Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5,6
You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen. - Michelle Obama
A little over two months ago, I was let go from Hyper Hippo Games. It's where I had worked for 6 years (including the time when it was Rocketsnail Games).
My feelings about my termination of employment have been conflicted. I'd been waiting to write this blog post until that conflicted feeling had gone away, but it never has.
I've never really been let go from a job before. When I was at Disney Online Studios, I left on my own terms. It was my decision to make. At Hyper Hippo, it was unexpected. I was walking up the stairs into the building, my mind racing about what new wonders I was going to accomplish on the game I was developing, but before I could get to my desk, I was asked to go into a conference room and informed that my employment at Hyper Hippo had ended.
(At this point, I suppose I should address the natural question of "why". Why was I let go? To that end, the only answer I can give is that the focus of Hyper Hippo has narrowed to a specific kind of game. You are invited to examine the games Hyper Hippo launches from now on and ask yourself whether or not Chris Hendricks would have thrived making those kinds of titles.)
So here I stand, and life has been good. I was treated well when I was let go. The severance was generous, which is by no means a guaranteed thing in the game industry. I've received more contract work in the last 2 months than I'd expected, and my level of stress has actually gone down compared to most of my time at Hyper Hippo.
But a question looms: Do I keep making games?
I could just keep doing only contract work. People need music, people need art, people need animation. Or, I could get a job somewhere in town. Kelowna has a larger-than-average number of media companies for a city this size.
Here's the thing: remember how I mentioned that I was developing a game at Hyper Hippo when I was let go? Well, I have permission to keep working on it. Hyper Hippo had every right to say that they owned my work on the game up until that point, and that I had no right to continue development, but they've said that the project's mine to complete, and I'm grateful for that.
But should I?
This is an early concept of the game that I was working on. It takes place on an island, and the only inhabitants are you and the memories of your past, which are revealed as you solve environmental puzzles. If you've ever seen the movie Inception, a portion of the movie occurs in what's called "Limbo", a dreamlike state – that's basically where this game would take place.
The world would be benefitted by this game. I believe that. But does the world need it? I don't know. 80+ games are launched on Steam every week. 500+ games are added to the mobile app stores EVERY DAY. Most video games that were launched in 2017 are not going to make back the money that was spent developing them. I should know. None of the games I developed at Hyper Hippo ever made their money back.
There are a lot of creative reasons to make this game, and a couple of pretty powerful business reasons to ignore it. So, what do I do?
I don't know yet. What I do know is that, if this game is to succeed (or even get built at all), I can't make it alone. The main character of this game might be able to survive with only his own memories to keep him company, but I need others who are interested in this.
I need you.