- collaborating with new people, trusting people to help me carry the weight, recognizing the parts of the work i dont want to be doing on my own anymore
being willing to bring new people into the tenderfoot team was a major milestone for me in terms of personal growth, and im really glad i did. ive had a lot of trouble collaborating with people since like 2014, but ive always wanted to be able to work with more people and i feel like im building that life for myself and it feels really good.
this was a winding project and the end result is *not* something we could have predicted going in. i think we all have complicated feelings about it but it really has stuck with me and positively affected the way i think about game-making. im proud of us for being brave and willful and following through on a project that very easily could have never released at all. the release party was a lot of fun. we opened the IWG discord!
- surviving the hell smoke pandemic summer
its so weird looking back on this period!! we watched a lot of hunter x hunter (hisoka 😻) and all of that vampire comedy show. i was really mad and sad all the time. its absolutely wild that we kept working??? this felt like hard apocalyptic scenario. the dog couldnt really go outside (we have a big dog in a small apartment). a really really harsh preview of the badfuture. seeing the next gen console announcements while being unable to breathe or sleep properly was a lot. i think it solidified a strong aversion to consoles for me. im going to try to build my play practice around PCs and try to avoid my work becoming promotional for GPUs or closed disposable systems like consoles.
- fucking tenderfoot!! yes! hell yes!!
its crazy to be thinking about this right after thinking about the hell smoke summer. summer was so hard for me in so many ways, not just the smoke but also tenderfoot had me in my deepest pit before the end there. like i was full of self loathing and dread and preparatory humiliation about how tenderfoot would make me feel post-launch. theres a lot of stuff in tenderfoot that i think merits some derision or shame but i really dont feel either. people have been incredibly kindhearted in how they approach the game, and ive felt so positive about it, flaws and all. actually i think from when we did a 'mock review' and opened up the discord beta i entered a zen state and the time around and following tenderfoot's release is the chillest and happiest ive felt in maybe years.
obviously theres a ton more i could say about tenderfoot but so much of it happened in previous years anyway, and i do plan on writing a comprehensive postmortem eventually, so im just gonna save it for that.
- the pinery
it felt really good to archive my old blogs and revisit my history as a designer and thinker. i feel like im developing a stronger sense of myself, of where i come from and what i care about as an artist, of what kind of work i want to focus on in the future, of who my audience is. i feel really good about it.
things i backed up that had an impact on how i think about myself and my past:
- inconvenient games
- perceived world size
- the wizard's companion
- rich games
- game design is the metamedium
and writing new stuff has felt really good too, if a little exposing and uncomfy at times. but whenever i feel worried a piece will bother people, inevitably one or two people i really respect reach out to tell me it resonated with them, so its definitely been worth it.
i like blogging. i think it helps me to articulate myself and present myself. it feels like a more helpful and thoughtful way to formulate who i am in relation to the world, even if that is often just 'messy bitch' (one of my 2020 goals was to be a bigger bitch and im proud to have achieved that but i think im gonna be more thoughtful about my bitchiness in 2021). but its so easy to just be a messy bitch on twitter, and to focus on the live reaction. with a blog you finish a whole idea and THEN maybe you see how the responses go, but you at least arent revising your thoughts as youre formulating them in response to audience interaction ala twitter. it encourages me to be more personal and direct and thoughtful and sureheaded.
major struggles or regrets
- misjudging people, investing time in the wrong people. being used.
- pushing people away, alienating people, feeling untrusting and unsafe in various small community spaces, locking myself off, not seeing or acting against the abuse happening near me because of this intentional locking off
i think some time around or before the beginning of this year i started to really cut myself off from game related communities, especially online, because they were mostly giving me badbrain. i have a tendency to act up and piss people off, i think. or like i find myself mostly arguing for the least popular of my beliefs, i think because its the only time i feel compelled to really stand up for anything, when nobody else is there to stand up for it. so i tend to feel like whenever im in a space, im unwanted and unliked. i speak less and less over time, or maybe more, but eventually the feeling of being hated is just too much and i have to leave. (i have some bad paranoid tendencies.) i think as part of my commitment to 'the work' and trying to make tenderfoot as good as possible, i decided to just up and leave any discord or other community that was giving me social stress. its hard to tell if this was a good idea.
i think it was in some ways necessary and helped me find the strength to finish tenderfoot as strong as i did. i worry it also left a bad taste in the mouths of the people who had likely come to resent me, when i was suddenly gone. it definitely caused me to overlook the abuse of one of my peers by another of them, because i had so completely checked out of that circle, and because i overlooked this i continued to boost the abuser for months after i should have known better.
actually this caused a sort of emotional crisis for me. i had done a lot of work to help build this person's career, to the degree that i have any power over that. they seemed to be doing very important and exciting work, though i was too busy to really look closely enough to tell. i had given them a significant (to me) amount of money, hoping to help plug some of the gaps of an early career long enough for them to gain stability, thinking theyd be an ally, someone id hope would survive and even define our industry.
it can be very hard to feel betrayed by someone you put so much trust in. im proud when i manage to assume the very best of other people. i think its what other people deserve, and i think its the attitude you often *need* to be able to really work with other people to build a better future. but another version of me is highly skeptical of nearly everyone i meet, and its really fucked up how often that version of me tends to be right. not only do i feel like this abuser stole from me many hours of work, a significant amount of money, and some of my legitimacy as a voice in the broader community, but i also feel that they stole some of my essential ability to trust people. more and more i feel myself becoming inherently untrusting, belligerent, hateful. it really fucking sucks.
in the earthsea cycle theres a throughline where a traveler spends his life inviting new members into a group and in doing so radically changes the nature of the group, such that it becomes almost the opposite of what it was meant to be. his attempt to serve the group by growing it actually betrays the groups true goals. ive been thinking a lot about that lately. as much as i do want to keep openings for people and be trusting, i think i want to slow down and focus on building power more carefully. its possible i am not naturally a bridge builder. theres a concept of reproductive labor (as opposed to productive labor) that i was introduced to by Caliban and the Witch, and ive found that concept really helpful in breaking down my own internal prejudices about what sort of work is important and worth my time and effort. i want to spend more time repairing, strengthening, caring, cleaning up.
dreams and aspirations
- spend my evenings doing things that are actually interesting and enriching for me, like reading, writing, painting, playing games (especially critically)
- next year is iwg year!
i have a bunch of iwg aspirations that i think i should not post publicly but i hope to make the label much more robust in its ability to support new games.
id also like to figure out a way to try out running some kind of mentorship program, maybe through iwg if ppl are into it. long term i think id like to teach. not necessarily in an academic setting, but somehow i would like my work to involve sort of cross-generational ties to younger game devs. i think those sorts of connections are really important, and i think we dont have enough of them in games. itd be nice to start trying things out and finding out what i like and dont like, how to fulfil that part of my life goals.
- AND next year is work-without-marketing year for nextgame
im fucking STOKED on nextgame its so good its gonna be amazing. already working with some new people i am so fired up on working with, and i feel really confident in applying the production learnings from tenderfoot. but i think a place we messed up with tenderfoot was in announcing it too early, we kind of biffed the marketing there, and locked ourselves into a pitch that wasnt robustly developed yet. so, expect to not hear much about nextgame until we can give a very clear and confident articulation of what it is, which i dont expect us to be in that state until.. maybe near the end of the year at the earliest.
in 2021 i challenge everyone reading this to earnestly state their vision for a better future (even just in dms or a journal or something) and take real steps towards building that future. ironic detached blackpill is so 2020. lets get that bread and roses.
January 9, 2021