Posted on April 5, 2013, Ian Miles Cheong 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.”