Easton's here! / by Kai Chuan

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"Selfless is an experiential game about physical and emotional release.

In Selfless, the player effortfully wanders the landscape searching for the broken pieces of my childhood home. With the recovery of each piece, the player must return to the start to progress the reconstruction. During their return, the player observes photographs of myself and my home, of other people and other places, of finding and being found.

As the player collects these pieces and the house rebuilds, I challenge their endurance and engagement with increasing tests of will. In reparation for their tasks, I allow the player time to reflect and accept how far they've come and how much further they must go every time they return.

Selfless is my form of reconciliation and apology to everyone I broke, everyone I found, everything I was, and everything I am."

 

HELLO! EASTON’S HERE!

Hopefully for the past month Kai has been keeping you all occupied with our regular updates, blog posts, and art kicks! In case any of you didn’t know, over the past year, I’ve been working on my Capstone, Selfless. And it’s taken a lot out of me, both physically and mentally...

Before/After Capstone Colorized 2017-2018

Before/After Capstone Colorized 2017-2018

Yet here I am, literally a day after my last officially-evaluated milestone, scrambling to write all my thoughts about it. So here’s some stream-of-consciousness reflections I wanted to publish! Whether you’re working on something big or small, personal or commercial, I hope there’s something of benefit you can take from my experience and musings! I’m sorry if I’m currently incoherent or if these thoughts aren’t organized in a sensible order.

While I’m a little scared to head out into the real world after the exhibition and graduation, there is a tremendous feeling of relief that washed over me this morning after giving my presentation. Some things my roommates might have overheard me exclaiming this morning:

 

“I’m finally free!”

“No one expects anything from me ever again!”

“A game!”

“I’m Tired™!”

“I can relax!”

“I can stop making things and start making M O N E Y!”

 

Except that isn’t how capitalism works :)

So, if you’re reading this and looking for somebody to do something btw: hit me up :)

 

I sort of cursed myself when I started this project. I deliberately chose something personal and immediate to myself because I thought it would motivate me to create something with my distinct voice and artist’s touch. And while this project is undeniably mine, it was incredibly difficult as an artist to digest critique and feedback of it.

As a Game Design™ student, I was regularly told what my project should have, what playtesters wanted. Coming from a visual arts background, I’m used to class critiques, to explaining, supporting, and or defending my vision. But there was definitely something at odds when I decided to make this game. I had to not only make this “game”, this very authored, non-traditional, and non-gamey experience, but at the same time get that shiny NYU Game Design degree.

(Which was kind of a weird thing! I felt this strange obligation to pander or give faculty exactly what they asked for, rather than making them work within what design constraints I had already set. (Which I guess has a little less to do with being a student and more to do with me being the definition of a Libra))

I think with this pressure of meeting certain expectations being lifted, I can pursue less traditional design frameworks. However, I’m definitely going to need to create a similar deadline structure to what NYU has provided me and I think that’s also what initially scared me about graduating, but Kai and I promised that we would hold each other accountable for continuing to create and share our work. And I don’t plan on disappointing him. <3 But hopefully with the release of Selfless, that’ll keep him satisfied for like… a month or something.

At least now, after what feels like a year of this emotional turmoil, Selfless finally feels like it has found it its feat! ;) And it’s ready for some final touch ups before it’s presented to the public in two weeks! Speaking of! If you want to play Selfless, come to the NYU Game Center Showcase, May 17th! There’s a ton of great games to play and people to meet!

Anyway, I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received working on this and I’d like to thank everyone! I am indebted to you. (In no particular order!)

 

Kai, this is half a thank you and half an apology. I’ve put you through so much while working on this. Between the late night struggles to put together review builds and the hour-long discussions of what exactly this game is, you stuck through it. You and your patience are incredible. Your thoughts and ideas were instrumental to the development of Selfless. Without your input, Selfless would not be what it is, it wouldn’t even exist. Thank you. I love you.

Sabrina, you’re the reason I survived college! You are so incredible and I’m so lucky to have you in my life, even if you’re 700 miles away. Thank you for lifting my spirits with your humor, for looking for my best interests even when I wasn’t. For being my right-hand friend and someone I can share anything and everything with. I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you.

Wen! My visual/design inspiration! My best friend who was here with me through that strange introduction to that part of life called college. I know I say it a lot, but I’m so glad we worked those late nights at WSN together. You are one of the closest people in my life and I don’t think I’ve ever clicked with anyone so fast. You were always ready with ice cream whenever the stress got a little too much to handle. Thank you.

Ashley, my shield! I could always count on you to be a voice to ground me when I tended to get a little ahead of myself about things. Seeing you and Jessie whenever I came home from school was always the best part. And seeing all that you’ve accomplished and who you’ve grown to be is so inspiring, it’s an honor to be your friend. Thank you.

Jessie, my sword! You on the other hand! You always inspired me to be passionate, to get angry(!), to get emotional about things! And express them! But like Ashley, I’m not surprised to see how far you both have come since we left high school. I always knew you guys were going to do amazing things and just be amazing people. Thank you.

Kas! For talking to me about my game seriously. And for working together on Stereophyta, an incredible piece of art.

Flan! For talking about less serious things. Absolute Unit.

We all got through Capstone together! And it definitely wouldn’t have been the experience it was without you two. Thank you.

Michael, Jeri, Audrey, Aleksei, Calvin and Rick! The elders… Y’all are so cool and make such incredible work. And as a child at the Game Center, having you guys to look up to was so inspirational. Please never stop creating! Thank you.

Julian and Frankie! The rest of Big Bag™! My contemporaries™! I’m sorry to graduate early. But my bank account, she’s very ill. I’m heartbroken I won’t be in the same Capstone alongside you both to witness what you create first-hand. (But I’m definitely gonna need you both to show me your ideas ASAP, and then any iterations down the line!) Thank you.

Noah and Emily! The future of games! That’s you! You both are such incredible designers for how young you are! And so supportive of me in my old age! I’m so excited to see what you both create in the future! Thank you.

Emi. (Which I guess I should thank Julian again sort of for introducing us!) Your art is so heartfelt and personal. Your conceptual thinking and knowledge of references was a huge inspiration for my project. And going to both of your shows really helped me rethink how one can approach art and allowed me to even call this game "art." Thank you.

Liz! Your music is incredible and this experience would not nearly be as meaningful or as emotional without it. Music is such a powerful and expressive media and your ability to navigate it with such skill is so awesome to observe. Thank you.

Winnie! My Capstone mentor! I admire your work so much! I’m so thankful to have gotten your thoughts on my project. I think in contrast to most of the feedback I’ve received, you’ve been one of the most supportive in my voice as a designer. And with myself being somewhat new to designing games, your encouragement was indispensable when I reached moments of indecision or hesitation in my process. Thank you.

Charles, Eric, and Dennis. You put up with my indecisive nature and anxiety firsthand and expected a lot for our class’s Capstone projects. I know I seemed to struggle a lot, but having your deadlines and feedback was instrumental to my growth as a designer. I hope I can take what I learned from taking Capstone and apply it to the projects I work on in the future. Thank you.

And of course, my family. The entire inspiration for this project. I’m sorry some things aren’t right at the moment. I know a game won’t solve it. But I hope it shows that I’m trying. I hope we can fix it.

 

Easton