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Afterword - Part II

  • zDS
  • 06/25/2019 07:44 PM
If you have no read Part I yet, I strongly suggest reading it first here.

50% off Cope Island: Adrift during the Steam Summer Sale!

The response for the first part has been wonderful. Thank you all so much. It really means the world to me. I was worried about people thinking less of me, honestly. The world isn’t such a bad place after all.

There has been no major boost or anything since the first Afterword, but that’s okay. I did however get a positive review from Powerup Gaming and I believe that was the first professional review I received for my games!

I also got some closure on the whole Degica situation! Huge weight lifted off my chest, to be honest.

Part I was honestly the tip of the iceberg. So much has happened since and all of it greatly impacted the development of Cope Island: Adrift. Bonds strengthened. Bonds broken. Family feuds. Tragedies. Let's do this!

(A lot of this may be sloppily written, it's just that after I wrote it it's kinda hard to go back and fix it due to the emotional nature of it all.)

(to the only brother I actually like who will likely read this, I'M SORRY IF I SAID TOO MUCH, I REALLY TRIED TO KEEP MOST IT VAGUE. IF I CROSSED ANY LINES, I'M SORRY.)

Commercial Game Dev

I went from never releasing a game before into the public to suddenly signing a contract with Degica. After all the people who told me I would never amount to anything, people who had zero faith in my game dev hobby/dream. After all that, it felt surreal to be honest. People liked to tell me I knew nothing of how game dev worked and that my approach would be foolish. I felt like for once, I had an excuse to be confident. I had earned a significant victory and for once in my life I would allow myself to truly believe in myself. I was also fully aware I had tons to learn.

I had years of game dev experience prior. With music. With pixel art. With the overall game design thing. Yet, I had yet to reach that 'next level' but I felt so close. Before Cope Island it was like I developed everything through a painful grinder. I had a vision but I couldn't form it and it was incredibly painful.

I felt extremely lucky and honored that Cope Island got the opportunities. I felt like I owed it to myself to reach that next level and make the game I wanted to release. Degica would have been fine with me just prettying up the maps a bit with a few pre-made resources. I did not want to do that. I really wanted to make it all myself. To take my pixel art to that next level.

Looking back, that was a mistake. I should have swiftly prettied up the game and released it. It would have established commercial history and possible income. Then I could have made Cope Island: Adrift as the sequel. I didn't do that. I didn't consider it. Yet, while my course of action was not the wisest… I don't regret it at all.

The upcoming months I establish a communication with Degica and talks go very promising. I tell them my plan and they seem chill about it and on board. I told them I needed some script help to have a hub for the game. That hub was so important for my vision. I needed help for ui stuff as well. So I get in contact with someone and everything seems positive.

Yet nothing really gets done. I continue to work at it when I can, but the process is the most aggressive grinder I went through yet. The commercial thing made me incredibly stiff while developing. I would stare at a blank map and just struggle to make it work in my head. The second version of Cope Island, everything just felt awkward looking back. I wasn’t ready to make it yet. The idea was not as fully fleshed out in my head as I thought.

First map of the second version of Cope Island, everything about it feels so awkward for me. Very glad I scrapped this version.

So while I am making a slow and painful progress, Degica just kinda ghosts me. The person who was asked to help me with scripts, I will say, was VERY kind to me throughout the process but admitted to have been very tied up. I have nothing but kind things to say about the scripter. That said, the others designated to help me utterly ghosted me eventually. I was positive and patient. I just kept going forward and doing what I could.

The year of 2015 started off positive. I got my license finally. I got my job, which I still love to do. I finally made that major shift from doing nothing into being a functional adult. I still live at home, but I am cool with that for a little bit so I can save up and actually have some money in my account. Things are changing for the better, finally.

Halfway through the year was when the granddaddy of all shitstorms began. Honestly? It feels like the shitstorm JUST ended late last year and now I’m just a pile of goop slowly recovering from it all.

