Video games, whilst often looked down on, are one of the biggest industries out there, often outstripping movies by millions (a Huffington Post article from 2016 had gaming rake in 92 billions, against Movies’ 62 billion and Recorded Music’s 18 billion). Despite this, there are not very many books about how these games are made. I’m a big gamer and I went hunting for some non-fiction on the topic and found this book.
Split into ten chapter, each sections tells the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of a game. The games range from massive AAA games such as Uncharterd 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny, The Witcher 3, Star Wars 1313, to RPG’s such as Pillars of Eternity and Diablo III, and indie hits such as Shovel Knight and Stardew Valley.
It was the chapter on Stardew Valley that led me to buying the book. Unlike a lot of the other games and teams in this book, Eric Barone made Stardew Valley entirely on his own – the game, the programming, the art, even the music – over a period of four years. Six months after launching the game, Barone had made 12 million dollars from it. (We are all in the wrong business! But seriously, if you like games, and haven’t played Stardew, give it a go. I’ve spent more time playing it than any other game – 130 hours at present. Which is pretty damn good for a $15 price tag).
Anyway, this book is a captivating tale of games stories’ being chucked out the window, about release dates getting pushed back, about arguments, and game publishers breathing down the developer’s necks. If you have any interest, in any of the above games, I would suggest reading it, but honestly, if you’ve any interest in gaming, this is a fascinating, essential read that shows you exactly how the sausages are made, and why so many major games get released with so many, sometimes game-breaking, glitches (usually because they have just run out of time, and unlike every other artistic medium, publishers would rather release it as is, and patch it later, despite the huge negativity this can cause).
A fascinating insight, and highly recommended.