Crunch article from Edge UK mag 081

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mofous

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Jan 21, 2022, 10:38:17 PMJan 21
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Came across this article... it's interesting.
It's for your TTS...


Transform into sweatshop

THe friendships die. Marriages end. No-one goes home
until the game is shipped. Edge explores the seemingly infinite cram sessio=
n


tunch time. The term sends shivers
? down the spines of embattled game
developers everywhere. Any developer will
tell you that the final stretch of work on any
game is the toughest, most demanding, and
most time-consuming part of the job.

Look at the catalogue of titles that just
made it to store shelves for the Christmas
season and it's guaranteed that you'll see
some titles that have taken years off the
lives of those who made them.

It's a tough road, and yet their ears must
be ringing from the remarks of doubters:
"These guys make games, They play with
Nerf guns at their offices, they get big royalty
checks when the games are done. We're

crying over how hard life is for them"

Foam projectiles and big money aside,
game development teams aren't that big
(outside Japan, anyway). More often than
not, game developers in the US and UK
are working weekends, as well as shifts
that average from about 10am to 10pm.

The casual dress and LAN fragfests may
be pleasant perks, but the demands of the
job push game development beyond the
realm of respectable hours. It's a career
choice with serious repercussions on
family and social life,

Those who have been in the industry
long enough have seen their fair share of
marriages end ? and this comes back a
large part to the time demands of the job.


Here comes the crunch
So what is it exactly that makes the closing
period of game development so difficult?
Problems during development frequently
get pushed aside to be fixed at the end. As
? game undergoes its transformation from a
bare engine to a working prototype, more
problems arise, And the more of the game
there is developed, the more there is that
??? go wrong with it.

Many features and control issues are tied
up at the end of development. According to
Shiny Entertainment president David Perry,


>





Development


hell in their
own words


When it comes to the "make
or break" period of game
development, it is, more often
than not, the developers
who are made or broken.

And in the crazy world of
crunch time, crazy things
happen. Edge polled every
industry veteran whose
email address could be found
and asked for their best
crunch time stories.

Their responses, true tales
of superhuman endurance
married with bizarre
circumstances, appear
over the following pages.


when a developer says: "It will all come
together in the end,? he actually means:
?Things are buggy, broken, or not
implemented yet and they had better
all come together at the end!?

Almost universally, a game quickly
goes from just functional to playable in
the last month of development. That's
when a lot of late nights are required to
debug, tune and finish a game on
schedule. The team must tie up all
the loose ends behind the graphics,
music, sound effects, gameplay
mechanics and, increasingly, story
and character development.

When these elements first come together,
the game is said to be in its alpha stage.
The elements are there, but the code is still
very buggy, the camera may be wonky and
character Al may be flawed. Once these
bugs are worked through, the game
enters the beta stage. This is when the final
crash bugs are exorcised and tuning begins.

Explains Perry: ?Tuning and setting
variables such as difficulty, lives, ammo, and
energy can't really be done until the de-
bugging ? making sure a gun works or that
your enemy is not blind ? is out of the way?


Testing courage


"| was working for an English publisher. We were trying to finish ? PC port=

of an Amiga game in time for the holidays. To get through the final bit of=

testing, | took three testers along to the developer, based in the middle o=
f
nowhere, and set up camp.

"We were there for a week before we had the game to a level which
we felt was finished. Just before we drove off with the final set of master=

disks (shows you how old the story is), ! thought it would be a good idea=

to have the testers play through the game, start to finish, one more time.=


"This takes about five hours of playtime ? remember, the tester knew
the game better than the back of his hand. He got to the last level,
finished the last boss, and pow ? nothing happened. We went and
awoke the programmer (it was about midnight), and told him the problem.
He looked at the code and instantly spotted the problem. Five minutes
later our poor tester was back playing the game from the start.

"Six hours later (hey, he was getting tired), he got to the final boss,
killed it and, uh-oh, nothing happened again. The player was just left on=

the screen by himself ? no ending animation, no rolling credits, not
even any music.

"So we politely interrupted the programmer again and explained the
problem. He looked at the code and muttered: "God, that would never
have worked!" typed some more lines of code and blam, we got a
whole new version.

"| looked at the tester. He looked like he'd played this game for weeks.
And just after completing an eleven-hour stint, | asked him to do it again.=

He did. He finished the game, and thankfully it worked right this time. We=

got in the car and took off, never to come back. We got the game done
just in time. The poor lead tester spent the next week in bed.

