Serenity Road, a Journey and a Dream.

It's been a long time since I last had an opportunity to sit down and write a proper blog post on the site. The last couple of years have been testing. In this article I will explain how I made up my mind to become a professional game developer and the many hurdles that then kept me from actually starting.

As you can probably gleen from the website itself, activity since 2009 has been visibly low. Aside from the HD re-release of Super Invader in 2011 and a website redesign, there's been little new content. It's been nearly 4 years since I decided to take my life-long hobby of making video games and turn it into my profession. However, during the past years that has gone by, my dream didn't take off. This is my story.

Loss and Depression

Due to unfortunate circumstances, the game I was working on back in 2009, Counter-Invader, went corrupted. The source simply couldn't be used anymore. Even the backups were affected somehow. 9 months of hard dedicated work had been destroyed in unknown circumstances and it was suddenly impossible for me to continue on the project.

Screenshot of Counter-Invader
The source of Counter-Invader was lost after a sudden technical failure.

This stroke of disaster broke my heart and with other stress factors, I found myself stuck in a lasting depression. For nearly 2 years I was in a very dark place that I couldn't dig myself out of. I was unemployed and too mentally drained to even try to work. Progress was stalled and I was also barelly scraping by economically.

A Sudden Opportunity

After many months of job searching in 2011, I was eventually called in to my first interview by a company. I had applied to many jobs, but I never received as little as a confirmation that my application had even been received. Within minutes of the interview, I found myself hired. When I saw the other applicants I realised why - everyone else had some obvious disability. Out of the available pool, I was the only one young and healthy. Getting the job suddenly felt like a hollow victory.

The job was grueling hard work for low pay. I spent about one and a half year packing boxes or cleaning stores, wherever the company needed me at the time. The long hours and repetitive physical nature of the job didn't leave me any room for hobbies. I'd come home, play some games and then drop dead asleep mid-game from fatigue. At least I was earning myself money now. A small comfort.

While I wasn't able to work on my games much during the time, I took every opportunity during breaks to plot down ideas, always thinking about video games I'd like to make. Over time, I came up with many designs. I would write pages after pages of details in a pocket notebook that I carried everywhere I went.

Notebook
Never left home without this tattered old notebook. Here showing some designs on a Resident Evil fan game I was toying with.

Curiously, the worse I felt, the more ideas I'd come up with. Winter 2012, I had a particularly stressfull assignment; I was stationed to clean the outside of a store during the coldest months of a winter with little else but a fleese jacket to stave off the cold. I had to change the garbage bags in the bins around the parking lot. This was particularly harsh as they were always dripping wet and my hands would hurt something fierce from the wet cold.

At the time I came up with Serenity Road, a horror game inspired by the physical and psychological stress I was enduring. Hunger, biting cold, joint pain, performance anxiety, peer pressure and bullying. My notebook was my outlet when I had nothing else.

Never Give Up

Months went by and I saved up as much money as possible. I didn't need much to survive. Come summer, I took leave of absense from my job for an undetermined period of time. I have been living since on my savings. After everything I had to go through, it was the vacation I needed and deserved. It took months, but I eventually recovered my strength and felt my creative spirit returning. That's when I finally felt ready to take the leap and dedicate myself fully to my dream job.

For some weeks now, I have been working full time on game development. I finally get to properly work on all the games I've been meaning to make but never had a chance. I couldn't be happier. This is my road; it took a long time, but I'm finally walking it. Money is going to be a problem; without an income, my savings will inevitably dry up. But whatever hardships comes my way, I'll never let anything come between me and my dream anymore.

Serenity Road, here I come.

Post IconPosted on: 15/4 2013