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Hot Coffee*

posted by TelltaleGames Telltale Staff on - last edited - Viewed by 429 users
I had a most unpleasant experience this past weekend. There I was, out shopping for equipment to help me fulfill my latest evil scheme when I had a sudden craving for a rich smooth chocolaty iced mocha. A half an hour later, this craving turned into a full blown raging desire, and shortly thereafter I developed a painful headache and severe crankiness (well, more severe than normal.) That's when it finally hit me. I have become a slave to the dark caffeine overlords.

You see, since it was the weekend, I had slept in late. And having slept in late, I assumed I would be fine going without my weekday-ritual iced coffee with mint syrup. But alas, I was wrong. Before I knew it the demons were clawing at my insides, sending pain into my skull, and causing me to lash out at even the most minor of offenses. Sipping my frosty and calming iced mocha, I paused to reflect. How did it come to this?image

At grad school I had cultivated a one iced mocha, one red bull a day caffeine habit. The many months of freedom from schedules I enjoyed during the several months between graduate school and beginning my employment with Telltale allowed me to shake this habit. I swore I would never go back, but quickly succumbed to the fact that being up early in the morning was eased greatly by a cup of the ol' joe. Having a coffee machine available in the office did nothing to help my resolve. I imbibed intermittently until I started recently riding into work with intern Jeff, who was in the habit of getting coffee on the way to the office. This was my ultimate downfall. I drank my morning coffee every day, and recently have even begun occasionally splurging on more caffeine in the afternoon. If it's available, it is very difficult for me to turn it down. My psychological need is based firmly in the belief that caffeine gives me more energy and provides the neccessary intensity I need to conduct the business that needs to be conducted during the working day.

Game development, I am saddened to report, fosters many bad habits. Like sitting inside all day without any fresh air or sunshine, repetitive stress syndrome, neglecting one's loved ones and reliance on stimulants to get through the day (including, but not limited to: caffeine, nicotine, and boston cream donuts). Games always want to have more things in them then there is reasonably time for, and so game development pushes the limits of sane working practices. Game developers push themselves to the breaking point to meet milestones and get that last little (or big) touch in before the game is ready to ship. Certain members of the Telltale staff haven't been home in weeks, and most of us have begun regularly indulging in our particular vices.

Dave F. averages about 3 espressos a day.

Greg F. chugs a whole Rockstar energy drink in the late afternoons.

Kevin has a Dr. Pepper hoard in his office, and probably drinks about five of them a day.

Jon doesn't drink coffee, but has perfected the 10 minute power nap, and will happily devour any sugary-sweet pastry things that show up in the office.

Daniel also skips out on the coffee, but sucks down Mexican salty-mango-jalapeño candy. Mmmm....sweet salty jalapeñoness....

Despite all this, Telltale is far more humane than some other game companies. (Aside from locking employees in closets and sending them to the Bermuda triangle, of course). A certain friend of mine at a certain large company recently told me how she has been in "crunch time"� since February. Seven months of not having any free weekends or evenings. I wonder what her caffeine consumption is like?

None of this is is common knowledge that making games requires complete dedication and the sacrifice of running yourself into the ground mentally, emotionally and physically. The question I am most often asked when telling others that I am a game designer is "what kind of hours do you work?"� And yet we do it anyway. Why?

I can't answer for anyone but myself, though I would guess my fellow Telltaleites have similar motivations. Making games is intensely creative. Everyone involved makes creative decisions of some kind every day, whether they be about art, design or problem solving. Creativity is very rewarding. There's nothing like a decision that you've agonized over resulting in a great triumph. The rush involved is far stronger than even the most taurine-packed energy drink. I also care deeply about the project I am working on and want it to be the best it can possibly be. I have something I want to share with the gaming community at large, something I think they will really enjoy. I would be much less eager to wake up, slurp down my iced coffee with mint syrup, and come to work caffeinated and ready for action if it were otherwise.

*No, not THAT hot coffee.....
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