Klei Entertainment Founder Attacks ‘Crunch’ Game Development

Some in the game industry would argue that working overtime, or “crunching” is a necessary evil that comes with developing a quality game. Klei Entertainment founder Jamie Cheng does not agree.

Speaking at the recent Game Developers Conference, Cheng lambasted the practice.

“I find it disingenuous when game developers claim that the reason they work a whole load of overtime is because they are trying to do something new. To hide behind ‘art’ as a shield for poor process is wrong. You will screw with future developments by taking this approach,” he said.

Cheng said that unsustainable development cycles that force massive amounts of overtime onto the developers only hurts a company and the games it creates.

“I realized that not only do we need to build great games but we also need to find a way to do this without ruining our lives in the process,” said Cheng, speaking from the experience of developing Shank, which suffered during its development.

Cheng said that developers should focus their energy on figuring out whether they’re on the right path, instead of expending themselves on work that might be ultimately scrapped.

“The key to this is to create a theory, test the theory, learn from failure, make adjustments and repeat,” he said. “Many talks examine how you need to be able to cut features from your game to make the development more manageable. The way in which you know what to cut is through a solid theory that you’ve tested your assumptions on.

“Creating processes that allow us to create art is the key to successful game development. When you have good processes you are more free to think about new things because you are not just flailing around not knowing where you are headed.”

The studio’s most recent game is Mark of the Ninja. Their next title, Don’t Starve, is currently in closed beta.

via IndieGames

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

2 Comments on Klei Entertainment Founder Attacks ‘Crunch’ Game Development


On April 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

Totally agree.

Look at FF versus 13 and The last guardian for example.
These 2 games have been in development for how long now?
The thing I believe from Japanese development is that they focus too much time doing cut scenes that is irrelevant to the game instead of getting the game done already, and its the main reason the final fantasy franchise is dead.


On April 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

One of the biggest things that I think would help alleviate the crunch time is if publishers stopped adhering to the idea that a sequel needs to be pumped out within two years of the last game. Gamers respect quality, and generally they don’t mind waiting for a superior product. Yes, games are expensive to make, and taking longer to finish development means that money isn’t coming in, but it’s much better than having your game flop because it is recognized as a rushed product. If people liked the last game, they probably won’t forget about the sequel, even if it takes longer than two years to make.