mattihase

Corporate Ethics (An open letter)

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Posted (edited)

Back when KSP2 was first announced I posted a question in the Announcement thread on this forum to Star Theory asking if KSP2 will be developed ethically. Completely free of crunch and other developer-hostile practises. They responded and they said yes. Then this happened: KSP2 is no longer being developed by Star Theory, and the way it ended up no longer being developed by Star Theory was, regardless of why it happened, Unethical As All Hell. As someone who's both interested in video games and as someone who works as a game developer I'm not sure I can ethically speaking purchase this game anymore. I'm sure that, as a community stuffed full of developers, modders, computer scientists, artists and content creators that there are many of you that will share that sentiment.

Furthermore the transfer over to the new studio, the delays and the fact that the KSP2 license was pulled from Star Theory over them refusing to agree to Take 2 Interactive's terms for a buyout all makes me nervous that the game will not be developed as promised: with an ethical degree of respect for the health and mental wellbeing of its developers, free of exploitative mechanics such as micropayments, mod friendly, unhindered by dangerous "anti-piracy" spyware, and available free of exclusivity on all major digital storefronts. 

So as a community I would like to ask for you help. As KSP2's main audience together I think we have the influence to ensure KSP2 is held to an ethical standard that will not be compromised by Take 2 Interactive's corporate decision making. I know it's a big ask, I'm sure we've all been excited for the promise that is KSP2, but if we all agree to stand together as one to hold Take 2 to a set of ethical standards, I believe we can ensure that KSP2 is developed in a way that is healthy for the developers and released in the state it was promised to be in to the community. 

Below is a statement I have written. I'd like you all to read it and if you agree with it I'd appreciate if if you showed your support to this sentiment by signing this petition

WE, THE KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM COMMUNITY

PROMISE THAT WE WILL NOT PURCHASE THE GAME KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2
UNLESS IT ADHERES TO THE FOLLOWING ETHICAL STANDARDS:

1) THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM AT INTERCEPT GAMES MUST NOT BE FORCED OR OTHERWISE COERCED TO CRUNCH AND/OR WORK UNPAID OVERTIME DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2.

2) KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 MUST NOT FEATURE EXCLUSIVE PRE-ORDER CONTENT, DAY-ONE DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT (DLC) OR PAY-LOCKED CONTENT (PLC), NOR MAY IT CONTAIN A PURCHASABLE IN-GAME CURRENCY OR IN-APP PURCHASES IN ANY OTHER FORM, COSMETIC OR PAY-TO-WIN MICROTRANSACTIONS, OR LOOTBOXES ("SURPRISE MECHANICS").

3) KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 MUST BE RELEASED ON ALL PROMISED ONLINE STOREFRONTS, STEAM, THE XBOX MARKETPLACE AND THE PLAYSTATION STOREAT THE POINT OF LAUNCH ON SAID STOREFRONTS' RESPECTIVE PLATFORMS AND AT THE SAME POINT IN TIME REGARDLESS OF REGION.

4) KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 MUST RELEASE WITH THE PROMISED MOD SUPPORT. FURTHERMORE TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE MUST NOT CLAIM ANY OWNERSHIP OVER USER-GENERATED CONTENT WITHIN THE END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA) INCLUDED WITHIN THE KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 RELEASE.

5) KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 MUST NOT RELEASE ON PC PACKAGED WITH INTRUSIVE DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (DRM) SOFTWARE, INCLUDING THOSE PRODUCED BY DENUVO SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS GMBH. NOR WILL KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2 FEATURE ANTI-CHEAT SOFTWARE PRODUCED BY DENUVO OR OTHER COMPANIES AS IT WOULD VIOLATE THE ABOVE CONDITION REGARDING MOD SUPPORT.

6) IN THE EVENT OF FUTURE CHANGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM, SUCH AS THE CHANGE OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIO FROM STAR THEORY TO INTERCEPT GAMESTAKE 2 INTERACTIVE MUST, AS A SIGN OF GOOD FAITH, RELEASE A STATEMENT DETAILING THE CAUSE AND NATURE OF THE CHANGE IN DEVELOPMENT TEAM.

IN THE EVENT OF A SERIOUS BREACH OF THE ABOVE CONDITIONS, WE THE KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM COMMUNITY AGREE AMONGST OURSELVES TO
BOYCOTT THE RELEASE OF KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 2.

SIGN HERE

I want to close out by saying that I hold no ill will against the former Star Theory development team who moved over to Intercept Games, and please don't harass them or Intercept Games for continuing to develop the game they set out to develop. 

