For many developers, crunch is an entrenched habit. In studios, it can be mandated from above, but even small teams and solo developers work dangerously long hours far too often.
When developers Catt Small, Lauren Scott, and Francesca Carletto-Leon got together for a recent Gamasutra roundtable talk, they tackled the subject of crunch. One of their valuable insights? Crunch is a habit many of us pick up in schools. We get used to big projects, tight deadlines, and cramming as many work hours into the day as we can. If schools can do a better job of teaching us how to scope our projects, we’d be a lot better off.
And that advice applies to developers outside of school programs, too. If you’re new to game development, game jams can teach you good habits by showing you the limits of your capabilities — or they can help you entrench bad ones, if you start to think you work best in 48-hour programming binges. Focus on healthy game jamming (we have some recommendations) and, as these devs recommend, scope your projects as realistically as possible.
How do you do that? If you’ve been working on games for a while, look back at the projects you’ve attempted and completed — you’re the expert on your capabilities, when you’re honest about them. If you’re new to game development, Extra Credits created a great guide to scoping your first games.
Crunch can be harmful to you, your productivity, and your games — so anything you can do to minimize it is a worthwhile effort.
For further insight from Small, Scott and Carletto-Leon on game development, check out the full roundtable.