I have been writing computer games professionally for 23 years and even after all this time I still love it! I get a buzz out of creating something, watching it come together and become a game. During all of this time, I have crunched on all of my projects.
Three to six months before the end of each project I would say goodbye to my family and friends and disappear into the game. I would work late evenings and weekends getting it through Alpha, Beta and then finally on to Final / Gold. I always accepted it as a necessary evil, something that was just part of working in this awesome industry.
That was until I moved to Brisbane and started to work with the team making "Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole". The team had a simple work ethic, in on time, work focused and leave on time with working late and at the weekends only when absolutely necessary.
The project took a year and half to complete, during that time I spent three evenings working late and two Saturdays!
So what have I found personally different between crunching on a project vs. not crunching?
Refreshed - I generally had a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep, starting the new day feeling fresh, alert and awake.
Focused - Being refreshed meant I was more focused on the required tasks.
Productive - As a crunch progresses past the first few weeks peoples productivity dips in various ways, what I found however was that my productivity increased over the last few months of the project.
Less Stress - I had so little stress on the project, certainly nowhere near as much as I had on previous projects.
Happy – My partner gets to see me more, which makes her happy and if she is happy then I am too.
Having experienced both methods I have to say my thoughts on crunch have been modified. I actually feel that I have achieved more by not crunching than if I was, and that has surprised me.