I used to have plans. Even up to a few years back, I sort of had plans.
I’ve never had grand ambitions to make bigger and bigger games, to scale up, to studio up – none of that is really my bag. But y’know, I did want to release more games, to get progressively better at what I do, to put enough games out to live off even for a short while. Hopefully at some point to be in a place where the residuals make life much easier.
Then I nearly died. Twice. Which was a bit careless even by my standards.
It took a lot out of me, physically and mentally. As you’d expect really. And anyway, I’ve talked about that before, it’s a story well told now and even I’m bored of it.
It kinda changes you though. I get that with some people, they become more driven. An awareness of your own mortality, knowing you could pop off with unfinished business, still so much work and art to do. I get that, I totally do. I respect it too.
Didn’t happen with me though. I don’t really care if I slip off this mortal coil with unfinished work, a small oeuvre of videogames to my name. For a while I figured fuck it, I won’t make any more games. I got talked out of that. Turns out, that was alright too. I’m pretty good at it so why not.
The year after, I went on a tour of beaches. Not a big international one, I just wanted to spend more time watching the tide wash in and wash out and I’m fortunate enough to live a short bus ride from a handful. Sometimes the sun was out. Sometimes it rained. Didn’t matter, doesn’t matter. Why should it matter? I’d go for walks, sometimes with the kid, sometimes with the wife, sometimes with the headphones on all by myself. It was a pretty good year.
At the same time, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, how I wanted to go about it. And sure, making games was a part of that. I drew up plans, ideas for where to take a game or two in the future, to be a bit business about it and all that. I’ve still got that plan a bit.
But I’m not the only one in this house who near shuffled off their mortal coil. I dunno, maybe the house is cursed or something. Over the past few years, I’ve not only nearly buggered off from this existing lark myself but had two, way way too close calls with Mrs B too.
There’s a couple of things about that. One, it means your time is spent elsewhere anyway because some things have to take priority. Two, it makes you realise that you’re really not the only one not going to be here forever.
To top it all off, it’s been five years now of constant pain in my face and we’re only just starting to get somewhere close to a management plan for that. This year, it’ll get there.
So I don’t have plans now. Not like I used to. I don’t mind either. I have things to do that are really important to me now. You know, like sit in the backyard and look at the stars because have you done that recently? It’s great. Throw my feet up on in the conservatory as the rain hammers against the roof because man, I love that too. To take my kids out to do things – we’ve done cinemas, walks, bus rides, improv shows, gigs. Cheap in the main but you should see the kid’s face. And to spend as much time with Mrs B as possible because who knows if and when that rug will get pulled from us.
The last thing I want is our memories to be of me working myself to the bone, us never spending enough time together. Of course, it’s never enough time together. I don’t think it can ever be enough.
And maybe that’s a plan, right?
I’m still writing games. Man alive, you should hear the soundtrack to the next one – it’s so good and Mike and Jenny have excelled themselves. A few weeks back I spent a weekend doing the title sequence which looks so good and this past week, I’ve been starting to put together new art proper and that’s pretty good too. I don’t stop making games, I’m not going to.
But I’m not rushing it. It used to just be not rushing because I don’t believe in killing yourself for videogames. Now it’s not rushing because I don’t want to rush anymore. I never liked it, it never did me any good.
Someday, I will shuffle off this Earth and whatever happens there’ll be stuff not done, stuff not said. There’s always unfinished business. When that time comes though, I want to go knowing I took as much time out my life to spend with the people I love spending my time with the most, not that I worked myself into an early grave or left my mark forever with my art.
I guess my plan now is to be as happy as I can be, wherever I can be. And for as long as possible, with my closest friends and family at my side, happy too. Making games is definitely part of that, getting better at making games to boot. But if it’s ever a choice between lying on the grass with the wife and looking at the stars or videogames…
…it’s always going to be the stars. Every time. Because have you seen them lately? You really should take a look. They’re amazing.