Iron Galaxy Studios founder recently talked about how their company manages video game development. He stated that the quality of life for game development has certainly improved over the years.
Dave Lang, Iron Galaxy founder shared his two cents about game development on the 7th episode of the GDC podcast. When has was asked if the game development process had improved for employees over the years, this is what he had to say:
Oh it’s definitely better. [It] couldn’t be any worse than it was when I started. And I do want to clarify something—I do tend to get asked about this a lot. One thing I universally do a bad job at explaining [is] Iron Galaxy has not always been this place where we don’t crunch. In the beginning, I’d say the first three or four years or whatever, we all worked our asses off.
Lang admitted that they weren’t exempt from the crunch culture at the beginning. The developers had to work rigorously to establish themselves from the onset. However, the Iron Galaxy founder didn’t think this church culture could last long:
At some point, I just kind of decided, ‘You know what, if this is the way it has to be, then it’s kind of not worth doing.’It wasn’t overnight, but we slowly built a culture of no crunching and zero tolerance of that sort of thing.
According to Lang, some people put in extra hours at his company but that is only because they are passionate about it. He said the company never asks anybody to work over 40 (hours) a week. The Iron Galaxy firmly believes that they have proven that a video game developer can put out good games while managing work hours efficiently.
Though Lang admits that a game can always use more work hours. According to him, it is not easy to determine when to stop and when to put in extra work:
So having the discipline to walk that line and to take care of yourself while you feel like you’re doing your best work is very challenging on creative projects. I think the industry still sucks at it. I’m not sure what the solution long-term is.
Studios like Naughty Dog are notorious for having a crunch culture which has certainly cost them recently. These studios may be able to churn out a great game by pressuring their employees. However, somewhere down the line, it ends up backfiring. Burnout can lead to employees resigning or not taking an interest in their work.
Iron Galaxy is a video game studio known for games like Killer Instinct and Divekick. Recently, the studio revealed that their next game will not be a Killer Instinct game. They are still to announce the title of their upcoming project.