It’s not good, guys.

Our main artist has collapsed. One of the best people I’ve ever had the honor of working with has burned out under his workload and is unable to continue to work on Sushido. As things are now he’ll probably have to take at least a year away from game development because of economic, social, and health related issues. In a single sudden moment a person who wanted nothing more than to do what he loves has been forced to abandon the project he spent every waking hour of the last year on.

What do you even do when things like these happen?

I really, really wish I knew. The two of us have worked together since we started making games, and now this happens because of factors beyond our control. We were going to do this together. Wrestle down the impossible through sheer force of will. I always want these kinds of things to feel like some kind of dramatic battle between determination and bullshit, but the reality is nowhere near as interesting. It’s less of a satisfyingly raging anger and more the mellow, grey melancholy of reality slowly sinking in. It’s the reality of the business and we can only be happy that things aren’t worse, but I’d be damned if it doesn’t hurt. We have a gaping hole in our team, and we’re going to have to figure out a way to replace the unreplaceable.

We’ve identified a couple of possible ways forward. Our original plan to release a fully featured game suddenly seems unlikely, so we’ll have to rethink things. The absolute worst case scenario is a sudden cancellation. While it’s freeing to know that that is even possible, it would make for an incredibly depressing end to a year of hard work. The more reasonable alternative is to scale down the production to accommodate the slower pace. Alternatively we could push the deadline, but at this point that just feels like delaying an inevitable failure. We need something more concrete than a nebulous maybe-goal. So for now we’ve decided to start planning for a smaller release. If all goes well we’ll still sell the game at a lower price, otherwise it’ll become a nice polished portfolio piece. It’s a loss, but one I feel I can accept.

For now, I’ll be taking a break from the project until the end of January. I need to reconsider my options for a while and take some time off to recover emotionally. It’s been a stressful and emotional month, and I feel like taking some time to reflect might be exactly what I need. What I said last time still applies: As long as we survive everything will probably work out just fine. Maybe, hopefully. Won’t know until we try.

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As you might expect considering the circumstances and last couple of weeks, the blog will be moving to a fortnightly schedule for the time being. With development on ice it’s hard to justify putting out a new piece every week, and it’s still unclear exactly what will be happening once we do return. I’m holding out for a safe return to form and steady pace to the finish line, but right now it’s all up in the air. But no matter what happens I’ll still be here writing. I feel like this is the kind of situation where the blog is the most useful. Wherever this moment takes us is going to be interesting in and of itself. The least I can do is make sure we learn something from it.