This is Crunch

hard work by Luis Becerril

I wake up at 6:45. Brush my teeth, drink my coffee, realize I have to brush my teeth again. Check my work e-mail from home, read through the 30-odd messages that have already arrived, and respond as coherently as possible to a few. I try to get out of the house by 7:30, and I have a 30 minute commute down the peninsula to work. The drive isn’t bad; I take the old highway to avoid the traffic jams and huge trucks.

At 8:00 I’m sitting in front of my computer reading yet more e-mail and downloading the latest changes to our project. I spend most of the next ten hours tracking down an annoyingly difficult crash bug and trying to keep up with the constant flurry of e-mails. I’m drinking coffee like a maniac, four or five cups a day at this point, and even skipping lunch I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done.

This is crunch. This is the dark underbelly of the game industry, when the plans have failed and now a hardcore push to the finish is all that can be done. Nose, meet grindstone. Whether or not this level of effort is required is hard to say: there’s a lot to be done, but it’s unclear if working 70 hour weeks will really result in a perceptibly better game in the end. I sure hope it does–it would suck if we all killed ourselves for nothing.

This is part of the reason that bad games get made. Nobody sets out to make a bad game, but when time gets tight and people are working their fingers to the bone, a lot of stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. Sometimes it is stuff that nobody will ever miss, like an extra level that was never any fun, or cut scene that didn’t impact the story. Sometimes it’s a more dramatic cut, like something that is required for the game to be enjoyable. But usually, these cuts are made because at the end of the day, the choice between shipping a bad game and shipping nothing at all isn’t even a choice. By the time crunch mode sets in, the money has already been invested and there must be some sort of return. Will our project turn out well? Right now it is hard to say if we’ll pull it off or just start in with the scalpel.

I get home and completely exhausted. Even as I type this my eyelids are heavy. Tomorrow is Saturday, and I’m getting up at 8 to go in again. Soon we will ship and I’ll be able to write more coherently. Soon we will ship and I’ll be able to think straight again.

5 thoughts on “This is Crunch

    I fully understand you. 3 months ago I was exactly like you, trying to finish the game so that we can ship it right in time, and we did it… Then I said to myself “great! now I can enjoy my we and spend more time with my girl”. Then 1 week after we finished the game they asked me to join another project 😀
    So I guess it’s a never ending story…

    Good luck man on your game! (you should try green tea, I switched few weeks ago and I feel better! Coffee is not your friend 😀 )

  2. hey chris i would like to start out by saying that your site is well AMAZING i have been a fan of your site since i started middle school which was 5 years ago and i thought that i would leave someting in thanx for the hard work that you have done in the past years and a salute to being a fan of a genre that isn’t really as big as most mainstream games

  3. I’d also like to know the game you’re working on and any chance its a survival horror;-)?
    This site is great though and good luck with that game!

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