My worst crunch(es) _ The Indiepinion

wrackbaaΚινητά – Ασύρματες Τεχνολογίες

10 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 8 μήνες)

515 εμφανίσεις

12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
1
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
The Indiepinion
Inspiring And Liberating Game Developers
Home
Forum
Indie Resources
Scrum »
About
Learn Cocos2D
Search

Go
Flower Garden and other iPhone App numbers

Crunch Time = Producer Failure
My worst crunch(es)
On January 17, 2010,
in
Experiences
,
by Steffen Itterheim
The
Rockstar San Diego debacle
is still being discussed on Gamasutra. One user called Joel Payne posted a
very enlightening and true statement that i wanted to reproduce here:
“You have a bunch of over worked talents that are creatively gimped at work because of the constant redirection
(rather lack of direction) a project takes at work while secretly, at home, they build there own projects as a
creative outlet from the frustrations they have at work or they lose there wives because they’re so burnt from
overwork that they become useless to the families they go home to.”
So very true. I wonder how the titles would sound if you put them his way. For example: “Creative Redirector” –
“Art Redirector” – “Technical Redirector”. I like that idea!
To add one more thing to this discussion: i tried to remember what my worst crunch was, at least in terms of time
spent. I’ve experienced two very hard crunches. The first was my first project (of course). I put in maybe 10
weeks or so with 6 days a week and about 10 hours per day. I’ve had regular 60 hour weeks. The game?
Armorines: Project SWARM
for the Gameboy Color. Anyone remember that? No? That’s ok. Because, really,
after 10 years the chances that the game you worked your ass off for is being remembered is around 1%. And
even in that case, what do you have to show for? Oh yeah, i worked on that title. Gee, really? You should know:
it does not matter!
Now you’d have to consider some more things if you relate that to your own experience: did that project open
12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
2
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
you doors to a better future? Probably not. Did it earn you a big bonus? Very unlikely. Royalties even? Hell no.
So consider what you sign up for is to do a job. If you think it makes you rich or famous, think again. But usually
our loyalty to the game we’re creating is killing us even though it is rarely justified.
However, i have one positive aspect coming out of it: since we’ve been a great team 10 years ago and had a lot
of fun while spending time, sometimes even nights to finish that game i still remember it fondly. Just know that:
personally, i didn’t feel pressured to put in all that effort and time. I did it because i really, really wanted to.
Because i was passionate (first game, remember?).
After the game was released we were in a limbo for 3 months. Completely underworked. It was among the most
painful time in my work life. For days on end i rearranged the words in the design document i was writing.
Boring. But: it turned out to be a good thing because for one, this is the only title i’ve ever been credited as Game
Designer (whoop-dee-duu!) and working on that project was a snatch. Not much overtime, it just flowed. And
it’s still the title i’m most proud of: Dave Mirra’s Freestyle BMX for the Gameboy Color.
The second worst crunch i experienced was shortly before the release of
Spellforce: The Order of Dawn
.
Interestingly another first: the first project i worked on for my second employer. I joined the team early 2002 and
the game was released late in November 2003. My first year was actually easy going … the problem was just:
where was it going? Beginning 2003 the pressure increased because the game had to come out the same year
and thus discussions raged about the proper direction of the game. But one thing was clear: we had to shift
production up by two gears. Among the team members who worked during that time we still feel like the game
only came together in the last 6 months before release. Something that’s not unusual to hear from developers,
especially when the remaining months leading up to release were crunch time.
But compared to my first big crunch i mentioned above, this one was different in that there was a certain amount
of inherent pressure. We knew the situation from the publisher side and that they put pressure on us and that lead
to people being asked to stay over the weekend to finish this or that. Of course we did that but not unanimously.
You see, this team was maybe ten times larger at about 50 people in the last few months. And while most
worked their asses off, others just did 9-to-5 days. If i remember correctly, the status quo was always that it
would be viewed positively if you did work long hours but no one was really forced to, unless the “Kacke war
