The Truth About Game Development

Here’s my 6th done-in-a-week game. This time I was inspired by Darius Kazemi’s game design challenge and by the quality of life issues of game industry.

The Truth About Game Development

Screenshot of The Truth About Game Development Screenshot of The Truth About Game Development Screenshot of The Truth About Game Development

Download (8.1 Mb) (Release 1)


You play the part of a game producer and your job is to produce the best game you can as cheaply as possible.

Mostly you just try to motivate the lazy ass game developers by killing them.

Esc – Will quit the game.
Alt + enter – Will toggle fullscreen.


Game Design, Code & Gfx: Petri Purho ( petri.purho (at) )

Music: Nigel Simmons – Devil’s Candy Shop. Big thanks to Nigel for letting me use his song. The song is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 -license.

The graphics of the game are under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 -license. Some of the graphics are based on some Creative Commons Photographs by the following flick users: cippadistalippa, MicMacPics1, docman. For the full list of photographs used in the game read the READ-CC.txt in the game’s working directory.


The game was inspired by Darius Kazemi’s blog post: Design Experiment. Great many thanks to Darius.

Great many thanks to the band of Dweebish.

Inspiration source: Experimental Gameplay Project.

The Truth About Game Development uses: SDL, SDL_Image, SDL_Mixer and SDL_RotoZoom

73 Responses to “The Truth About Game Development”

  1. » The Truth About Game Development Says:

    […] In what is becoming a happy diversion from shmups, it’s time again for the next for Kloonigames monthly game experiments. This month brings us the rather provocatively entitled The Truth About Game Development. Inspired by the even more provocative quote, “The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.” by Robert Anton Wilson. […]

  2. Decipher Says:

    This is an ultimately funny and enjoyable game Petri. This is my favourite in all of your games. But just I felt like I have to mention :
    – Alpha Mapping Bug? Some visible sprite overlaying occurs while tryna pop the workers’ head-a-bangs!
    – Sometimes in the very beginning of the game slaves start to protest. No chance to even make a simple move :(.
    – Finally, what goes in-between you and Peter Molyneux? 😉 Don’t you like his ideas? 🙂

  3. Exilberliner Says:

    Great Game!
    I like that, due to the Budget-tweeking-options and the occasional pop-ups, it does not feel like a small game anymore.
    And great music and great graphics as allways.

  4. The Truth About Game Development Says:

    […] Kloonigames, a site that publishes monthly experimental games developed in a 7 day time frame, has a new game called The Truth About Game Development.  It’s a fun, tongue in cheek view of the game creation process employed by large developers. […]

  5. petri.purho Says:

    @Decipher: Thanks for compliments and the feedback.

    About the alpha mapping bug, I’m sure that my sprite animations lag behind a little. The reason is that it was not designed to handle so many animated sprites on screen at the same time. I was actually positively surprised that it scaled so well for the game. I feared that I would have to spend some of my development time rewriten the sprite handling code. Luckily it worked pretty well 🙂

    About the The slaves protesting at the begin of the game. Do they all start protesting at the begining of the game or are there just few who start to protest? If there are just few, than it’s because they haven’t been introduced to the motivational tool called Death (they think they can protest and keep their lifes).

    I really like Peter Molyneux’s games (at least the older ones, I haven’t really played the his games since Black & White). I meant to do similiar game events about all the “famous” game designers, but I had to cut them because I didn’t have the time to write them all. Like Tim Schaefer: “One of your slaves has an amazing talent to create unique worlds and cool stories. Only problem is that they are so weird they’re hard to market…”

    Maybe some day I’ll release a patch that adds to the game Whole bunch of events.

    @Exilberliner: Thanks for taking the time to play the game and write a comment about it. I was also surprised how “big” the game turned out to be. 7 days is a very limited time (especially since I can only work at the evenings on the game).

    I have to say that Nigel’s music really creates the atmosphere for the game. It’s a pretty amazing piece of music.

  6. Aubrey Says:

    This is a great idea. Gonna try it out in a minute. Just wondering if you’ve worked in a games “sweatshop” yourself… or if you currently are working in one?

    From my perspective, the idea that there’s a simple balance between gameplay, graphics, and marketing for the success (however you want to define that) of a game might be… simplistic*, but every time someone tries to do something which branches out like this, it’s a good thing. It gets people considering what else games can do. Bravo!

    *God, the stories I could tell you (if I wanted to get sued).

