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Crunch Article & Double Fine

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There's an interesting piece up on Medium about crunch and how Tim Schafer thought of it in a sort of naive way before but now is more aware of the impact it has on projects.


Worth a discussion, I reckon. Having plenty of developer friends who I know have had really bad times with crunch and burnout it is good to see Tim take a view on this that isn't romanticising it or apologising for it happening. On the idea of crunch as a rite of passage.


“It’s misguided and old-fashioned,” he said. “People do that kind of work because they don’t feel confident in their creative output. It’s a mode you get into when you can’t see a successful, metered approach to the work you have to do.”

This makes a lot of sense to me as someone who has just this month gone part time in my job to pursue more music composing projects. 

The part time thing is because right now at my level of renown I can't guarantee enough work to do more than that, but it can also be helpful as a buffer. I do my best work when I have the space to distance myself from it and then return to it with fresh ears. If I get into an ultra creative mode where I'm outputting loads in the same day it CAN work but also I can listen to it a day later and realise it's all nonsense.

So I can't even imagine what it is like to expect to be creative when literally all you have time to do is work and sleep a bit in between.

All that said, some of this makes me a little uncomfortable in light of the Double Fine Adventure documentary. I definitely do not think that Double Fine are anywhere close to the worst perpetrators of crunch in the industry, but certain scenes in that did make me very uncomfortable.

There's a particular part where I think it's Ray Crook is talking about having to do all these late nights, and Tim is commenting on that and says something along the lines of "So of course, I say to Ray 'don't do it!' but actually I kind of need him to do it in order for the schedule to make sense" (sorry I couldn't find the exact bit). 

That always bugged me, not because of the usual complaints of 'the project ran into trouble because they're bad at planning' - this stuff is hard. I think it was just the way that despite Tim's acknowledgement that crunch is a negative sort of stress on the project, he was not only willing to turn a blind eye to it in this case but admitted that the timeline doesn't make sense without it. 

Something I'm curious about is whether that was an exceptional case, or if Tim would handle that situation differently today, and where those lines will get drawn in a bigger project like Psychonauts 2 where there's perhaps as much or even more on the line.

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