Blood, Sweat, and Pixels
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. 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 Details

TitleBlood, Sweat, and Pixels
Author
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherHarper Paperbacks
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Games, Video Games

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels Review

  • Fiona
    January 1, 1970
    I can't say it really taught me a whole lot about game development, apart from I wouldn't want to do it due to all that "crunch" time. Basically, people come up with an idea, there is a few problems along the way which are mostly all the same kinda thing - technical issues, often publishers wanting to hurry a game out (Dragon Age 2) and then horrendous crunch time. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if he'd looked at game development as a whole, rather than breaking it down into chapter I can't say it really taught me a whole lot about game development, apart from I wouldn't want to do it due to all that "crunch" time. Basically, people come up with an idea, there is a few problems along the way which are mostly all the same kinda thing - technical issues, often publishers wanting to hurry a game out (Dragon Age 2) and then horrendous crunch time. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if he'd looked at game development as a whole, rather than breaking it down into chapters about individual games, because each chapter was rather repetitive and really only interesting if I'd played the game, or at least had interest. I skipped a couple of chapters - Shovel Night and Destiny, two games I have zero interest in playing.I bought this book mainly because it featured a chapter on Dragon Age Inquistion. Dragon Age to me is like... the Harry Potter of the game world. I love it, I still live it quite intensely in my imagination. After the failure that was Mass Effect Andromeda I wanted to understand really how things worked behind the scenes and what could cause such a highly respected game series to come out with such a massive flop. It did answer a few of those questions as did Schreier's article on Andromeda. However it wasn't really what I was expecting. A lot of this kind of information could have been gleamed from the Internet quite easily.Maybe I was expecting too much - he could hardly go into any technical issues with any detail without alienating readers who (like myself) don't understand programming or all that technical stuff. Overall, interesting but not really worth spending the money on.
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  • Steven Burnap
    January 1, 1970
    Stories of how ten games were made (or in one case, not made) It's a nice variety, so you see how things are made from a one man indie passion-project like Stardew Valley to corporate AAA development house projects like Dragon Age:Inquisition. I've played six of these games extensively, so it was fascinating to see where some of the successes and failures you see in the game came from.If there's a moral to the story, if a game has problems, it is very rarely the fault of the developers, who are Stories of how ten games were made (or in one case, not made) It's a nice variety, so you see how things are made from a one man indie passion-project like Stardew Valley to corporate AAA development house projects like Dragon Age:Inquisition. I've played six of these games extensively, so it was fascinating to see where some of the successes and failures you see in the game came from.If there's a moral to the story, if a game has problems, it is very rarely the fault of the developers, who are often literally putting their all in, and very often the fault of executive management, who often come across as frankly dense.The games described are:Pillars of EternityUncharted 4Stardew ValleyDiablo IIIHalo WarsDragon Age: InquisitionShovel KnightDestinyThe Witcher 3Star Wars 1313
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  • MR M TOPPING
    January 1, 1970
    Incredibly detailed and both very informative and interesting An incredibly in depth and interesting look into the development process of some of the most popular video games out there, which didn't fail to keep me hooked to each page, I highly recommend Blood Sweat and Pixels.With each chapter focusing on the story of a particular game, the book is perfect reading I'm bite size chunks, ie whilst commuting, or in one sitting. The stories behind the games are entertaining, enlightening and surpri Incredibly detailed and both very informative and interesting An incredibly in depth and interesting look into the development process of some of the most popular video games out there, which didn't fail to keep me hooked to each page, I highly recommend Blood Sweat and Pixels.With each chapter focusing on the story of a particular game, the book is perfect reading I'm bite size chunks, ie whilst commuting, or in one sitting. The stories behind the games are entertaining, enlightening and surprisingly emotional, and while a cynical mind may say they could have been an article on a video games website, the long form format offers the author a chance to go deeper into each development story, and it's an opportunity which has clearly payed off, interviews and painstaking research intricately woven together to forming a compelling narrative. I couldn't put this book down, and am already planning on gifting it to friends and family so they can experience it for themselves.I look forward with great interest as to what is next for Schreier, with stories like that behind the troubled development and release of Mass Effect Andromeda the perfect fodder for a sequel.Tl;Dr - if you like games, read this book. If you don't play or like games but know someone who does, buy it for them, and read it before giving it to them. You won't regret it.
