Warp Drive

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Game Over Day at Gridline Games

In all my years of writing, no story has been more difficult to explain than the A Day at Gridline Games stories. In essence, they are satirical takes on office life, often based on real life experiences encountered during Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion's development. A game project of mine that was perhaps troubled from the very start, with too much ambition and not enough resources to actually make it happen. Working with and keeping together the team necessary to produce Space Ruckus was often a nightmare scenario. In one notorious case, a musician left the project in a fit of rage simply because I had recruited another composer to help with the soundtrack. In hindsight, I may have tampered with the sacred musician's code! In another particularly troubling case, a modeler began posting his Space Ruckus models on a public forum for all to see. This may not have been quite so bad had he let us know in advance, but he was soliciting feedback on a very important asset from a group entirely unrelated to the project. Ay, there were times when I just wanted to say, "SPACE RUCKUS IS CANCELLED!" Then, drop everything and dash off to Disneyland. Or any old place, really.

Highway to...

With that said, there are often deeper meanings behind the events written about in A Day at Gridline Games. Certainly in the case of my more recent set of stories, Departing a Day at Gridline Games and A Final Day at Gridline Games. Let me just clear the air right here and now. I lost my father to Pancreatic Cancer in 2009. It was very sudden. He was diagnosed on his birthday, September 22nd, and a short three weeks later, he was gone. I was in the room when it happened. The horrific event known as death. It can be very difficult to talk about such things. Everyone has a different interpretation of what death is (and what follows it). I could throw out my own interpretation here, but that would just lead to trouble.

We all have a tendency to over-think things, and much like what happened with Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion, these ambitious thoughts often cause more trouble than they are worth when shared with those who are not like-minded. Two musicians with two very different ideas for the direction of the soundtrack. Two artists with two very different ideas for the art direction. Two developers with two very different views on death! Ultimately, these differences are meaningless, the fights which result from them are deeply saddening, and only serve to hurt relationships. Let us face facts. Everyone is different. No two people follow the exact same path in life. You cannot change them any more than you can change the weather. You just have to let people be who they are. I feel very strongly about this issue, and that is what I tried to capture in these stories. I may have upset a developer or two along the way, but this was not the intent. A harsh lesson, perhaps, but I meant no disrespect. I am very sorry if anyone was hurt. Truly, I only wish that everyone could just get along with one another, despite their differences.

Dave, one of A Day at Gridline Games' leading characters.

Following these two additional A Day at Gridline Games stories, I encountered a bizarre situation that further changed my view on my own unrepaired friendships. I had a unique problem on my hands that may not have demanded attention, but was certainly the right thing to do. My then dearest friend took an opposing view on the subject. One which led to a nasty argument. I tried not once but twice to apologize before it reached its apex, profanity included. It ended with him blocking me out from his social networks. I took a few days to think about the situation, and decided to give him a call. After all, I had said some pretty nasty things in the crossfire. I thought it best not to say anything about the hurtful things he had said. If he felt bad enough about something, I would leave it up to him to speak up. This was certainly not an easy thing to do, but we worked out our differences (for the most part), and had a very nice heart to heart. It really changed my perspective. The very next day, I decided to send a nice apology to everyone else I had ever fallen out with. It felt great! There would of course be some that would not reply, but I felt a sense of peace in trying. And it did not simply feel great, it felt right. An amazing thing happened. Most of them did reply! A heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders, and I was once again talking to those I thought and feared I would never speak to again.

Then came the second strike from my then dearest friend. I thought I had done everything just right. I let him know in our heart to heart conversation that I would be reaching out to everyone else. As I told him, I felt I had things to make up for. I did not want him to think I was abandoning him by any means. He sent some rather drastic and frightful messages. Insisting that I was a bad friend for leaving him behind for these others. In all fairness, he had his own issues with a number of them, but it was ultimately my choice. I was feeling quite well at the time, so I tried to respond as kindly as I could, but this just further angered him. He misinterpreted my calming attitude for being a smart-ass. I decided it was best to put an end to that conversation, letting him know that I was off to bed. That following morning, I discovered more angry messages on my cellphone. They were from him. In one particular voice mail message, he referred to me as a spiritualist. Adding a rather profane word beforehand. I paused for a moment, and even turned to a few other friends for advice. Finally, I decided to send him another message, letting him know that I just wanted to be left alone, and that we should each work on our own respective lives. It may have been a mistake in hindsight, but I then blocked him from responding. He left another angry message on my phone. I called back and we had a short but heated war of words. For one reason or another, he thought I had referred to him as the spiritualist, and he simply refused to let it go. I hung up on him, and we have not spoken since.

All in all, it was a startling sequence of events, and I still feel shaken as I write about it now, but I learned a lot along the way. I do not believe in holding grudges, and I choose not to look back on this friend with anger or bitterness. For everyone is different, and it is those differences which make us so unique. I did what I felt was right at the time, and he did what he felt was right. It may not have been what was right for me, but he felt it was right for him. I wish him well in the future, and hope that he too can eventually free himself from angry and resentful thoughts.

We could all use just a little enlightenment.

And that brings us to now. A Day at Gridline Games has more than run its course, but I have a new and comprehensive idea for a story revolving around my life before and after all this madness. One which will certainly include more of the narrator from Departing a Day at Gridline Games. I could never pass up the opportunity to work with him again! I sincerely hope that this article has been at least somewhat insightful. Never stop dreaming. Just try to keep those dreams within the realm of your abilities. Or better yet, expand your abilities!

Peace from the "spiritualist!"

Editor's Note: We were all dead in A Final Day at Gridline Games. Think about it. Space Ruckus' Bill Grig was there!