"While a lot of crunch stories will talk about how much dedication the
programmers had, | think testers probably have the worst part of it - they=

get paid peanuts, are expected to work a 24-hour shift when it comes to
finishing product, and they don't even get any credit for it. If it wasn't =
for
the test groups working like crazy, crunch mode would all be for nothing."=

Colin Gordon, vice president of product development,

Boss Game Studios


464 EDGE


Developers must iron out programming
bugs, make modifications to the gameplay,
eliminate the bugs that arose from making
the modifications, then modify some more.

The pressure is twofold. They must
deliver the best gameplay possible within
the time limit and iron out all the bugs that
occur. Often, new features are added or
planned features are dropped within this
time frame. It is the make or break period
for a game's development.

"Neglecting either tuning or debugging
will simply ruin all your years of hard work,?
says Perry.

Months later, teams can see the end of
the tunnel. But if they don't want to ship
an unfinished or unpolished game, the
amount of work done per day has to
increase dramatically.

And those long hours mean that
productivity usually goes down, necessitating
even longer, less productive hours. It's a
vicious cycle that ends (rarely) when the
team decides the game is finally finished ?
or (much more frequently) when the
publisher demands that the game ship
no matter what.

This is where the marathon sessions
begin. As the days before deadline approach,
development teams cease to go home, often
falling asleep at their keyboards, wearing the
same clothes for several days, eating
takeaway food for three meals a day.

To quote Thomas Paine, these are the
times that try men?s souls. Crunch time kills
friendships, ends marriages, and causes the
occasional fist fight.

?There are lots of discussions, lectures,
and software products declaring their
solution to this ?cramming? at the end,?
admits Perry. ?But | think it's now infused
into our genetics forever, after years of
our parents and parents? parents
cramming at school"

Of course, developers feel an
overwhelming urge to continue adding
to a game until the last moment. But a
month or two before a game is completed,
it undergoes a ?feature lock, which
means that developers cannot add
any more features.

They must simply debug and tune the
game with its current feature set in order to
get the project finished. As debugging and
tuning commence, particularly in ? product





SE eS: ??





e had all been working
100-hour weeks. People were
living in the offices. | was


trying to get some new info





related to a bug to a member
f staff. | knocked on the
office door. No response. |


knocked a little louder. 1 could





hear soft music from within
Through slits in the window
blinds, 1 could see that the
room was barely lit by the
pale glow of the Christmas
lights inside.

"So | opened the door The
person I was looking for was
in ? so was his wife. They
were making love on the
Persian rug. It was like she
had come up for a conjugal


visit, because her husband





was in the prison of





development. (But, hey, we've
all been there, right?) 1 have
many more crunch time
stories, but ? wouldn't you
know it ? I'm in crunch right
now on Deus Ex."

Harvey Smith, lead
designer on Deus ??,

lon Storm





Crunch flights...


"Spec Ops 2 just went gold, so | am all too familiar with crunch time. My s=
enior ?When | was at Virtual iO (the company that made VR headsets), some o=
f our people











programmer stayed in the office and wore the same clothes for four days in =
a row. missed a flight from Seattle to Tokyo and were unable get another fl=
ight. Rather than
(although he was nice enough to run them through our washing machine at lea=
st once). move the meeting to ay, they decided to fly around the world - th=
e long way.
After we got the official approval, he was able, somehow, to meet me at the=
airport at They went from Seattle, to New York, to London, to Bombay,
to J=
apan. They still got there
7am the next day to fly to San Francisco, for a Dreamcast developers' confe=
rence. Now sooner than if they had waited until the next direct flight, but=
not in a good condition.
that is dedication above and beyond the call of duty. John Williamson, prod=
ucer, Zombie


EDGE 65=BB


CRUNCH TIME


Pinball police.)


?| bought the Shiny team some
???! pinball machines to play
with. Little did | know that
while the Messiah team was
diligently working away on the
third floor in the middle of the
night, the pinball machine was
randomly making a glass
breaking noise. Right above
the machine was a ?glass
break? alarm sensor.

"This was followed by
somewhat excited police
officers storming the building,
guns drawn, putting the
Messiah team members up
against the wall to be
searched. To compound the
problem, many of the Messiah
guys wer? foreign and wore
black military-style gear. (Thank
God they were not playing
with Nerf guns at the time!)

It was stressful, especially
since it happened repeatedly
before we found the source
of the problem."

David Perry, president,
Shiny Entertainment


that is extremely late, features and levels
that are proving hard to fix are sometimes
unceremoniously chopped.

