TGC 2009: Dr. Michael Capps Keynote

TGC 2009 Keynote: Mike Capps: Epic Is(n't) About Pop-Tarts

"What Makes Us Epic?" That was the question that Epic President Dr. Mike Capps posed for his keynote at TGC '09. The answer? Give talented people near-impossible tasks to do, but don't give them Pop-Tarts.

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This was a wonderful article and Dr.Capps shows that when it comes to managing employees you need to support those who volunteer and expand past their "job responsibilities". I see this at a lot of retail stores where people just do the minimum and it is really sad they don't want to take on more responsibility and no amount of "pop-tarts" will make a person work harder, it just makes them fatter and lazier(although they are a very delicious treat). For example in a forced sales environment like I work in, while I am not on commission or have a quota I see my fellow employees just come in and believe in their mind that their job responsibility is to just sell phones and make their quota. Now like many retail stores there are many other responsibilities that exist that need attention such as cleaning, stocking products onto shelves, keeping a clean work station, and finally throwing away trash. Very basic and easy stuff but my employees and management do not believe it is their responsibility. What should the employee with the volunteer attitude who makes the most of his hours doing his job and goes beyond but not get anywhere?

However there is another problem that makes me wonder what Dr.Capps thinks about. What about those employees that have that volunteer attitude, take risks and go above and beyond setting new goals but never get to advance forward in their current career field? Would Dr.Capps think it would be the management that is holding that person back never mentioning that stand out person to their superior? Or is it the new system of internal hiring where employees have to apply to get that different job title? Would Dr.Capps keep that employee at the same wage or increase the wage?

If anyone could ask Dr.Capps if anyone gets that rare chance to ask him I would be very appreciative.

We do not have nearly enough Pop-Tarts at The Escapist. Dammit, how can I possibly be expected to do my job with no Pop-Tarts? Hell, I don't think we even have Toaster Strudel.

That's nice but why didn't they release Gears of War here? They talked big about artistic integrity but had no problem censoring UT3 and that was on a platform where you're still allowed to sell your game if it gets rated the local equivalent of AO.

KDR_11k:
That's nice but why didn't they release Gears of War here? They talked big about artistic integrity but had no problem censoring UT3 and that was on a platform where you're still allowed to sell your game if it gets rated the local equivalent of AO.

Where is "here"?

CantFaketheFunk:

KDR_11k:
That's nice but why didn't they release Gears of War here? They talked big about artistic integrity but had no problem censoring UT3 and that was on a platform where you're still allowed to sell your game if it gets rated the local equivalent of AO.

Where is "here"?

Germany. From what I gather they were refused a rating on Gears (means the game has the potential to get indexed, i.e. can only be sold below the counter and all three console manufacturers block games that get a rating refused like they block AO rated games) and unlike every single other game they have made they suddently decided that censoring is against their artistic vision or something and simply refused to release the game (then went on to say GoW is not about violence but "loss and redemption") despite GoW being probably easier to cut down since AFAIK it's not a game about killing humans while UT and the like were.

KDR_11k:
Germany. From what I gather they were refused a rating on Gears ...

I think you answered your own question. Blame your politicians.

Now, if you're asking why they didn't go out of their way to create a special Germany-only version of the game, that's probably a better question for the publisher. Although Epic developed the Gears of War games, Microsoft is the one handling their production and distribution, which would also include what regions the game is localized for.

I'd guess that they thought it wouldn't be profitable to make a special version of the game for Germany (or that doing something else instead would be more profitable). That's what the decisions like that usually come down to.

Virgil:

KDR_11k:
Germany. From what I gather they were refused a rating on Gears ...

I think you answered your own question. Blame your politicians.

Now, if you're asking why they didn't go out of their way to create a special Germany-only version of the game, that's probably a better question for the publisher. Although Epic developed the Gears of War games, Microsoft is the one handling their production and distribution, which would also include what regions the game is localized for.

I'd guess that they thought it wouldn't be profitable to make a special version of the game for Germany (or that doing something else instead would be more profitable). That's what the decisions like that usually come down to.

The only reason I can imagine for censoring UT3 but not GoW is that the 360 flopped so hard in this country (then again maybe blocking all the important exclusives may have had a role in that) that GoW was expected to sell worse than a PC game.

KDR_11k:
The only reason I can imagine for censoring UT3 but not GoW is that the 360 flopped so hard in this country (then again maybe blocking all the important exclusives may have had a role in that) that GoW was expected to sell worse than a PC game.

