Just over a month ago, Joystiq talked to Epic Games' Mike Capps
about crunch times in game development cycles and how many hours his employees are expected to work throughout the development of a game. Interestingly, Develop
put the question of crunch time (among other things) to "over 350 industry professionals" via a poll and found that nearly 98 percent of respondents received no overtime pay for crunch work.
When we spoke with Capps, he pointed out that, for his company, crunch isn't a matter of force but that employees understand its necessity. "Our guys vote on how they want to crunch and last time they chose having weekends off ... I had one or two that were, wow that went too long, we had a rough time, we made some mistakes in planning but that's not to say that crunching is the wrong thing to do," Capps told us. He also noted that while crunch can hurt, employees (at least at Epic) are able to take a few weeks off between projects after a crunch so as to recharge, saying, "If you scoop someone off the front lines of Afghanistan and fly them to Iraq and you put them back out and you keep doing it, performance is going to suffer."
It seems to us that, like most things in life, generalizing -- for instance, about the gaming industry as a whole -- doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 98 percent of those polled may not receive overtime for crunching on a project, but they may very well receive large bonuses after the product ships, or a long vacation, or a variety of other incentives. One thing's for sure: 100 percent of Joystiq writers make no overtime pay.