Last month, CD Projekt said it needed to guarantee that developers on Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t have to bear the punishing crunch that finished the development of The Witcher 3. That incorporated the execution of “non-mandatory crunch,” a policy enabling developers to take a pass on working extended periods of time if they don’t want to do it.
In an E3 interview with Kotaku, CD Projekt Red chief Marcin Iwiński emphasized the studio’s responsibility to make the policy work. The enormous Cyberpunk 2077 demo for the show was a decent opportunity to place words into action, “and it did work,” he said.
“A few people were working extended periods of time on the demo and some who felt like they wanted to leave, they were leaving, and it was no issue,” Iwiński said. “In reality, it’s still a lot of work in front of us [on the crunch policy] in light of the fact that we want to make sure that there will be no blame when people will be leaving early if they need to, in case we ask that a few people to remain. However, I think that is the manner by which it’s supposed to be, and I’m extremely happy with that.
“I think the most significant thing is to make it something ordinary, something part of the company culture—it’s OK if you remain longer hours if it’s required, and it’s OK if you return home. Simply let’s have a discussion about it, and don’t feel regretful. That’s what we truly mean about the non-compulsory crunch. In any case, it is as good as it works in practice, in light of the fact that we can say a lot of things, yet if it’s not presented properly—I mean a presentation and commitment is one thing, yet then ensuring it works, on the HR side with the group leaders and producers and whatnot, and we’re putting a ton of focus on that.”
Iwiński recognized that it’s difficult to dispose of all external impacts that push people toward working additional hours—simply observing other developers volunteering to do it is a type of pressure in itself—yet said that it’s the job of studio management to make it as clear as conceivable to everyone that crunch is not obligatory.
He likewise proposed, in spite of the fact that he appeared a little evasive on the point, that the choice to bring out Cyberpunk 2077 in April 2020 instead of trying to launch it this year was made to a limited extent to avoid making it “a ginormous burden on the group.”
“Why we’ve been making this public responsibility is on the grounds that we truly care about the people that are making this game,” Iwiński said. “It’s not me coding personally or painting something, it’s the super-talented peoples that chose to join us, and I need to ensure they feel taken care of and respected.”
There are a few logical inconsistencies in Iwiński’s statements. He says both that extended periods of time are “needed” and that representatives don’t need to work an extended period of time. If development is structured so that employees can go home after 8 hours and still hit due dates, at that point for what reason should any long hours be “needed?”
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It doesn’t sound like an ideal solution, yet it is delighting that more and more developers are tending to the issue of crunch, and that we shouldn’t expect Cyberpunk 2077 to be the result of people forced into dozing in the office and neglecting health and family—a culture that is by all accounts at long last on the way out in the industry, regardless of whether there’s a long way to go.