One recent example of a game that had
its feature set frozen was Legacy of Kain:


Soul Reaver. As the project was running a
year later than its first scheduled release
date, several later levels were cut from the
game. As a story-driven adventure, the
cutting of the levels required the design
team to amend the story. (This decision
came after the voiceover for the project





had been recorded, and several sound files
for the originally planned ending were buried
on the PC version. A group of hardcore
gamers found the files, extracted them, and
posted them on the Web.)

It's disappointing to hear stories such as
the one concerning Soul Reaver. But the
reason developers work so feverishly during
crunch time is to get the tuning down and
the gameplay right. Nobody intends to ship a
bad product. But sometimes a development
team's reach exceeds its grasp.


Tuning and timing...


"it was April, and | was working onsite at Pumpkin Studios in Bath, England=
, finishing the realtime strategy
game Warzone 2100. We had to make the quarter. A team of about 14 people ha=
d worked nearly 16-hour
days for the last three weeks.

"We had to do an English version, as well as localised French, German, and =
Italian ones. Towards the final
week, testers were complaining that the game was too hard. As an RTS game, =
proper balancing and tuning
was crucial. Add into the mix more than 2,000 units which can be created, a=
nd it was extremely complicated
to change the values for tuning. But Jim Bambra, the project director, did =
it to appease the testers.

?Two days before the final master was due, the test team now found that the=
campaign and skirmish
were too easy. Jim gave us his "I will kill you" look, and then called a co=
mpany meeting with the whole test
team. People were split on the difficulty, but several campaign missions we=
re flagged.

"Jim then did a final edit, prayed to the tuning gods and thankfully it tur=
ned out fine ? everyone was happy
with the balance. But there was one major complaint from users, resulting f=
rom a feature we added in the
final month. It was the mission timer. This was an Eidos idea. We wanted a =
one- to two-hour time for each
mission. This would prevent users refining endless supplies of resource, at=
tacking the computer, and then
repairing the unit to gain experience points.

?if you set your forces to do this automatically, after about eight hours y=
ou would be nearly invincible for
the rest of the game. The programmers could not easily limit the resource, =
so the timer was enacted to stop
cheating. Our testers always had enough time to finish the mission, however=
? some missions were tight
with the time limit

"A large percentage of RTS crowd and some review editors bemoaned the timer=
as an unnecessary
annoyance. This was frustrating, because they did not appreciate our positi=
on on its validity. As an American
producer working with a UK developer, one of my contributions was providing=
a magical elixir that propelled
the team to finish the code and put out a quality title. It came from the n=
ewly opened, previously never heard
of, Starbucks Coffee of Bath, England."

Eric Adams, producer, Eidos


4 66 EDGE


"It's a pretty high
productivity bar
when you ask your
co-workers and
yourself,
'Have you made
your $2m revenue
for the company
this year?'"


Can the crunch be stopped?
Why not add more people at the end to a
project to help alleviate the crunch? Because
the creation of software is such an intimate
process that adding team members near the
end just won't speed up development.

"More people just ask too many
questions," moans Perry. "They actually
decrease the efficiency of the people that
were really getting the work done. For
example, hiring 20 programmers to work
with the three you already have will just
swamp them with problems, questions,
and thirdparty bugs.?

Any painter, sculptor, musician,
photographer, or director will tell you that
the creative process isn't always orderly.
Even a game with a solid design document
will still change during production. As
games become increasingly cinematic,
story-driven vehicles, costing ever more
to produce, design documents and
preproduction planning are playing a
crucial role in development, as is asset
management during a project.

^| used to waffle on about ?dynamic
design," smiles Perry, admitting that there
was never a design doc for Earthworm Jim
or MDK. ?It was my way of explaining that
1 had shipped tons of games without ever
having a design document in any form.

?We knew the direction we wanted to
head and then kept enhancing the bits that
were working the best? A logical philosophy,
sure. But perhaps one that is best left with
the days of smaller development teams.

?Once teams get over about nine people
things start getting messy. You need to
track progress and keep everyone guided,
as different people work at different
speeds. Without a design, this can get out
of control really quickly?

Perry makes the inevitable comparison
to the more detail-oriented world of


Hollywood. "We need to think of our staff as
the expensive celebrities who we don't want
sitting around while we redesign stuff? he
says. "Certainly our focus at Shiny is turning
towards tons more pre-planning and a lot
more reality checks along the way"

Even the film industry ? with its 90-year
history, its unions and production positions
organised down to the minutiae of who's
refilling the crisp bowl on the snack truck ?


