Infinity Blade II developer Chair Entertainment had to "death march kill ourselves" to release the iOS game today, co-founder Donald Mustard has said. "We definitely won't do that again," he said, calling the long months of crunch "not really good... for the longevity of our studio."
Chair made Infinity Blade II in only six months, Mustard said. But "it required for us, for the last two or three months, to just death march kill ourselves." He explained, "We don't look at that like that's a good thing at all. We only did it because we definitely, passionately wanted to get the game done, and we wanted a little more in there."
"I think in retrospect, having done it twice, that our development cycles are a little too short," he told Gamasutra. Not that the games are less polished because of it, but we're way more burnt out because, in order to make II feel the experience it needed to be, required way more crunching than is effective. I mean, guys are just working so many hours, doing so much, and that's not really good, I think, for the longevity of our studio."
"We definitely won't do that again," Mustard said. "It's not worth the cost. I would rather take an extra two or three months than burn the guys out, or burn even me out. It doesn't allow enough time to sit there and let the game breathe."
'Crunching' to finish a game, working long hours and weekends for weeks or even months, is a standard industry practice, though not a popular or uncontroversial one.
When Team Bondi, the now-defunct developer of L.A. Noire, was under investigation for alleged excessive crunch, the International Game Developers Association declared, "Reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole."
It's easy to declare an end to painful crunch at your studio, but the real test for Chair will come when its next big deadline is looming.
Infinity Blade II is now available on iTunes for $6.99.