Summer of 2015

The summer of 2015 was intense, quite frankly. The changes began bouldering down a steep hill. I found it quite hard to develop for Cope Island during that summer, for many reasons. I had to stand up and put my foot down to my oldest brother, who was also my childhood tormenter. Doing that caused a ton of drama with my parents, especially my mom.

It was a hot summer day in the midwest. I had work at noon. I was making breakfast in the kitchen. I remember toasting a bagel to cream cheese and devour. My childhood house’s a/c just broke down. My dad was desperately trying to fix it in the basement as my mom took a barrage of verbal abuse from my oldest brother. He was having one of his villainous monologues in the kitchen, berating my mom in just about every way he could. Right in front of me, like I do not even exist. This was considered a norm in my house, but it ate at me every single time.

Why was he verbally attacking my mom? She made the tragic mistake of asking my oldest a favor. See, my oldest was buddies with a guy who fixed a/cs for a living. So she casually brought up if it was possible for my oldest to ask him to come over and check it out. My oldest instantly started screaming and berating. Saying how he doesn’t want his friend to be exposed to how dirty and scumbaggrous his family was. (wow, is that actually a word?)

Before I go further, let me describe what my oldest brother actually is. The man walks around like he is a gift from god. That we should appreciate to be in his presence and how he has this infinite wisdom. In reality, he is a momma’s boy who cannot drive or do anything without my mom helping him. He is very overweight, violent, an alcoholic, and has very extreme opinions about everything. He practically tormented me and my brothers throughout my childhood and into adulthood. When we wasn’t beating the shit out of me or my brothers, he was punching hole through walls and threatening to murder us. My parents never stopped him. They always let him run loose and had no courage to ever do what they needed to do to stop him.

Accurate art from my famous and much acclaimed game, Tragic Childhood.

My oldest liked to call my family hillbillies and scumbags and any degrading thing you can think of. Which I find funny, because my family is mostly well behaved and whatnot while he was always the person doing shady ass stuff. Like stealing, drug dealing, etc etc etc.

I was 22 at this point. Getting ready for work. And just being forced to witness my brother berate my mom without a pause. It was 22 years of this. I told my parents many times that I cannot handle this for much longer and that I will stand up to him. They begged me not to and said they would deal with it. I finally had enough.

I tell him if he is going to keep talking that he, he needs to leave the kitchen and go to his room as I just want to make my breakfast without witnessing my mom be verbally slaughtered. He was standing there is his dirty beer stained wife beater, face red and covered in sweat. He looked at my mom and said “You are going to let this scumbag tell me to leave my kitchen?”

My oldest brother and I did have a temporary truce for a few years before this day. It has been years since I let him directly talk that way to me. He was crossing line after line and it finally built up to this. I lose my cool instantly and reply with “You’re going to let this dirty alcoholic call ME a scumbag?”

He can say whatever he wants. I had to stomach so much vile shit from his mouth. And guess what, he WAS and still IS an alcoholic. He would demand booze money as allowance from my parents, even when he had a full time job (which he did then and still does). This man is also 8 years older than me. So at the time he was already 30. But the fact I dared call him anything set him off into an explosion of fury.

My gf at the time was in Norway, thankfully, and missed out on this horrible debacle. Yet, one of the first things my brother did was bring her into it. He called her a whore. He also threatened to murder me and my family. He would say incredibly hurtful things to my mom then look at me after and be like “YOU MADE ME DO THAT TO HER”

The wrap this up, I stood up to him and did not stand down. He didn’t lay a finger on me, only because he was afraid of me calling the cops. Which I was more than willing to do and everyone knew it. He did try to break my fingers at one point during this, thankfully he wasn’t strong enough. I stood up and told him that he was not do be doing this shit anymore. I kind of won because he stopped doing it openly, but the cost was pretty dear. My mom has never quite forgiven me for this and even blamed my gf/future wife on the events… Despite her having nothing to do with it, at all.

