ALL ACCESS THREAD - How Video Games Are Made

  • Unlike other forms of entertainment, the video game industry is a relatively secretive industry that keeps its cards very close to it’s chest. It can be like pulling teeth trying to understand the difference in size and scale between publishers and studios, how their pipelines operate, and how this all affects what we end up playing. Publishers are often elusive when pressed about internal affairs and franchises: why did Final Fantasy XV take a decade, how come Nintendo had no plan for Wii U online infrastructure until 6 months away from launch, why are all these Star Wars games getting cancelled?

    Although gamers are becoming more literate towards the systems in place that facilitate the creation of our favourite games, most of us still have to operate on assumptions which can often cause confusion, distrust or resentment towards the developers and publishers at large.

    On the other hand, developers sometimes pull back the curtain to give us gamers necessary insight into how their games were made - What went right, what went wrong, and everything in between.

    The purpose of this thread is to just gather various resources where we can learn more about video game development. Interviews, articles, books, clips, documentaries, websites, development talks - whatever you can think of or come across on a daily basis. Discussion is encouraged.

    When posting, please just put a brief description about the article as I have below.

  • Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
    by Jason Schreier (Author)

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    If we are talking ALL ACCESS, I believe the author of this book has generated more candid interview access than any reporter I personally know of. This book is extremely relatable if you have worked in the creative industries yourself as parts of the developer interviews feel like mirrors of my own workplace experiences in television.

    You’ll get a wide range of candid storytelling; my favourite chapter includes a deep dive into the history of Bungie - starting in the Microsoft days then descending into internal turmoil during their first crack at independence with Destiny. Likewise, the chapter about CD Projekt and The Witcher III is a wonderful ascent into video game stardom.

    The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development
    by Jason Schreier

    Another insightful all access look at the development of Mass Effect with a strong emphasis on the DICE’s Frostbite Engine and how it isn’t necessarily suitable for RPG games yet as evidenced by the history of Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect Andromeda.

  • Duncan Harris - Dead End Thrills: The Art of Gaming

    “Dead End Thrills is a veteran screen and video capture artist for videogames, with over a decade of game industry experience.”

    I find his photography work is incredible, but in the features section of his website, you’ll see some amazing developer interviews. Some standouts to me include his article about the art of Mirror’s Edge, the history of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, and building the world in Wolfenstein: The New Order. I very highly recommend this website.




  • Resident Evil 2 developers secretly recorded discussing development details

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    Originally shared by @DMCMaster. This is a great insight for Resident Evil fans. A lot of the developer thought process was explained in this article and video where they talk about things such as fixed cameras being planned for not only RE2 but also RE4!

    Youtube Video

  • Cool idea, this is one is partly a review, so maybe not completely on topic but has a some pretty interesting info about the development process for the first Metro games, which I found very interesting.

    Youtube Video

  • Banned

    Youtube Video

    I really enjoy NakeyJakey's content for it's ability to critique game design while still being really funny.

  • I can confirm that the NakeyJakey video about Rockstar design is really well thought out and articulated. He doesn't peel back the curtain too much though but its still perfect criticism that could actually help developers make a better game in the future.

  • NakeyJakey's easily my favorite videogame-related youtuber.

  • Originally shared by @bam541

    DF Retro: Killzone 2 Ten Years On - An Iconic PS3 Tech Showcase

    Youtube Video

    This isn't access provided by the developers but Digital Foundry really goes into detail about how Killzone achieved its incredible look and atmosphere way back in 2009. This analysis explains a lot of the techniques the team at Guerrilla used to make everything work using limited PS3 hardware. A lot of this stuff was really new for the time.

  • Banned

    I often wish there was a Killzone 2/3 remaster collection on PS4. I had a lot of fun with those games.

  • Inside The Creation Of Sekiro's Soundtrack With Yuka Kitamura

    Youtube Video

    In this exclusive Game Informer video, From Software composer Yuka Kitamura takes us inside the process of creating the new soundtrack for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and how it compares to her work on Dark Souls and Bloodborne.

    This is one for the music fans. She goes into software, instruments, hardware, collaboration.

    I personally think Yuka Kitamura should be a gamer household name. Her work is incredible. I never want to press the start button in Dark Souls III or Bloodborne. Her music is so compelling.

  • Haven't watched this yet (or played the game for that matter), but this looks like an interest series about FFIX.

    Youtube Video

  • 0_1554249414589_Anthem.png

    How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

    A long tell all by Kotaku based on interviews from developers at Bioware:

    This account of Anthem’s development, based on interviews with 19 people who either worked on the game or adjacent to it (all of whom were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about Anthem’s development), is a story of indecision and mismanagement. It’s a story of technical failings, as EA’s Frostbite engine continued to make life miserable for many of BioWare’s developers, and understaffed departments struggled to serve their team’s needs. It’s a story of two studios, one in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and another in Austin, Texas, that grew resentful toward one another thanks to a tense, lopsided relationship. It’s a story of a video game that was in development for nearly seven years but didn’t enter production until the final 18 months, thanks to big narrative reboots, major design overhauls, and a leadership team said to be unable to provide a consistent vision and unwilling to listen to feedback.

