What I Learned About Passion

Last week, April 26th to be precise, we had the opportunity to pitch our project to a live audience at the ‘entrepreneurial round-up,’ hosted by Take Off Antwerp. This presented an incredible opportunity for us, but it also inflicted upon me a nervousness I hadn’t experienced before. This nervosity was also due to the fact that BAAS was announcing their selection for their year-long support track that very same evening. To be considered for selection, we had to pitch our project approximately a week before the round-up, in front of a professional jury. Things went well that day, but we had no definite idea of what to expect until the announcement on the 26th.

Our passion would speak for ourselves, I thought, only half-right.

Between these two pitches, we were sent to a workshop to improve upon our pitch. The workshop was good, but instilled in me a sense of defiance towards the rigid structure of the so-called ‘perfect pitch.’ This structure would see us taking the stage talking about a particular problem, to which Shuttle to the Sun was to present itself as the perfect solution. But we felt that to focus on the problems in the Belgian Game Industry was not representative of who we are and what we dream of, which is to make high-quality games and rise to the international scene.

So, in an act of brazen defiance, I wrote a pitch deviating from their structure of perfection – we wouldn’t need to be perfect, but speak from the heart. Our passion would speak for ourselves, I thought, only half-right. Because although I was excited and well-prepared, I bombed. Hard.

Pictured here: Kilian from STS taking stage.
I’m way more nervous here than I look. (Picture courtesy of Takeoffantwerp)

I was already anxious just waiting for my moment to pitch, but after hearing that we had been selected for the BAAS support track, that feeling increased ten-fold. I jumped on the stage, stared into the bright lights and readied myself to speak. And then, things went wrong. I started out just fine, speaking those first lines of defiance against the rigidity of perfection, and then, ironically, blacked out on the follow-up.
In hindsight, I knew I was wrong, but I couldn’t help but feel that the audience behind the blinding light were staring at me in harsh judgement. I was a failure.

Yet, as I mentioned in our very pitch, even though we might not be perfect, we are relentless. And so, I didn’t quit, but carried on, and managed to salvage the second part of my pitch, running on autopilot. (I didn’t even know whether I had said everything I was supposed to until my partners assured me that I had.)

Pictured: Kilian from STS doing a Q&A.
A much more relaxed me, doing the Q&A. (Picture courtesy of Takeoffantwerp)

I allowed myself to be disappointed.

During the network drink after the whole pitching ordeal, I was regularly reassured that I had done fine, that I had come across as charming and passionate. Yet I was angry at myself for having failed, for I had only myself to blame. I went up there, prepared, passionate, and still bombed out. I allowed myself to feel the sting of public embarrassment, to be disappointed.

It took me a couple of days to write about this event, in part because I needed to take a little distance to appreciate the lessons to be learned here. Unknowingly, this public embarrassment had taught me a valuable thing about passion:
Its fire needs to be tempered by experience.

We will fail a hundred times more. We are rookies, and though our minds are set upon a grand goal, we must expect hardships along the way, and be unfazed about them, and kind towards ourselves. We will not yield. I am glad we did things our way, even though we did not fully succeed. We carve our own path.

Thanks for reading, everyone! The dust is settling, and we have our goals in mind. There are some questions that we still need answering, some very important things to consider. I look forward to sharing some concrete information on Garden of Snakes.

 

Alternate titles in consideration for today’s post:

  • 99 problems, a pitch was one.
  • The sting of public failure
  • Failure sparks a fire
  • The failure that sparked a fire
  • The public failure that sparked a fire
  • When passion hits a wall
  • Building upon failure
  • Pitch Problems

 

Extra: pitches

Because we at Shuttle to the Sun are all about transparency, we have included the three definite versions of our Pitches in their entirety.
Note: Keep in mind that all these pitches were performed in Dutch, so I have included the originals. For our non-Dutch-speaking followers, I have translated them to English, yet stuck as close to the original message as possible. Hence, the English versions are a little less creatively formulated.
Also, we have three main versions: the first one was to be performed at a closed practice session. The second one was to be performed in front of a professional jury (deciding whether we would be selected for the BAAS support track.) The third one was written after the workshop, and was shakily performed at the entrepreneurial round-up.

I’m sorry for the redacted part, but these are specifics about our first concept, and we are still at a stage where we have to be tight-lipped about it in order to protect our IP.