The fight more or less lasted two days. On the first day I had to go to work. I remember being shaken up really bad. I mentally was not there. I was not hungry. My skin felt tingly. I told my parents that I really could not live in this toxic environment anymore. Yet they gave me the same old false reassurances that thing will change. I remember while I was at work that day, my dad kept texting me “It’s okay” spelled exactly like that over and over again. It WASN’T okay. It was never okay. And spoilers, it won’t be okay until I moved out for good two years later.

Believe it or not, that day when I calmed down I made a song on Cope Island. The song did not make it in, but I named the song “It’s okay” because of my dad’s texting. I did not have an idea of how to end the game yet at that point, so I just kind of used my general feel to make a song hoping it would give me ideas. It didn’t, not yet at least. But the song title “It’s okay” I used again later as I thought it was important to capture my complex emotions during that day in some way shape or form. The song title is now used for the Bath Trial, and is one of my favorite songs. It took a few years after this fight for me to figure certain things out, but time really did help me paint the vision I imagined.

This section kind of felt like airing dirty laundry, yet I find it important to tell as I did use Cope Island as sort of a beacon through this time. It helped me almost meditate and focus on something more positive. And that remains true for what comes next in my life. More dirty laundry, but it also leads to impacting what Cope Island became.

Summer of 2015 PART 2

My childhood house was a nightmare, to be honest. I will not go into details. But it was a miserable place full of bad vibes and memories, filled with trash and practically falling apart. I finally helped convince my parents it was time to cut the losses and move.

The house itself was really bad. It was always humiliating to bring people over. Honestly it gave me a huge complex about having anything nice. I truly feel I deserve my childhood house and anything nice, clean, and working was something not meant for me to ever have. So FINALLY being able to move from that was promising to be very life changing.

The big elephant in the room was my oldest brother. He and I deathly hated each other. I was not willing to move into a new house with him. The arrangement would have been that me, my parents, and my brother and his wife would split the costs of the place so we can all afford it. I refused to pay for my oldest brother.

My mom eventually convinced me to agree to let him come with us. He had a full time job, he could afford his own place. But he walked around preaching about how poor he was because he had a student loan he utterly failed with. I can go on and on about his failures, but this is not the time or place. My parents did not tell him it was a done deal yet, that we were literally moving. They kept that from him. Though they told him they were ‘highly considering’ moving and the plan of everyone sharing income. My oldest brother told her he was not going to pay a dime, or that if he does it will be drastically less than everyone else.

That’s when I put my foot down. I refused to let him come to the new house. I told my parents I would not come and I would not pay. LOOKING BACK, I should have just moved out then. It would have avoided so much heartbreak. But I didn’t. I was the one who covered the down payment. I was the one that people needed at that time. I did not want to let my family down.

So my mom tells him we are moving and he is not coming with. For the first time in my life, I saw my oldest brother break down in the most pathetic way you can imagine. I won't go into much details, but he tried to pretend like he was a changed man and I did not buy it. I stared into his eyes and told him I did not believe him. It took very little for him to completely change his expression. It was like the Ace Attorney games, where the villains are finally defeated and break down. Those games have some of the most accurate breakdowns, because I’ve seen just about all of them. The early Ace Attrorneys I mean. With foam in his mouth, he kind of gives me this evil smile and starts laughing and saying the most vile things to me you can imagine. I had to pack the rest of my stuff , but I had my phone out and thumb over the recording button as he spat and threatened me, but scared to act because of the threat of me recording and showing to the police. My mom literally BEGGED me to leave, saying that she thought he was going to literally murder me. I pack my stuff and leave him behind.

The new house was honestly nice. We got a good deal on it to rent. It had a lot of space. My gf at the time was a few weeks away from visiting for a few months. Things were going very well. My family got along better than ever. I was getting used to living in a nice house for once. That summer we had no a/c so it was deathly hot every day in the childhood house. The life change was drastic. That lasted for three weeks.

Maintenance had to fix the gas stove, because the burners weren’t quite working right. My brother and I leave for work, and we kinda notice a gas smell, but did not think anything of it because the guy was working on the stove or had just finished. We never had a house with gas stove before, so we didn’t quite get how much of a red flag that smell was.

