The Vicious Culture of Crunch

Lots of game developers keep their identity anonymous when it comes to talking or sharing their personal experience about Crunch. I find it troubling If you think you can lose your job because you disagree with a subject that is widely despised by most game developers. If a studio or the industry in general has nothing to hide, then why this whole dogma around this matter ? Something is broken, and we all know it.

It seems as if the video game industry has taken for granted the soul crushing "Crunch methodology" and that it is now part of its culture. For those who are not familiar with this term; it is usually when a game is about 3 to 8 months (or even more) prior to being shipped, the company or studio makes it mandatory for everyone to stay late (8pm and later) and to also come on the weekends to meet a deadline/ship date. Breaking news like this is delivered in the form of an Email or a Company Meeting where they try to convince you that this is a necessary evil and that somehow they are doing you a favor by ordering food IF you stay past 7pm. "Guys, we are going to work you to the ground and suck the life out of you, BUT guess what! YOU get pizza, YOU get pizza, EVERYBODY gets PIZZA!!"

Joking aside, that is how it goes in lots of studios, and what is more frustrating to me is when I hear desperate students who are trying to get into the industry say that they won't mind crunching, they are so clueless and hungry to work for a video game company that they are willing to say anything to please whoever could be a potential employer, and by doing so lowering their quality of life, ours(Game Devs) and the industry standards as a whole.

We've all heard the horror stories that came from big studios like EA (EA Spouse Case) a few years ago,  and more recently Rockstar San Diego and Team Bondi. And these are only some of the few cases that got out. 

To me, crunching is a failure, a failure in communication between Management and Production where someone along the way said "Yes, we can get all this done by this date" and where the rest of the team gets to pay the price for that uncalculated decision. OR, it's an imposed decision on production by management for more "Money Making" reasons. Not to play the blame game here but both parties are responsible. Upper management can't just come up with random dates to fit some agenda and production shouldn't just accept what is thrown at it. 

What's ridiculous about this type of strategy is that it does create results, mediocre ones and sometimes very good ones. But that comes with a hefty price tag for the studio, and I'm not talking money here. What this does is burn the creative juice out of everyone and creates a toxic tension within the studio that results in lots of stress and resentment. The moral of the studio is low and lots of people end up leaving the studio because they physically and emotionally can't do it anymore. So the studio ships out their game, and at the same time they ship out some valuable talent with it.

You know, Passion for what I do is what got me where I am right now, and it's also why I still do what I do, except that now I take this matter very seriously and I make sure I am heard. I'm bringing this up because "Passion" is thrown around a lot when this taboo subject is brought up. But you know what? Even your passion will fizzle out down the road when you are constantly burned out, not treated respectfully and taken advantage of.

I believe studios can get around crunch if they take into consideration:

  • Setting realistic dates for every department with buffer

  • Keeping everyone informed about the status of the project and where it's heading

  • Outsourcing or Hiring contractors to help with the final push
  • If project gets bigger, HIRE more people
  • Not being greedy

Some studios take pride in never having to Crunch or keeping crunch to a minimum but with some kind of a compensation either in a form of a Bonus, Overtime and/or Extra vacation time. So if other studios are going towards this "more" noble route, what is stopping the others from doing it ?

Personally, what I believe needs to happen, is a global awakening within the industry where people say enough is enough and take a stand against this kind of abuse and hopefully this term and all that is associated with it will be long-forgotten.

You do realize what you’re doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it’s not just them you’re hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?
— EA Spouse

Wishing you the best in your career,

Mouhsine Adnani,

Hiring Process in the Game Industry

Through my career as an Environment Artist. I went through lots of interviews. I succeeded at some and failed at some. This is what I learned.

In most game studios, there are 4 main steps that roughly all candidates go through.

Step 1- After applying you get a response within 2 weeks give or take that company X wants to talk to you.  At this point you'll be communicating with HR to set up the next step.

Step 2- Depending on your portfolio and experience there are 2 options here: 

  • a- Phone interview with Art Lead/Art Director OR
  • b- Art test, then if you pass it, Phone Interview with Art Lead/Art Director

The Phone Interview is the first important step in the interview process. The interviewer is pretty much going to ask you about your experience and portfolio pieces while making sure you can talk comfortably about your work and workflow (and if you did a test, be ready to talk about it). It's ok to be a bit nervous on the phone, everyone is. These conversations last about 30min.