When a debugger


still has its share of nightmarish production
over-runs. Remember ?Waterworld??

Still, Perrys suggestion is valid, and
? model where ingame development
is further segmented into preproduction/
production is one many other developers
will begin considering as well.

But game development is an entirely
different beast ? some 70 years younger
than the film industry and evolving at a much


???





faster pace. So much faster, that
game developers' staffing needs have
Changed tremendously with each new
generation of hardware.

"Over the past few years, team sizes have
gone from ten to 20 people, and so much
more is required," observes Chris Taylor,
president of Gas Powered Games and
designer of the original Total Annihilation.

"It's crazy. It's like taking the same team


s not enough...


"This is a vulgar story - I beg.
your indulgence in advance.
We were in the closing hours
of OddWorld: Abe's Oddysee.
The game was complete and
on the disc, which was
getting a final run-through by
designers Jeff Brown and Paul
O'Connor (we had no test
staff on that job, so the
designers did the in-house
testing). Jeff discovered a
crash bug in one of the later
venues. It might have been
the Forest Temple ender.

So of course, everything
came to a halt while we
tried to track it down.

?Eric Yiskis fired up the
debugger and Paul played
through the game, trying to.
reproduce the crash. Things
were painfully slow. Eric was
watching the code one line at
? time, translating to a slow
motion, fractured play experi-
ence for Paul, meaning his.
timing was all off and he kept
making dumb mistakes. Add
that to the accumulated
fatigue of several weeks of
crunch time, and we weren't
at our most efficient. Still,
Paul played through the
sequence multiple times and
we couldn't find anything
wrong with the code or
reproduce the crash.

"Meanwhile, on the other
side of the room, Jeff
continued to reproduce the
bug by playing off the disc.

So, we have a real mystery
on our hands: a game that
crashes off the disc but runs
just fine on the development
station, and code that looks
Correct even through a line by
line examination by our
programming staff. Deadline.
Creeping panic.

"Then Craig Ewert, another
of our programmers, pops the
disc out of the machine, turns
it over, and sees there's a bit
of crud (well, to be fair, it
was... a booger) on the disc.
He wipes it off, pops it in the
machine, and the level plays
just fine. Bug solved. Instead
of running it through the de-
bugger, we should have run it
through the de-boogerer."
Lorne Lanning, president
and creative director,
OddWorld inhabitants


EDGE 67 >


CRUNCH TIME


Die hard developer...


"When it came to crunch time, |
had the bright idea of staying in
the office the entire week just to
get things done.

?It was the early hours of
Tuesday morning when | hit the
sack. | laid out my sleeping bag
on the floor in my office and
sprawled out in nothing but ??
jean shorts,

"The floor wasn't comfortable,
50 | decided to grab cushions
from the couch in our lounge
area. | took all but one pillow
and constructed a fairly good
bed. My feet were still dangling,
so | went back to the lounge for
that last cushion.

"This particular company had
tight security. All staff had
security cards that allowed
them in and out of certain areas.
Heading back to my office, |
realised | had left my security
card on my desk. | was stuck!
Doomed to be discovered later
that morning, half naked in the
lounge. It was like one of those
dreams where you're in school
wearing only your underwear.

?| couldn't sleep (there were
no cushions on the couch). Then
1 remembered the scene in ?Die
Hard' when John McClane
climbs through the ceilings.

My first thought was, ?Are you
nuts?? But why not? It
worked for him.

"| stacked a chair on top of
the refrigerator, climbed onto it
and eased the tile aside, The
light seeping through the cracks
was my only guide through a
jungle of metal, cables, and
pipes. | started to make my way
across, fearing | would come
crashing down through the
fragile tiles, Fortunately, having
worked in construction for a few
years, | had a good idea where
to crawl and which pipes would
support my weight.

?After making my way over
air ducts and under network
wires, | reached the other side of
the security door, exhausted. |
began to climb down and
realised how dirty | had become,
My foot left a long black smudge
on the wall. Then | jumped, land-
ed in a cloud of dust, and kissed
the carpet.

"| had to take a shower and ????? SE NEUEM $ LU ? 21551532
do some major cleaning up. But I
learned my lesson ? don't leave
the office without your card!

Needless to say | finished out





the week, getting all my work ?| don't know anyone who has fond memories of=
crunch time, when friendships end over whose fault
done, and now | have a great the delays were, marriages end because one of =
the spouses (almost without exception the

story to tell my grandchildren. husband/father) spends too much time at wor=
k, and co-workers end up in the occasional fist fight.

