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Techland, the studio behind the survival horror series Dying Light, is dealing with a number of serious issues which are impacting the development of Dying Light 2, including mismanagement, toxicity, and continuous stalling on the project.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we've come across claims of discord over Dying Light 2. Following the game's delay in January 2020, Polish games site Polski Gamedev published its investigation into what was going on at the studio and the status of the upcoming game, and a lot of these new findings corroborate that original report. Kirk McKeand, editor-in-chief at TheGamer, asserts that in the last two months 20 employees have resigned from the company. That's an astonishingly high turnover rate and it appears that the problems with workplace practices are embedded.
Across ten interviews with anonymous present and ex-employees of the company, McKeand's conclusion is that Techland is blighted with "autocratic management, poor planning, and a toxic work culture that trickles down from the top". Allegedly, the higher-ups are unhelpful with their feedback and reject ideas from veteran members of the team outright, stalling development for weeks on end. "Whenever an expert starts advising things that are not aligned with the board's agenda, they slowly get isolated from the project and responsibilities," said one of TheGamer's sources. "That leads to them leaving or eventually getting fired. To make a career at Techland, you have to be subservient."
In addition, the studio possesses "a production pipeline that changes so quickly and rapidly that it might as well not exist". It is said that the story of Dying Light 2 has been written and rewritten "like six times or so," and that the process is pure chaos. Not only is there this structure to contend with, feedback is often laced with toxic language and inappropriate humour. On the concept that Dying Light 2 should replicate the "modern dark ages," one lead apparently replied "at least they knew how to deal with women back then!"
"It could also be something like the shape of spikes on the enemy, how [a certain] AI kicks the player, or some visual aspect where [the CEO] will give his famous feedback like, 'that just looks bad' or 'this character looks gay', which is very useful feedback for specialists who work on such things for years, right?" added another anonymous employee. "It's a terrible thing because it stays with you. It makes you think you don't know sh*t."
Techland's CEO responded to the report and emphasised that the welfare of their teams is the priority, adding that "training sessions" have been scheduled with "specialists" to educate employees on discrimination in the workplace. "Our job, in a nutshell, is to invent and iterate," said Pawel Marchewka to TheGamer. "When we're in the inventing phase, we have lively discussions with each other, clashing different ideas and opinions. Therefore, I can imagine that in a tightly knit team such words could have been said. Nevertheless, this is not our standard and those phrases do not meet our criteria in any way. We always remind our employees to make sure they communicate appropriately."