Last time I write about fucking crunch

Y’all tripping with this shit. No one is arguing that crunch is cool. It just fucking happens. Because that’s how it goes with game development. And life.

Let’s take a look at history: first video game ever made, 1958. October 1958. 60 years ago.

The instrumentation group had a small analog computer that could display various curves, including the path of a bouncing ball, on an oscilloscope. It took Higinbotham only a couple of hours to conceive the idea of a tennis game, and only a few days to put together the basic pieces.

“only a few days”. The dude crunched. Highly likely. Another one about the birth of the Amiga:

Miner and his team built their chipset, destined eventually to be miniaturized and etched into silicon, out of off-the-shelf electronics components, creating a pile of breadboards large enough to fill a kitchen table, linked together by a spaghetti-like tangle of wires, often precariously held in place with simple alligator clips. It had no keyboard or other input method; the software team wrote programs for it on a workstation-class 68000-based computer called the Sage IV, then uploaded them to the Lorraine and ran them via a cabled connection. The whole mess was a nightmare to maintain, with wires constantly falling off, pieces overheating, or circuits shorting out seemingly at random. But when it worked it provided the first tangible demonstration of Miner’s extraordinary design. Amiga accordingly packed it all up and transported it — very carefully! — to Las Vegas for its coming-out party at Winter CES.

TL;DR: they worked their asses off –building a damn new computer with new architecture- to get a barely-working hardware demo out in order to get financing going to *actually* build the Amiga. That’s so, so wild. Obviously, no crunch at all.

Another big example and I’ll stop there:

Nintendo. Super Mario 64. First ever 3D Mario. First prototype five years before the game came out. Nintendo for the first time, was not building their own chips, they were using Silicon Graphics (SGI) and MIPS stuff. They were making their flagship Mario game for a new console using 2 very different CPUs from a US company that they had kind of just met. It was a fucking nightmare of complexity: they were developing Mario on a supercomputer, hoping that SGI would be on time to ship the real console components. Hoping. While trying to make a great game they –and no one- had ever done right before: a true 3D platformer.

Super Mario 64 is one of the most important game ever made. And an absolutely excellent game. I’m sure they didn’t crunch at all. They went to bed early, took naps every day when they felt like it. Laughing and having fun.

Y’all are annoying. Crunch happens. I crunched for 3 days to finish my stupid Twine game because if you don’t do more trying to wrap it up, you can go on endlessly. That’s what happens with game development. That’s the fucking curse. Nothing is ever done in a digital world and it feels like you can always tweak. There are always some shit you can tweak. In the real world at some point it feels done. Never in the world of computer games (music production is the closest in terms of endlessness).

But also Jesus, crunch is fucking everywhere: people shipping rockets crunch. Nurses at the ER crunch. Folks building cars crunch when they’re expected to produce [number] of cars a week. Amazon workers will crunch like crazy in a few weeks. You think your favorite show/movie is made with 9-5 people? Your own mom probably crunched a million times because of you. It’s not healthy, that’s not the fucking point.

The point is that it happens and you need to go through it, do whatever you can so that it doesn’t happen again and it still will happen. We can also chill and nothing will ever come out of chilling forever. At some point you need to go hard to get shit done. Period.

It’s more the case with game development than anything else because there is no rules in game development. No standard way of doing things. If people crunch in fields where we know exactly how to make the sausage, imagine in a field where we don’t know and never will because every single game is made differently and knowledge is barely shared (NDA, NDA). Crunch will more than likely happen.

You shake your head and you do it. Because you care. Because of the sink-cost fallacy. Because you need to pay the bills. Whatevs. In the end the game is out and you feel better. Then you move on with your life. Nothing’s perfect. But shipping something you’re proud of, is a hell of a drug.

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