  7. BigBossSNK Says:

    “Good graphics and the gameplay is original” Kamasutra
    This is definitely your most complex game to date. You have merged the physical factor (slaves on the stairs), undercover cerebral mechanics (salary and time management) and random elements (soda, “Guitar Hero” controller) very neatly.
    Now where’s my online high score system, you lazy bastards?

  8. Aubrey Says:

    Now that I’ve played it, I take back the “simple” statement. It’s not simple – it’s succinct.

    There’s some bugs though – changing the budget sometimes resets your milestones (though that could be intentional – changing your plans too much midflow in a production will scupper people’s efforts)

    My best score was 193958. ROI: 64326% (int max?) units sold 2643173, income $26431732

    Monumental success, I guess! And what I like is, the way I got there was more with the carrot than the stick (well paid workers), and without a cynical amount of marketing. I think I only killed 4 people, too, and one of them was due to the auto-killing popup. So the message from the game is actually a pretty positive one: treat your workers right, and they’ll deliver the goods.

    Bravo again!

  9. Decipher Says:

    Aubrey : Nah. Int max is 2147483647 well it looks more like short int max but that’s 65535, 64326 is a classless number, while 26431732 and that other big number

  10. Decipher Says:

    pfff… i hate the ctrl+enter key in opera… whatever those two numbers are classless too. i think it’s an interesting bug. I would say that it’s the address of integer but no low address as 64326 is present to users… Really Petri what’s going on behind the scenes? 🙂

  11. petri.purho Says:

    @Aubrey: I was a little afraid that someone would pop the question and ask me if I work in the gaming industry or not. At the moment I’m a part time programmer at a Finnish game development studio. But it isn’t a sweatshoppy dev house. Quite the opposite.

    Changing budget shouldn’t effect the milestones, but the random events can have an effect on them.

    The ROI is Return Of Investment and it’s calculated by dividing the total income by expences. So ROI of 64326% possible.

    But I think there has to be a bug in the game, since you managed to make such a good score with being nice to your employees 🙂

    @BigBossSNK: I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the game.

    Lol @ “Now where’s my online high score system, you lazy bastards?”

    The offline version is almost done 🙂

    @Decipher: I’m at my parent’s place, so I don’t really have an access to the source code, so I can’t really tell the facts about the specific implementation. But I think the end screen’s statics are calculated in doubles and then converted into (32 bit) ints for the output.

  12. Ian Says:

    If you simply laid off the workers instead of killing them, this could pass as a documentary 🙂

    Great work.

  13. petri.purho Says:

    @Ian: Thanks for the feedback.

    The killing is a kinda obvious symbol for for firing. Or at least that’s what I thought while I was working on the game. But I don’t think the simulation is accurate enough to be a documentary 🙂 But then again it seems that the modern documentaries don’t have to be that accurate.

  14. George Spath Says:

    Really nice game! Best so far. I’m waiting the next release with huge intrest, keep on coding… Or else i have to shoot you! Muah, muah (-;

  15. petri.purho Says:

    Thanks George for the feedback. I’m happy to know that you consider this to be my best game this far.

    And please don’t kill me. I’ll try to work harder on the next game 🙂

  16. ... Says:

    Neat little game.

    Fix the Total income thing going up much faster. Now it took like ages to get there.. 😀

    Score: 524872

  17. petri.purho Says:


    I should fix that. The Total income running so slowly was one of things I realized during the development, but then forgot to fix.

  18. » Blog Archive » The Truth About Game Development Says:

    […] read more | digg story […]

  19. GameProducer.Net » Carnival of Game Production - Second Edition Says:

    […] in the end we have a ’special treat’ by Petri Purho: The Truth About Game Development. This is not an article, but a 6th done-in-a-week-game and I believe it fits fell in the Carnival. […]

  20. muhmac Says:

    Extremely funny.

    I wonder how this motivation thing works internally. I got the best results by killing the last developer in the row once in a while and continuosly increasing the salary. This way I consistently get about 250000% ROI. See

    Good work indeed 🙂

  21. petri.purho Says:

    @mucmac: Thanks for the compliments.

    The internal logic is bit difficult to describe. It’s a bit hacky 🙂 There are actually two factors that contribute the working speed: motivation and the fear of death. Usually what happens is that when you kill a lot of people the fear of death goes high, but the motivation starts to slip on a constant rate. Giving a raise will help with the motivation and killing workers at a constant but spare rate will help keep the fear of death high and but it will not make the slaves too used to death (thus maintaining it’s efficiency). Hope that clears a bit how it works 🙂

  22. muhmac Says:

    hehe, yes that helped: 😉

  23. Borg Says:

    ROI 1 949 427%
    Total Income 409 399 210 $
    Cost of development 21001 $
    Score 5 848 437

    and another game:

    ROI 1 898 374%
    Total Income 469 297 140 $
    Cost of development 24721 $
    Score 5 695 286

  24. petri.purho Says:

    That’s some pretty wicked scores. Muhmac had me already beaten in my own game, but I bet that Borg just posted the score to mock me. Good work guys. How long it toke to get that good score? I mean how many hours have you spend on the game to get so good at it?

