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.
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.
For me, I had the pleasure of writing the script and I enjoyed that even as I labored over it. It changed from three paragraphs to set a stage to a journey for the main character that included the whole Hero’s Journey in miniature. A word here instead of there seemed suddenly important as it seemed crucial to me that I get every detail just right. In the middle of that process I had a very particular experience. In the middle of the night I found myself suddenly and completely awake. Somehow I knew that it was God who woke me up and I simply said, “Yes Lord?” and as plain as day I heard. “Your lives are the story.” and in that I “heard” several implications. First, it simply wasn’t that important that I tell this story in the game perfectly. After all, I wasn’t writing scripture here. But more to the point, if anybody was going to be moved by the story, it wouldn’t be for my brilliant writing, but by His Spirit moving in their hearts. In other words – don’t take myself so seriously. But also that what God has been doing with Soma all along has been about our interactions with people.
When we started Soma I imagined folks getting wrapped up in the epic stories in the games and being moved or inspired the way I’ve been inspired by movies or books. And while I still hope for that, what we’ve seen so far is that our biggest impact seems to be just our stories as people who decided to follow hard after Gods call. It’s been in personal interactions with other people, or stories about what god has done for us or through us – that has been where we sit back and go, “Wow! That was incredible. And that’s also why I feel compelled to share our stories publicly.
So to circle back to the proverb…
Along with Wind Up Robots we also found ourselves with a tiny window of two weeks and decided to throw together a silly little holiday game as a gag. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s a joke.
Today, just before we all went home for a break, we learned that Apple featured both games in the app store just as we start into the crazy Christmas season. Time will tell what that actually harvests – but wow. What a wonderful blessing.
Look, all of us at Soma busted our chops for many months to get here – the horses were prepared for the battle. But what happens after that was 100% beyond our ability to influence or control. The victory belongs to the Lord.
Thanks you Dad for all that you’ve done to, for, and through us this year as its been a powerful one for all of us. Whatever happens with this release is all to your glory – as it should be.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Catching up to 2015, WUR went on to become Soma’s most successful game to date and still sells. It’s looking a little dated these days and has glitches on the newer machines but it’s still fun and I carry a little wind up key on my keychain as a memento (thanks Ryan). It’s funny to remember that shortly after this high point with getting these two games 9WUR and Santas’s Giftship) featured we started headlong into a rather difficult and dark period in the history of this shop. By the end of 2012 we were barely alive, almost everybody had been laid off, and it was a long way from clear that Soma would survive at all.
The challenges of 2012 definitely took the shine off of the excitement of Wind Up Robots…but only for a while. I was so blessed the other day to have my 8-year old son say “I still Wind Up Robots is the best game you’ve made Daddy.” and that is what brought me back to the story noted above. Thanks Odin…but wait until you play G Prime!