Disintegration’s Creative Director: People Left Bungie Because Of Crunch

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Disintegration’s Creative Director: People Left Bungie Because Of Crunch

Most people won’t be too familiar with Disintegration just yet, but they will know the main game that its creative director Marcus Lehto worked on: Halo. Lehto was famous for his work in the creation of Master Chief and the Halo series, which also means he’s well versed in the legendary culture of crunch at Bungie. And in a new roundtable interview about his upcoming FPS/RTS hybrid, Lehto told Australian press and media that the crunch was one of the reasons he, and others, left Bungie.

In an internet Q&A with a small group of Australian media, I asked Lehto what V1 Interactive's approach and attitude towards minimising crunch would be. "That's a big one for us - one of the reasons I left Bungie, and I know a lot of the reason that people from the industry have joined us here at V1, is that many of us have seen the bad side of extended crunch periods that would go on for months and months, and what kind of human toll that took."

"We don't want to experience that or replicate that at all," Lehto, who worked as Bungie from 1997 to 2012 and served as the creative art director, said. "one of our primary goals with the studio is not only that we create an atmosphere where everyone is intimately involved with what we're working on, so there's a lot of responsibility on everybody's shoulders - everybody wears several different hats - but we also value incredibly the health of everybody here, both physically and mentally, making sure they have that time outside of the office to be with their family, and we support them to be home when they need to be home, to be at their kid's school concerts, and to have the weekends to themselves. That is a very important part to me, and it's one thing we've extended to everyone at the studio."

V1 Interactive has around 30 staff, and Lehto intimated that while extra hours are a natural byproduct of development, the key was making sure those hours were "appropriate" and manageable.

"It's not like we don't work hard - we work really hard - at the end of every milestone we might spend a week working extra hours, but when it's done appropriately and in a way that isn't burning anybody out, it creates more of a esprit de corps, a tighter knit team, because we are a pretty small family of developers here."

Disintegration's technical alpha is due to kick off at the end of this month, running from 3:00am to 6:59pm AEDT across January 29 and January 30. An open beta will follow the alpha from January 31 to February 1, with the game's full release scheduled for PC, Xbox One and PS4 sometime between April and May this year.

Comments

  • It’s a pretty sad comment on the world we live in when stupid overtime hours and wage theft, so long as it’s broken up into discrete chunks scattered throughout the year instead of constantly over months and months, is able to be presented as a family friendly workplace.

  • V1 Interactive has around 30 staff, and Lehto intimated that while extra hours are a natural byproduct of development, the key was making sure those hours were “appropriate” and manageable. They are not a “natural” byproduct of development. Extra hours can happen for sure because nothing is ever perfect and there are often external factors outside of your control that can put pressure on you. (eg. investors, customers, hosting sites, data centers, etc.) You should always be looking to mitigate those potential scenarios though so extra hours stay an unnatural occurrence rather than something you just shrug and say “It happens” about.

  • Crunch will always occur as long as it’s rewarded. I personally boycotted (inb4 ~ViRtUe SiGnAlLiNg~) Red Dead Redemption 2 after the stories of the workplace practices at Rockstar came out. I work in a deadline dependent industry, and whilst I’ve worked overtime of my own volition, I wont tolerate an environment that has people feeling threatened if they don’t sacrifice their own personal time, often for no financial gain, and made to feel they aren’t a “team player”.

    I personally didn’t want to endorse that culture. Yes its highly likely I have before and still do, the difference here being once its publicised and you are aware, do you still choose to endorse it?

    Unfortunately once RDR2 was released, all word of the crunch culture at Rockstar evaporated, replaced by glowing praise and high review scores.

    It has sold over 26 million copies.

    And the cycle continues.

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