Jim Wornell, a former Nintendo of America graphic designer and associate producer, recounts that he came to work for two weeks without a single day off from eight in the morning to ten at night.
Labor exploitation is, unfortunately, one of the most recurrent evils today in Triple A video game development: while there are studios that choose to delay their titles to avoid bad practices, there are others that fall into them . However, despite the fact that it is a topic that has been talked about at length in recent years, this does not mean that the crunch did not exist in developments decades ago. For example, we can find the hasty and chaotic development that Metroid Prime underwent or, in the case that concerns us today, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time , which is considered one of the most important video games due to its great addition to 3D adventures.
Jim Wornell , former Associate Producer and Graphic Designer at Nintendo of America, recently gave an interview to the Kiwi Talkz podcast about his experience working on the Nintendo 64 game. “(Ocarina of Time) was towards the end of my associate producer days. It was one of the last projects I worked on before I transferred over to design, so it was a little frustrating to get to the end of the game and see my name in the credits as manual editor,” he commented. Apparently, Wornell did almost everything in the game, including publicity, marketing, and legal aspects, so he was somewhat disappointed not to see his other roles reflected in the credits.
“Zelda was, while I love Ocarina Of Time, it’s a great game, it was almost the death of me because so much of my time was spent working on that game, you know two weeks without a day off, working from eight in the morning until ten at night you know. It was crazy,” he explained about the long hours of work and little time off he had during some phases of development. Wornell admits that considering the amount of time he spent putting the game together, coupled with the fact that he was learning how to use Illustrator to lay out the manuals, it was a “miracle” that everything turned out as well as it did.
“Especially when you get to the end of a game you know, it’s getting close to lot check approval so it can be released to the market. You’re putting in some serious time to get it done,” he added of his experience. It should be noted, yes, that Wornell clarified during the interview that crunch was not a recurring practice at Nintendo. In his own words: “Ocarina was the biggest Nintendo release at the time, it was massive. It’s not like that with every game, no, not at all. I mean, it was definitely not like that with Shadowgate Game Boy,” He concluded in his interview.