am dampfen” (german saying equalling to: “when the shit hits the fan”, literally translates as “the shit was
steaming”).
Anyhow. I remember the night we finished the Gold Master and i was one of the few staying in, waiting for the
final greenlight that the FTP transfer was complete and the game had been checked for any A-Bugs. At around 4
am in the morning i went home for a 70 km ride and when i arrived in Frankfurt/Main after a speedy ride home
over an empty highway, i got stopped by the police. I was driving 90 km/h in the city where only 50 km/h is
allowed. After having checked my papers, my breath and instilling some bad conscience they eventually (had to,
as no radar measurments were taken) let me go and let me drive the remaining 300 meters to my apartment. I
was too sleep-drunk but also excited to have completed the project to be driving carefully. Plus i did not expect
the spanish inquisition to wear green with blinking blue lights.
But one final word: even though it was a hard crunch, it was also handled relatively fairly (especially considering
what seems to be going on at Rockstar San Diego). We could take off the hours we’ve spent overtime. I doubt
that everyone did, no, i’m certain that a few didn’t take them on that offer at all and it’s probably not been a
strict quid pro quo, eg. each hour overtime balanced with an hour off – that was simply because most people
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
3
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
didn’t care to write down their overtime, so mostly it was just guessing and from the company’s side: perceived
amount of work put in that project. Obviously that lead to some amount of unequal treatment. If you happened
to be coming in early, and thus leaving “early” like at around 8 pm then you probably didn’t get such a good deal
out of it. On the other hand, some few employees thought they deserved more time off but we all were
wondering what the hell for? Since time was never recorded, things could never be proven. In the end, even
though we were treated rather fairly it wasn’t perceived as such by a majority of the employees and it only added
to the infighting between different departments that was already a part of our daily work.
No one (department) wanted to be the ones to blame while at the same time everyone wanted to do their best,
the team dynamics turned out to be not in the interest of the whole team or the project. The energy was there but
fluctuating around and no one was able to channel it creatively. It did work in some localized areas where people
stuck their heads together and could work in relative isolation but once you needed to cross department
boundaries you really had to rely on goodwill or personal relations with someone in order to get things done
(quickly & efficiently). And where that was the case, things went actually rather well. However, in some extreme
cases some of that lead to outbursts that were heard throughout the corridors and left each of us in a state of
confusion and dismay. Since we typically did not know what triggered it, discussions spawned. Accusations
were made. Rumors spread. Rinse, repeat. The moral of the story being: not good for team morale. And it was
hard to fix that. As a matter of fact, i believe it was never really “fixed” as there was always an unhealthy tension
among employees and/or towards management. The good side was that most learned to be professional about it
and those that didn’t, left or had to leave (or both). For me personally though it meant that while we were acting
professional, we’ve never had a very emotional high or low ever again and the corporate feeling was never as
tight as i remember it to be at my previous (first) employer. Whether that can be attributed to the team being
much bigger or simply corporate culture is hard to say. I do know that when we worked in smaller teams,
especially on prototypes, it felt a lot better so i would tend to favor bigger team size as the bigger culprit but then
again, in those teams the team culture was also quite different naturally.
Now i’ve said a lot of things that may not portray my employers in the best light. So in their defense let me say
this: it could have been much worse and all of the above is my subjective opinion and i do not regret these times.
It provided me with invaluable experience and know-how that serves to guide my future towards something
exciting.
About the author
Steffen Itterheim
is an Indie Game Developer and author of the
Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development
book. He
was a Software Engineer, Manager and Game Designer at Electronic Arts Phenomic during his 10-year
professional game industry career. He conceived and runs The Indiepinion since 2007.
Visit Authors Website
If you enjoyed this article: please share it!
12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
4
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/




