December, 2023 — Bergen, Norway
A bit of back story. I first started working on Vesper back in 2019. Back then it was a way to explore some of my ideas and intuitions about stylistic minimalism (low poly 3D, vertex colors, textureless shader design).
The high concept is pretty simple; A compact sci-fi adventure game about a human stuck in a small, derelict space ship in a decaying orbit around an exoplanet. Can't really go anywhere, how do you figure anything out (or make an interesting game for that matter)?
To kick things off I was lucky enough to land two small grants, which let me work for a few months. With that I made an interactive script - like a text-adventure formatted as a movie script - Using Twine and Ink - and then I set out to create a prototype, using Unity. That's when the trouble started.
Back then, my background was mostly as a freelance designer and an artist. I had played around with Unity in my studies and made some parts of Pode, but nothing like prototyping a game on my own. My lack of experience, pathological over-planning, and ability to move in circles made work on the prototype glacial.
I couldn't let go of the the need to have a plan for the entire thing. It paralyzed me and kept me from the discovery-filled, strange spirals of creative work I've since come to enjoy. Looking back I'd call those months "galling" - and profoundly self-inflicted.
I eventually finished the prototype, but what I had made was nowhere near what I'd imagined. I took a break from Vesper, telling myself I'd come back to it, and then I got involved with Henchman & Goon and life happened.
The Vesper repository sat there, silently looming. An ominous sign that something had gone wrong. I didn't like talking about it. Instead, I held the shame and the broken potential close and distracted myself. I grew vague whenever I talked about my work. Unwilling to commit. Keeping the exit in sight and hedging all my bets.
One night a while back I was laying in bed, looking at the strange swirling patterns that hide on the back of all eye lids. Thoughts of Vesper drifted into mind, but as I moved to push them aside once again I was surprised to feel no sharp edges there. Instead, as I unpacked my memories of that period, I was surprised to find myself getting psyched about the themes, ideas and story again. I realized that in the intervening time, all my troubles from before had faded into triviality as I gained experience and skills.
It felt like an inflection point. The feeling was familiar. A tectonic shift that opens a path forward. I started working on Vesper the next morning.
Besides some new concept art and a lot of spelunking in the old Unity projects, I warmed up by making this tape deck. I wanted an exercise, and I wanted to test out the entire work flow from Blender into Unity - modeling, animation, scripting, lighting, and all that jazz.
I'l keep working on Vesper. Explore. Experiment. Figure out what it wants to be. I also know I need to push myself on 3D - especially rigging and animation.
More next time.