For the record (Gaming)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Monday, May 25, 2020, 11:18 (76 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

I said as much in my post above. I said that we’ve seen examples of good games being created with relatively little crunch (although even that claim is suspect... I bet if you asked the team “did you guys have to crunch on this game?” You’d get different answers depending on who you talked to).

This is true. I asked a friend at Naughty Dog if he had to crunch, and he said he didn't at all.

But even so, that’s 1 example. 1 data point. And popular as it is, animal crossing is not The Last of Us or God of War.

Granted I have not played Animal Crossing or God or War.

I think the tension at the core of this issue is that it is impossible to have a team of 150+ people create something groundbreaking, new, and innovative while also doing it on time and on budget. It’ll happen once in a while by sheer luck, but there is no reliable way for anyone to say “We’re going to do something that has never been done before, and it will be finished in exactly X hours and cost exactly Y dollars”.

Likely true. But I'm not sure why this means 'crunch' instead of 'delay'.

One thing that would help, IMO, is if publishers did a better job of differentiating between “games as mass-produced entertainment product” and “games as innovative creative endeavour”. Valve got it right. They decided that they wanted every single game they released to be innovative and groundbreaking, and they knew that the only way to do that would be to break free from usual dev cycles. They needed to give themselves room to sink years into a project that might never get released if it didn’t click. So they went and developed an alternate revenue stream that was steady and reliable and would keep the lights on while funding their creative projects.

Valve works very differently than a typical game studio. People just work on what they want to. You can start making something, and let it grow, or give up and move to something else. There's almost no structure to it. There's little that is actually mandated. So imagine the guy making guns for Destiny saying, you know what? I think I want to work on matter now, and then being able to go do it. I'd say this actually leads to stagnation creatively, as there's no fire to your feet so to speak. Just look at their output. Their last groundbreaking game was Portal. Or is it Half Life Alyx? I don't know enough to say since I hate VR. Either way, there's 13 years between those games.

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.

But don't Live Service games require crunch? The releases and updates need to be timely and constant. Fortnite was a big moneymaker but a gigantic crunch for all. So are you saying you always need to sacrifice one team to the crunch to save others?

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