Tagged with:
armorines

crunch

dave mirra freestyle bmx

overtime

rockstar

3 Responses to
My worst crunch(es)
1
.
Meine anstrengendsten Crunch-Zeiten | SpieleEntwicklungsland.de

says:
January 17, 2010 at 14:10
[...]
On 01.17.10, In Blog, by Steffen Itterheim
Wer des englischen mächtig ist, kann auf
GamingHorror.net nachlesen wie ich meine anstrengendsten crunch Zeiten erlebt habe.
About the [...]
Reply
2
.

Sebastian

says:
January 22, 2010 at 10:06
I remembered a former colleague of yours whom which I coincided at another studio told me he crunched
1 year for one of those Spellforce games. Creepy.
At 10T, I worked with a guy from Climax who used to be a lead programmer at Lionhead. He told me
that for Black % White (or Fable, I can’t recall), they crunched 2 years. The average was 10hrs+ every
day and skipping Saturdays was unusual.
All a joke compared to that slave camp in San Diego, though.
Reply
3
.

steffenj

says:
January 22, 2010 at 20:13
1 year was it, really? Hmmm … my memory could be serving me wrong. But now that i think of it apart
from the first couple months of easy-going the rest was a lot of work crammed into each day. Maybe i
don’t remember it as “crunch” exactly since i was new and happy to be able to work a lot on something i
was enthusiastic about.
Reply
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked
*
Name

*
Email

*
12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
Website
Comment
You may use these
HTML
tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym
title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q
cite=""> <strike> <strong>
Post Comment
Hi And Welcome!
My name is Steffen Itterheim
, I'm the author of the
Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game
Development
book. I spent an entire decade working in the game industry (ie. Electronic Arts
Phenomic) as Programmer, Designer and Manager. The Indiepinion was formerly known as GamingHorror.net
and has been relaunched specifically to share advice and opinions on the business, marketing, design and
development of Indie games.
"No public Twitter messages." —
GamingHorror
Recent Comments
Steffen Itterheim
commented on
iTunes Connect thinks your IBAN is invalid? Here’s the solution …
-
This is an IBAN, not your bank account number. Your bank code and account number are formatted into
Ali
commented on
iTunes Connect thinks your IBAN is invalid? Here’s the solution …
- Hello! my bank
account has the following number : LB57 0094 0000 0000 1234 5678 9900 What should I e
Kerrie
commented on
Indie Resources
- I have learned some new points from your web-site about
computers. Another thing I've always imagine

Categories
Announcements
(5)
Business & Industry
(14)
Design
(15)
Experiences
(24)
Games
(14)
Good Advice
(30)
Interview
(2)
Oddities & Fun
(11)
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
6
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
Opinion Pieces
(32)
Programming
(3)

Indie Dev Blogs
about:makingGames by Mac Senour
Coding Horror by Jeff Atwood
Dr. Touch by Oliver Drobnik
Entertaining Code by Mikael Hedberg
Essays by Paul Graham
Facebook Indie Games by David Barnes
Game Creation Resources
Game Tycoon by David Edery
GameDevLessons by Chris DeLeon
GameProducer by Juuso Hietalahti
Games From Within by Noel Llopis
Indie Game Tools by Robc
Indie Games – The Weblog
iPhone Development by Nick Dalton
make it BIG in games by Jeff Tunnell
Mr. Phil Games Blog by Phil Ludington
Rampant Coyote by Jay Barnson
Ray Wenderlich
Rizer Games by Luke
Sell More Games by Roman Budzowski
The Bottom Feeder by Jeff Vogel
The Indie Game Magazine
Wolfire Games Blog

Archives
June 2011
(2)
May 2011
(6)
April 2011
(3)
May 2010
(4)
April 2010
(1)
March 2010
(12)
February 2010
(14)
January 2010
(7)
November 2009
(2)
October 2009
(1)
September 2009
(1)
12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
7
/
8
August 2009
(1)
June 2009
(10)
May 2009
(7)
April 2009
(8)
March 2009
(13)
February 2009
(5)
January 2009
(9)
December 2008
(3)
November 2008
(9)
May 2008
(1)
February 2008
(3)
December 2007
(1)

The Indiepinion
Pages
Forum
Indie Resources
Scrum »
Introduction to Scrum
The Scrum Master Role
The Product Owner Role
The Role of the Team
Agile Estimation Techniques
Learn from other Teams
Scrum in Game Development
Scrum Tools & Websites
Fun with Scrum
About
Learn Cocos2D
Stay In Touch
Forum
Indie Resources
Scrum »
Introduction to Scrum
The Scrum Master Role
The Product Owner Role
The Role of the Team
Agile Estimation Techniques
Learn from other Teams
12
/
13
/
12
My worst crunch
(
es
)
|
The Indiepinion
8
/
8
www
.
indiepinion
.
com
/
stef f enj
/
my
-
worst
-
crunch
/
Scrum in Game Development
Scrum Tools & Websites
Fun with Scrum
About
Learn Cocos2D
More
My name is Steffen Itterheim
, I'm the author of the
Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development
book.
I spent an entire decade working in the game industry (ie. Electronic Arts Phenomic) as Programmer, Designer
and Manager. The Indiepinion was formerly known as GamingHorror.net and has been relaunched specifically to
share advice and opinions on the business, marketing, design and development of Indie games.
© 2007-2011 Steffen Itterheim