This is a blog about crunch.
It’s 3:00am and we’re driving to Del Taco to buy strawberry milkshakes. The week leading up to E3 saw the team hitting the first round of project crunch as we finalized a playable demo for our investors. Crunch is a hotly contested topic in the games industry and one that I want to call some light to with this week’s blog post.
Crunching is okay when it is team initiated and there is a clear short term goal that you are shooting for. It’s important to state for the record that we don’t crunch in solidarity at Empyrean. If you don’t have work to do and can’t help polish, then hit the road and see your family. In the case of our recent crunch, roughly half of the team stayed late into the night to crank out a few final iterations on some matinees and FX that polished the E3 build. The end goal was a significantly less buggy and polished demo that required an 18 hour day to achieve.
We talked about that crunch today and the team felt like it was important and necessary. It was a crunch initiated by the team’s passion for quality and the end result was something that we were proud of. As a studio head, I think it’s important to avoid sustained crunch. Long term crunches aren’t okay. They are a large contributor to why our industry is known for high turnover. They kill creativity and the magic juice that comes from iterating.
As a parting thought, there are right and wrong ways to crunch. If you find that you’re asking your team for months of sustained crunch, you’re cashing out your studio’s long term psyche and culture. Likewise, if your team is not coming up with whacky ideas that require last minute late nights to iterate on, then you might be missing a few key features that take your project from good to great.
Choosing to crunch is a complicated decision and like we did today, I’d suggest taking the time to listen to your team the next time you crunch. You might just find that in small doses it was a great mechanism for team building.
Have a great weekend, folks! Next week we’ll snag Art and Design to see how things are coming together for PCAs.