Rich Lambert, the creative director of The Elder Scrolls Online, addressed the subject of crunch while at Gamescom in a new interview. During the interview, the developer acknowledges that The Elder Scrolls Online is developed with "some" crunch, though he also mentions that it's just "part of game development."
The interview with GamesIndustry.biz EIC James Batchelor talks about crunch the ZeniMax Online Studios team faces while building The Elder Scrolls Online. Speaking with Lambert, the creative director addressed the question head-on, stating that while there is "some" crunch, he states that "for the most part there isn't any."
"There is some - that's part of game development," Lambert told GI.biz. He continued, "Towards the end, there is some but for the most part there isn't any."
Lambert continues, describing how crunch might work in the studio if it happens. He states that ZeniMax doesn't do what's called "sympathy crunch," where if one developer works overtime the whole department does. However, he does say that they leave this decision up to the individual teams on The Elder Scrolls Online.
Rich also goes on to state that it's up to the studio's leadership to put their studio in a position to protect their staff from crunch, saying that content and features might need to be scaled back in order to do so in any given release cycle. He tells the outlet that the leadership team has to manage its expectations, though they do rely on the individual teams to state whether something is doable or if it is going to cause a crunch.
"We have to manage our expectations with what the team can physically produce. We rely a lot on the team to say 'Hey, if you want that, it's either going to mean we cut this or we're going to have to work overtime."
Rich goes on to state that they are always trying to find a way to avoid working overtime.
This syncs up with the development focus that Lambert has been talking about since the launch of Blackwood. While the team is still pumping out content year over year, with new DLCs and Chapters bringing new stories, continents and more to The Elder Scrolls Online, they are also of a mind to do "less" to ensure that what is delivered is more stable and meaningful to the player.