V1.0 – Dutch


Goedemiddag, iedereen. Ik ben Kilian Biscop van Shuttle to the Sun, en sta hier met mijn mede- founding fathers, Robbe Jacob en Brian Connolly.

Het zit in de menselijke natuur om naar één specifiek punt van origine te wijzen, en bijgevolg een aantal factoren te overzien. Wij bij Shuttle to the Sun breken met deze gewoonte: onze studio is niet slechts het gevolg van de droom van een enkeling. Nee, STS is geboren op het juiste moment, onder moeilijke omstandigheden: niet slechts uit dromen en ambities, maar ook uit frustraties.
Wij keken na onze studies uit naar een job in de gamesector in België, maar zagen dat we als schrijver weinig plaats hadden in de schamelijke reeks kleine developers die het landschap kenmerkt. Er zijn er die uitspringen, maar voor de rest staat ons land nog behoorlijk achter. Ik zag als carrièrestarter twee opties: dromen en wachten dat ik op een dag ergens aangenomen kon worden, of verandering brengen in het kleinschalige imago van de Belgische game-industrie. Gezien ik nooit verlegen ben om mijn Icaros-complex te omarmen, koos ik met volle (hoog)moed voor die tweede optie.
Voor Shuttle to the Sun volstaat het niet om een game developer uit België te worden; met onze durf, talent en bovenal onze ambitieuze honger, zullen wij onze plaats in het internationale landschap niet vragen, maar veroveren. Dit alles zonder onze corporate ethos op te geven, die menselijkheid, transparantie en nieuw talent centraal stelt.
Uiteraard kunnen we dat niet alleen: hulp van buitenaf is niet alleen welkom, maar stelt ons in staat om verder te blijven pushen naar onze langetermijnsdoelen. Wie in ons investeert, investeert dus meteen ook in het imago van de Belgische game-industrie, die zich sinds recent klaarzet voor grote vooruitgang. Met een focus op kleinschalige maar ambitieuze en risicovolle, narrative-driven games zal Shuttle to the Sun zijn eigen weg uitsnijden. Als je ons vraagt om verder te dromen stopt het echter niet met zelf games ontwikkelen: in de verre toekomst zien wij onszelf uitgroeien tot een label die allerlei kleine, gedurfde indie developers onder zijn vleugels neemt.

Deze lange weg begint natuurlijk met kleine stappen. Daarom wens ik kort iets te zeggen over ons eerste project, genaamd Garden of Snakes.

[REDACTED]

Bij deze eindig ik onze introductie met een vraag: hongeren jullie net zoals ons naar een sterke Belgische positie in het internationale game landschap? Afhankelijk van jullie antwoord nodig ik je uit om eens met ons te spreken. Elke connectie is voor ons van waarde.

V.1.0 – English

Good afternoon, everyone. I am Kilian Biscop from Shuttle to the Sun, joined by my co-founding fathers, Robbe Jacob and Brian Connolly.
It’s only human nature to point towards one specific point of origin, and overlook a number of factors as a result. We at Shuttle to the Sun break this habit: our studios are not solely the result of one person’s dream. No, STS is born at the right time, but under difficult circumstances: not only the result of dreams and ambitions, but also of frustrations.
After our academic studies, we looked forward to a job in the Belgian game industry, but noticed that, as a writer, there was little room for us in the small array of developers established in our country. Some prove to be an exception, but as a whole, our country is limping behind. I saw two options: dreaming, waiting that someday, someone would hire me, or changing the small-scaled image of our industry. Since I’m never too shy to embrace my Icaros-complex, I (over-)confidently chose the second one.

Shuttle to the Sun doesn’t want to become just game Belgian game developer; with our courage, talent, and above all our ambitious hunger, we will not ask our place in the international landscape, but will conquer it. We will do all of this without abandoning our corporate ethos that places human warmth, transparency and new talent at its core.
We can’t do this alone, of course: external help is not only welcome, but allows us to keep pushing towards our long-term goals. Investing in us, therefore means investing in the image of the Belgian game-industry, which has recently been readying itself for great progress. With a focus on small-scale but ambitious and risk-taking, narrative-driven games, Shuttle to the Sun will carve its own path. When asked to dream even further, we won’t end with developing games ourselves: in the far future, we see ourselves becoming a label as well, who would lovingly support small, daring indie game developers.

