Stop Freaking Out About Leaked Gameplay Footage And Watch The Double Fine Documentary Instead

Nobody knows how game development works apart from developers, and even then, some of them describe the process as arcane and mysterious. As the saying goes, every shipped game is a miracle. Plenty of journalists have never worked in a studio either, but will go out of their way to understand how the things they report on are made, because that’s due diligence. Most gamers, though, have little interaction with the industry apart from buying and playing the final products – why would they, after all? Hobbyists can enjoy the games for what they are without needing to know how the sausage is made. It’s the same as, well, me eating a sausage without knowing how it’s made.


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I don’t know how most things are made, to be fair.

However, unless I know a little about the sausage-making process, I’m not going to pick up two handfuls of ground meat and start tweeting about how this sausage looks nothing like the sausages I’m used to so that means it never will. Yet, for some reason, that is what gamers are doing right now with the leaked gameplay footage of Insomniac’s upcoming Wolverine game. They’ve seen pre-alpha footage – footage that obviously was never meant to be seen by the general public – and are now tweeting about how it looks awful, it’s a Spider-Man rip-off, it looks like a B-movie… it’s a misguided way to look at the leaks.

I don’t need to write a piece about how the information leaked by the hackers doesn’t matter, apart from the harm done to developers by releasing their personal information – I’ve already done that. And I don’t need to write about how and why the footage isn’t representative of the game, my colleague Andrew King has already done that, too. What I’ll do instead is offer gamers a resource that I found very valuable in my first months as a critic, one that gives them a peek into what game development actually looks like: the Double Fine PsychOdyssey documentary, all 22 hours of which are available on YouTube for free.

Features lead Jade King wrote a great piece when the documentary was first released, describing how it was brutally honest about the struggles that are baked into the process of game development, the ethics behind giving up a studio’s independence in return for financial backing, and the prevalence and fight against crunch culture. It’s a fine example of all these things, but first and foremost, it’s a long, in-depth, honest chronicle of what making a game looks like. In it, you’ll find footage from every stage of the game’s development, everything from grey blocks on a screen to the finished, far more polished final product. You’ll see people at their desks, staring at computer screens that show something that doesn’t look like a game at all. That’s what game development can look like, and that’s what most people don’t realise.

People are going to have opinions about the things they pay for, I get it. But those opinions are often uneducated, and that’s understandable as well! The gaming industry is intentionally opaque and secretive, hiding information like budgets and works-in-progress from consumers. Most studios aren’t throwing unfinished footage online for consumers to judge, because this is exactly what happens, but this, in turn, feeds into the lack of transparency around game development. You don’t have to be uneducated about the process though, and the PsychOdyssey documentary is a fantastic way to take the first step towards understanding what game development really looks like. At least know a little bit about what it is you’re criticising before you start flinging sausage filling around.

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Don’t Judge Games By Footage Their Creators Didn’t Want You To See

Negative reactions to footage leaked in the Insomniac ransomware attack shows that many players don’t understand how games are made.

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