It's been a bit of a whirlwind here as Jason and I have been working on finishing the demo release of our computer game, Project Paradise. Going into this project back in 2019, I had only a vague idea of how much work would be involved. I knew I'd need to learn how to draw and animate pixel art and I'd have to brush up on my music-making skills, but I didn't then grasp the extent of the work required. Now that I'm in the thick of game development, I can honestly say that this has easily surpassed the effort and time involved in writing all eight of my novels combined. It is unlike any creative effort I've undertaken in my life, and because I'm not doing it full time (nor getting paid for any of it yet), balance and sacrifice are required.
|Drawing character profiles in Aseprite pixel by pixel!|
For this reason, I want to make it clear that I won't be releasing any new novels in 2021. As much as I love writing these books, I simply can't make the time for game development and more writing. I know this will come as a disappointment to many of you, especially those of you uninterested in playing a video game. For that I'm truly sorry, but I will start writing again once this is finished, and I have plenty of story ideas for the years to come (unless, of course, we are on the other side of this system by then!).
|Composing one of the tracks for Project Paradise's soundtrack|
That said, I wanted to take some time here today to talk about why, specifically, I'm making this game, and why for me it is a logical forward step from the books.
From a very young age, I loved entertaining people. I don't mean that I'm a singer or a performer, and in fact I get very anxious being in the spotlight. However, I love creating unique opportunities for others to have fun.
I believe this first manifested itself in high school. At the time, the TV show Survivor was peaking in popularity, and I wanted to make my own version. Fortuitously, I'd just begun learning to use graphic design software (CorelDraw), and my rudimentary skills were put to work designing a parody "Campus Survivor" logo. I then designed and launched a simple website for the competition. Next, I hosted tryouts for competitors among my classmates and held weekly competitions during lunch to determine the winner, who won $50 as the grand prize.
This would be the last time I would host such an event for worldly people. A few years later in 2006, I designed a city-wide scavenger hunt and invited brothers and sisters to serve as team captains and choose their own teammates. The day that resulted is still one of my most cherished memories, a time when many previously shy friends really opened up, and everyone had a chance to bond. Two more scavenger hunts would follow, each one more elaborate than the first. Through the years, the opportunity to create something special for my brothers and sisters and seeing the smiles on their faces keeps me motivated.
Not long after the second scavenger hunt, I returned to my old hobby of writing. I'd loved crafting stories as a child but hadn't written anything substantial in years. I wanted to try again, but this time it would be different. I wanted to put smiles on my friends' faces as I had before. What better way to do that than with a story about paradise? Of course, the story eventually grew into a novel that made its way onto the internet and reached a much larger audience that what I'd originally intended, and since there was a demand for more, so I kept writing.
I've never tired of writing books, even after nearly a decade of doing it. Still, I've been itching for years now to explore a new method of storytelling, a new means to provide upbuilding entertainment our friends. The concept of making my own video game seemed far fetched until I actually sat down for coffee with a friend of mine and pitched the idea. We were nowhere near prepared for the project at the time, but we immediately began the process of learning the needed skills. That first conversation happened in November of 2017, over three years ago, with the development of Project Paradise starting a year and a half later.
Of course, there are always risks involved when making forays into uncharted territories. Just as with The Bloom of Youth, I realize that this shift will mean that not all previous readers of my work will stick with me for this new project. On the other hand, as someone who enjoys playing video games, I recognize how difficult it is to find games without objectionable content, and if I can provide such a game to our friends and bring smiles to new faces, I'm all for it!
I'll still be posting here as I find time (and worthwhile content to post), but for the time being I'll be spending more of my time on Project Paradise, both on the Devlog (an abbreviation for "game developer's log") and in the forums. Hope to see you there!