This road begins with small steps, of course. Therefore, I wish to briefly mention our first project, called Garden of Snakes.

[REDACTED]

I end this introduction with a question: do you hunger, just like us, for a stronger Belgian position in the international gaming landscape? Depending on your answer, I’m inviting you to come and chat with us. Every connection has its worth to us.

V2.0 – Dutch

Goedemiddag iedereen! Ik ben Kilian Biscop van Shuttle to the Sun, en sta hier met mijn co-founding fathers, Robbe Jacob en Brian Connolly.
De Belgische game-industrie staat vandaag op een kantelpunt: waar we tot nu toe vooral kleinschalig zijn en niet al te vaak internationaal doorbreken, zet België zich sinds recent schrap voor grote vooruitgang.

Shuttle to the Sun is dus geboren op het juiste moment: the time is now.

Na onze studies aan de Universiteit van Antwerpen keken ik en Brian uit naar een job als schrijver in de Belgische gamesector. Wij zagen echter nogal snel dat er voor ons weinig plaats was in de reeks kleine studios die ons land kenmerkt. Nooit beschaamd om mijn Ikaros complex te omarmen koos ik in plaats van wachten, dromen en hopen, om zelf aan de motor van verandering te staan. Ik schakelde meteen ook de hulp van Robbe in, die na een aantal jaar ervaring in retail management een grotere uitdaging wil aangaan, en waarmee ik al jarenlang droom om samen games te maken. Ik kon geen betere co-founders wensen om onze hoge ambities te vervullen.
Shuttle to the Sun wenst namelijk niet zomaar een Belgische indie game dev te worden, wij willen de Belgische indie game dev worden. Met een stevige dosis moed, talent, en vooral ambitieuze honger zullen wij deze plaats niet vragen, maar veroveren. Dit alles zonder onze corporate ethos op te geven, die menselijkheid, nieuw talent en transparantie centraal stelt. Wie kijkt naar onze blog ziet immers dat we niet enkel onze overwinningen publiek centraal stellen, maar ook onze hordes, in een poging om de Belgische game sector transparanter te maken en toekomstige devs beter voor te bereiden op hun mogelijke uitdagingen.

In de verre toekomst willen niet enkel games willen maken, maar willen we ook uitgroeien tot een publisher die vooral risk-loving indie developers onder zijn liefkozende en sterke vleugels zou nemen. We willen immers graag anderen steunen die net zoals ons iets nieuws willen doen met games, of deze vanuit een andere hoek bekijken.

Uiteraard verloopt deze lange weg in kleine stappen en kunnen we het niet alleen. Wie de Belgische game sector wilt steunen, maakt dus een goed begin bij Shuttle to the Sun.

Onze eerste fase is de aanloop naar een crowdfunding campagne: de eerste horde daarbij is een goed financieel plan, gesteund op cijfers die in de gaming wereld helaas niet gemakkelijk openbaar te vinden zijn. BAAS kan ons daar met zijn expertise ongetwijfeld goed mee helpen, maar ook zij onder jullie die eens met ons willen praten, ons willen helpen of simpelweg een extra hart onder de riem willen steken, nodig ik graag uit voor een gesprek.
Hartelijk bedankt om alvast eens naar ons te luisteren.

V2.0 – English

Good afternoon, everyone! I am Kilian Biscop from Shuttle to the Sun, joined by my co-founding fathers, Robbe Jacob and Brian Connolly.
The Belgian game industry faces a crossroads today: we may be small, and don’t get that many international breakthroughs, but Belgium is readying itself for great progress.
Therefore, Shuttle to the Sun was born at the right moment: the time is now.
After our studies at the University of Antwerp, Brian and I looked forward to a job as a writer in the Belgian game industry. However, we noticed fairly quickly that there was no place for us in the array of small studios constituting our landscape. Never ashamed to embrace my Icaros complex, I chose to make a change myself, instead of waiting, and dreaming, and hoping.
I immediately asked Robbe for help, who, after years of experience in retail management was willing to take on greater challenges. I also shared a lifelong dream with him of making games together. Therefore, I couldn’t dream of better co-founders to fulfil our grand ambitions.
For we at Shuttle to the Sun don’t simply want to become a Belgian indie game dev, but the Belgian indie game dev. It is with great courage, talent, and most of all ambitious hunger that we will not ask for this position, but will conquer it. We will do all of this without abandoning our corporate ethos that places human warmth, new talent and transparency at its core. Readers of our blog notice, after all, that we do not only make our victories public, but also post our roadblocks, in an attempt to bring transparency to the Belgian game industry and to better prepare future game devs for their possible challenges.

