Early this year the 10 person Eidolon team unanimously agreed to pool all our future Eidolon royalties in Ice Water Games, the collective label that we initially founded with the purpose of selling Eidolon. Until now, IWG had no funds, which obviously put a limit on what it could do for anyone. I run finances quarterly, and next week will be the first time I handle this pooling; we've just opened an account with our credit union.
A few days ago we received a piece of fan mail from a woman who looks like she could be my grandma, who said she's played 180+ hours of Eidolon and wrote partially to praise us, partially to ask how we'd accomplished this monumental feat, partially to ask us to make another like it.
I'm participating in a class on Revolutionary Art with the new anarchist art school Constructing the Real and a topic that came up last week in a discussion around Jim Shaw's 'Dreams' book, is art that has a sort of utopian patina because it somehow doesn't make sense in our world, art that feels like it couldn't have been produced by a blind market force, art that feels like the sort of thing that might be made in a utopia because it comes from something beyond the demand for profit or the necessity of a wage.
I think, looking from my current vantage 7 years later, that Eidolon evokes some of that for me. It's something that was made mostly out of a pure desire to make, without any funds, by people with no sense that it'd make us any money. At the beginning we didn't even know we'd sell it. We didn't figure out what our various royalty shares would be until it was nearly out. (We still do this, but it feels so much different when you already have other royalties coming from past work.)
I know I took this as way more profound than she meant, but recently on the IWG discord Giga Mermaid shared this massive worldbuilding document she's been working on with pages and pages and pages of creatures and lore, a project called Cauldron, and I instinctively asked if it was 'for anything', and her immediate reply was that she didn't understand the question, and I felt like such a stupid asshole; everything i see these days turns into Product.
Eidolon was for me partially about the permanence of ideas and the inherent impermanence of the real. This has taken on different tones for me over time, and maybe sometimes has felt foolish, but in general for me this idea has gained a kind of depth and richness.
I've been talking more with my physicist friend Tim since quarantine, and something he said on our latest call has been tumbling around in my head: that living things are not systems in equillibrium (which would imply a sort of resting stability) but homeostasis, which is to say that we need to constantly consume and regulate ourselves to survive. The common sense, intuitive concept of some kind of static Healthy state is comforting, it's familiar to us because this is what ideas are like: they just Are, they don't move around or fall apart on you. But living things, animals, plants, humans, societies, are never like this. If they stop adjusting to circumstances they'll fall apart in no time. In fact they'll fall apart anyway, eventually.
It was the first time we'd talked since I had a kind of intense fall a couple weeks ago, and we were talking about healing. Tim broke his neck snowboarding when we were in high school together and has lasting injuries from it more than a decade later. But we were also talking about smaller things like cooking and exercise and general body regulation. And we were also talking about bigger things, like death. (He had called to let me know he was okay because a mass shooting had just happened very near him; I had surprised him with the story of my own near-death experience.)
I think there's a natural hope to see in the future some kind of final steady state for humanity on earth. The current trajectory is societal death after unimaginable, unnecessary suffering both human and nonhuman. The utopian alternative, it sometimes seems to be implied, would be a sort of endless stability without suffering.
Eidolon's hopefulness is partly in its willingness to see a world after humans as beautiful and persistent, but I don't think it's at all unique in this. It's more special in the way it immortalizes human lives, emotions, struggles, ideas, how it elevates humanity itself as beautiful and even eternal, how it creates a tension between the transience of our lives and the everlasting quality of the meaning of our lives, even after we're gone. The stuff of our lives will rot away but the fact of its reality will not.
Eidolon will very likely be unplayable much sooner than if it had been made by a traditional company, concerned with its long term stability as a product. It's possible the source files are somewhere on a hard drive, but if so, I haven't been able to find them. It will likely never be updated, and when UDK games don't run anymore, for whatever reason, that'll be the end of it. But everything deteriorates eventually.
To me Eidolon is also a symbol of our solidarity, trust, love. That Eidolon will last forever.
Ice Water Games' seed was planted by Eidolon. Now its roots are in Eidolon. Now Eidolon is a sustaining force for the label in a material way. As Eidolon disintegrates, its body becomes the living creature that is the label. The label won't last forever either. But, of course, it will.
I really believe that the collective, democractic organization of our work is essential to achieving the goodfuture. Ice Water Games is for me a revolutionary, utopian project. It's an attempt to build a small, imperfect vision of the new world within, and composed of, the dying body of the old world.
March 27, 2021