Literally like 5 minutes into my shift, I get a phone call from my mom. “The house burned down. It’s a total loss. Your dad is in the ambulance to the hospital. I have to go.” I didn’t even have time to ask what happened. My COWORKER of all people walks in right after I get off the phone and tells me my house burned down. My brother and I worked at the same place at the time and he had already contacted my boss. (my dad was fine, he just had very high blood pressure and was not hurt. Took me a hot minute to learn that though, based off how my mom worded it lol)

My brother and I go there and it’s a fucking war zone. Firemen everywhere. Police preventing people from the street. The nice house we just rented just totally burned down. Everything I ever owned, gone just like that. Besides my 3ds and my pc, which I broke my work rules and brought with me that day.

Firemen were still working at it, I believe. I think the fire was stopped, but they were trying to recover stuff that could be saved. One of my brother’s cats was still in there. Firemen told me that there was literally no chance for her to have lived that. (Thankfully, he came out a few minutes literally holding the cat. She miraculously came out of that alive, hid under the smoke in the basement.)

What happened was, my dad turned on the stove after the maintenance guy worked on it and it exploded in my dad’s face. It seared his beard off but missed his skin thankfully. It burned FAST. He got the car out of the driveway. My sister in law got one of the cats out. Everyone made it out safely. I had not unpacked anything yet and, well, total loss for me. Everything was gone. The love letters from my gf. The souvenirs I had from Norway. My life time of Pokemon collection. Lifetime of game files and collection in general. At the blink of an eye, all gone.

So the first thing we have to do is drop off my brothers cats at the childhood home, where my oldest still resides. The first thing he does when we arrive is come out come out and pretend to care about my dad and ask about him. I told him now is not the time to start shit and he looks at me and says “Shut the fuck up, you Motherfucker. I’m asking about my dad.” Drama ensues, as me and the older brother I actually like were not in the mood for his bullshit. My other little brother, one who didn’t move with us, came out after the oldest went back in. This guy never spoke to anyone anymore, Very antisocial. Didn’t like anyone. He told me, my older brother, and his wife that the oldest was LAUGHING about the fire and saying how we all deserved it. That night we were literally homeless and living in a hotel room. I saw my mom get a text from my oldest saying that if he says me or my other older brother again, he will put us through a “living nightmare” and promise that we will be hospitalized and that he was willing to spend a night in jail for that. I still have a picture of that text, just in case I might have needed it one day.

Long story short, we somehow manage to find another place to rent in a short time. But we have like no furniture, no clothes, we have to start all over again. During that frenzied week of trying to recover, my mom tells me that the fire was karma for me not preventing my oldest brother from moving in. She literally looked at me and blamed me for the fucking fire. Honestly, I felt cursed. I finally had a nice place. Clean. Things were finally seemingly good. And it felt like it was life’s way of telling me fuck off. Everyone suffered much loss that day. Yet my stuff was totally destroyed. Nothing saved. It really felt like the universe was angry at me.

Thankfully, my oldest brother was not allowed to come with us because of my interventions. However everyone is in low morale, though less than a week after the fire my gf was finally able to visit for another three months. My god I really needed her during that time. The chaos did not end after that. A lot more drama from my parents, who treated me and my gf like utter garbage. Eventually some apologies were made and things got temporarily better. Yet my mom clearly despised my gf and blamed her for my oldest brother situation, for no fucking reason really.

That new house I lived in for three weeks before the fire, I still have vivid memories of it. I only did a little work on Cope Island during those weeks, all I did was I made a song called 'here'. I intended for it to be the ending song, but it turned out way more intense than I intended so I made it the end boss song instead. For the longest time, when I heard that song it would punch me in the face with my memories of my temporary room and I would smell it vividly. It honestly disturbed me a lot. That's why I kept it in. It only plays briefly in Cope Island: Adrift at the end boss. (most people haven't found it yet as it's pretty secret) The song plays before the fight really 'begins'. But it's the only song I ever made to provoke powerful feelings from within myself. The fact I named it 'here' and it was so intense. It's a slow and mostly ambient song with heavy tremolo string use, but it always felt powerful to me. For the longest time it WAS the end boss fight music, I changed that rather last minute because I didn't want it to seem too pretentious haha.

