The great thing about being indie is that in most cases, you can release your indie game whenever you are ready to do so. Yet, you are going to run into cases in which you need to release your indie game by a certain date. Maybe you are working with a publisher and they want you to release it by a certain date, or perhaps you already promised that you would release your indie game to your fans on social media.
Whatever the case may be, either of these scenarios could lead to crunch time if you are not careful.
Crunch time is the bane of everyone working in the game industry – and as an indie developer, you have the power to eliminate it completely. I came across this quote in a TIGSource post earlier this morning, and it sums up crunch time perfectly:
“Crunch time comes from poor management. There is no excuse for it.”
110% true. Unless you are developing an indie game from start to finish in the span of a month, there is no reason why you should have to crunch for time. Crunch time is a byproduct of the AAA industry – don’t let it seep into your indie studio. Below are a few ways that you can minimize the dreaded crunch time and give yourself the freedom to actually enjoy life.
Proper project management
Bouncing off the quote above, if you manage your project wisely and keep it on task, your project will not derail. Staying on task is one of the most important things that you can do as the leader of your indie studio, and the great thing about staying on task? It’s easy to know how to manage your tasks right from the start.
Consider using Trello – our pick for Free Tool Friday from a few weeks ago. Use this tool to ensure that everyone know what they are doing at all times and also realize when the deadline for each task needs to be completed. It’s the best way to make certain that everyone knows exactly what they are doing, resulting in you being able to not only finish your indie game on time, but possibly ahead of schedule!
If this is your first time developing an indie game, that could be easier said than done. Even so, make plans early by scheduling tasks well before they will be started so that you have a game plan as to what you need to do before you even start the project. While things will certainly come up and you will have to postpone some tasks, it’s better to know what to expect by planning early.
Have a backup plan
Things happen. Sometimes, a task needs to be completed but you are unable to do so at the moment – thus, causing the project to stall for the moment. This is never a fun experience, but you need to have a backup plan to ensure work still progresses. If the issue is that you don’t have time to complete a certain task, have a few outsourced contractors available that can pick up the slack for you. If the issue is you have no idea how to progress (i.e. you are stuck on a problem), consult with other indie developers, visit forums, or talk it out with your team members.
The rule of thumb is to find the answer (the right answer) to your problem as soon as possible. If possible, work on other tasks in the meantime until you find your answer.
Above all, be sure to always stay productive. One of the biggest culprits of crunch time is a combination of procrastination and poor project management – eliminate both, and you will not have to worry about being faced with the dreaded crunch time. We’ve talked a lot about staying productive in the past, and we suggest utilizing these productivity tips we discussed a few weeks ago and these tips for fighting procrastination. These two posts offer a killer combo that will help you to stay on task and finishing your indie game without ever having to crunch once!