In the far future, we don’t want to focus solely on making games, but become a publisher too. One that would lovingly support mainly risk-loving indie game developers. For we want to support others who, just like us, want to do new things with games, or look at them from another perspective.

This long road starts with small steps, and we can’t do it alone. Whosoever wants to support the Belgian game industry, starts off well by supporting Shuttle to the Sun.
Our first phase consists of a road to a crowdfunding campaign for our first project. The first roadblock is a good financial plan, backed up by data that is not easy to find in the gaming world. BAAS, with their expertise, can undoubtedly help us with that.
But those among you who want to come and talk with us, want to help us or simply want to cheer us on, are welcome to join us in conversation.
Thank you for listening.

V.2/ Entrepreneurial roundup. – Dutch

Goedenavond iedereen! Ik ben Kilian van Shuttle to the Sun, een game dev in wording.
Volgens velen is de perfecte pitch gebonden aan een vaste structuur. Volgens dat plan  zouden we moeten beginnen met een probleem aan te kaarten, waar we vervolgens het perfecte antwoord op zouden zijn.
Maar Shuttle to the Sun is niet geboren als antwoord op een probleem, wel uit durf, ambitieuze honger en vernieuwingsdrang. Wij volgen geen perfect uitgestippeld parcours, maar snijden onze eigen weg uit, met alle risico’s die daarbij horen. Wij willen mee zorgen voor opschudding binnen de Belgische game industrie. Een sector waarin enorm veel potentieel schuilt, dat paradoxaal ook onderbenut wordt, ondanks dat we over een game dev opleiding beschikken die internationaal erkend wordt als de beste. Maar, België zet zich klaar voor grote vooruitgang.

In die golf van vooruitgang streven wij naar een plek in de internationale game industrie. Niet als een Belgische indie game developer, maar de BE indie game dev. Een plek die we niet zullen vragen, maar veroveren, zonder onze corporate ethos op te geven die menselijkheid, nieuw talent en transparantie centraal stelt.
Want transparant zijn we. Wie kijkt naar onze blog ziet dat we niet enkel onze overwinningen posten, maar ook onze uitdagingen. We zijn niet perfect, maar wel relentless, en tonen graag aan anderen dat achter onze dromen ook hard werk zit.

Wij willen met STS risico’s nemen. Games maken die niet cateren naar het grootste publiek, maar die artistieke kwaliteit in zich dragen.

Shuttle to the Sun heeft grote ambities. We willen niet enkel zelf games maken, maar ook uitgroeien tot een label die andere risk-loving indie game devs onder zijn liefkozende vleugels zou nemen.

Uiteraard is dit een lange weg die begint met kleine stappen, en hulp van buitenaf is welkom. Wij werden al goed verder geholpen door organisaties zoals baas,waarvoor wij graag onze dankbaarheid tonen. Weet dat ook jullie kunnen bijdragen aan onze motor van verandering.
Na de zomer volgt namelijk een aanloop naar een crowdfunding campagne voor onze eerste game. Voor updates hierover kan je altijd onze Facebook page liken en onze blog volgen. Alvast super merci om naar ons te luisteren, veel plezier nog vanavond, en kom gerust eens met ons praten!

V.2/ Entrepreneurial roundup. – English

Good evening, everyone! I am Kilian from Shuttle to the Sun, a future game dev.
According to many, the perfect pitch follows a rigid structure. Correspondingly, we would begin by stating a problem, to which we would form the perfect solution.
Yet Shuttle to the Sun wasn’t born as an answer to a problem, but out of courage, ambitious hunger, and the desire to create change. We don’t follow a perfectly planned course, but carve our own path, with all the risks that follow.

We want to shake up the Belgian game industry, a sector that paradoxically houses an enormous amount of potential that has been underused, even though we have a game design school that has been internationally recognised as the best. But Belgium is gearing up for great progress.
In this first wave of progress, we will strive for our spot in the international game industry. Not as Belgian indie game dev, but as the Belgian indie game dev. A spot that we will not ask, but conquer, without abandoning our corporate ethos which places human warmth, new talent and transparency at its core.
And we are transparent. Readers of our blog notice that we don’t only post our victories, but also our challenges. We aren’t perfect, but relentless, and gladly show others that behind our dreams, there’s a lot of hard work.