Edited by mattihase
fixing formatting

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Posted (edited)

Honestly I can't agree with the letter as I have problems with almost all of the points:

  1. We have no way of verifying this.
  2. I'm not going to boycott the game for a hat for Jeb or if they decide for a reasonable DLC model.
  3. I don't play with consoles and my only interest in KSP and console is that I hope they don't make compromises on PC to make it work on consoles.
  4. No moddability would kill the game, agreed.
  5. I'm not going to boycott the game over this, it would suck, but not to the point of not buying the game.
  6. I simply don't care about their internal politics.

 

Edited by Master39

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I will not be signing your petition, nor will I refuse to buy KSP2 'just because'.  I will look at it when it is released and decide at that point if I think it is worth it to me.

We are not in posession of all the information, and never will be, so passing judgement is inherently flawed.

There usually seems to be an automatic assumption (in many cases like this, not just this specific one) that the 'big corporation' is the bad guy.  Yes this may well often be the case, but not neccesarily always.

My take on it is that, for 'whatever reasons' that are none of my business, the owners of Star Theory wanted to sell to T2, but could not reach mutually acceptable terms (I don't know what ST's owners were asking or what T2 were offering so how can I fairly judge who is unreasonable).  Ultimately though T2 came to the conclusion that to ensure the continued development of 'their game' they needed to take it off Star Theory's hands and took the, probably quite expensive, step of offering every one of the current dev team a job, with relocation allowances etc. presumably to maintain as much knowledge and experience as possible (this would certainly seem to indicate some confidence in those doing the work).

Of course, not every employee would want, or be in a position, to accept and relocate.  Some would jump at the chance, others would deeply resent it, and many would be somewhere between.  But that doesn't necessarily make either ST or T2 unreasonable. 

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1 hour ago, Master39 said:

Honestly I can't agree with the letter as I have problems with almost of the points:

  1. We have no way of verifying this.
  2. I'm not going to boycott the game for a hat for Jeb or if they decide for a reasonable DLC model.
  3. I don't play with consoles and my only interest in KSP and console is that I hope they don't make compromises on PC to make it work on consoles.
  4. No moddability would kill the game, agreed.
  5. I'm not going to boycott the game over this, it would suck, but not to the point of not buying the game.
  6. I simply don't care about their internal politics.

 

Good to hear you're not interested in attempting to stand in support of bad things not happening to the people making your fancy new toy. How very thoughtful of your. 

Also Point 3 was more about combatting exclusivity deals that would prevent the game from releasing on the promised platforms and not being Epic Exclusive locked or anything. 

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, mattihase said:

Good to hear you're not interested in attempting to stand in support of bad things not happening to the people making your fancy new toy.

You threw everything in that open letter, things that have nothing to do with the developers or the quality of the game.

Making a statement against work crunch? I may be ok with that.

Making a statement against unfair business practices by giant publishers? Ok, but I'm not going to boycott anything over this.

But all that other things about anticheats, DRMs and monetization? That has nothing to do with the problem at hand and those things are not inherently bad so I'm not going to sign anything including this, if the game abuses these instruments I will not buy it, but I think those are useful tools in a lot of situations.

 

18 minutes ago, mattihase said:

lso Point 3 was more about combatting exclusivity deals that would prevent the game from releasing on the promised platforms and not being Epic Exclusive locked or anything. 

I'm also against exclusivity deals, but that's not what you wrote.

 

Edited by Master39

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25 minutes ago, mattihase said:

Good to hear you're not interested in attempting to stand in support of bad things not happening to the people making your fancy new toy. How very thoughtful of your. 

I find that it's usually it's more effective to take criticism constructively rather than attacking those making it. Maybe there is a valid point being made that could increase the appeal of your idea to more people if addressed.

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Posted (edited)

Pardon, but is it any of your business whether the game is developed ethically or not? And why is a game which features DRM software unethical? And the studio is under absolutely no obligation to release any information to us. You seem to think that the publisher would be happy to work their developers to death, but that would be a suicidal business move; only the most desperate people would ever work for them after that.

 

Edited by SOXBLOX

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Master39 said:

But all that other things about anticheats, DRMs and monetization? That has nothing to do with the problem at hand and those things are not inherently bad so I'm not going to sign anything including this, if the game abuses these instruments I will not buy it, but I think those are useful tools in a lot of situations.

