Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

Jason Schreier’s Blood, Sweat, and Pixels
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Review by: Daniel Boucher

Say what you will about Jason Schreier, but his book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a jaw-dropping look into the world of making video games. I was warmed, inspired and shocked (looking at you George Lucas) while reading it.

Blood, Sweat and Pixels details ten games and the righteous path through Hell they took to get made. I mean, holy crap, I had no idea. This should be required reading for every player that’s ever bitched, whined or complained about a game’s delay or bugs. I have a  profound new respect for the people that bring these games to life.

While I enjoyed all ten stories, here are a few of my favorites.

Uncharted 4

I wasn’t really a fan of Uncharted 4, but I’ve gotta to say that the peek into how things work over to Naughty Dog was awesome–and exhausting. There’s no doubt in my mind why these guys are always on top. It was sad to read of Bruce Straley’s recent departure after eighteen years with the company.

On a related side note, here’s a personal project of mine: The Last of Us: Memories.

Stardew Valley

This one reads like a rags-to-riches story. After five years of virtual solitude, Eric Barone comes out from his dark cave to the smashing success of Stardew Valley. This read really shows the benefit to pushing forward even when you hate what you’re doing and think it’s all crap. It’s both heart-warming and inspiring.

Star Wars 1313

This one shocked me. After years of working through poor direction, constant executive turnover, and Lucas’s neverending changing of the game’s direction, the team at LucasArts finally felt like they have their feet on stable ground with Star Wars 1313. Determined to rise up from the ashes and make LucasArts a name that meant something after a series of failures, the teams dig-in to change the course they’ve been on.

Enter Bob Iger, Disney, and four billion dollars, and George Lucas suddenly “retires” leaving the fate of LucasArts in the hands of their new owner, and we all know how that ends.

I can understand Lucas taking the four-billion-dollar deal (I know I would,) but disrespecting the LucasArts team by not looking out for their interests after decades of servitude to him, well that makes him the biggest, douche-bag on the planet.

Other stories include:

  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Diablo III
  • Halo Wars
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Shovel Knight
  • Destiny
  • The Witcher 3

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.


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