting.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        Spel
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Do you have a source for that? I can't find anything by googling and it's also not what I remember from when it happened. Chucklefish is also still responsible for the Switch and iOS/Android...

        That's why [...] the dev behind Stardew Valley stopped working with them cold turkey.

        Do you have a source for that? I can't find anything by googling and it's also not what I remember from when it happened. Chucklefish is also still responsible for the Switch and iOS/Android versions, right?

        5 votes
        1. FZeroRacer
          Link Parent
          It's a combination of hearsay + friends + my own opinions as a software engineer. There were similar murmurs of discontent when Risk of Rain first came out with Chucklefish. ConcernedApe dropped...

          It's a combination of hearsay + friends + my own opinions as a software engineer. There were similar murmurs of discontent when Risk of Rain first came out with Chucklefish. ConcernedApe dropped them almost entirely outside of the platforms you mentioned which my guess was an ironclad part of the contract.

          4 votes
      2. [4]
        samueleyeam
        Link Parent
        Wait, what's wrong with Nicalis?

        Wait, what's wrong with Nicalis?

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Diff
          Link Parent
          At least wrt Cave Story, I guess they stole large chunks of the reigning fan translation and changed enough to make it look like their own. They also grabbed a few community mods for the game...

          At least wrt Cave Story, I guess they stole large chunks of the reigning fan translation and changed enough to make it look like their own. They also grabbed a few community mods for the game (I've only ever heard/seen Boss Rush, there was a diffs floating around of the mod and CS+, they're basically identical) and pulled those into their commercial game. Other than that I think they have a reputation for severe lack of communication and a talent for delaying/canceling projects with barely a word.

          2 votes
          1. samueleyeam
            Link Parent
            Didn't know that about CS. But the other is just bad PR or announcing stuff too early. I stopped looking at upcoming games personally. Builds hype and what not, then by the end of it you're let...

            Didn't know that about CS. But the other is just bad PR or announcing stuff too early. I stopped looking at upcoming games personally. Builds hype and what not, then by the end of it you're let down (at least it my experience).

            So I just watch for recent releases or old games. That way I avoid the patch/dlc culture that is the entire industry. R/patientgamers has been really awesome for that.

            2 votes
        2. LukeZaz
          Link Parent
          Well, it's been 11 days since you asked, but Kotaku recently posted an answer for you, depressing as it is to see :/

          Well, it's been 11 days since you asked, but Kotaku recently posted an answer for you, depressing as it is to see :/

  4. [2]
    Deimos
    Link
    Chucklefish has released a statement in response now: https://www.pcgamer.com/chucklefish-responds-to-allegations-it-exploited-volunteer-starbound-developers/ There's some more info from some of...

    Chucklefish has released a statement in response now: https://www.pcgamer.com/chucklefish-responds-to-allegations-it-exploited-volunteer-starbound-developers/

    There's some more info from some of the workers in that post as well.

    3 votes
    1. Rainbow
      Link Parent
      The games industry is so scummy. Why anyone would volunteer for a company that isn't a non-profit is beyond me, but I feel it needs to be outlawed (at least for minors) at this point since kids...

      The games industry is so scummy. Why anyone would volunteer for a company that isn't a non-profit is beyond me, but I feel it needs to be outlawed (at least for minors) at this point since kids who don't know any better keep getting suckered in.

      4 votes