Step 3- If they like how you sound on the phone, the last crucial step is to bring you over for an onsite interview with the team. This depends on where you are, overseas studios and smaller companies are now doing it via Skype to not have to deal with VISAs and/or to save on the cost of flying you over. An onsite interview goes approximately from 10am to 4pm, usually includes a one hour lunch with some of the team members. 

Step 4- And depending on how you do in the interview, you'd either get an offer or rejection email from HR welcoming you to the studio or telling that you don't match the criteria they are looking for. 

This is my personal experience with this process, yours will probably be slightly different.

In my upcoming posts, I will write in more details on how to prepare for all these steps, so stay tuned for more.

Let me know how your interview process was in the comments below and if you have any questions about this subject, shoot me an email!

Wishing you the best success in your career.

Mouhsine Adnani

8 Free 3DS Max Scripts/ Plugins you need to know about

I've been using 3ds max for over 9 years now. To me its the to go to program for all my 3d modeling needs. The program is not perfect, but man its powerful once you start to understand it. And when it lacks, be confident you will find a script or a plugin to make it work.

3DS max has a huge amount of scripts and plugins and they all perform very specific tasks. I'm going to share with you the ones that I use the most.

  • the Clone Modifier by Itoosoft, is pretty  much the Array tool BUT as a modifier. Love it.
  • Debris Maker by Aaron Dabelow, this is the magic "make art" button
  • Slide tool NormalThief by Slide London mostly used for foliage to control normals
  • Misc Box by Fajar my favorite feature of it is the Copy/Paste mesh from one Max to another (without having to "save selected" as then "Import/merge")
  • Fracture Voronoi and Vorofrag for all your destruction needs

Here are few more that are worth mentioning: 

  • Get Baked looks like an interesting tool for all your RTT needs within Max(works with Xnormal)
  • TexTools by "renderhjs" i used to use it a lot, but the Max UV Unwrap has finally caught up
  • Bend of Brothers seems like a neat plugin but I haven't actually got a chance to take it for a full road test.

I use these because they specifically work with my workflow, Also, check out and for more of these.

 Let me know what your favorite ones are in the comments down below!

Wishing you the best success in your career.

Mouhsine Adnani

5 Reasons why you should NOT go to school to become a 3D Artist

I've been getting a lot of questions recently by students who are interested in getting into the game industry on what school to go to to become a 3d Environment Artist.

Before i dig into this i want to say that I, myself, went to the Art Institute where i studied Game Art and Design in 2005. Was it the right thing to do? For me at the time it was. Would I do it now? Probably not.

Here are the reasons why:

1- There is a massive amount of information online about how to be a 3d Artist, and lots of it is totally FREE. I recommend you check the polycount forum and also their wiki page. Use it.

2- When you are trying to get a job in the industry, especially as an artist, companies really don't care what kind of school you went to. All they care about is the quality of your portfolio.
(This gets a bit tricky if you are coming from a different country to the US. For a company to sponsor you for a work VISA you'll need a degree in your field or a certain amount of years of experience in the industry)

3- Instead of going the traditional college way, there is a growing number of professional artists within the industry who teach either on their own or few of them who work together and provide quality up to date material about the industry. A good example is and, these services are not free, but are very cheap compared to the insanly high price tag that comes with "traditional schools" and the unforgiving loans you'd end up having to pay after you graduate.

4- There are a few schools that i think are worth going to, but again they are not your traditional type of school and it is more likely you won't be able to transfer any of yours credits if you decide you want to become a Wall Street Broker. An example would be Gnomon School 

5- Lets say, you really want to go to a college, then you need to keep in mind that what you are being taught is probably already out of date mostly because of bureaucracy slowing down everything and most of the time your teachers don't even have any professional experience in the field and/or have been out of it for years.  So, to solve this problem you will have to work long hours outside of school and also make sure you don't compare yourself to your classmate but to people who are already working within the industry. You need to know that each time there are layoffs, you are competing with people who have shipped games like BioShock, SWTOR and many more.

At the end of the day, these are strictly my own opinions and you should question everything and not be lured by fancy looking computer labs and other facilities. One last thing on my mind, be aware of "X% of Our graduates get a job in the industry,  guarantee" that usually includes working at Best Buy and Fry's...

Wishing you the best success in your career.

If you have any comments or questions please don't hesitate to ask!

Mouhsine Adnani.