  25. localGhost Says:

    Fifth try. Killing three at the beginning and four or five during all other game, got salary up to 15 slowly, started final countdown when expenses got over 15k.
    Gameplay 46% budget, 28% for graphics and marketing.
    (Total income still running up :P)

    Score of 7570392 with ROI of 2523452% (what’s ROI i still don’t know 😀 :D)

  26. localGhost Says:

    Can’t get any close to my own result.
    And yes, 46+2*28 is 102, so it either was 44 or 27 😉

  27. Borg Says:

    The same – 5th try or so.
    Kill 2 of slaves at the beginnig, then every 2 seconds add +1 to salary. And kill slaves every 20 seconds to get max speed. Both times game were finished because of revolution.
    Budget was not changed.

    localGhost, i get more income in my second result.

    ROI is Rate of Income = income / cost of development

  28. petri.purho Says:

    Hmmm, I have to try the kill slowly and increase salary slowly technique. Maybe I’ll get scores of the same caliber that you guys did. The best score I’ve heard was one that caused the score meter (it’s an 32 bit integer) to loop over:

  29. localGhost Says:

    Thanks for explanation of ROI.
    As i said, i didn’t wait for income to stop growing (still you got more when multiplying cost by ROI, yep. Thumb up :))

    Oh, and i got a question: how it can happen that i’ve got a negative score, total income and ROI? Is it just more than variables can hold? In current game i got:
    ROI: -5454930%
    Score: -16364622
    Cost of development: 25383
    (Waiting for units sold and income… 100 million copies… 200 million… will it crash?)
    Units sold: 291034221
    Total income: -1384625089 (took close to 2 hours)

    I believe i also got negative score on one of my first games and just thought i made something wrong. Now i was definitely good.

    Ah, and it was first game when i got warning that in two weeks game will be shipped. To this moment i thought the only way is to make them all unhappy 😉

  30. localGhost Says:

    Aha, while i was waiting, Petri answered: integer loops over. Hee hee.

  31. localGhost Says:

    I’m still playing it, Petri 🙂 Good job!

    Just now – i didn’t believe my eyes at first and recounted twice – i got a score of 26 millions, 26 439 870 to be precise.
    They started to revolt around 10k$ spent and i quickly got tired of it 🙂
    So the cost is 11371$, and the ROI is 8813234%. Only 100 million copies sold though.

    I’ve got two questions and a little request.
    Is it true that every worker got to top just increases some inner value of the game (falling into 3 categories)?
    How are events applied? Do they add to one of three categories? That same moment or in some time? Do they add some fixed value or some percent?

    And the request will be very simple: can you please add a button to turn music on/off? It’s amazing, but i somehow got tired of it 😀

  32. localGhost Says:

    Almost 13 mln ROI 😛

  33. petri.purho Says:

    Sorry for the delayed response, but things have been amazingly hectic around here. If I have enough free time I’ll write a blog post about it 🙂

    I have to say that I’m amazed at the scores you’ve managed to conjure up. And also amazed that you enjoyed the game enough the play it again and again. There is a small and quick fix the music if you want to disable it. Rename the data/sfx/nigel_simmons_-_devils_candy_shop.ogg and the game should work OK, but music should be gone.

  34. GDC: Experimental Gameplay at Free Candy For Everyone Says:

    […] going to be breakout hits, they all are clever in different ways. Go check them out! His last one, The Truth About Game Development was exceptionally […]

  35. Adrian Crook Says:

    Funny game. From the perspective of a game producer, I’d be very pleased with a 51,000% ROI. If only real life were as easy!

  36. Grand Text Auto » GDC 2007 Recap Says:

    […] guy named Petri Purho of Kloonigames presented a series of hilarious games, culminating with The Truth About Game Development. Two commercial games in development, Crush and Portal, looked incredible. Less incredible was Rod […]

  37. Ludomancy » GDC 2007: My Impressions Says:

    […] I got to meet new, interesting people like Petri Purho, from Kloonigames (you have to check out this game he made, which made the whole room […]

  38. petri.purho Says:

    Wow thanks Adrian 🙂 I was a little worried that real life game producers might get a bit offended about the game, but I’m glad that there are producers with a sense of humor.

