Electron Dance
25Aug/179

Discussion: A Tale of Two Crunches

joel-working-on-sunday-in-2000

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the August edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

Sign up for the monthly Electron Dance Newsletter and follow on Twitter!

Electron Dance Highlights

Comments (9) Trackbacks (0)
  1. “To my surprise, the comments under the film are not just full of people who enjoyed the film but you’ll also find some who say they rewatch the film all the time because it moves them.”

    Don’t think I left any comments on the video, but I am very much one of those people. Every few months I get the urge to go back and rewatch The Unbearable Now again (and occasionally also #warningsigns), and usually follow it up with a rewatch-binge of Innuendo Studios videos. I don’t know if I can even articulate what those videos make me feel, or why they make me feel that way, but regardless I keep coming back.

  2. Hi Luke, thanks, no I don’t think I knew that. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I also watched my own films repeatedly but that’s probably more about recapturing past glories :) It’s dangerous to watch just a few minutes as I find I end up watching the whole thing. I can see why people really get into the film but only in retrospect, I never expected thaot type of reaction when I was amidst editing. I only expected a response to its message about the game rather than the film itself.

    It’s a strange thing because down here in the comments I’m used to people saying they like what I do here and I also get disagreements with what I’ve put out. It’s very ‘real’ – I’m not sure of another way of putting it. But the YouTube comments are another level in terms of praise (there is the occasional detractor but that’s negligible) and I’m still a bit stunned. Maybe my subconscious is delaying the next film because of that…

  3. – I’m in the middle of transitioning from a mismanaged project in terms of client expectations, so thank you for sharing the story! The frustration and disillusionment that comes from being in the middle of that is physically exhausting, and reading your experiences made it feel a little less physical and a bit more “oh this happens to people, it’s not wholly on me”.
    – Count me in as someone who has rewatched The Unbearable Now! I also find it hard sometimes to get the activation energy to move on to a new video after positive responses to the previous one, so if you do find a trick to get past it and get working again, please do share!

  4. Hi Damon! Sorry to hear you’re going through a similar experience right now. I kept going back to this event for years and wondering if there was anything else I could do: I’d been transparent, I did everything to make it clear where problems were… but I’ve come to realise that are situations where there are no winning moves, only least bad ones. You can’t fix bad conditions in a project without buy-in from the powers that be. Those conditions, at the late stage I discussed, were now set. In the final push, the implication was we just had to pull together as a big happy family, and working against that managerial dream made you look like the out of control rebel. It was a poisoned chalice project.

    I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder in the sense that I felt like I could take on problems other people walked away from and turn them around. The reason this happened was my role model was used as a last resort troubleshooter, to take broken projects and make them work. But he was conferred proper authority and my situation was entirely different.

    I suppose I also learnt when to quit. At a certain point, your resistance is hurting everyone. If you can’t make headway, try to move on at the earliest opportunity.

    The new video is actually moving forward but slowly, it’s not my main focus right now. But I’m getting tired of it being “that project Imma gonna do”…

  5. Tangentially: I’m heartened by the number of indie devs coming out and sharing their crunch horror stories and saying “your project is not worth killing yourself for”, but the implication – that they’re telling these stories because they’re seeing so many people dive in head first – is alarming. I always remember the story about the guy who almost wrecked his entire life developing Retro/Grade, which went on to sell like shit.

    I’m pleased your story had such a great silver lining, of course! I’ve not experienced any projects quite like this – I could share different stories – but one bit that resonated with me was “I never bought into company loyalty again”. This was cracked open for me pretty early in my career and ever since I’ve always taken the stance of great loyalty to teammates and colleagues who’ve earned my respect, but no great loyalty to the company.

    I watched the Doom music GDC video last night. It was fantastic – nice share. It made me wish music were still one of my hobbies (but realistically, I shouldn’t let myself dabble again – I don’t have the time).

  6. Yeah, Retro/Grade is at the back of my mind a lot, Shaun. Fortunately the developer went on to make Neverending Nightmares which wasn’t a bad game at all.

    Ah the happy optimism of the youth! My “company loyalty” gene was broken with my first job. If I recall correctly, they do say your impression of a company is your team and immediate manager and not some wider company policy. So if you have a great team – well it’s a great place to work.

    (Glad you enjoyed the Doom music video, it’s a lot of fun!)

  7. Whose happy optimism was that? All my first jobs were McJobs, and my first “proper job” involved owners who openly held the rank and file in contempt. :P

    Neverending Nightmares is an interesting one, yeah. I suspected that at least some parts of what it conveys/explores were a direct response to the experiences of creating Retro/Grade. I recall it sold better, if still not amazingly well? Sadly I never really played it, although I own it on a few platforms.

  8. Oh that’s my happy optimism. I went into company culture open minded. It ended badly, but was fun for a while, like being part of a religion.

    Neverending Nightmares was Kickstartered and produced on a shorter timescale. IIRC it’s based the developer’s struggle with OCD. He Kickstartered “Devastated Dreams” two years ago. Not sure what’s happened since.

  9. My only real experience with crunch was at uni but that’s entirely self-inflicted so doesn’t really count! Still, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being awake at stupid o’clock, alone and trying to focus as if you’re at your peak when you’re demonstrably not. My worst was two all nighters in a row and I don’t drink coffee so the whole thing was a blur. This was preceded by a mild panic attack in bed a few days earlier when I realised how little time left I had to complete a handful of projects, some of which I’d not even started yet. Self-inflicted.

    That experience scared the crap out of me given that I was studying to become a graphic designer. My first graphic design position was very forgiving in this regard, overtime was quite often but never prolonged or arduous. My current job is in the public sector which is a lot more considerate of employees’ health and well being so there’s rarely any push to get something completed for yesterday, thankfully. It’s the job I’m good at minus the stress of the private sector. I was going to say ‘minus the bullshit’ but there’s still plenty of that.

    All this talk of crunch, then, horrifies me. I feel like I’ve spent my life since uni actively distancing myself from any kind of work-related pressure so it’s sobering to hear folk being put (or putting themselves) through the meat grinder to pay the bills.

    I’m glad you renamed your wife for that tale if only for the surprise twist, Joel! :)

    @Shaun: yeah, my first job was a McJob too and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get my team on strike because we were often so horribly short staffed and overworked and expected to deliver a great service. I think everyone should have to work a customer facing McJob (like a modern day National Service) just to realise what those poor bastards have to put up with on a daily basis. It’s like a cocktail of crap.

    I will be watching that Doom music video as soon as I have a spare hour. Loved Mick Gordon’s work on the Doom OST.


Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

No trackbacks yet.