Super Meat Boy Creators Went Through Hell To Get Their Game Done, Felt 'Taken Advantage Of' By Microsoft

You thought playing Super Meat Boy was hard? Because making the notoriously difficult indie platformer sounds like pure hell, according to a Super Meat Boy post mortem that lays out what went right (fun design environment, Steam) and what went wrong (financial drain, Xbox Live Arcade).

Team Meat's Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes recount the ups and downs of making Super Meat Boy in the new issue of Game Developer Magazine.

In it, they tell terrible tales of bank accounts being drained—"There was one point where I had emergency gallbladder surgery that put me in the hole $US50k due to the fact that I couldn't afford health insurance," McMillen writes—to an endless, vicious cycle of bugs, testing and development crunch hell—"We were basically developing features during bug checking, which meant every single time I turned on the computer and checked the bug database, the work I did the night before was pretty much rendered irrelevant. I would work and fix 100 bugs in a night and get it down to 50, then wake up the next morning and have 200 bugs to fix."

Part of that crunch, Team Meat writes, was due to trying to squeeze the last four months of development into two in order to make Microsoft's "Game Feast" promotion for Xbox Live Arcade.

After scrambling to get the game out for the fall push, "We were told our price was too high, our visuals too rough and simply not as eye catching and flashy as the other Game Feast games Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia," McMillen writes. "Our hearts sank when we were informed that we were projected to sell as much if not less than Hydrophobia, which would be the second-highest grossing game of the Feast in their minds." The game launched alongside Costume Quest and without strong support from Microsoft.

Fortunately for Super Meat Boy, that wasn't the case, as the game was a word of mouth hit.

Team Meat says they never felt that Microsoft gave Super Meat Boy the attention it was promised and "in the end, we felt very confused and taken advantage of." McMillen concludes"the biggest mistake we made during SMB's development was killing ourselves to get into a promotion we would gain basically nothing from."


    Sounds hellish, but it's great it worked out for them.

    err yeah... microsoft. xbox live. microsoft.

    what were you expecting? rewarding hugs?

    this just basically sounds like you going out of your way to please MS rather than looking after yourself and your staff.

    It was worth all the strife! This is the only platformer that has really evolved enough to exist in the modern game landscape this side of Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2. Great work Team Meat, cant wait to see your next game. And hey, if any of Team Meat are reading this, please help the Sonic Fan Remix game gets noticed - it neeeeeds to be published (when its finished).

    So here we have the developers of SMB whining about how hard it was to turn their free-to-play game that stands on par with your average free platformer found on Newgrounds and Kongregate etc into a way to make money...

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the work these kinds of people put in to their games but when better games are left as being FREE and those developers just enjoy the fact that people love their work, I find it hard to be sympathetic to guys who try to cash in on what they've done and find it difficult to do so.

      You're being stupid.

    “We were told our price was too high"

    Explains why the price was TBA for so long and then dropped to 800 for the first 5 weeks.

    As for the rest of the story - apart from America's woeful health care system, it sounds a lot like the drama Metanet Software had bringing N+ (also a flash game) to XBLA.

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing as I read this, in terms of Microsoft vs. M&R.

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