Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Books: Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a video game developer. In middle school, I dutifully coded elaborate adventure games in QBASIC, and in high school, I studied up on Doom WADs and level design. Reality sunk in somewhere around freshman year, when I realized the terrible trials and tribulations game devs go through: zero job security, ever-shifting directives from management, and, most of all, the dreaded "crunch" (stretches of unpaid, wall-to-wall overtime that can last for months on end).

Now, it's arguably all worth it to create a classic video game that will live in the minds of millions of people, but it is still a steep price to pay. "Blood, Sweat, and Pixels," by Jason Schreier, is a peek inside that world. Each chapter is a compelling behind-the-scenes narrative about the making of a famous game, with plenty of interviews from the developers and publishers themselves. The selected games are a good cross-section of the industry - everything from Kickstarted indies (Pillars of Eternity, Shovel Knight) to AAA titles from major studios (Destiny, Diablo III).

If you're not a gamer, the book might be a little bland, and if you read game blogs regularly, some of this material will be old hat. If you enjoy video games, though, and you ever wondered what it takes to make one, you'll probably like this book.


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