At the beginning of 2021, I spent a fair amount of time taking stock of my situation. I’d just left the game studio I’d worked at for the last five years, and was uncertain about next steps. Would I stick with narrative gaming, go back to web development, or something else? I had completed the first draft of a novel, made it through a grueling legal battle against my abusive birth mother, and was beginning to process and heal. My partner and I had been discussing getting handfasted, as an alternative to legal marriage.
2021 hit hard. I spent a month in and out of the hospital, after finding out a vitamin supplement I’d been taking interactedly poorly with my EDS and with the COVID vaccine. A friend texted me on the drive home and asked if I was interested in working on a game with the Williamses. (As in, Ken and Roberta Williams. The people who’d founded Sierra, where my old bosses worked, who to my knowledge had bought a yacht and were never going to return to the game industry.) I said yes and began working on Ken’s new game, which as of January 2022 is still unnannounced.
I discovered early on that I’d be working in virtual reality, using an Oculus headset. I only knew a little about Oculus; mostly that they’d sold out to Facebook, and not kept many of their early promises. Starting on the project meant I was developing with a Quest 2, which weighed a little over five pounds. When I started using it, I couldn’t tolerate more than five minutes in the headset without getting a migraine. It took time for my body to adjust. I looked into other headsets, such as the Valve Index, which was less hostile to Linux, but found that most alternatives were even heavier and nonviable. Nonetheless, we made progress; I’m happy with the work I did, am grateful for the opportunity, and looking forward to seeing what the world thinks of the game.
By the end of the year, though, I was getting sick more often than I had in some time. I’m not comfortable with the fairly dystopian visions of web 3.0– the metaverse, cryptocurrency, and the like– that are getting touted. I’ve always been a believer in the open web, free software, and free culture. I don’t know if VR will take off or if it’s just a fad; it certainly adds design constraints to making games. There are plenty of people who are enthusiastic about the technology, but I’ve never even played more than a few minutes of a VR game. Maybe if the free hardware movement takes off and the future of VR is less coupled to Facebook? But this is a long way away.
I don’t know what I’ll be working on yet in 2021. Though I’m trying to take the time to finish up my book, polish up my indie game portfolio, and be choosy about options. I don’t think I want to do more VR right now; it’s worth waiting and seeing.
I am continuing to try to blog more; to be more open; to emit more light.