I had the opportunity to talk to a couple “old school” game developers in AGDC which was nice but turns up I was pretty horrified by a couple things they said. The biggest no-no was that people thought it’s impossible to create a game without a long crunch period. The mentality seemed to be that the game can’t be fun without crunch.
I call that BS. Having to crunch is a sign of two things:
a) Overselling at the point of doing a contract (impossible schedule given time and resources) and,
b) Bad project management.
I’ve been working for 13 years or so in IT projects (games, websites etc) and crunch always came back to either one of those two things, or both. For someone who’s been working on games for longer than that, claiming you can’t complete a project without crunch just means the dude doesn’t know how to improve his way of working or just doesn’t care how people working for him feel. I’ve been to a couple crunch projects and I know it sure was not fun.
We try to avoid crunch and it’s working pretty well. Daniel James from Three Rings has said they never do crunch. And I’m sure there’s other companies in the gaming industry trying to do the same.
If given the opportunity to pick, would you choose a company which claimed they avoid crunch or one that said they’ll make your life a living hell every now and then? Maybe I value my life too much but I’m pretty sure I’d turn down even pretty lucrative offers if it entailed 10-12 hours days, 7 days a week for months because someone else screwed up.