The DRM parts I really don't like as that would likely affect the ability for offline play. Anti-cheats would have no point to be in this. Monetization is fine as long as it doesn't hide ACTUAL parts behind paywalls or limit mods

Edited by mcwaffles2003

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27 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

Pardon, but is it any of your business whether the game is developed ethically or not? And why is a game which features DRM software unethical? And the studio is under absolutely no obligation to release any information to us. You seem to think that the publisher would be happy to work their developers to death, but that would be a suicidal business move; only the most desperate people would ever work for them after that.

 

Well like I said I'm a game developer. So it's very much my concern if the games industry is just allowed to get away with treating their employees like excrements, which more often than not they are.

As far as the willingness of games publishers and studios to merrily work their developers to death. Yes it is shortsighted and impacts the quality of games, and yes they do it anyway. It's something so common that it actually has a name: Stress Casualty. Here: https://kotaku.com/how-biowares-anthem-went-wrong-1833731964 

And then just before release they will end up firing huge chunks of the development team to make their sales look more significant to shareholders too. I honestly can't believe they get away with it either and yet it keeps happening. 

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

You seem to think that the publisher would be happy to work their developers to death, but that would be a suicidal business move; only the most desperate people would ever work for them after that.

It's common practice in software development

 

BTW I signed, I dont agree with half of it but pressuring T2 to not mess up can't hurt

Edited by mcwaffles2003

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This whole deal is quite simply, a horrible thing to have done to Star theory. It is a shame on how obnoxious/almost whiney that t2 is being. Ergh. 

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4 minutes ago, mcwaffles2003 said:

The DRM parts I really don't like as that would likely affect the ability for offline play. Anti-cheats would have no point to be in this. Monetization is fine as long as it doesn't hide ACTUAL parts behind paywalls or limit mods

I know what the problems are sometimes with some of these practices, it doesn't change the fact that they have nothing to do with the problem.

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Well, those developers don't have to work for those studios. That 's how the market works. Trade your labor for their money. Regardless, I don't think "stress" or damage to "mental health" is an issue with KSP 2. The devs seem to be fans of the game, just like us, and they look like they're genuinely enjoying making the sequel. If they are being mistreated by their employers, they can leave. If they choose to stay, then they are doing so because they would rather keep working, even with the maltreatment, than leave.

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24 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

Well, those developers don't have to work for those studios. 

Wrong, that's not how the market works. They have to eat, support a family and pay off their house. No, they can't leave, because bad references (an inevitable result of doing that) will mean they'd never get a job with anyone else in the industry, not with the pay they need, anyway. They'd have a hard time moving to another industry, because game development is a rather peculiar field, and their experience won't transfer well. You'd be surprised what kinds of abuse people can put up with under these conditions.

Try looking for work yourself and you'll see. That's how it works in many industries, not just games. The only way to avoid selling yourself into slavery like that is to have a family rich enough so you don't have to take loans. That's why it's up to the customers to force the company not to abuse its employees (well, there's also the government, but it's seldom good for much).

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51 minutes ago, Master39 said:

I know what the problems are sometimes with some of these practices, it doesn't change the fact that they have nothing to do with the problem.

big company may mean lack of nuance per game on DRMs... not a developer but I can see a manager telling a dev:

manager: you gotta put this DRM thing in there

dev: this game has a culture where these practices are against something of a sacrosanct

manager: a what?

dev: the community would be angry

manager: well the other managers say its in all the games

dev: do you know what a DRM does?

manager: im paid so i don't have to know, youre paid to do what i tell you or someone else will get paid instead

dev: fine i hear you boss

manager: so whats your saturday/sunday schedule looking like?

dev: ....

THE END

 

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Posted (edited)

The vast majority of that letter has nothing to do with ethics. Seems unethical to me to attempt to get people to agree with you on other things by using ethics as bait. 

Edited by MechBFP

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25 minutes ago, mcwaffles2003 said:

big company may mean lack of nuance per game on DRMs... not a developer but I can see a manager telling a dev:

manager: you gotta put this DRM thing in there

dev: this game has a culture where these practices are against something of a sacrosanct

manager: a what?

dev: the community would be angry

manager: well the other managers say its in all the games

dev: do you know what a DRM does?

manager: im paid so i don't have to know, youre paid to do what i tell you or someone else will get paid instead

dev: fine i hear you boss

manager: so whats your saturday/sunday schedule looking like?

dev: ....

THE END

So this letter is about boycotting the whole industry? 

I know what a DRM is and why some people may have problems with them, but KSP is property of T2 since 2017 and it was even while it was being developed by Star.Theory.

That same exact exchange you wrote could have happened between Star Theory and Private Division, nothing change on that regard, as nothing changed with the possibility of DLCs, anticheats (that would be pretty useless for KSP, why bother mention them?) or pre-order bonuses.