One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike Gears of War, Epic does control what happens to Unreal Tournament. They control the property far more than the publisher does. A localization that doesn't make sense for Microsoft might make a lot more sense for Epic and Midway.

Also, I'm betting that Unreal Tournament is a lot easier to localize than Gears of War. I wouldn't exactly consider UT as being very heavy on the plot or dialogue.

Virgil:
Also, I'm betting that Unreal Tournament is a lot easier to localize than Gears of War. I wouldn't exactly consider UT as being very heavy on the plot or dialogue.

Eh, story localization is probably not the issue. They specifically said they won't tone down the violence because of some "artistic vision" bullshit.

@KDR_11K: For UT3, it's pretty easy to make all the bad guys robots who don't bleed, so we did that. We had no interest in removing major gameplay features from Gears of War (chainsaw kills, hostage taking, etc.) from Gears of War for any reason. Euros are nice, but staying true to your artistic integrity and making the game you want to make is even nicer.

@KDR_11K: Okay, really, "artistic vision bullshit"? What other reason is there to play our game except to experience that "bullshit"? That's all a game is, an experience we've created to share our vision, that we hope people will enjoy.

@Tenmar: Wow, that's a pretty complex question, and it's difficult to answer. It's so situational -- there's not always a clear path for advancement, right? Epic, for example, is very flat. If someone wants a leadership opportunity, the opportunities come up quite rarely. Thus other rewards for volunteerism and high productivity become more important. A poor manager can make that process really painful, by not mentioning the efforts of a strong performer, not wanting to lose them to a different department/position, etc. We don't increase base wages for standout employees, because our salaries are tied directly to market forces and their experience. That works for us because bonus income is significant, so we can use that to distinguish by merit. For employers without non-salary income, absolutely, you want to pay people what they're worth *to you*, not what they're worth to someone else.

For example, nothing makes me madder than, when we make someone an offer, the company making a counter-offer. That's saying, basically, "Well, you were worth a lot more money than we were paying you all that time, and that was awesome! For us. But now we can't get away with it any longer, so, um, you want a raise?" Bleh!

I bet you know the basic answer, and maybe you just need to hear it again, so I'll oblige. If you're working somewhere that doesn't notice your volunteerism, extra effort, higher productivity, etc. and you don't see a path upwards, you have two choices:
1) Go someplace else, which involves taking a risk.
2) Stay there, because it's stable, your friends are there, etc.

The trick is, with #1, you might not necessarily seem the same financial situation, but you will likely be happier. With #2, the hidden risk is that you'll slowly lose your volunteerism and extra effort, as you spend more time with a bunch of "why bother" people. And it's really, really hard to get it back...

-mike

PS Escapist Rules KTHXBYE

KDR_11k:

Virgil:
Also, I'm betting that Unreal Tournament is a lot easier to localize than Gears of War. I wouldn't exactly consider UT as being very heavy on the plot or dialogue.

Eh, story localization is probably not the issue. They specifically said they won't tone down the violence because of some "artistic vision" bullshit.

Nope, not the story. It's the human on human violence that makes this one tough. Yes, it's in UT, but the nature of the gameplay makes it a lot easier to change.

I guess the locust are too close to humans and changing that would be too damaging to the storyline, gameplay ... pretty much everything.

Tenmar:
What should the employee with the volunteer attitude who makes the most of his hours doing his job and goes beyond but not get anywhere?

That is a rough situation, but what Mike says above is true: You have two choices. Sucks, but it's true, make a change, sacrifice stability and the known for a chance at a happier situation.

Dear Mr.Capps,

I really want to take this small moment and thank you so much for taking the time and responding to my post. This was a quite a shock to see a response when I saw more people post on this wonderful topic. I also enjoyed your example and it makes a lot of sense to have a stable base wage to support your lifestyle and let one's ability to take on new tasks and projects voluntarily to be the cause of any extra incentive for going above and beyond past their position.

I know what I should do and I'm glad you summarized my options very well. I should be focusing towards my passions and networking with people involved with the career I would want or applies to the career I want. I would truly hate to lose that ability to volunteer and go above and beyond and become bitter and feel useless at work just waiting for the clock to tick to the 9th hour mark all because of hourly pay.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond Mr.Capps because sometimes a person can just feel like they are losing their passion living in this wonderful world working hard to achieve their own personal happiness.

-Ryan.O'Hanlon
AKA Tenmar

Holy crap, I did a triple take at the end of the scroll of the wall of plaques...Extreme Pinball is STILL one of my favorite pinball games of all time! I don't think I ever made the connection that Epic made it back in the day.

 

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