  39. Kieron Gillen’s Workblog » The Truth about Games Development Says:

    […] Revealed. […]

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  41. I Says:

    pretty cool Stuff. But only interesting for some minutes…

    got a ROI of 105582%
    Income 296581879$..


  42. ismellawumpus Says:

    I love the game! I also like the randomness that was built in. I found myself playing 10 times before I really started thinking about the mechanics of the game. It wasn’t long before my wife was scowling over my shoulder and saying “There’s a lazy one!” She’ll be a good Program Manager some day 🙂 Oddly, it brought back memories of lemonade stand. Great Game.

  43. GameSetLinks: From Green To Mutant League | Video Games Says:

    […] Another Experimental Gameplay Workshop game I’m just waking up to (thanks Gillen/Kumar!) is ‘The Truth About Game Development’, in which: “You play the part of a game producer and your job is to produce the best game you […]

  44. Eka Says:

    is the source code avilabe? it will be interesting

  45. Kloonigames » Blog Archive » TAGD Got Gladstoned Says:

    […] The Truth About Game Development got mentioned Darren Gladstone’s column in the new Games For Windows -magazine (click the image to read the article). Or maybe mentioned is a too lame of a word, it’s more like the column was mainly about TAGD. It’s almost like a review, expect it’s not. Anyway I found it to be a pretty funny description of the game. And I really liked the part in the end were he wrote that: Now, I’d hardly say that The Truth About Game Development is a realistic depiction of how a game publisher works -killing peons and all- but it does get me thinking. A lot goes into game design that gamers and game magazine editors don’t see. It can’t be all black and white. […]

  46. Jhon Says:

    How the hell do you do to always choose the music that suits perfectly well with the game ?

  47. petri.purho Says:

    I’m lucky? I just play the game and listen to potential songs and pick the one that works for me.

  48. Tracy Says:

    Oh wow, awful and funny all at once! And a terrific combination of gameplay, subject matter, artwork and music.

  49. some guy Says:

    Tired of waiting for the Total income to stop?

    Units sold x 10 = Total Income (approximately)

    However, I think it’s more accurate to use:
    Cost of Dev’t x ROI% (don’t forget the percentage) = Total Income

  50. weyr Says:

    Luck was a major player in this one.

    Not as good as the other results with negatives…

    But 323,727,987 units sold is the highest I’ve seen and 20,788$ is the lowest cost that produced negative scores 😀

  51. Grash Says:

    Has anyone gotten the game is finished event?
    I seem to only get a slave rebellion to end development.

  52. Karl Northfell Says:

    AHH! I was doing great! I had all the milestones…then at the last minute I reduced wages by $3 to save money…all my milestones went away and my workers were useless…

  53. samuel m Says:

    Fun and great like all your other games, and the most impressive part about them is the atmosphere you set in each one giving them all artistic flare.

  54. Hempuli Says:

    Terve Petri! :O mielettömän upeita pelejä 🙂

  55. Ken Noland » Game Development Game Says:

    […] have to download it and try out your managerial […]

  56. Mes jeux - Says:

    […] The Truth About Game Developement  Un jeu au principe bizarre et extrèmement jouissif: vous êtes chargé de mener à bien le développement d’un jeu. Vous avez à votre charge des programmeurs ("esclaves") et vous devez les motiver à travailler parce qu’ils sont fénéants. Vous avez deux moyens: soit mieux les payer, soit TUER les programmeurs fainéants gnark !!! Le but du jeu est de terminer le jeu de telle sorte qu’il soit le mieux fait, le moins cher, et réalisé le plus vite possible. […]

  57. dcfcjoeydcfc Says:

    when i try to unzip it it say theres an error,

    can you fix this?

  58. bob Says:

    go here: and click the link near the top. the site isn’t in english, but the game still is.

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  60. Andrey Says:

    Its fun and the music is great but its too easy, you don’t have to cut wages or anything, just set it to 25 and kill 3 workers at start and just wait until the game ends (being as kind as possible when popups appear).
    I got like 800 million income spending only 50k on it.

    Oh and that small bug if you kill someone who just entered the screen a black rectangle will appear.

  61. mathe Says:

    At Vista at a random moment the program hang (no response). I don’t know, why?!
    But this is a funny idea.

  62. Kundendienst Says:

    Great game! I love it!
    (Especially the music 🙂 )

    Here my stats:

    ROI: 1037845%
    Units sold: 18815099
    Total income: 188150987
    Costs of development: 18129


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  64. ickey Says:

    have you done any games for windows mobile

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