Game Development Reference
On the other hand, when it goes poorly, you have people who feel pressured to put in
long hours so that they won't lose their jobs, who don't care what's in the game as long
as it gets done, and who feel bitter and exploited. If you've ever had to grind away at
a pointless task that was doomed to failure anyway, you know how mind numbing and
soul deadening that can be.
When it goes really poorly, crunch time turns into a death march , which is any period
of extraordinary effort that lasts more than one month. Avoid this at all costs. The
benefits of overtime are lost in mistakes caused by exhaustion. Apathy sets in. The
team breaks down. You are very likely to deliver the game later than if you just kept
plugging along in the first place. If you ever find yourself saying, “We can make the
deadline if everyone works two months of mandatory overtime,�? take a deep breath,
step back, and re-evaluate.
Crunch time does come to every project. When it arrives, be prepared to walk on
eggshells. As time runs out, emotions run high and tempers can flare. One of the hard-
est parts of making a game is the last-minute agonizing over how important any given
bug is. Such decisions are likely to be made in the supercharged atmosphere of too lit-
tle time and not enough sleep. In these final days, try to keep your sense of propor-
tion, understand that there is rarely a “right�? decision, and remember that even if you
disagree with what is happening, you still need to work for the good of the game.
Finally, when putting together the release-candidate disks, always work from a punch-
list and have two people check off each task as it is performed. Trusting a single
exhaustion-addled engineer to remember all the ins and outs of creating the final disk
is a recipe for disaster.
The Beta test phase not only gives developers valuable gameplay and balance feedback,
but it's also a great way for the game team to check for defects they may have missed
because there simply weren't enough testers to execute massive multiplayer test scenarios.
Some games have a “Closed Beta�? testing period where testers are either randomly
chosen or hand-picked based on information they send in when they request to par-
ticipate. Depending on the project plan or the results from the Closed Beta, there may
be a subsequent “Open Beta�? period. During this time applicants who were not select-
ed for Closed Beta can participate, as well as any new players who apply during this
time. Other rounds of Beta testing may be defined with their own specific objectives,
such as testing how well an MMORPG performs with a fully loaded world server.