When I started working QA, there was a movie-related title in development with an iconic main character that had everyone sneaking peeks and wishing they could be working on that project. A few months later, the movie was almost out in theaters and the game was nowhere near completion. Needless to say, this was not a good thing! In order to accelerate development, they poured bodies into the seats and cranked up the working hours.
I was put on the “Next Gen” team, back when the Xbox 360 was brand-spanking new, and so we needed the most coverage to make sure it shined. We ended up with two teams working alternating 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. At the end, we’d been working shifts of 3 weeks with 1 day off.
Needless to say, it was a relief to go on to the next project. Many of us had made the transition from the movie-game to this new title, so we were battle-tested and there was a strong camaraderie among the team members. We would talk about the hours we’d worked and the bugs we had found like veterans talk about firefights. We also had our share of shell-shocked troops.
When the new project’s schedule was posted, a veteran from the “Current Gen” consoles had a question. As it turned out, with twice as many systems to cover and half as many people, CG had been working 14-16 hours a day without a day off for several months. Seeing that he had days marked “OFF”, he asked if that meant he only had to work 4 hours that day or 8 - the idea of having an entire day off never even occurred to him.
After I explained it to him, he stared at the schedule for maybe five minutes, as if he was trying to remember what it was to have a day off. It was pretty spooky.