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Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made Paperback – September 5, 2017
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“Making video games is one of most transformative, exciting things I’ve done in my two decades as a freelance writer. Making video games is also an excruciating journey into Hellmouth itself. Jason Schreier’s wonderful book captures both the excitement and the hell. Here, at long last, is a gripping, intelligent glimpse behind a thick (and needlessly secretive) creative curtain.” -- Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives and Apostle, and writer on the Gears of War, Uncharted, and Battlefield franchises
“A meticulously researched, well-written, and painful at times account of many developers’ and studios’ highs and lows. May need to make it required reading for the developers at my studio.” -- Cliff Bleszinski, creator of Gears of War and founder of Boss Key Productions
“The stories in this book make for a fascinating and remarkably complete pantheon of just about every common despair and every joy related to game development.” -- Rami Ismail, cofounder of Vlambeer and developer of Nuclear Throne
“Jason Schreier brilliantly exposes the truth about how video games are made. Brutal, honest, yet ultimately uplifting; I’ve been gaming for thirty years, yet I was surprised by every page. Turns out what I didn’t know about my favorite hobby could fill a book. This book! Can’t recommend it enough to any serious fan of this generation’s greatest new art form.” -- Adam Conover, executive producer and host of truTV’s Adam Ruins Everything
“...his enthusiasm is contagious; even if you’ve never played one of these games, you’ll be riveted by the account of how they came to be.” -- Booklist
“Schreier covers the notoriously secretive gaming industry… and he knows it well… He also clearly respects [the] developers and their achievements, and treats their rueful tales of selfless struggle with an admiring deference…a useful survey of the landscape of game production at this cultural moment.” -- GQ
“Schreier sets each scene with admirable prowess, giving the reader just enough information to feel the weight of each story. For anyone who has ever wondered how some of the most successful games are made, this book is a real eye-opener… At its heart, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is an ode to the people who put every fiber of their being into making memorable experiences for gamers all over the world.” -- Fiction Southeast
“Lively writing… For fans of video games, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a must read, but anyone interested in stories about the hard process of making art is also sure to enjoy it.” -- Shelf Awareness
“One of the most insightful pieces of text I’ve ever read… It’s a well-written tale of real sacrifice, struggles, and more, it’s almost inspiring despite how sad it can be at times.” -- GameZone
“Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is the instruction manual to the game industry I never realized I needed.” -- GameCritics.com
“Schreier creates a compellingly warts-and-all portrait of a profession that so many who grew up playing games idolized.” -- Wired
From the Back Cover
The creative and technical logistics that go into building today’s hottest games can be more fraught with challenges and complex than the games themselves, often seeming like an endless maze or a bottomless abyss. In Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, Jason Schreier takes readers on a fascinating odyssey behind the scenes of video game development, where the creator may be a team of six hundred overworked underdogs or a solitary geek genius. Exploring the artistic challenges, technical impossibilities, marketplace demands, and Donkey Kong–sized monkey wrenches thrown into the works by corporate, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels reveals how bringing any game to completion is more than Sisyphean—it’s nothing short of miraculous.
Examining some of the bestselling games and most infamous failures, Schreier immerses readers in the hellfire of the development process, whether it’s RPG studio BioWare’s challenge to beat an impossible schedule and overcome countless technical nightmares to build Dragon Age: Inquisition; indie developer Eric Barone’s single-handed efforts to grow country-life RPG Stardew Valley from one man’s vision into a multimillion-dollar franchise; or Bungie employees spinning out from their corporate overlords at Microsoft to create Destiny, a brand-new universe that they hoped would become as iconic as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings—even as it nearly ripped their studio apart.
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a journey through development hell—and ultimately a tribute to the dedicated diehards and unsung heroes who scale mountains of obstacles in their quests to create the best games imaginable.
- Publisher : Harper Paperbacks (September 5, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062651234
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062651235
- Item Weight : 9.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.68 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Two points that stick with me as I think about this book that I hope help you decide whether to read it (which I highly recommend you do). One is that I have a much greater respect for game developers at all levels of the process. Making video games is a cruel, life-sucking process, whether you work for a big studio or are a single developer trying to make the next big thing. The studios that strive to put out good work are busting it every day, and for those studios and individuals that really care about making good games, this book will illustrate why they deserve that praise even if they make a game that doesn't come out great. The other point that sticks with me is that the video game industry seems incredibly broken. Jason talked about this on the podcast and the overall sustainability of the industry, but it certainly seems like something is going to give soon given what game developers have to endure just to get something done. I don't know what that will look like or when it will happen, but this book clearly shows that something has to change.
