Bilson: We have to reduce the length of crunch

Bilson: We have to reduce the length of crunch

By Rob Crossley

January 17th 2011 at 1:31PM

Homefront sequel 'will be planned to minimise intense end-of-project workloads'

Healthier workload planning by the Kaos management would have relaxed intense work schedules now underway at the Homefront developer, a key THQ executive has admitted.

THQ core games boss Danny Bilson told CVG that “there is an answer to [crunch], and it's better production pacing from the beginning.”

He said the three-year Homefront project – now in its final intense stretch – should have passed more milestones in its earlier months.

“In the first 18 months there were a lot of changes and certain dips,” he said.

Bilson’s comments were published on the same day Develop released a Kaos insider’s account of exhausting crunch work affecting staff.

The inside source said the studio been working on daily ten-hour schedules for “six months”, with the group’s owner THQ determined to release Homefront before the fiscal year-end.

The anonymous individual added that, if the studio did not meet certain bug-fix targets, some people “would have to come in one weekend day as well”.

It was also claimed, and denied by THQ, that “over the holiday many of us were on call and unable to leave to see our family”.

Kaos general manager, David Votypka, made a candid and impassioned retort to the claims.

Bilson’s belief, not uncommonly, is that crunch is inevitable.

“It's just how long that crunch lasts [that's the issue],” he said.

"So we have to reduce the length of crunch. Every developer expects it; they're wise, they know what crunch is, their family knows what crunch is. But minimising the crunch is the issue. When 'quality first' comes into play, it can create more crunch.

“But honestly, the seeds of the crunch at Kaos were sown 18 months to three years ago. The first 18 months of how it got going and how it didn't get going and certain things, they've known for 18 months that the end was going to be rough.

"Is it rougher than other crunches? No. I've been been in some when I was in product development - and I've certainly watched it happen at other companies. Can you do it every year? No. Can you do it every three years? Maybe. But believe me, as they come out of it, all of the planning for the Homefront sequel is to avoid the length of crunch [underway at Kaos today].”

More comment from Bilson, including his views on how intense workloads demonstrably result in better product, can be found here.