David Brevik discusses how Diablo 2’s development was marked with a year of crunch

    
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Another one of these, but the art is more boring.

It’s easy to think of “crunch” in game development being something of a more recent phenomenon as we’ve heard more about it. It’s also easy to assume that your favorite games didn’t involve any, or at least involved less. But a recent talk at Devcom Digital by the director of Diablo 2, David Brevik, shines a harsh light on how much crunch led to the game’s release 20 years ago. It wasn’t a month or three months of crunch, it was more than a year of continual crunch to get the game into a launch state.

It wasn’t just me… Everybody was working on the weekends. Some people took time off – I recommended that some people take some time off – but most of the time we would work every day. We would order meals, we would give people sleeping bags and toothbrushes, and some days people would sleep in the office… It was a terrible grind at the end of this project. We were working, and summer became fall, and it was pretty obvious that we were not going to make it.

Brevik explains that the original target of Thanksgiving led to the start of crunch, but even once it was acknowledged that the game wouldn’t make that date, the crunch continued up to the actual gold master being prepared. In more than a year of crunch he estimates taking three days off; otherwise, he was there and working seven days a week along with the rest of the team. It’s a rather sobering reminder of just how much work goes into these games… and that crunch is, well, not a recent phenomenon at all.

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Bruno Brito

Of course it was.

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Jon Wax

Ouch. gotta be a rough last name to have

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losludvig

An important detail in this story is that the delay didn’t make crunch go away, instead it extended it. According to quite a few different devs I follow on twitter that is still the norm.

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Kanbe

And this is the reason a younger me who had an interest in game design quickly realized it was not a path I wanted to actually walk on.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

all so a handful of dudes can make an obscene amount of money.

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Bannex

I think this is somewhat over simplifying. I think what’s minimized in this kind of comment is the fact that the people on the ground, developing the game do in fact want to develop a good game and genuinely enjoy the industry.

When we attack the suits the usual casualties are the people that actually care about the product and have their name in the credits.

Being pissed at blizzard for their business practices and boycotting their games will mostly hurt the people making the games not the million dollar c level execs.

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traja

Unfortunately there is no way around that. The only alternative is to do nothing and watch as the situation goes from bad to worse.

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Bryan Turner

I’m pretty sure this was back before Bobby K corrupted Blizzard since we’re talking about 1999 and 2000. Blizzard was more like CD Project Red back then.

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Bannex

Does that make crunch more acceptable?

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Bryan Turner

First off, I wasn’t replying to you, second he wasn’t talking about Crunch directly but the evils of a corporate elite that didn’t really exist at Blizzard 20 years ago.

As far as crunch, well there are forms of crunch in any job you’re ever going to do, lets say you work retail well you’re crunch time is going to be late November to early January. If you work in a Hospital you better hope you’re working on a night with a full floor because at least you know you’ll have appropriate staffing through out the night, and you won’t get admissions; come in on a Tuesday Night you’re going to get pounded because they will staff you for a floor that’s 1/3rd empty from discharges followed by back to back admissions stretching your staff to the breaking point while causing med passes to be late, while upping your potential rates of falls because you can’t round on your patients appropriately.

Every job I’ve ever experienced has some form of crunch, crunch has been around since the farming seasons of the Bronze Age.