Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra follow-up
into the state of 'quality of life' issues in games, Relentless' Andrew Eades (Buzz!
franchise) has been discussing why productivity during the week can forestall crunch outside it.
Eades is a developer who'd been crunched in an earlier life and decided "never again." The studio at which he and his partner David Amor had been toiling - frequently for "ridiculously silly hours" - went bust, and, at the end of 2003, the two founded UK-based Relentless Software. Its name stems from the duo's solemn oath to never, ever work overtime again.
"Some people find crunch invigorating but, frankly, after the first few days, it loses its appeal," says Eades, Relentless' owner and director. "We take the extreme view that you should never do it. We define 'crunch' as anything over a 40-hour week."
In fact, developers at Relentless work 9-5 with an hour for lunch, five days a week, for a total of 35 hours. The key word, says Eades, is "work".
"We'd noticed that at many studios there was a big difference between the amount of time people spend in the office and their productive time," he explains.
"Because many studios are set up to resemble playgrounds, people develop a slacking-off culture. They play games, drink coffee, and chat with their mates, which are very nice things to do but not exactly useful in the production of video games."
Eades says his policy of maximizing the 35-hour workweek is what enables his team to avoid crunch. "We don't have crunch because we have an unbreakable rule that there can be no crunch. It's not allowed," he adds.
That's in addition to Relentless' "very strong project management skills that give us a very measurable week," Eades notes.
"Every week is the same. We know how long it takes to do stuff and we can predict it much better than if every week was completely random. That's why there's no mass panic at the end of the project. We just finish, exactly as planned."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including comments from former colleagues of EA_Spouse who have both reformed the situation at their developer or moved outside of the game industry altogether to regain a more balanced life/work split.