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Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
Written by: Jason Schreier
Narrated by: Ray Chase
Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
Categories: Science & Math, Technology
5 out of 5 stars (243 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 listeners 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-size 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, best-selling recent games, Schreier immerses listeners 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 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.

©2017 Jason Schreier (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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Must Listen for any Gamer

Great narrator and the content is just wow...so much more respect for those who dedicate their lives to making the games we love

1 person found this helpful

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Book changes your view on the video game industry

I really enjoyed this book. When the the last chapter played and the book was over I was sad. I enjoyed listening on my commute to work in software development stories about the video game development life and challenges. Very relatable. At first I put this book on play and fell asleep listening to it in bed. When I finally gave it a proper focused listen, it had me so interested. This book with voice acting could make for a awesome podcast every week with industry insight.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic Peak into what it takes

I highly reccomend this book not just to people who enjoy video games but anyone who has put in time to large projects in any industry. this is a glimpse into what it takes to build video games and the challenges the studios or individuals face which was surprising similar to large projects I've been on for oil & gas.

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Great Read

if you're interested in video games, or even just enjoy stories about resilience and hard work I'd highly recommend!

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Adored it

I am 18 and just finished the first year of my Game Design course. My professors highly recommended this book for us to read over the summer and so going into the book I expected to be useful information about game design and so on but probably a bit of a slog to get through. But what I found were fascinating stories about games that I play and love. the stories were read with life and were interesting tales of triumph and hardship. This book gave me an even deeper appreciation for game design and made me look forward to my future in the industry after seeing the comradery developed within studios. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in games and game design.

It highlighted the hardships of games and had plenty of lessons for those looking. I loved the book and the narrator made the experience very fun.

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great book, great story telling, fantastic listen

This book would hold it's own just in general, but if you've ever wondered about video game development in the slightest, this book is almost educational on top of fascinating. I couldn't stop listening to these developers lives around these games as well as wondering about the politics the publishers go through. It also gives me hope that I can make my own game as well, knowing where some of these people have come from and even playing the games these people and teams literally made!

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Interesting look behind the curtain...

It was nice to get a look into the ups and downs of video game development but the story focuses too much on successes and doesn't do enough to really nail down the challenges that the industry faces. While the final chapter on Star Wars 1313 does highlight an unsuccessful project, there are so many more stories to tell. What about the failures that was NBA Elite 11 and later EA SPORTS misfires? The fall from grace of Silicon Knights and Denis Dyack? The high-profile cancelations at Blizzard and EA? Anthem could get its own chapter. Heck, discuss how microtransactions, games as a service, Free to Play has changed the development process?
The author is working on another book for 2020, so I am hoping it goes into the darker side of the industry. Not enough people who cover games are willing to highlight the less glamorous aspects, so here's hoping someone will.

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Loved it

Required listening for anyone interested in game development. Episodic format makes it great for listening in 40min bursts. Only downside is that you eventually run out of chapters. Please write and record another!

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super inspiring a feel good motivational book

after reading this I bought stardewvalley off steam .. I hope to absorb some of this solo developers motivation for my life... also super informative on other developers and there coming to fame stories...never a full moment in this book ... anyone who's a gamer will appreciate this

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Amazing

If you love to play video games, you'll enjoy this audiobook! Great inside view of how things got done and for me, finally explained why the huge day 1 patches when I bought games. My perspective on game devs has changed. Huge respect for them!

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  • SAMA
  • 2017-11-27

Behind the Scenes

The stories in this book are:

1. Pillars of Eternity: How crowdfunding changes the rules, and changes the priorities of the developer who promised backers certain gameplay features, against deadlines and a limited budget. This story provides a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of crowdfunding.
2. Uncharted 4: How too much success affects a studio, and how to successfully end a successful series. It is also the story of The Last of Us, which nobody expected to be successful early on. I enjoyed all the possibilities of how different this game could have been.
3. Stardew Valley: The great risks and heartwarming payoff of going solo. The ending made me want to play this game.
4. Diablo 3: The troubles of online-only games, and the angst and pressures of racing against time to meet player expectations. In the end, it is a success story that had a lot of challenges and frustrations along the way.
5. Halo Wars: How games are transformed in the middle of development, and the pressures of working against a deadline. The Age of Empires developers are behind Halo Wars. Who knew?
6. Dragon Age: Inquisition: How EA corporate politics and poor can slow down game development and creates a large degree of developer frustration. After reading this, I have a better understanding of why EA is a blight on video games.
7. Shovel Knight: The quest to create an iconic character inspired by classic NES games and characters. It provides an insider look into an indie game team and the challenges they face.
8. Destiny: The challenges of combining multiple genres and trying to create something that's never been done before, and how past successes tend to dictate what the next success would look like. It is also the story of how a developer matures.
9. The Witcher 3: The reason for the volume and quality of content is revealed, in one of the most fascinating and enjoyable chapters of this audiobook.
10. Star Wars 1313: How a game that can do no wrong ends up being buried due to corporate politics. Delayed because of Disney and canceled outright by EA, this is the game that makes you wonder, what if? Also, f*ck EA.

137 people found this helpful

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  • Celina L Dobson
  • 2017-11-11

Ray Chase is great!

I'm glad I purchased the audio version of this book because listening to Ray Chase was a delight. Having a voice actor of video games narrate a book on video games was a solid choice.

Overall, the book was a nice slice of various company's descent into and occasionally ascent from the madness of producing video games. The anecdotes are both humbling and harrowing and are sure to make game fans think twice when they criticize a game. As noted, with all the moving parts and preferences, it's miracle any game gets made.

