Developer Personal Blog: Looking Back on the Past and Ahead to the Future

I wanted to write an honest personal blog following our last remaining founding member (other than myself), Egle, leaving.

People have all sorts of mixed feelings about us, by now. That’s fair, your feelings are valid.

But after seeing some people say some particularly terrible things, and after seeing how brave Egle was in making her decision and being honest and open about her mental health, self-hate and suicidal thoughts, I felt I had to say a little more. I haven’t seen all the bad things out there about us. I don’t read them, because I know that some of it is made up, and would only distract me from my job. I know the truth, and I have always been honest, even if there were things I couldn’t say. I have no motive to lie, and I know these people don’t know or understand me.

I’ve told this story a few times by now. Me, Egle and our former artist Gess started this business a few years ago. We didn’t know what we were doing. It was hellish, and even though we started with crowdfunding, we didn’t have enough money for a game the scope of Mystic Destinies: Serendipity of Aeons.

But we knew we had a commitment to fulfill, and a dream of the stories we wanted to show. So we all three went without pay for over a year, pouring everything into just being able to afford to have the game programmed. Communication was never something any of us wanted to do. People who offered to do it for us came and went. We didn’t know how to use social media back then at all. We just wanted to create.

Towards the end of the game’s releases, we decided to make a spin-off (Mystic Destinies: Echoes) to finally start making something financially. We were blessed with a good amount from crowdfunding this time. We began to prepare accordingly…Then, things happened immediately.

Being forced to move, Gess quitting and having to find a new artist, an expensive and long, drawn-out divorce…Life came at us fast and hot. We knew that it would be quite awhile before we could finish development on Echoes and begin to actually make revenue, but our other demo game, To the Edge of the Sky did well at the time.

We thought maybe it could be our chance to demo the game for the artist’s company. In order to survive financially as a company, and as human beings, we split into two teams, one that would work on Echoes and crowdfunding rewards, and one that would pursue To the Edge of the Sky. We added Jackie onto the team then, to help as a junior writer with the writing work on Echoes.

Behind the scenes, where some people seem to think some kind of shadiness was going on (not exactly sure what, but probably thought we were not working and on vacation or something) were struggling artists. Struggling with the fall out of abusive relationships, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts…

Some of us were able to eventually take a step back from work and get better. I, for example, also have struggled with physical and mental health, but I was able to find some equilibrium and manage To the Edge of the Sky up till our budget became strained.

I managed to focus on my overall health, improve it, and keep working. But some didn’t. Some people who worked with us left for their health, and still others continued to struggle. Those struggles affected their abilities to meet deadlines and to complete their other roles consistently. As Egle revealed, she has been silently struggling with mental health issues for a very long time, and yes, like with all of us, it did affect her work.

I try my best to be understanding and help others, and it’s true that I also believe she is a brilliant writer. It’s only because we worked together that we were able to show so many great things up till now. So I let Egle stay on as long as she wanted to keep trying. She’s a fighter, so she didn’t give in.

Unfortunately, as there were only three of us, it was nearly impossible to cover someone else’s work when they got sick, or simply couldn’t complete it for whatever reason. So deadlines were made, promised, and failed upon. I stopped making deadlines for the most part, because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone if someone’s work didn’t come through on time.

As time passed, only the team on To the Edge of the Sky was able to progress at an appropriate pace until late last year. Perhaps I’m too soft-hearted, perhaps I was wrong for my intentions that didn’t end well. But, because we all cared for each other, there was no way we would ever reveal each other’s struggles to the world before each other were ready to, no matter what terrible things people had begun saying about the company as a whole. I’m only speaking about this even now because Egle, already had on her own volition, stated it publicly.

I still don’t care about what the haters say, although I wish they wouldn’t spread untruths to people. It’s fine by me to be angry about things you know that have happened, but making assumptions and spreading them around is simply pointless and harmful. It only breeds hostility and destruction, it doesn’t actually solve anything.

And I know that we each tried our best, despite whatever lies or assumptions people may make up about us. Even if our best wasn’t good enough, even though we made mistakes, and people felt frustrated, (we all felt frustrated too, believe me), I know we always tried to do our jobs to our personal best ability.

Egle’s personal decision, I think, was for the best. I hope that Egle will now, finally, after giving 2.5 years of her life to ADS will be able to focus on her own road to recovery without any pressure or toxic environments. I believe that she was incredibly brave for coming out about her struggles, and I wrote this blog primarily because I saw someone claiming that even her admission might not be the truth. Yes, the great shadiness that some people suspected us of, was that we were having struggles and that caused massive delays.

After all the blood, sweat and tears we have poured into our work, and after all that we have tried to support each other through all the hard times, I felt I had to at least put the truth out there now that she has. People can believe that I am shady, or whatever nonsense they make up to validate their anger rather than just believing my words, I certainly can’t stop them.

But, the past is the past, and I know that Jackie and I - as the people we have grown into through these struggles and experiences - will be able to focus on improving ADS and shaping it into the kind of company we can be proud of. I thought of the possibility of course, of hanging it up, working on providing refunds to people (what, you REALLY thought we were so dishonorable as not to do that?) but ultimately, I still love making games and I have learned so much in every single one of my roles here, I know I can do better. And Jackie felt the same way and told me she wanted to rise to the challenge.

So, there are many things we have discussed already between the two of us that we want to fix as we distribute our former teammate’s roles and work between us, and create a new structure for the company. We share the same vision and commitment to our work, are finally in a healthy place in our lives, and the end of the company’s financial struggles seem to be in sight. We just need a little time to get settled so we can do things right this time.

But we won’t ask a single person to wait for us, or not to feel angry or upset. That’s your right to do so. As for us, we are simply going to keep doing the best we can, in the circumstances we are in right now, and even if everyone lies about us, and hates us, or even if no one else believes in us, we know the truth firmly in our hearts and do believe in ourselves.

We’ve decided that, even if the road is longer that we expected, even if it looks different than we expected, even if it is slower than we expected, we will take over Egle’s work, honor our previous commitments this year, and keep making amazing stories. As far as we’re concerned, since the founding team is no longer together and everything is getting an overhaul, everything from now on is a new era for Aeon Dream, all the way from the writers down to the way it’s run. It’s up to you if you want to see how it all plays out, but we’ve decided that we’re gonna keep going.