Triggered by a recent announcement at a studio where a friend works: in how many projects have you been asked to work mandatory 10 hour days? How about 6 day weeks? How long did those periods last?

Over the course of my career, I've worked crunch hours (10+ hours a day) on at least ten separate games, two of which never shipped. I worked weekends on nine of them. Some crunch periods were intermittent (crunching near the end of milestones to make the deadline) and others were ongoing due to overly ambitious schedules and constantly-moving goalposts. Crunch period length was determined primarily by the project - some were short (shortest: two week crunch periods and not more than four weeks total over the entire year) and some were long (longest: eight months of sequential crunch leading up to launch).

I like Mark Darrah's perspective on this - crunch often brings completion urgency, which is the feeling that the team must make final decisions and commit to them, rather than second-guessing and redoing work or just not deciding. Significant amounts of work are gated by committing to large decisions - and crunch is one of those things that tends to force commitment. The longer major decisions go without commitment, the more work piles up on the other side of the decision commitment, thus often necessitating crunch to finish. Looking back on all of the games I've worked on, the projects that committed to the big decisions early were the ones that had the least issues with crunch.

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