‘Broken Age’ Doc is Your Best Bet to Understand How Games Are Made

Double Fine spent three years working on a crowdfunded adventure game, but unlike most developers, they let a camera crew film them doing it.

by Patrick Klepek
Nov 18 2016, 7:00pm

Without working on one yourself, there's no way to truly understand what it's like to make a video game, but Double Fine's uncomfortably honest documentary about making Broken Age is damn close. Previously available only to backers of the crowdfunded adventure game, the 20-part series is available to watch on YouTube and it's been given a proper Blu-ray release.

Over the course of three years, Broken Age went through some very public highs and lows, including budget crises and unexpected delays, the kinds of moments developers try to hide from the public. We don't usually get a chance to see what goes into the decision to delay a game, to see people sweating over a feature taking six months longer than they anticipated, and this documentary provides the most honest, sobering look at what that process is like.

For example, episode 17 outlines the company trying desperately to get the game done by the end of the year. They'd previously split the game in half, a means of raising additional funding by selling what was already done, and hoped to finish the game before 2014 closed out. There were good reason to be out by then, including having the game up for end-of-year awards. But the episode makes clear was how difficult that was going to be. The game was later delayed.

Again, to be clear, you don't have to buy the Blu-ray to get the whole experience; it's free on YouTube. That a Blu-ray version is now available is simply an excuse for me to point you in the direction of a series that provides one of the clearest insights into the struggles of game development.