I'll just have to add the part "it's hard to be nostalgic for marathon work=
sessions created by poor planning, bad management,
about me saving the company indecision, insecurity, creative paralysis, and=
stress.?

from terrorists.? Kelly Flock, president, 989 Studios


?John McClane?, developer


4 68 EDGE


that built a speedboat and asking them to
build a battleship. You can't use the same
hull design. Those who try are going to
have an extremely difficult time getting
things to work"

Taylor, who's busy with his forthcoming
action-RPG for Microsoft, entitled Dungeon
Siege, remembers a time fairly recently


to finish Perfect Dark in time for Christmas
'99, Nintendo opted to delay the title until
spring, citing the developer's preference to
meet the expectations of the millions of
gamers who enjoyed GoldenEye.
Even more to the extreme is id Software.

The developer of Quake refused to set a
release date for Quake Ill: Arena. It simply


CRUNCH TIME


Full development jacket...


argued that the game would ship when it
was ready. Does that mean everyone at id
works nine-to-five and goes home? Quite
the contrary, according to Id President Todd
Hollenshead: "| don't think people on the
outside can really understand what a
pressure cooker people are put in when
they work at id?


"There are iots of discussions, lectures and software products
declaring their solution to this cramming at the end.


when you could have guys working on one
aspect of the game with very little
communication with others: "But now
everyone needs to work together and stay
informed about all the changes going on
with the project?

With the 3D graphics revolution,
developers have faced new challenges,
specifically cinematic ones. And, as has
become obvious to anyone who's played
a game in the past couple of years,
ingame cameras have been problematic.
Does this mean teams will begin to hire
cinematographers? Perhaps, but they
won't necessarily be part of the core
development team.

?Team sizes will continue to grow. Key
members will get more valuable until things
become impossible to sustain,? Perry
predicts. ?The nuclear meltdown will result in
many teams going bust and the survivors
contracting the best studios in specific
areas such as motion capture, concept art
and facial acting.

"That way we all ?share? and only pay for
work when we need it. Then, when later on
we are spending months on design, for
example, we don't have to carry the burden
of all that staff?


When does it end?

As with professionals in many different
trades, it's easy to see veteran game
developers being accustomed to (and
perhaps addicted to) the adrenaline and
pressure created by deadline situations.

As horrible as crunch time is when you're
in it, it's an intense time. Afterwards it's easy
to remember it through a fog of nostalgia.
Certainly teams can give it their all in ?
heroic effort to produce the gold master,
but how playable the game is when it is
considered ?done? is entirely another matter.

Companies like Rare are sticklers for
perfection, with a reputation for big budget,
high quality titles. Nintendo has often
delayed Rare titles just to give the team the
required time to perfect the game before it
ships. And while Rare might have been able


But I think it's now infused into our genetics?


?When | think of crunch time, |
think of pizza. Basically, pizza
equals crunch time. If | go.
somewhere that makes pizza,
| feel like it's crunch time. It's
like ?Nam.

?You imagine you hear
helicopters and people shout-
ing at you that there isn't
enough room on the chopper
for any more wounded.

?You start seeing bullets
whipping past your head and
then somebody slaps you in
the face, right there in Pizza
World! It can get ugly, Oh
yeah, and then there is
Chinese food, and...?

Chris Taylor, president,
Gas Powered Games





EDGE 69


?we need to think of our staff as the expensive
celebrities who we don't want sitting around while we


Aside from the scrutiny that id developers
receive from exposure in magazines
worldwide and with millions of Internet
users, Hollenshead suggests the pressure
is on internally, as well. He reveals that id
set a company revenue record in 1997,
taking in $28m.

"And that's with 13 people," says
Hollenshead. "It's pretty easy to do the
maths, it's well over $2m per employee in
revenue. So it's a pretty high productivity bar
when you ask your co-workers and yourself,
'Have you made your $2m in revenue for
the company this year??

Id enjoys the luxury of funding its own
game development, while most developers
rely on instalment payments from publishers,
which come in when the game meets
developmental milestones. Finishing a game
when it's due to the publisher is important.

The developer may require the final
milestone payment to maintain payroll and
business expenses. And at the end of the
day, some titles need to ship for financial
reasons. Often, a publisher needs to make
a judgment call on whether added
development time will actually add significant
improvements to the gameplay experience
or simply tack on more development costs
while insignificant effects are added.

