Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier
Date Finished: October 19th, 2017
Reading Time: A week
Note: At time of posting this here, this is my most popular review on Goodreads. I wrote this relatively soon after the book was released, and the positive response to what I had to say has been a major motivating factor in taking more time to write reviews.
I picked this book up for one reason: to learn why Diablo 3 was such a letdown. I vaguely remembered a well-known developer posting “F*** that loser” on Facebook in reference to a past contributor criticizing the new game and that being a big deal. I really hoped to get the full story behind what went on there. Speculation on Blizzard’s next Diablo venture would have been cool, too. Really, I would have read a book entirely about the Diablo franchise.
By the time I got to the Diablo 3 section, I was enamored by Jason Schreier’s writing. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I knew little about any of the games developed aside from their names. That is, aside from recollection of my reaction to the Halo Wars announcement: “Something fishy is going on here.” I’m so far behind the times that when Schreier kindly mentioned that Diablo 2’s mechanics had been antiquated by more modern games, I honestly had no idea what games he was referring to. I need to get out more. This is a saying which, when extended to the realm of gaming, means the exact opposite.
I ended each chapter totally stoked for each game (and will probably buy Stardew Valley this weekend). What makes Jason such an effective writer for this subject matter is that he doesn’t come off as a geek. I don’t know how else to say it. He can communicate the joy of gaming to people that haven’t experienced it- ever. In my case, he brought back memories that were long forgotten.
As an aspiring project manager and journeyman engineer, I found each tale of taking product to market fascinating. It’s a few steps away from a business case study. Does the prevalence of “crunch time” become excessive? Yes, but it sounds like a lot of fun to me. The way that the teams are formed and how they deal with requirements passed down from the top of the organization could have been explained in greater detail, in fact. Great video games are culturally significant treasures, much like artwork or a fine wine. Just kidding about the wine. Capturing what has gone into some of the masterpieces of our time that transcends the underlying subject is important and exciting. I really enjoyed the book.