Famous Uncharted and Legacy of Kain writer Amy Hnnig came out to talk with GamesIndustry recently and shared some very interesting comments regarding her time with Naughty Dog. The studio has developed quality games for years but is known for it’s crunch time, which is when you spend extra hours working on a game title.
When Soren Johnson, the designer of Offworld Trading Company and the host of the podcast, asked Hennig how difficult AAA development was on a personal level, Hennig replied, “Really hard. The whole time I was at Naughty Dog – ten-and-a-half years – I probably, on average, I don’t know if I ever worked less than 80 hours a week. There were exceptions where it was like, ‘Okay, let’s take a couple of days off,’ but I pretty much worked seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day.”
And the seven-day working schedule wasn’t limited to people on Hennig’s level. Johnson posited that weekend work wasn’t generally the same, and asked how much of Naughty Dog’s team would be present. “A lot of it,” Hennig replied. “I mean, Naughty Dog is pretty notorious for the amount of crunch, but obviously in a leadership role you try and do even more.” While Hennig admitted that she wouldn’t change anything that meant she hadn’t made games like the Uncharted series, she admitted to having a clearer view of the issue when looking at the experiences of other people. When asked if making AAA games was worth the lifestyle that goes along with it, she replied, “I don’t think so.”
“There’s people who never go home and see their families. They have children who are growing up without seeing them,” she said. “I didn’t have my own kids. I chose my career in lots of ways, and I could be single-minded like that. When I was making sacrifices, did it affect my family? Yes, but it was primarily affecting me and I could make that choice. But when I look at other people… I mean, my health really declined, and I had to take care of myself, because it was, like, bad. And there were people who, y’know, collapsed, or had to go and check themselves in somewhere when one of these games were done. Or they got divorced. That’s not okay, any of that. None of this is worth that.