They still have this posted everywhere:

Fel_KnaozasbtycbFJSygG_Nq0fla9ia_dLj-xa9

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

Wrong, that's not how the market works. They have to eat, support a family and pay off their house. No, they can't leave, because bad references (an inevitable result of doing that) will mean they'd never get a job with anyone else in the industry, not with the pay they need, anyway. They'd have a hard time moving to another industry, because game development is a rather peculiar field, and their experience won't transfer well. You'd be surprised what kinds of abuse people can put up with under these conditions.

Actually, it is. I already considered all your points before posting. These are factors the employee would consider. The employee would rather have his job and deal with bad employers than leave. Additionally, he/she didn't have to go into game design at all, especially if it's such a rough industry. This profession is a personal choice.

And even if they have longer hours or their job isn't perfectly stable, there is virtually no cause to complain. 500 years ago, people broke their backs digging potatoes food out of fields, wore rags infested with fleas, lived in a mud hut, and had to feed more children on a tiny income. They had no other option; there were few ways to move to another job. Most others were worse. 

Also, consider that many people still have a life like this; America and the rest of the world are radically different. Maybe we should consider the "ethicality" of these people's conditions, rather than game designers in 21st century America who have freedoms heretofore unheard of in human history.

Not being political or suggesting you aren't concerned with these other people, just pointing out that this is a very insignificant issue.

Edited by SOXBLOX
Nitpicker attack.

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2 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

And even if they have longer hours or their job isn't perfectly stable, there is virtually no cause to complain. 500 years ago, people broke their backs digging potatoes out of fields, wore rags infested with fleas, lived in a damp mud hut, and had to feed 8 children. They had no other option; there were few ways to move to another job. Most others were worse. 

You're really comparing modern work to the trials people underwent during the renaissance?... You probably wouldn't have a problem living in modern day Rwanda then or something? Also, people back then didn't work like we do today as that started around the industrial revolution. Also, people didn't have  8 children back then the majority died before the age of 5 and a farmer (most people) couldn't feed that many. Also, damp mud hut? Damp mud is not structurally sound and not what people lived in (at least in the regions where potatoes have stereo-typically been the main crop) which funny thing! People didn't farm potatoes 500 years ago because they hadn't yet been imported from S America.

Please take a history class before you use it for analogies. Also, have compassion for your common human, modern work is taxing in a much different manner than just physical toil and I have met uber drivers from sudan who told me life was simpler there, while also telling me of some bleak experiences.

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10 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

Not being political or suggesting you aren't concerned with these other people, just pointing out that this is a very insignificant issue.

Again, you couldn't be more wrong. Yeah, 500 years ago people broke their backs, died quickly and often starved. Nobody, now or then, was saying this was a good thing. You're essentially arguing against enforcing ethical behavior here, just because some others people in other parts of the world are unethical, too. You should probably rethink this position.

Yes, the profession is a choice. One most often made without knowing the actual reality. It's different when people tell you about it, it never sounds that bad until you're neck-deep in it. Or, it seems worth the money when you're young and inexperienced. People who do know how it really is don't go work for a corporation.

Also, I bet you've never worked in a corporation (I wouldn't be surprised if you never worked a full-time job at all). Or even read Dilbert. Corporate environment can be vicious. Mental exhaustion can take you down much harder than physical one, mostly because while it's quite obvious when someone is being physically worked to death, the signs of someone being worked to a mental breakdown are much easier to ignore. Serious mental heath consequences can and do ensue from long-term abuse. Sure, people in the middle ages had their own sources of stress, but the nobles had better things to do than go around from hut to hut looking over peasants' shoulders and micromanaging them (corporate bosses are very much known to do that). Also, your local noble owned you, but generally wouldn't kick you out and replace you if he thought you were underperforming (it could happen to tenant farmers later in history, though), and certainly wouldn't constantly threaten you with it. This is what we're asking T2 not to do to its devs.

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I have a lot of sympathy and agreement all around.  I can't quite support the letter of the OP statement, but I support the spirit.

And as for....

1 hour ago, Master39 said:

They still have this posted everywhere:

Spoiler

Fel_KnaozasbtycbFJSygG_Nq0fla9ia_dLj-xa9

 

There's always the various equivalents of "I have altered the deal.  Pray I don't alter it further."  Because that isn't a contract in any jurisdiction.  And even with a contract, you have to have the resources to deal with a dispute.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, HebaruSan said:

I find that it's usually it's more effective to take criticism constructively rather than attacking those making it. Maybe there is a valid point being made that could increase the appeal of your idea to more people if addressed.

