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1. We got lost in do, do, do mode.
Since we had strong time constraints and since we're only three men, we each had to do more than an engineer, artist, or designer would normally do on a project. This led to what I call "do, do, do mode". Basically, you have to keep doing things and keep moving because if you stop to think for even a moment, you can sometimes throw your entire groove off.
Obviously, it's best to stop, take a breath, and remember that doing something right is ALWAYS better than doing something wrong. But in the heat of the moment it's easy to lose track of the gray area between right and wrong -- because there is one. The "right" way is not always the right way to do something. And sometimes the "wrong" way can be more right than we would ever think.
That being said, sometimes the wrong way is actually the wrong way. One example of how do, do, do mode threw us for a loop was how we moved the player through level two. Because of our camera system, we couldn't animate the camera through the level (or so we thought).
So Mike, our artist, who is not an animator, ended up rigging the entire level as a character and animated it around the camera. This was insanity. A day task of animating the camera through the level became a week task of animating the level around the camera.
After the project was done, we all realized that making a 10 minute change code-side could have allowed us to do this the right way, but since we were pushing so hard and not pausing to consider all options, we unnecessarily gave ourselves more work.
Learning when to "do" and when to "don't" would have helped us to keep the project's velocity higher.
2. Despite trying very hard not to, we fell into old habits, such as crunch.
When we started this project, we decided to do whatever we could to avoid crunch mode, the plague of the video game industry.
Yeah, that didn't go so well.
About two-thirds of the way through the project, we realized just how much work it takes to run a company as well as make a game -- especially if you're making your first game. The newness of everything compounded upon itself and overburdened each of us. Just to stay on top of everything, we found that we had to work more hours. And then more hours. And then more.
Contributing factors to the crunch included do, do, do mode, running a new company, not having a producer, learning the new toolsets, setting up our development environment... The list goes on. Each of these things is necessary for a development studio to run but they have little to do with one specific product. Finding the time to juggle all these responsibilities led to crunch.
Is the project better because we crunched? In this case, I think it is. But our quality of life certainly was not. And a poor quality of life can lead to resentment of one's job among other negative side effects.