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You don't understand anything about crunch. (Gaming)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 21:55 (46 days ago) @ General Battuta

I could try to explain it to you, but I don't know if it'd do anything for either of us. You have no understanding at all of the cost of the process, the reasons people are drawn into it despite 'forewarning', and the fundamental waste and stupidity of it.

Very presumptuous of you, and not the best way to start a conversation. And as far as being “drawn in despite forwarning”, I can think of many reasons people do it (I don’t know if i’m thinking of the same reasons you are) but that doesn’t mean they are good reasons. How can anyone take a job in game development and say with a straight face “i’m not going to need to crunch”. It’s as close to a guarantee as it could possibly be without being a natural law. (And for the record, I do know that many incoming devs are lied to about what kind of crunch they should expect... but THAT fact is also entirely well known).

Having gone from a bright-eyed kid flying into Seattle for his first real job out of grad school to a suicidal wreck in a padded cell over six months of Destiny crunch, I can tell you that crunch is not the reason we get great games. It's the reason we don't get more great ones.

If you've ever wondered 'why doesn't Destiny have more writing like the Books of Sorrow and the grimoire in the game itself?' the answer is crunch.

And before you try to tell me that I don't have what it takes to work at Bungie, my work is still good enough they're bringing me back on freelance. Destiny could have my writing full time. But the studio used me up in six months of crunch instead of keeping me for six years (as of this March) of sustainable work. I did the Books of Sorrow in a week. Imagine what I could've done with more than 300 weeks of creativity on Destiny.

Instead, I spent hundred hour week after hundred hour week filling out excel spreadsheets of gun and item names.

I lost nearly everything—my friends, my writing career, my health, my life savings, very nearly my life—to those six months. It's probably not an exaggeration to say they're the worst thing to ever happen to me. I'm still recovering (and my writing career probably never WILL recover from the years of total block I had afterwards—I will likely never be a marketable author under my real name again). It took years of adjustment to find the right combination and dosage of drugs to get me back on my feet.

Think about how many times this story has happened, to how many excited young people.

Think about what kind of games you could be playing if they were still with us.

Yes, that sounds like hell. As I’ve said from the beginning, I know how bad it gets. Not that it will or should make you feel any better, but your experience with crunch is not every experience with crunch. You’re taking your personal experience (which sounds horrible, and I truly empathize) and laying it over top a very wide topic. I know you are absolutely not alone. There are many MANY people who get chewed up and spat out by crunch. But we can’t ignore the fact that there are also many people who work at game studios for 10, 15 even 20 years, through crunch after crunch after crunch, and they’re still there, THRIVING. There are 2 extremes at opposite ends of this issue. My whole point from the start is that simply saying “get rid of crunch” does not account for the other end of the spectrum, and it also assumes that it would be a purely net benefit. I don’t think we can say that with any certainty.

You claim that Destiny would have been a better game without crunch, but it seems more likely to me that Destiny would never have been finished without crunch. You can’t just keep sinking other people’s money into a project forever.

Did the team leads/management on D1 make huge mistakes in the game’s development? Absolutely. I’m I defending what they did? No, I think their mismanagement of the project is unacceptable, for the human cost alone. Do I know that stuff like this is too common in the games industry? Also yes... anyone who’s paying attention knows. Is this what ALL crunch is like? No. Has any true masterpiece of a game been made without crunch? No. Has any truly masterful creative endeavour of ANY KIND been completed without crunch? None that i’m aware of. Sadly, almost tragically, most crunch does not end in a work of art. But i’m not convinced that any masterful project on the scale of a big game (movies, novels, albums, etc) can be achieved without crunch of some kind. It just doesn’t seem to happen.


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