I know there's a lot of information here that seemingly does not have much to do with the development of Cope Island. The whole situation with my oldest brother and my house burning down. It feels important for me to tell that. It's part of the Cope Island development story. Really.

After all that chaos, I continue development. Around December I finish the second version of Cope Island, though I'm still waiting for Degica's side of the work. They are still utterly ghosting me. It's around this time I finally find my way to rmn and join the community, thanks to Liberty suggesting I believe after she gave me my judge scores. (Took me a while to actually join after.) I play some rmn games (looking at you Brave Hero Yuusha!) and seeing something as simple as a text blip made me really want to remake an old game of mine.

The new year begins and I decide to take a break from Cope Island dev as Degica is still not responding. I decided to learn Luna Engine Script and start Three Ghostly Roses. I hoped to finish that in a couple of months then focus more on Cope Island again. That only took about 10 months effort! I felt bad while making it, that I should be focusing on my commercial game instead. But I was tired of waiting for Degica and this was a good chance for me to learn. Turns out making Three Ghostly Roses was the BEST thing I ever did for making Cope Island. It taught me so much and got me through so many mental blocks.

I thought I could finish this Afterword thing on Part 2, but I have a lot to go. 2016, 2017, and 2018 were years of practically non-stop shitstorms. 2019 has been much better, but honestly much lonelier. That's not a bad thing though. It took me a long time to get to this point of peace, but I had to go through a lot to get here. I live a life of mostly solitude these days, but the turmoil is non-existent. Cope Island was finished pretty much at the end of all these shitstorms. It's funny how that worked out. I've been to very dark places mentally, but the idea of never finishing Cope Island was just the saddest thing to me. I really wanted to finish it. Very happy that I did. And now I slowly put the pieces of me back together, hopefully building a self esteem at all. Writing these have been difficult, but it's been really therapeutic.

I had to make Cope Island during so many difficult times throughout the years. As bad as 2015 was. 2017 was way worse. And 2018 was the low point of my life. The constant brightness in my life was this project and I sincerely mean that.

Until next time. See ya all in Part 3!


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pheww... what a read. Need a moment to recover from that. Yeah, that's quite a something to crawl out from. And I am sure as you know, there ain't no such thing as punishment for such broad things, especially not for standing up for yourself - the ones who support that notion or try to make it so need to leave your circle. When one feels that way it's usually more a red flag for the beliefs one has picked up, it must sound so ridiculous now, but I am sure it felt so incredibly real (and surreal) then.

Besr Richard Slayer
Yeah, I definitely don't believe I was punished for anything, but it was hard to convince myself logic when all these bad things were happening haha. It was like a powerful feeling of irrationality I had to fight.

Also, I'm highly considering doing goofy stick figure comics throughout the next hopefully the lighten the load. It gets worse before it gets better haha.
It's darkest before the dawn and all that. No personal space then and people who are bad dealing with it loaded with tension, yeah.. I'll need to brace myself.
I am just really glad you kept marching on, and could arrive at where you are now : ) (also props to gf-san! It must've been hell for the both of you at that time)
All of this is very much alive. No need to lighten it up, if it's dark. Just throw it us and maybe we can help you deal with some of it later.

Btw lack of distance and subjectivity gives your writing raw strength. That combined with indisputable literal qualities of your writing, you should consider writing a novella one day. This probably isn't the personal support you need, but I wanted to share my thoughts nonetheless. Sorry, if the comment's not suitable.
Besr Richard Slayer
Your support is very much appreciated Cap! Helps me remember that I am doing the right thing writing these up.
You are my inspiration in life. Right after being an angry Scot.
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