This is it folks. We finally found our ending.

A few months back we decided to scale down the production from our originally planned full commercial release. Our circumstances were changing, and the production had to follow suit if we were to ever finish the game. Since then I’ve been trying to figure out exactly where we’re going next. While we did very reasonably change our scope to be more realistic, we also lost some of the romance of the impossibly large dream. And with it, we lost our goal. The production became directionless and confusing in a way that I still don’t quite understand. I had hoped that more realistic expectations would make for more rewarding work, but something about the impossible dream is just so much more exciting than the tempered reality could ever be. It’s rather depressing, but it’s the reality we have.

I went to visit my burned out artist friend to try to figure out all these feels. We hadn’t seen each other since late autumn, so I thought it was about time we did something about that. After hours of reminiscing and complaining we came to the conclusion that not only did the project now lack direction, but we’d also lost a lot of the passion that drove us. As the project has grown to take over more and more of our lives it’s brought a boatload of anxiety and stress with it. And in the end, I’m not sure it’s really worth it. Knowing how much better I could do now if I started fresh with a new game, it’s hard to justify all the time that goes into Sushido. Still, I do love this project, even if it’s complicated sometimes. I wouldn’t want it to end in a disappointing puff of smoke. So what do we do?

Turns out the answer was really right under my nose all along. Almost literally. I’m a student at the biggest game development college in Sweden, and it just so happens that they have an important role in organizing the national Game Awards, a competition for students of game design. Which, this year, is held around 100 meters north of where I live. I could hardly make it more convenient if I tried.

We decided that’s where we’re going. One final push, then we’ll be done.

In many ways this is the absolute best way to say goodbye to the project. It’s a context where scope really doesn’t matter as long as you do well with what you have. There are no pretentions of moving on to something bigger once we’re done. It even makes for a nice bookend to the competion we entered last year. But most importantly, they have a really convenient deadline. Counting from today we’ll have roughly two months left. That is long enough to get a lot of important work in, but also short enough to not feel like it’s a hopeless death march. It’s precisely the kind of clarity we need; an exact and rewarding goal to work towards.

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You know, it feels incredibly good to finally be able to see the end. After all this time and all these uncertainties it’s like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a box of rotting vegetables. There’s nothing more disheartening than working in the dark, completely consumed in both present and future by an existential monster of a project. Now, I can see the game in a new light much more like the one I had when we started. And I know it won’t have to last. Perhaps that is the biggest relief of all.

67 days remain

You can find more information about Sushido over on our website, and follow me on Twitter to keep up with the rest of my work. Happy Pi day, and I’ll see you again next week!