Supergiant Games, the studio behind Bastion, Pyre, and Hades, is now 16 people strong. Seven of them have been with the company from the very beginning over ten years ago. Studio director Amir Rao and writer / designer Greg Kasavin discuss the culture of sustainability at the studio.
Supergiant Games. Image Credit: Supergiant Games
Zero turnover? Apparently, it’s possible, as the devs at Supegiant explain in an interview to Kotaku (it actually took place last year, but it’s worth revisiting with The Game Awards 2020 just days away).
When the studio was founded, the original team of seven was offered unlimited time off. Curisouly, everybody ended up feeling the “invisible pressure” to never stop working. The team just thouth they could always take some time off later. Now, staff members are required to take at least 20 days off per year.
Another aspect to the culture of sustainablity at Supergiant is the rule prohibiting any emails on the weekend. All correspondence should absolutely stop no later than 5 PM on Friday.
And here’s what Kasavin has got to say on crunch:
“It takes our existing interest in having a production discipline and makes us really refine that even more, because if your milestone schedule involves crunching every milestone, your whole production process is broken. Not only is an individual game development a marathon and not a sprint, but our whole journey is a sort of mega-marathon where our success criteria for a given game is that we get to live another day and make another game after that.”
Developers are allowed to sometimes work long hours on their individual parts of the project — but only if they want to. In any case, development sprints that have “ripple effects” across the entire studio are prohibited. And even those individual initiatives have to be checked by co-workers. Kasavin explains: “We try to look out for each other and say, ‘Hey, is this too much? Can we alleviate some of the burden here?’ Sometimes it’s not even a question, right? It’s like, ‘No, you’re doing too much.’”
There. Just in case you needed another reason to root for Hades as the Game of the Year.