Our friend Brandon Boyer recently ran a Kickstarter drive for his new website, Venus Patrol. To help support the drive, we agreed to contribute a special pre-release demo build of Johann Sebastian Joust, for donors at the $25 level or above.
This week, true to our word, we finally shared the current alpha build with hundred of deserving donors. Sure, it wasn’t a proper public release, but it was our first time sharing the build with strangers. Exciting!
But for me, our contribution is less about J.S. Joust itself and more about “giving back” to Brandon and his new endeavor. In an email to all the donors, I wrote a small post about why we’re so honored to be a part of the Venus Patrol festivities. I’d like to share it here:
What you should know is that this game might not exist – at least not in this form – if it weren’t for Brandon. The original version of J.S. Joust, which I prototyped at the Nordic Game Jam earlier this year, was designed for the Wiimote. Sure, that was a lot of fun, but the Wiimote code I had used was frustratingly unstable. Worse yet, I couldn’t find a stable solution that I could send to others. I could barely get the game working on my own laptop!
Fast forward to May of this year. Brandon comes and visits us in Copenhagen, where he attends our Arcade Boat party. After trying J.S. Joust, Brandon asked me if he could run the game at an upcoming Juegos Rancheros showcase in Austin. Problem was, I still faced those daunting technological hurdles, not to mention my PhD dissertation. But I came away from that conversation and that party re-energized, more determined than ever to get that damn game distributable. I felt inspired to give the prototype another go. In the desperate search that ensued, I finally stumbled upon Thomas Perl’s open-source Move api (thanks, Thomas!). I spent a few days battling linker errors, reaching back into my distant computer science past (finally put that degree to good use!), and, well, the rest is history.
It’s true that Brandon, as a curator and general-purpose connoisseur of culture, is renown for his sense of taste. But as my little anecdote shows, that isn’t the full story. No, what strikes me about Brandon is how he has managed to galvanize community. What stands out to me is the ways in which he has personally encouraged so many of us indie developers, reminding us that someone out there might actually care about what we do.
Of course, Brandon doesn’t deserve all the credit here. Some of you out there, too, sent your feedback and encouragement. You should know that it made (and continues to make) all the difference.
And there’s the point. As a community (or communities, plural) of engaged peers, we can push each other to greater and greater heights. Or, as my hero Hannah Arendt put it: “The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves.” For me, that is precisely the promise of Venus Patrol (and the function of Offworld before it) – to lay the foundations for a more two-way relationship between the making of culture and its consumption. If it succeeds, Venus Patrol will encourage and inspire creators everywhere to go farther, dig deeper.
So in that spirit, I’d like to push back at Brandon and say: good luck, dude. Make us proud.