Worth the read, or preferably, the listen, if you are a fan of or just curious about video games and their production.

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  • markofu
  • 2018-12-12

You want to work in gaming :)

Thoroughly enjoyable and page-turning read that paints an honest and at times horrifying picture of the world of video game development.

The author details real-life stories and experiences from multiple games and various game studios, with the same names occasionally popping up in multiple stories. The attributable quotes and stories definitely add substantial authenticity to the book.

The book not only highlights the passion and love that many in gaming have, but for me, the true highlight is the amazing dedication that those workers have - it’s both inspirational and crazy, on occasions to their own detriment.

I’d consider this a must-read for anyone working in the video games industry or anyone who considers them a gamer.

I finished this book with a plethora of games I now want to play, several of them new to me.

ggwp to the author, great writing and superb book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick McGill
  • 2018-12-14

great look at an industry stuck in a cycle

overall the book is a great look at the making of some great video games, as well as some great failures.

I couldn't help but notice, however, that even as the author spoke about the unhealthy practices of video game labor management it was almost romanticized to a degree, like video game developers needed to be these pioneer souls that are willing to sacrifice their health and even family to make a game-- rather than what is true, which is that it's an industry rife with labor exploitation.

I'm less speaking on the indie devs who chose to use their time for their passions and more the multiple triple a studios that rely on insane expectations as a matter of course. The scientific literature isn't sparse on the subject of labor, rest, efficiency, and productivity and those mentioned in the book that couldn't see how a game gets done without months of crunch are simply stuck in a cultural spiral. Ignoring rote science in favor of anecdotal "experience" is sadly the norm in a lot of big industries, and those with the checkbook are happy to support this culture of exploitation.

Regardless, it is a very good book with inspiring stories describing passionate people. I just hope industry insiders who read it begin to realize that major changes need to happen within the industry to stop incredibly unhealthy practices and incredibly damaging exploitation.

15 people found this helpful

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  • James Sadler
  • 2017-09-23

Great inside look into the gaming industry

What did you love best about Blood, Sweat, and Pixels?

As someone who has played video games since their childhood, and flirted with the prospect of maybe one day making video games, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a fantastic look inside a variety of studios as they worked through development of their titles. I loved that the author interviewed developers from different grades of studios; from the one-man indie developer all the way to AAA game studios. It offers a great answer to why video games cost so much money, and why they take so long to make. I would offer this up to anyone that wants to get into the industry, on any level.

What did you like best about this story?

My favorite segment/chapter was probably the one on Star Wars 1313 as it told the story of how that game came to be, and why it disappeared. It was heart wrenching, but also somewhat inevitable with how Lucas Arts was run once upon a time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to this book while doing my weekly running, and always found myself wanting to continue listening, which pushed me to run just a little bit more.

Any additional comments?

My only negative, and it is a good negative to have I guess, is that I wish there were more chapters. It was amazing to hear how the different studios approached their problems, and how some of them made the same mistakes as others did (i.e. Destiny and Diablo 3). I just wanted more in the end.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-09-07

A must read, truly.

If you love video games, this should be the first book you read about them.

4 people found this helpful

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  • R. MCRACKAN
  • 2019-01-17

Excellent look at the industry behind the fun

As great as Masters of Doom is, and it really is great, it doesn't capture the real life experience of the video game industry as a whole. Blood Sweat and Pixels does exactly this with 10 examples of well known games and their grueling paths through development hell. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how the digital sausage is made. And I think it should be mandatory reading for anyone considering going into this industry.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Robert R. Taylor
  • 2019-10-26

Not compelling or useful, unfortunately.

I'm a game developer and executive (and a gamer), so I was excited about this book, and had high hopes that it would be educational and/or anecdotally entertaining. Sadly, while it provided a little bit of insight into the game dev industry and a few development studios -assuming you know essentially nothing about that world- it lacks anything professionally useful or literarily compelling. While the reader does a great job, I honestly couldn't tell you why the author felt the need to write this. He doesn't say anything ridiculous or even -in my opinion- wrong, he's just reporting what happened in a pretty blend manner.
HOWEVER, I'll stay this... If you know very little about the game development industry and are considering pursuing it as a career, it does provide a candid and generally accurate glimpse into the industry and what it's like to work at some of the studios making today's high-end game titles. That said, if this describes you... you'll probably find yourself a bit discouraged by this book - It doesn't paint a particularly alluring picture.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Moreno Antunes
  • 2018-05-11

A compilation of modern "gossip" gaming "journalis

The book starts really, really good. But then you start noticing it tends to a side that breaks the quality of the content. It always focuses on the "evil" corporations, while never saying not a single word against Sony or even Activision but punching EA and MS as if these were the only greedy ones.

When it talks about Destiny, it chooses to forget to report very consumer unfriendly like PlayStation exclusive content cut from Xbox and pc versions.

The book misses the opportunity to show the other side, the games that would never exist without a big publisher behind like Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall, Horizon and even Ico.

Overall I feel the book is very biased and extends to much into small chit chat talk that does not bring much of the real deal of game development, a few chapters are really good, like Shovel Knight, Uncharted and Witcher, but overall the book has not enough content and is unfairly biased.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Oliver Fernandez Avellaneda
  • 2019-05-03

A collection of random stories

This book is a collection of random stories that happen to share in common the fact that they are stories about famous games. Other than that I don’t see any other common thread that structures the book.

While I liked to learn a bit more about those stories, I didn’t like the fact that the stories like more like a succession of events, lacking a bit of story telling to make each story more fluid.

I would recommend this book to big fans of any of the games whose story appears here, but other than that I don’t see much interest.

5 people found this helpful