Report describes Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga crunch conditions and development of five years
Low morale, an engine switch, and divisive management reportedly led to adverse working conditions at TT Games.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was initially announced in 2019, and it has since experienced multiple delays. A report published by Polygon alleged that the game has had a particularly rough five-year development cycle marred by a move to a new engine, as well as excruciating crunch at TT Games.
Former and current TT Games employees claimed that development on the game started in 2017, and that management had opted to forgo using the popular Unreal Engine for The Skywalker Saga. Instead, the game was built on an all-new engine titled NTT, which employees described as unfinished technology. As much of the game’s pre-production was allegedly done without NTT in mind, this created several problems for TT Games, reportedly resulting in a rift between management and staff.
The report also identified feature creep as another key obstacle in the game’s development. One former employee claimed that the game’s director would “request new mechanics on a whim,” such as the combo-based melee combat seen in The Skywalker Saga’s trailers, without meaningfully addressing criticisms of prior Lego titles. Significant portions of the staff were also reportedly shifted to different projects throughout the game’s development, further hindering work on The Skywalker Saga.
Those interviewed also alleged that they were regularly pressured into working overtime, and have been for more than a decade. Employees were reportedly warned they could face consequences for not “pulling their weight,” and that choosing not to work would let the team down. According to those interviewed, it was common for employees to work 80 to 100 hours over the course of six-day workweeks. TT Games’ crunch issues allegedly preceded both The Skywalker Saga’s development, as well as the company’s acquisition by Warner Bros. Interviewees claimed that prior to Warner Bros. acquisition of TT Games, game development schedules were often built with crunch in mind, due to many of TT Games’ titles tying into popular movie releases or the holiday season.
Some also identified certain TT Games studios as hostile work environments for women, citing instances of women being bullied and otherwise mistreated in the workplace. All of this being said, some employees did disclose that the studio has taken small steps towards improving working conditions, such as abandoning the NTT engine for future projects, as well as limiting the amount of overtime that staff can work.
This report follows Warner Bros. announcement of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’s release date. The game is set to launch on April 5, marking the end of a long, and reportedly excruciating, development cycle.