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  • Archagon
    January 1, 1970
    A curious read, but doesn't reach the heights of something like "Masters of Doom". The main fault is that there's no thread to pull on. Each chapter is a relatively light account of the development of a recent video game, and while there are plenty of developer quotes scattered throughout the pages, they don't really shed much light on the personalities involved, technical challenges faced, or wider historical context. (Indeed, they very often simply repeat what the author just stated.) I loved A curious read, but doesn't reach the heights of something like "Masters of Doom". The main fault is that there's no thread to pull on. Each chapter is a relatively light account of the development of a recent video game, and while there are plenty of developer quotes scattered throughout the pages, they don't really shed much light on the personalities involved, technical challenges faced, or wider historical context. (Indeed, they very often simply repeat what the author just stated.) I loved "Masters of Doom" for taking me back to the heyday of DOS shareware and putting me in the same room as Carmack et al. while their greatest accomplishments were happening. It spun a truly great yarn of world-changing success in the face of impossible odds. Here, we mostly get a series of "this happened, that happened — the end". (But maybe this is more of an indictment of the AAA video game industry than the book itself. The most interesting chapters were the ones on the teeth-pulling development of indie titles Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight, while the rest felt like the in-and-outs of any generic business.)
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  • Brandon Amico
    January 1, 1970
    Schreier takes us inside the stories of some of the biggest or most interesting games of the last decade. His well-researched, thorough writing on the many forces at play when a game is coming together (or failing to) will give readers a new appreciation for the interactive medium, and the people who make them. BS&P is written in a way that even those who aren't avid gamers can follow and appreciate, with enough detail and good storytelling that even those well-versed in these genres and gam Schreier takes us inside the stories of some of the biggest or most interesting games of the last decade. His well-researched, thorough writing on the many forces at play when a game is coming together (or failing to) will give readers a new appreciation for the interactive medium, and the people who make them. BS&P is written in a way that even those who aren't avid gamers can follow and appreciate, with enough detail and good storytelling that even those well-versed in these genres and games will enjoy the trip through crunch time, technical snafus, economic and cultural changes, and more. All of the chaos that must be wrangled into an impeccable product for the most picky consumer imaginable is portrayed here, enjoyable and eye-opening.(NB: This review is based on an advanced, uncorrected proof of the book.)
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  • Evan Kirby
    January 1, 1970
    This book was fun enough, providing a look inside how specific video games were made, but unfortunately, it's all pretty repetitive. Pretty much every story follows the same pattern of a down in the dumps person or studio trying to get their idea off the ground, they encounter some form of trouble ie. in the form of management types or lack of money, they overcome that, it details the grueling hours making the game, they doubt their idea and think it sucks, then the game gets released and of cou This book was fun enough, providing a look inside how specific video games were made, but unfortunately, it's all pretty repetitive. Pretty much every story follows the same pattern of a down in the dumps person or studio trying to get their idea off the ground, they encounter some form of trouble ie. in the form of management types or lack of money, they overcome that, it details the grueling hours making the game, they doubt their idea and think it sucks, then the game gets released and of course it's a smash hit. A few of these would be fine, but it felt like every story just followed the same relative formula and felt like the same story after another, just with new names and titles swapped in.
