The dreaded “Busy Season” is upon us.
I watched it ooze across the office like mold in a steambath full of old bread, only less pleasant. It begins with our licensing manager. When you see him buzzing as though he’s had way too many quad-shot espressos and with eyes like those of a deer about to discover just what “MACK” means then you can tell he’s signing up titles like a fiend.
Titles that will soon hit our schedule. From there it’s a few trickles of projects that get spread to the various teams. These are usually guides for games so popular your grandmother has heard of them. If we’re lucky we get them early so we have as much time as possible to panic.
Then the floodgates open and we are inundated with the Holiday Titles. Games that will be crashing onto store shelves in time for the Thanksgiving shopping season and, failing that, the pre-Xmas buying month.
It’s a madhouse. In a weirdly quiet way. It’s not like the scenes you see of crazy news rooms with guys in disheveled clothes, cigarrettes dangling, running between desks waving crumpled sheets of paper screaming “Stop the presses!” while phones ring and radios blare. Instead it’s a slow psychic implosion.
Talking is at library volume instead of our usual system of shouting across the top of the cube walls. Keyboard keys being struck is the most prevelant noise. Phone calls are muted and low. Everyone walks softly and approaches co-workers as you would approach a wild creature that you suspect may not have eaten in a week. You can hand them a memo or a page to look at but it’s no sure thing you’ll pull back a complete arm.
This is when it gets hairy. Crises are rife and are clubbed into submission or simply run over on the way to the finish line, either way they are overcome quickly. Subtlty is a rare commodity.
The reward for all this is that when the holidays roll around there’s very little to do. The big games are out already and we had to be done two weeks before they hit stores. It’s then that the talk gets louder and the jaws unclench. But until then…