Gabe Newell, president of Valve,
revealed that Half-Life could have gone
out the door one year earlier, when it was
intended to ship. But he intimates it would
have been merely the shadow of the hit
game it was. Sierra agreed to give
Newell's team the extra year required to
make Half-Life great.

Other external factors often lead to
shipping decisions being made regardless of
the developer's opinion on how finished the
game is. Many publicly owned publishing


Concert bound...


"The Turbine art department was in crunch to get its bugs killed on Asheron=
's Call.
My co-worker Pete and | had spent several days in the office, from early mo=
rning
until around 2am to get as much done as possible. After a few days of this,=
1 realised
that our tickets for the big Tom Waits show were on the night of the "true-=
and-
honest-I-really-mean-it-this-time" deadline.

"^| came in early, (10am) and Pete came in sometime later. He gave me the t=
ickets
and said we'd meet at the show, then he left to pick his brother up for the=
concert.
My wife and | drove into Boston and got to the venue. The show started with=
no
Pete or brother. Three or four numbers in, | began to wonder if | had asked=
Pete to
pick me up at the office before the show, or whether we had agreed to meet =
here.

I started to get really nervous. But then they showed up ? they'd been in t=
raffic.

"The show was great, ending around 11 pm. My wife and | drove home, and I=

immediately got back in the car and went back to work, finishing around 3 a=
m. The
next day | was told that the real deadline wasn't for another day or so. Of=
course."
Sean Huxter, lead artist, Turbine Games


470 EDGE


redesign stuff"


companies, including Electronic Arts,
Activision, GT Interactive, and 3DO, need to
show profits to shareholders every quarter.

If a game fails to ship during its scheduled
quarter, the company cannot record the
subsequent revenue the game generates in
time. That may result in a loss for that period,
which in turn usually has a negative effect on
the stock price. This far too often leads to the
ship now, patch it later mentality that plagues
so many PC games.

Perry complains: ?When | talk to
developers working for public companies,
the common thing they hear is Just ship it!
Adding that effect won't sell us another
copy!" Perry accepts that his company's
Messiah project is late, but is confident
because the team keeps pushing ahead,
quarter to quarter.

"It would have been very easy just to
license the Quake engine and whack out a
few Quake clones," he admits. "But we
choose to try new stuff. Some public
companies, such as Interplay, see the value
in hiring and nurturing creativity"


Crunched out

It's unlikely that we'll see game
development organised to the point where
crunch time is eliminated. Not in the near
future, if ever. Long hours will undoubtedly
remain the method to this madness. Yet,
with all the pressures, deadlines, and
problems developers must overcome on a
daily basis, a finished game is undoubtedly
the miracle of science married to an
incredible work ethic.

It sometimes seems like a game will
never be finished while you're working on it.
In fact one developer relates: "I once figured
out, statistically, that no game should ever
ship" But it seems that for every last minute
disaster that requires a marathon session, in
most games there are an almost equal
number of last minute miracles: hacks that
double the framerate, brilliant gameplay
tweaks, and so on. Taylor reveals to us that
he keeps a grocery list of miracles he
expects from his staff. Unbeknown to them,
he secretly crosses off these miracles as his
team completes them.

So, next time you walk down the aisles
at your local game store, think about all the
cups of coffee and stacks of pizzas that
have been consumed in the production
of each game.

More importantly, think about the
programmers, designers, and testers who
can't remember certain months of their lives
because every moment was lived in a fog of
bug reports and variable tweaking. Which is
not to say you have to like all their work ?
just don't be caught thinking they
had it all too easy. 18





???





" recall the brutal last phase
of shipping a game, called the
deathmarch. After working a
year-and-a-half on the game,
you completely lose your per-
spective. You can't even see
what you thought would be
fun about the game in the
first place. You only see a
growing stack of bug reports
that have to be re-created,
isolated and fixed.

"The pressure of working
around the clock generates
the overwhelming wish for it
to just be over. Everyone is on
autopilot, staggering towards
the finish line.

?Not everyone on the team
makes it. There are casualties
on the death march. Some
simply cannot go on - pitching
forward into the pizza box,
asleep mid-bite, Others go.
psychotic, jabbering nonsense
at their monitors.

"The team is often forced
to leave them behind with
some cigarettes and a single
bullet. But for those who sur-
vive and make it home, victory
is sweet. Shipping any game is
? profound badge of honour,
respected by all developers.


It's what separates the men
from the boys."

Mark Long, founder,
Zombie Studios


--
mgarcia.org
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