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  • Nazih Fares
    January 1, 1970
    I'm used to read Jason's articles on Kotaku, but never thought to seeing an entire book penned down. As someone who worked in both gaming journalism and now the industry, I've enjoyed this read on so many levels.Between the choice of games he picked to showcase probably all of the biggest challenges in the video game making, ranging from corporate and office politics to the hardship of being an independent developer (I have a whole lot more of respect of Eric Barone's Stardew Valley now), Jason I'm used to read Jason's articles on Kotaku, but never thought to seeing an entire book penned down. As someone who worked in both gaming journalism and now the industry, I've enjoyed this read on so many levels.Between the choice of games he picked to showcase probably all of the biggest challenges in the video game making, ranging from corporate and office politics to the hardship of being an independent developer (I have a whole lot more of respect of Eric Barone's Stardew Valley now), Jason explains it well and without patronizing the reader that he knows more than others (which many other books sadly do).Whether you are dreaming to make your first game, or want to learn about this industry, I highly recommend this book.
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  • Owen Palmer
    January 1, 1970
    When people think of cataloging history it’s easy to forget things like video games. This captures the history of several huge titles of of the 2010s. Getting some of that insider perspective we rarely see, Jason does a great job telling these hardworking developer’s stories. At times I don’t understand the way each chapter ends in terms of it always needing a positive note to end on. That being said anyone who has ever wondered about the toll game development can take should check this book out When people think of cataloging history it’s easy to forget things like video games. This captures the history of several huge titles of of the 2010s. Getting some of that insider perspective we rarely see, Jason does a great job telling these hardworking developer’s stories. At times I don’t understand the way each chapter ends in terms of it always needing a positive note to end on. That being said anyone who has ever wondered about the toll game development can take should check this book out.
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  • Václav Sobotka
    January 1, 1970
    Phenomenal.As a programmer, I was aware of some of the pitfalls of (game) development. But this book gave me a brand new perspective.It helps in appreciating this book when you were there as well as the game was announced, released (hopefully) and you played it. I was there for Pillars of Ethernity, Diablo III and The Witcher 3. I remember their announcement, release and early days after that. Now I have a much more clear idea of this industry. After reading this book, one has to wonder how any Phenomenal.As a programmer, I was aware of some of the pitfalls of (game) development. But this book gave me a brand new perspective.It helps in appreciating this book when you were there as well as the game was announced, released (hopefully) and you played it. I was there for Pillars of Ethernity, Diablo III and The Witcher 3. I remember their announcement, release and early days after that. Now I have a much more clear idea of this industry. After reading this book, one has to wonder how any of the games get made at all.
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  • Sean Massa
    January 1, 1970
    This book has some great stories about many different games. It talks a lot about crunch times and how rough they are, but overall the tone seems to be that crunch is a necessary part of game development and you better deal with it or leave. I wish it explored the necessity of crunch more.The book also briefly mentions some sexism, but only barely. There's a whole side to the crunch issue about how race, gender, and other factors affect whether or not you can sign up for this kind of abuse. None This book has some great stories about many different games. It talks a lot about crunch times and how rough they are, but overall the tone seems to be that crunch is a necessary part of game development and you better deal with it or leave. I wish it explored the necessity of crunch more.The book also briefly mentions some sexism, but only barely. There's a whole side to the crunch issue about how race, gender, and other factors affect whether or not you can sign up for this kind of abuse. None of that is explored in this book.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    Listened to the audio book while working on a Saturday in a week where I already pulled 60 hours only to feel releaved that the software I work on only has to be functional and not fun. Jason has written a winning corporate bio that haves tons of little nuggets of information on modern titles. It is refreshing to have another book on the videogame industry to put next to masters of doom and console wars. Hell if they keep making books about it I can feel slightly less guilty about having no time Listened to the audio book while working on a Saturday in a week where I already pulled 60 hours only to feel releaved that the software I work on only has to be functional and not fun. Jason has written a winning corporate bio that haves tons of little nuggets of information on modern titles. It is refreshing to have another book on the videogame industry to put next to masters of doom and console wars. Hell if they keep making books about it I can feel slightly less guilty about having no time to actually play videogames anymore.
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  • TN
    January 1, 1970
    If you're a fan of gaming, read this book. Goes into great detail about what goes on behind big budget video gaming. Fascinating read but one thing I wish was different points of view in development. All the chapters went inevitably to the crunch so towards the end, it started get repetitive.If you're not a gamer this may not interest you, if you're a gamer give it a read. Shows us the human element and ultimately how hard and complicated making a great game really is.
