The Stress of Working Long Hours and Having an Irregular Work Schedule / by Xiaosong Shang

Hello everyone! Sam Martino here.

Stress and crunch time has been a hot button issue for awhile now, with many different developers coming out that consistent long weeks are nothing new, I thought I would share my experiences with deadlines and working longer than the average work week.

My experiences will be a bit different since this is my company, and as such I should be putting my everything into it, but I understand and recognize the same kind of sacrifices those that worked with me went through. When working on Ashes of Kanaka, I would work through the night, weekends, without sleep, regularly. I wanted to make sure that everyone else knew they could rely on me and that I could pick up the slack if anything was falling behind. It wasn’t glamorous, but I still enjoyed what I did. Maybe I’m just a masochist, but I knew this was going to be my life when I started. From a lot of the articles I read, the long hours are nothing new, but they aren’t forced. I would NEVER expect anyone I work with to maintain the same schedule I do, it isn’t fair, especially if there aren’t significant financial bonuses. I remember when I had to create a hundred different maps in a week, I stayed up for four days without sleep. I got horribly sick for a full week afterwards, but I made the conscious decision to do that.

I don’t agree with these practices at all, but there really isn’t much that anyone can do to stop them. Publishers will push hard deadlines on developers and they don’t have much of a choice when it comes to meeting them. Consumers are very demanding in what they expect from games, and they want them as soon as possible. Granted, things have gotten better as I’ve seen many people say they don’t care how long a game takes, as long as it is properly developed, which is the mentality we need to adopt. Games will be amazing, they get more and more so every day, but the development needed to make them so becomes more and more work. We have new technology constantly coming out, but at the end of the day, it just becomes another tool someone needs to master and devote all of their time to.

I had a very hard time finding free time when I was making Ashes of Kanaka and PDPD. It was hard for me to find enjoyment in playing video games when I literally spent all of my time making them. It took time, but I had to force myself to take days where I don’t work at a computer the whole time. I have tried to be generous with the freedom given to people that work with me, it is necessary for people to be healthy that they can step away from such a high stress job. We meet when we need to and set deadlines for large parts of a project, but apart from that, we have a lot of freedom in how we handle what we do. This all being said, this is from an indie perspective, but I am a firm believer that developers need their freedom and ability to relax, the games will come out, and they will be amazing, they just take more time than a lot of people expect.

As always, please reach out to me at smartino@dogwoodgaming.com with any comments or questions. I always love hearing from you guys!