For those bashing EA..... Any old-schooler will tell ya, EA is not some great company. Yeah, they've released some great games, but the bottom line is they're the fabled 'corporate giant' out to make money and eliminate competitors. Been that way since the early 80's. Another victim of EA you might have heard of, the Wing Commander series (Privateer as well). If they can't rush out better games than you, they'll buy you out and kill your franchise.
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Oh man Cara Ellison? She always shows up in the best places!
What is your take on game dev crunch? Is it a necessity? Are there other ways to release a game in time? Senior developers from four top game studios – Bungie, Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica and Blizzard – have recently discussed their ideas on the problem during Digital Dragons 2018. In fact, mixing long days and no time off is one of the worst ways to lead a team and here’s why.
We have a zero-crunch policy so we do not allow crunch. That was very important to us.
As a lead, if I see my guys working late, I question them. People are passionate and if they have something where like, ‘Man I just can’t go home until I get this thought out of my head’, that’s fine. But if I see you doing that for too long then it’s like, ‘Hey man, I don’t want you to get burned out.’ It just results in less productivity, and I don’t think people can maintain that level of creativity if you’re killing yourself like that. There’s a healthy version of that but it is super spotty when it happens.
Jason Sussman, Bungie’s World Art Lead Jason Sussman
Andrew Maximov, technical art director at Naughty Dog, was the next one of talk crunch. And here’s how replied to Bungie:
It’s tough. We definitely have not found the balance you guys have. We’re very lucky to have the kind of people who actually have a passion that is so hard to control for us, because we don’t have producers, we don’t have dedicated management, it’s all just an absolute free for all, but that empowers ownership to a level where you can say ‘I really care about this thing’. For us that has been the price we have to pay.
Crunch is never mandated at Naughty Dog. That’s the one thing that will absolutely never happen. No one will ever tell you to stay late. But, people do it, because they absolutely believe they want or need to do this one thing.
Andrew Maximov, Technical Art Director at Naughty Dog
And here is a story by God of War senior sound designer Daniel Birczynski, who had to admit the truth:
We do still have crunches, but what I want to mention is I see the mood of upper-management beginning to understand the effect it has on people’s lives, so this is evolving and changing. I’ve seen people get burnt out a lot, and it’s not worth it. It depends on the studio and the culture of the studio, but I see progress for the environment I work in.
Daniel Birczynski, God of War Senior Sound Designer
Thiago Klafke, a senior environment artist for Overwatch at Blizzard, concluded the discussion with the importance of the mental health:
Sometimes I have some mini-burnouts when I’m working on a thing for too long. I look at the same thing for two months and I’m like, ‘I hate it, I can’t look at it anymore.’ That’s the time I go for a walk on the weekends and forget I work on games and do random stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with games. I do meditation.
We have to take care of our mental health because we put a lot of a pressure on ourselves. We want to make better stuff, we want to get better faster, and that’s something that burns you out. You’ve got to be careful with that. You’ve got to learn to enjoy the process, and when you’re working try not to be over-thinking, ‘Oh I’m slow and I can’t do this…’ It’s hard but if you can do that, you burn out much more rarely.
Thiago Klafke, a Senior Environment Artist for Overwatch
So, what’s your take on the crunch, guys? What’s the situation at your studio?