Preach. (I signed @mattihase's petition as I am uncertain of KSP's future due to these news, but I do believe that when you ask people for your support, you should at least show them proper respect when they decline. Respectfully or not. Not saying that those that declined were being disrespectful of course. You know what I mean >.> Just be nice.)  

Edited by James M
Clarification?

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17 minutes ago, James M said:

I signed @mattihase's petition

Out of curiosity, are you really going boycott the game if they put some preorder-exlusive like, let's say, a "Vintage part set" with the old alpha textures for some parts? (funny, useless and replicated in 5 minutes or so via modding) Or if they put some light DRM for the multiplayer component to avoid the pirates to play in MP?

Are you going to boycott a game if it has an anticheat (not even relevant to KSP) or if the pulbisher hires/fires a dev without making a pubblic statement about it?

That's my problem with this "Open letter".

 

 

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, Master39 said:

Out of curiosity, are you really going boycott the game if they put some preorder-exlusive like, let's say, a "Vintage part set" with the old alpha textures for some parts? (funny, useless and replicated in 5 minutes or so via modding) Or if they put some light DRM for the multiplayer component to avoid the pirates to play in MP?

Are you going to boycott a game if it has an anticheat (not even relevant to KSP) or if the pulbisher hires/fires a dev without making a pubblic statement about it?

That's my problem with this "Open letter".

 

 

Yes. I believe T2 made an unethical choice in the matter. So ST doesn't initially agree to what you demand? The financial thing to do there is to drop them like a box of rocks and make the game yourself offering ST's employees a chance to at least contribute. The ethical thing to do is to work it out. Talk about it. Find out WHY ST disagreed with what T2 demanded and compromise. It's a win win. 

To answer your question. No amount of sugar coating will make me any more willing to play a fundamentally different game. Sorry. I want KSP 2. Not just the title. But the culture and the experience that belongs to it. 

Also, I'm not saying I agree 100% flawlessly with every word that the petition says verbatim. I am however agreeing that something needs to be said/done. If you don't like a part of the petition, but you feel it's not a terrible decision, then why not input some constructive inputs/changes rather than question those who support proactive movement? 

Edited by James M

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Profession is a choice. The choices of these people are, I think, none of our business. If they made a bad decision, they get to fix it, not you. It's called personal responsibility.

If Take 2 has done anything illegal or immoral, there's a way the victims (ain't us) can rectify it. See Judicial system.

Overall, this letter has very little to do with ethics. If KSP 2 is like what we've been promised, I will buy it. The only time I wouldn't buy it is if it wasn't what I wanted. I might not want it for many reasons, but that's a personal thing.

3 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

Again, you couldn't be more wrong. Yeah, 500 years ago people broke their backs, died quickly and often starved. Nobody, now or then, was saying this was a good thing. You're essentially arguing against enforcing ethical behavior here, just because some others people in other parts of the world are unethical, too. You should probably rethink this position.

Yes, the profession is a choice. One most often made without knowing the actual reality. It's different when people tell you about it, it never sounds that bad until you're neck-deep in it. Or, it seems worth the money when you're young and inexperienced. People who do know how it really is don't go work for a corporation.

Also, I bet you've never worked in a corporation (I wouldn't be surprised if you never worked a full-time job at all). Or even read Dilbert. Corporate environment can be vicious. Mental exhaustion can take you down much harder than physical one, mostly because while it's quite obvious when someone is being physically worked to death, the signs of someone being worked to a mental breakdown are much easier to ignore. Serious mental heath consequences can and do ensue from long-term abuse. Sure, people in the middle ages had their own sources of stress, but the nobles had better things to do than go around from hut to hut looking over peasants' shoulders and micromanaging them (corporate bosses are very much known to do that). Also, your local noble owned you, but generally wouldn't kick you out and replace you if he thought you were underperforming (it could happen to tenant farmers later in history, though), and certainly wouldn't constantly threaten you with it. This is what we're asking T2 not to do to its devs.

Not 500 years ago. Today. It still happens. That is how the rest of the world works. Enforcing ethics? While we are sticking our nose in other people's business, please remember that there are bigger fish to fry than first world game devs. 

Profession is a choice. Made by people who are accountable to themselves and themselves alone for the consequences of their choices. Surely someone who has worked for any employer will understand this; weak excuses are not tolerated IRL.

What job I hold is beside the point. 

I won't argue these points further; I respect your opinions on the matter, but I don't care if they line up with mine or not. I won't try to alter them. Hopefully we can leave the discussion without any hard feelings, and come away from it having learned something! &)

 

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