    This kinda stuff is as juicy as it gets. ALL ACCESS into a development nightmare. There is another one about Mass Effect Andromeda that basically describes all of the same sort of issues. I don't know if Bioware should have expanded outside of Edmonton and EA should stop mandating Frostbite engine on RPG games.

  • Banned

    @dipset Yeah from everything I've read the Frostbite engine is just incredibly restrictive so they have to basically use duct tape and clothes pins to make any sort of complex game mechanics function.

    Sony needs to just buy EA already. They could be amazing if they just had good project management.

  • @el-shmiablo

    “Frostbite is full of razor blades,” one former BioWare employee told me a few weeks ago, aptly summing up the feelings of perhaps hundreds of game developers who have worked at Electronic Arts over the past few years.

    Frostbite is a video game engine, or a suite of technology that is used to make a game. Created by the EA-owned Swedish studio DICE in order to make Battlefield shooters, the Frostbite engine became ubiquitous across Electronic Arts this past decade thanks to an initiative led by former executive Patrick Söderlund to get all of its studios on the same technology. (By using Frostbite rather than a third-party engine like Unreal, those studios could share knowledge and save a whole lot of money in licensing fees.) BioWare first shifted to Frostbite for Dragon Age: Inquisition in 2011, which caused massive problems for that team. Many of the features those developers had taken for granted in previous engines, like a save-load system and a third-person camera, simply did not exist in Frostbite, which meant that the Inquisition team had to build them all from scratch. Mass Effect: Andromeda ran into similar issues. Surely the third time would be the charm?

    As it turned out, Anthem was not the charm. Using Frostbite to build an online-only action game, which BioWare had never done before, led to a host of new problems for BioWare’s designers, artists, and programmers. “Frostbite is like an in-house engine with all the problems that entails—it’s poorly documented, hacked together, and so on—with all the problems of an externally sourced engine,” said one former BioWare employee. “Nobody you actually work with designed it, so you don’t know why this thing works the way it does, why this is named the way it is.”

    Throughout those early years in development, the Anthem team realized that many of the ideas they’d originally conceived would be difficult if not impossible to create on Frostbite.

    Yeah... it sounds like a complete disaster. I can see why using the engine was brought about but at least when you license Unreal Engine 4, you can call Epic and ask them for support. There clearly wasn't the unity across studios as they imagined when people just hacked the engine to fit the specific needs of their games. Years later, you have what is basically the Madden code of video game engines - new jank built upon the legacy old jank which nobody understands how to remove or why it exists.

  • Banned

    @dipset And yet when DICE uses it, you get games that look Iike the second coming.
    Like fuck me BFV with RTX on doesn't even look like it should exist for another 5 years.

  • @el-shmiablo

    No kidding. Battlefield looks phenomenal, but I think DICE just has it all figured out, they know how the code works, and its equipped for their games. By contrast, what I've read about Inquisition and what I've read about Andromeda and now Anthem, it seems like they just needed to go forward with development and couldn't wait on the Frostbite team to help them through every issue. It could take days or weeks to get help on simple things.

    In this case, they say that EA prioritizes Frostbite support teams for what franchises make the most money. Mass Effect and Anthem weren't as valuable as FIFA and Battlefront for EA. Therefore, Bioware can sit on their hands waiting for help or they can make band-aid solutions so they can keep working.

    The silver lining in all of this is that Bioware might have learned something here. Edmonton should have listened to the warnings from Austin about storytelling in an online game. Edmonton has their leader back to helm Dragon Age 4. Also very important - Dragon Age 4 will build upon the code that Anthem uses instead of starting from the ground up like Anthem did (ignoring Andromeda and Inquisition). It means that Bioware is probably getting better at using what works, and eliminating some of that confusion in the ideation phase as well as implementing their ideas much easier.

    I have hope for Dragon Age 4. I have beyond no interest in Anthem and maybe one day I'll try Andromeda (likely not), but at the very least, I think Bioware has learned a lot this decade and I think they can reel it back in with Dragon Age 4. I wish them well.

  • It is very concerning that yet another EA game has been harmed because of Frostbite's development complications. I hope that BioWare will figure out the kinks and make Frostbite production more efficient for Dragon Age 4 (The Dread Wolf Rises), instead of restarting engine adaptation like they've done recently. If The Dread Wolf Rises uses Anthem code, then that probably means BioWare has scrapped their previous code used for Inquisition and Andromeda. That's kinda odd to me, it seems easier to re-use some of Inquisition's code, as it was their previous Dragon Age game. But it may be a creative decision that fits the game's mechanics, who knows

  • If anything I hope this lights a fire under EA and they start allowing thier devs to use whatever engine is most appropriate for thier game. Or maybe EA will remember they own a second engine (Renderware) and make a new revision of it for next gen, as the only current gen game using it is Burnout Remastered

  • Footage of early versions of Spider-Man taken from GDC panels. The very last thing shown creeps the heck out of me.
    Youtube Video