Blood, Sweat, and Pixels – Jason Schreier

Review From User :

So you think your job as a software engineer sucks Think again, you could be working on games!

Nightmarish environments with total and complete lack of management, direction, tooling or even a common dictionary, a bootload of manual testing and very little feedback until you finally deliver the final game to customers. Now add a sprinkle of 100 hour weeks (yes, you will work on weekends), no overtime pay and very little financial incentive and you end up completely burned out, broke and most likely needing to visit a doctor at the end.

It is indeed surprising that we do get to play games with the incredible amount of madness that is involved in making them. It's even more surprising that people continue in the industry after going through these maddening and soul sucking crunch periods and delivering sub par games that don't live up to the expectations.

Including both indie and AAA games, "Blood, sweat and pixels" is a cautionary tale about the industry of games, while the heroism sagas to deliver that amazing game sound cool, they were most likely not cool for the people involved and the burnout they must have felt after it. The gaming industry definitely feels like an amateur cult, where even the most basic pieces of software engineering are thrown out for the sake of "art", whatever that is supposed to mean.

Studios lack clear leadership or management. Ensemble's "Halo Wars" chapter, with 3 different teams working on 3 different games when the only thing they should be working on is "Halo Wars" borders insanity, with people employed in the company just refusing to do what they were supposed to do like spoiled teenagers, eventually leading to the end of the studio, is just one of the examples.

Then you get to "Dragon Age: Inquisition", where the team decided to use the Frostbite engine but had no idea it was completely bereft of the features they would need to build an RPG (I mean, it was an FPS engine, maybe prototype and spike before you decide on it). The team worked for more than a year "building" a game in feels only since they just could not play or do anything for real, luckily for them it worked out, but we all know the long list of games that just didn't make it.

Bungie's "Destiny" and it's fraught relationship with Activision that wasn't even an issue with Activision itself, as many would like to blame. Oh, it's the big corp owning the scrappy game developer. Nope. The wounds are almost all self inflicted, lack of communication between the people doing the story and building the game, lack of an holistic view of what the game should be and the usual over-promising. As much as it's cool to blame the huge corp, as a Bungie employee said, "we had to hold ourselves accountable now that we were free of microsoft" but they just weren't doing it. They went on to fight publicly with Activision on twitter but had to redo the game completely with less than a year for the final release that and we got the story we had on Destiny 1. Given how Destiny 2 came to be, the whole drama has most likely repeated itself.

Seeing the backstory of how these games are made makes me value them a bit more but also makes me sad at how the people building them are doing it mostly for passion and are getting the short end of the stick almost all the time. Amazing book!


The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

Developing video games – hero’s journey or fool’s errand? The creative and technical logistics that go into building today’s hottest games can be more harrowing and complex than the games themselves, often seeming like an endless maze or a bottomless abyss.
Expand text… 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 600 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.

Taking some of the most popular, bestselling recent games, 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 multi-million-dollar franchise; or Bungie 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.

Documenting the round-the-clock crunches, buggy-eyed burnout, and last-minute saves, 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.

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made (Unabridged)

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made (Unabridged)

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made (Unabridged)