Nate Graves — September 8, 2012
Motivation is sort of a curious topic for someone like me to address. It becomes even more amusingly peculiar at 3 AM when you consider I’ve only been awake for about four hours. It’s not that I have a hard time rallying the troops, so to speak, but that I have a hard time rallying myself. I have a hard time getting things done; my car still has bondo above the wheel wells because I haven’t finished sanding and painting it yet. It’s been there since May. Getting out of bed in the morning is the sort of thing people joke about being a serious accomplishment.
It means something to me.
I will not launch into a long, self-deprecating rant on the subject. The point I make is merely for context: I can speak to motivation, but walking the line is another issue entirely. Years of failure in work, school, relationships, dealing with drinking, depression and then picking myself back up for more self-abuse have taught me something absolutely invaluable on the subject. It’s a simple lesson, one I’m sure nearly every one of you that didn’t sleep through your high school science classes knows.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest.
If there is, or has ever been a more vital statement on understanding personal motivation, I have yet to find it. There are motivating words, speakers, television, movies, many things that we can draw inspiration from, but none carry impact as clear and straightforward as mental inertia. Everything else flows out from this basic idea. As long as you keep moving, it’s a question of directing gathered energy rather than trying to generate it from a standstill.
This is what motivates me.
That’s not why I care about games though. While I enjoy film scripts, books, even the occasional spot of serialized television, games are unique as a storytelling medium. That is, more than anything why I’m drawn to writing for them. Some people think in terms of the pacing of their narrative text, the flow and rhythm of the words… or the timing of a continuous camera shot, panel layout in a comic strip, all perfectly interesting, viable disciplines. I like spotting the distance of a scripted event, evaluating the usage of an engine to achieve immersion in a player, I care about arranging the chaos and multitude of potential experiences that giving choices to a player allows in order to provide them a compelling reason to keep going.
That is what keeps me going.
That’s not why I care about Aeternum though. Just games. Don’t worry, I’m getting to it. I know you’re all wading through some very serious and philosophical thoughts for a bullet hell shooter with a silly plot, cats in teacups and a handsome squid for a groundskeeper. The thing is, what Aeternum started out with was less than that. It’s a frustrating reality that a lot of gamers don’t care about the plots or backgrounds of their games, so I can concede that it might seem to be a lost cause to try and give it to them. The truth is that while you can just as easily skip through (or turn off) the plot at hand, the absence of one entirely is a void, and a notable one at that.
Sometimes all it takes to fill that abyss is to whisper a simple question: “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?”
In this case, replace President with Best Friend (Maybe), and you’ve got the core of it. An object in motion, though… one question gives rise to more questions, about who and why and when and how do corgis build spaceships anyway? Suddenly, what started off as a simple, silly little thing becomes a whole world, many worlds, each slightly more intriguing and even more fun to explore.
I don’t expect Aeternum to fly off of the digital shelves. Everyone working on this knows we’re not releasing to a huge audience. I do think that the sprite work, art, the hours of play testing, debugging, pattern development, general polish and love that has gone into the game is a cut above the rest. I think the lore, world and characters that have grown up around it are interesting. I hope to share more of that in future days. That’s a large part of why I’m so proud to be a part of this project and moreso why I hope we can achieve some modicum of success.
I do expect that maybe, just maybe, a few people will look on what we did here and smile and laugh. Right before they bite through their controller.