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  • Jez Burrows
    January 1, 1970
    Ten brisk and unvarnished oral histories that, for my tastes, could have used a little more variety.Three chapters on separate triple-A RPGs that all suffered various corporate reshuffles! It would have been nice to hear from some mobile devs, perhaps a few more indie outfits. Predictably, I found the chapters on indie development so much more engaging—Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight in particular.
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent look at the general madness that is game development with some very interesting looks into several hit games (or games never to be) and how their particular development cycles went. Jason Schreier does a superb job writing a well researched book that would appeal to any level of video game knowledge and covers a wide variety of sources. Overall, it's a fascinating read that really only feels like a bit of a retread if you're very familiar with the drama behind certain games.
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  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    It could have been so much more, but what we get is a rather boring account from multiple studios as they create, or at least tries, their games. The book lacks the juicy details a gamer wants and seems written for a different crowd..It's not a bad first book but I really hope the next one (if there is one) is less like this and more like ie. Masters of Doom..
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  • Jonas Eriksson
    January 1, 1970
    Some books are just impossible to put down. This was one of them, I read it all in pretty much one night. Highly recommended for a great insight into the chaotic innards of the world's biggest entertainment industry - especially if any of the 10 games in focus have stolen more than a few hours of your time over the years.
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  • Marco De Haar
    January 1, 1970
    Great read because: - finally, the story behind making the games. Objectivity achieved by good journalism and combining multiple perspectives. - easilly readable. My native language is not English but I just plough through it. - a wide scala of projects, Both successes and failures . Each with its own lessons.- and most importantly, while many aspects of developing games are described, it's mostly about the people. Absolutely beautiful to read their stories. To me, a gamer and a software develop Great read because: - finally, the story behind making the games. Objectivity achieved by good journalism and combining multiple perspectives. - easilly readable. My native language is not English but I just plough through it. - a wide scala of projects, Both successes and failures . Each with its own lessons.- and most importantly, while many aspects of developing games are described, it's mostly about the people. Absolutely beautiful to read their stories. To me, a gamer and a software developer, reading this was like starting up Mass Effect 2 for the first time. After an hour you just know all your other hobbies will have to wait for a while.
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  • Zach
    January 1, 1970
    I follow the industry with a hobbyist's passion, and this book was full of cool details and lots of insight that I had no idea about. It also has a bunch of discussions around the reality of crunch. I would recommend it to people who work in software, people who care about games, and people curious about how these fancy video games actually get made. It's accessible for all audiences.
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  • Caleb
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating look at the game development process! I do not have any experience in game design, so I can not assess the accuracy of the details in the book, but as a casual gamer it was a great deal of fun to learn about some of the ins and outs that make up some of this decades well known games.
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  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    Compulsively readable! I couldn't help looking forward to reading more each time I put it down. It was also a great conversation starter at work when I came in from my commute with it in hand. I loved sharing bits and pieces with my boyfriend who will probably read it now that I'm done!
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  • Marc Salazar
    January 1, 1970
    Highly informative and entertaining I don't usually write reviews but this one feels warranted. I have been playing games all of my life and going behind the curtain at some of my favorite games has been one of the best reads all year.
  • Ryan Hock
    January 1, 1970
    Simply incredible and well researched. Jason gives us a peak behind how are favorite games are made which is both entertaining and enlightening.
  • Jonathon Baugh
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting look into the insanity of video game development. I felt a tighter connection to the games on a personal level and the industry on a professional level.
  • Jean-luc
    January 1, 1970
    Incredible fun and insightful read. Bar none the best gaming journalism available. Only missing aspect is an exploration of the ethics of game crunch - but that would be a better fit for a follow-up.
  • Juan-Pablo Scaletti
    January 1, 1970
    Depressing. Almost all stories are about teams of 50+ devs in continuous crunch mode.
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