A common and controversial topic in gaming is crunch, which is a period of game development where developers spend extra hours in the office beyond what is normal. id Software’s creative director, Hugo Martin, spoke about crunch for Doom Eternal during a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
He said his experience working in games is that it is a never-ending job. To stay in the pop culture zeitgeist, Martin said he never stops playing games and consuming pop culture to inform future id Software games.
Martin said he’s not forced to work long hours, but he finds himself doing so anyway.
“It’s not really crunch… this is going to sound hokey. It’s like a lifestyle. I live and breathe this,” Martin said. “No one makes me stay at the office,” he said. “Even when I come home, I see my kids, I do my thing, and then I just do research.”
This research is playing video games and reading comic books, Martin said. It’s part of his ambition to “engross myself in pop culture,” he said.
“You have to ingest a ton of it, which means [this job] is 24/7,” Martin said. “I get up really early; I try to do the exercise thing … then I come home, send the kids to school. Then I have about two hours where the house is empty and I’ll just play games.”
Martin also said this was a prepared response because he knew, based on Rogan’s previous interviews with developers like John Carmack, that the topic of crunch would come up.
In his own appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Carmack–who was one of id Software’s founders but has since moved on–spoke about how he argues against people who believe there should be laws that protect developers from working long hours.
“There are people that think there literally should be laws that prevent people from working that hard. I always have to argue against that,” he said, according to Vice. “There is a power to obsession and being able to obsess over something–your life’s work. Instead of work-life balance, it’s your life’s work.”
Doom Eternal was originally expected to release in November 2019 but it was delayed to March 2020. id Software boss Marty Stratton told VG247 that the team at id was crunching “pretty hard” for most of 2019.
“We really truly do try and be very respectful of peoples’ time and lives,” Stratton said. “We have very dedicated people that just choose to work a lot in many cases. It was nice because we want the game to be perfect. We want it to live up to our expectations and consumer expectations.”
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