God is Good – Even When You Have No Idea What’s Happening

This post was actually something from my personal blog back at the end of 2011 but I found myself going back over it and it seemed germane for today, so we’re reposting it.

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Proverbs 21:31 says “The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”

Coming home from work today caps off a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice and stress – and a “couldn’t be better” entry to a much needed week and a half of rest, family and recharging.

A week ago today we finally released the game that we’ve been working on for about nine months. It’s probably fair to say that four of those months were pretty light duty as we planned and tweaked and were at least partly distracted by other things but from July to December we were hard at it. And while the game was first imagined as something small and light and shallow it took on a life of its own. It morphed and deepened and grew a soul. Suddenly, a game we thought was a tiny time waster was recognized as something else. I remember the day we all sat down and started a prayer time and we all started looking at each other thinking – this isn’t what we thought. This is a Soma Game and a prequel to GRoG.

From there the metaphors, the details, even the delays started to look different in the light that God was actively engaged in the design process and now we were off making a game about spiritual warfare and destiny and guardian angels. It was awfully exciting. But it was also taking FOREVER. We were way over budget and a July launch got pushed to September, then to Thanksgiving and finally to Dec 15. To be true, by that time we were all freaking out more than a little. I’d love to say that we all had “peace beyond understanding” but we didn’t. We all knew this was taking way too long and costing way too much money and the stress was building. But we also knew that we needed to get it right – it had to be solid. And the truth is, the bug list seemed to grow every day instead of shrink. Features were still being added even after we were supposed to have code lock and the project just refused to be finished. Now on the bright side it was truly getting better and better. Not only were bugs getting fixed but all the finer details were being polished. Lightning bugs in the backyard, Photon pushing monsters and Lamplighter healing the friends near her, these and more were all last minute adds that made huge differences. We also kept experiencing that joy of serendipity. The Bonchows, giant versions of the enemies, started as a joke from a typo and become a built in feature on accident. The game was taking on a shape that we only barely glimpsed at the beginning and the time stress was counterbalanced by a real sense of discovery and excitement. Wind Up Robots was going to be a cool and well polished game.

The G We Always Wanted To Make

PtolemyShotsThere’s an old saying that you never really finish a poem, you just give up on it.

At the risk of getting ahead of myself, sometime this month we expect to submit G Prime to Microsoft and call it “done.”  – I’m practically giddy.

When we started our first game, G: Into The Rain, we had no idea what we were doing and the “how hard could it be” attitude came crashing into the complex reality of video game development like a raw egg meeting the cast iron skillet. When we finally launched several months later it was bittersweet. On the one hand I was happy with what we’d done but many, many compromises had to be made along the way and there was a part of me that was sad at all the things that we couldn’t do or had to be left out.

Expression or Outreach

StreetPreacherComing back recently from CGDC has me thinking again about something I always think about at CGDC – whether or not we’re the “black sheep” of that group…and if we are, is that a good thing or a bad thing.

Last year at the end-of-conference Town-Hall part, where everybody can basically bring up anything they want, Mikee Bridges from GameChurch said something that brought this idea back to the front of my mind. I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something along the lines of “Are all of our [game projects] actually serving the function of outreach[1]?”

It’s a perfect question for Mikee. After all, GameChurch’s mission statement is one of outreach – specifically an outreach to gamers. But I was surprised at how quickly my mouth popped open and I said “that’s not what we’re doing…” And I’ve been pondering that brief exchange ever since.

Project Mouseworks

For several months we’ve been hinting, being coy, posting images here-and-there but not really saying anything concrete about what we’ve been working on. There’s good reason for that and no small part is simply the legal things where any cart-before-horse announcements would earn us some well-deserved hot water, but all of that is over now.

It’s time to start talking about Redwall.

Redwall at DuskSoma Games has officially optioned the rights to make a Redwall video game – and now that my hyperventilation has begun to wear off I’m ready to start sharing some of the details. But before I get to anything technical I really want to tell a story, cause that’s just the kind of guy I am.

The Seam Between Hoorah! and Amen!

JB and I were recently interviewed for an upcoming article. As usual, there were the typical WhoWhatWhenHow questions, but it isn’t every writer who asks the more important question:

Why?

Once that question hits the table, I get riled up. I start talking faster and louder, and my hands start gesturing widely like my Italian grandfather’s. It gets me talking about ‘calling’ and ‘inspiration’ and ‘The Kingdom.’ If you let me ramble, and this gentleman did, I’ll start using military metaphors and words like ‘infiltrate’ and ‘mission.’ Whatever else the listener has gleaned at this point, they certainly have an answer…and an insight into Soma Games that they probably didn’t expect.

The Loss of Beauty

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
George Eliot

Few things pierce my soul like the glorious beauty of autumn. Driving up Rex Hill on a day like today when it’s aflame with a glistening golden fire…it makes me cry for the glory of it all.

The other day I was taking a contemplative walk around the neighborhood with JB and we both stopped as we turned a corner and stared. The maples, elms and oaks we screaming in colors so vibrant and varied that every attempt to capture it with a camera was thwarted. The whole scene was like a living Parish painting. I felt so ALIVE to simply stand there and breathe it all in.

Two days earlier, I’d walked that same street – and didn’t notice a thing.

Soma Culture :: Friends are Better Than Money

We had a post a while back where I was reflecting on something Seth Godin (allegedly) said,

…it’s pointless to have 1000 people ‘following’ you if you can’t call any of em to crash on their couch when you’re in town.

The week of the cruise there were lots of reasons to do it differently. We had deadlines, we were busy, it was  long drive. So really the logical thing to do would be to grab a quick flight, stay in a hotel, and jet home the next morning – easy peasy. But instead we decided to take the road less travelled, all 636 miles of it. Bill Johnson has this great bit about how most of the really good things we want out of life, especially in the Kingdom, are just beyond the veil of inconvenience.

The Thin Line Between Faith and Stupid

One of my favorite lines to (mis)quote is from This is Spinal Tap: “there’s a fine line between clever and stupid.”

Today I’m thinking about the fine line between faithful and stubborn.

We had a dismal Q1 around here and when I say “dismal” I mean something like the “Oh wow. There’s a good chance we won’t survive this” kind of dismal. Between scuttlebutt and news stories I know we weren’t nearly alone on that, plenty of folks saw the same kind of sudden contraction we did, but really that’s beside the point.

When you find yourself in a place that makes you wonder if the thing you’ve dedicated your heart and soul to for several years is about to die it makes you look at things in a rather stark light. You start asking yourself troubling questions like:
Did I make a huge mistake?
What did I do wrong?
Was all my effort a waste of time?