There's only one thing that bugged me about the book, though not enough to knock it down a star. I wish the last two chapters had been switched. Star Wars 1313 is such an incredibly sad story that having that finish off the book left me feeling really depressed about the book as a whole and almost colored the book more negatively as a result. The story of Shovel Knight, on the other hand, with a scrappy team with a huge vision was a much more uplifting, inspiring story even if it doesn't have a perfect ending. I wish the book had led into the epilogue with that ending. I understand why 1313 was put in last: it's the story everyone wants to get the inside scoop on, so save it to the end. Still, I think the book could have ended on a more positive note, and switching the last two chapters I think would have done the trick. That's pretty nit-picky and a bit of a personal preference though.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes history, likes videos games, or just likes good stories. Props to Jason on this excellent book. I look forward to his next book, whatever it may be.
no real details of personl drama to help you connect. Stardew Valley came closest, but that was a one man show.
Each exemplar is well-written and an unexpected page-turner. Part history and part business textbook, each exemplar has lessons for those outside the gaming industry. While each of the 10 games are a good read, Jason Schreier leaves it to the reader to identify the good project practices and lessons. Project management is incredibly difficult, Scherier illustrates how high profile games have multiple teams that are interdependent (for example: the art team is reliant on the tech team and vice-versa). Recommended.
The Good – Each of the ten games that Jason Schreier uses as examples are well known. He goes into how each were developed, the problems, and how they may have been overcome. Few of the games were 100% successful, with many of the production problems dragging down the game’s final reviews and sales. He is sympathetic to the designers and that shines through.
The Bad – Jason Schreier loves videogames – and this book is an ode of those in the industry. The book reads like a series of vignettes as opposed to a unified whole. Each vignette is interesting but if the reader is looking for a book more focused on the business and project management of videogames, than it will be a disappointment, but still a fascinating book. It would have been valuable if Schreier highlighted some of the games that appear to have a less rocky development process (such as Call of Duty or Madden) to illustrate successful production methods.
I can only hope that Jason Schreier continues with more of this in the future. I'd love to hear about Five Nights at Freddy's, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Inside!
Final Verdict: If you enjoyed Indie Game: The Movie , this is a must read! If you enjoy reading anything about the creative process of video games, this is a must read! You know what, just read it! You won't be disappointed!
Top reviews from other countries
Most people know that the making of video games is a difficult, long-winded and expensive process. But just how long-winded and expensive that task is remains mind-boggling. This book explores some of those stories. A single cancelled contract almost destroyed veteran video game studio Obsidian Entertainment, until they launched a successful Kickstarter for an old-skool RPG called Pillars of Eternity that was a big commercial hit and saved the company. Naughty Dog Studios had already delivered three critically-acclaimed Uncharted games and were a well-oiled machine, but still almost crashed into ruin whilst making the fourth game in the series. Blizzard Entertainment had been a 20-year veteran of game development with almost 100 million games sold but still managed to release Diablo III in a chaotic and divisive state, forcing them to save the game with an expansion pack that revamped a lot of how the game worked. Star Wars: 1313 was a game that looked absolutely amazing and was playing very well when it was abruptly cancelled when Disney took over LucasArts in 2012, flushing several years, tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work down the toilet.
Schreier recounts the story of each game in a well-researched, intelligent manner based on interviews with the people involved and, in some cases, spending time embedded at the studio in question. Arguably the most fascinating chapter is on the development of Stardew Valley, a rare modern game created by just one person (Eric Barone), showing the insane work required to bring what is apparently a very simple game idea to the masses. The most explosive is certainly about the development of Destiny, an online game created by Bungie Studios to escape the treadmill of developing Halo games until the end of time, but that was easier said then done and by the end of development most of those who had been pushing for abandoning Halo had left the company, leaving a lot of anger and bitterness behind (which is an ongoing story, through the problematic release of Destiny's expansion and sequel). The most frustrating story is that of 1313, a genuinely exciting-sounding game that was killed in its infancy.
If there are any negatives to the book, it's probably the lack of depth. The book can only give about 25 pages to each project, and often the chapter ends just as the story gets interesting and we're moving onto the next game. There could also be better context: the Diablo III chapter focuses on the expansion, but we learn nothing about the ten-year development of Diablo III itself and why the game ended up being released in such a chaotic state. The Witcher III chapter also lowballs the game's reportedly hellish crunch period, which led to many people leaving the company (also it also resulted in arguably the greatest video game of the last twenty years). You occasionally feel that Schreier pulls his punches - at least a little - to retain future access to the companies involved.
That said, if you play video games but have no idea how they're made or the workload involved, this book (****) will be revelatory. Well-written, informative and entertaining, it marks a good beginner's guide to the crazy world of making video games.
Small games company has idea for a great game
They write software which takes a lot longer than planned so many late nights are required
Money is tight so funds need to be raised
Game is finally released to much acclaim
It's not a technical/geeky book, so if you're into the nuts-and-bolts of writing games or how to develop a game, this isn't the book for you. It's pretty high level and while quite interesting as to how these gaming companies managed to release their games, there's nothing that exciting here.
I think the book would've been better if it was instead structured according to the typical process and stages of gaming development production. It would have removed some of the repetition, and it would have resulted in a much shorter read, but if the author researched more games, he could've had enough good research for a good 250 - 300 page book.