We want to take risks with STS. Make games that don’t cater to the greatest audiences, but carry within them artistic quality.
Shuttle to the Sun is ambitious. We don’t solely want to make games, but become a label too. One that would lovingly support other risk-loving indie game devs.

This is a long road, of course, starting off in small steps. External aid is always welcome. We have already been helped tremendously by organisations such as BAAS, for which we gladly show our gratitude.
Know that you too can attribute to our catalyst of change, seeing as we will start a crowdfunding campaign for our first game after this summer. To be regularly updated, you can always like and share our Facebook page and blog.

Thanks for listening, have a great evening, and be sure to come and talk to us if you’d like!

 

 

 

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Let’s talk about roadblocks.

Hullo everyone!
It’s been just over two months since I started this whole endeavour now, and we have certainly had some fortunate events going for us since then. But I’d be lying if I told you everything has been easy so far – and I told you from the start it would be a risk-filled adventure, didn’t I?

Next to all the good things that happened – coming to agreement with my fellow founding fathers, meeting talented individuals and making new friends, going to social events and attending workshops and lectures – there’s been roadblocks from the start. In the spirit of transparency in mind, I’m going to divulge some of these difficulties. I hope that we can one day gaze back from a position of success and be reminded of our humble beginnings.

Still here? Good! I promise you I’ll cheer you up with a nice picture afterwards.

We are enfants terribles, and ought to be proud of it.

Right from the start, I’ve felt that we were engaging in blasphemy. We have little to no prior experience developing games amongst us, and we’re gearing up to compete with people who do. In some of our meetings, you could feel an undercurrent of resentment: who are we to bypass years of study and training and head straight for our lofty ambitions?

I’ll tell you who: people with drive, with passion.

We are enfants terribles, and ought to be proud of it. We’re trying to unite people with passion and talent to develop and grow, and we won’t be stopped by a couple of naysayers. Luckily, they are few in numbers: many more people support us and what we’re trying to accomplish. Some remain lukewarm still, but we hope we might be able to charm all of you in the future.

Shuttle to the Sun - Behind the scenes
I mean, how could you resist? (Photo courtesy of Anuja Photography)

More than all of this, the greatest difficulty facing us has been all the red tape you need to go through in order to establish a business in Belgium. While it certainly could be worse, it’s a gargantuan task over here.
For one, the gaming industry in Belgium doesn’t have a tax shelter yet. That means that unlike with other creative industries in BE, investment made in gaming isn’t tax deductible… yet. Secondly, starting your own business is ridiculously expensive in some ways. Now I hear some of you say ‘duh, you should’ve known from the get-go,’ and I hear you. Loud and clear. We did know, and we started the adventure anyway. But the unseen, rather illogical costs behind the scenes have delayed our voyage. Whereas we had hoped to be able to launch early April, we now find that launch postponed indefinitely.

Good news is on the horizon.

There’s no reason to feel defeated, though. We are a tough, resilient crew. And good news is on the horizon! We have people helping us. People like you; who follow us, who like and share our story, and help us grow. The coaches at Kavka’s BAAS project, guiding us along the bureaucracy of our country, teaching us. Our friends and families, supporting us and prevent us going crazy.
It’ll just be a brief while before we can start showing you what we’re working on, and let me tell you: I am still as excited as I was before.
Thank you for listening!

Here’s a random goatfie of mine to reward you, as promised:

Goatfie with STS Founding Father Kilian
# Goatfie (Yes, that’s a thing on Instagram)

[Read more]

Haven’t read all about Robbe yet? You should, he’s great! Find out more about him.

Want to be updated about Belgian game news? Visit FLEGA. (They are a great help to us rookies!)

We have a Twitter page now too @ ShuttletotheSun !

Want to come work with us? Woah, what a coincidence! We are still looking for people.

 

Introducing the crew: Robbe

We’re down to the final founding father, a fiercely loyal friend whom I’ve had the pleasure of considering a brother for more than a decade now. Born-and-bred people person, this man will be bringing order and organisation to the chaotic minds of Brian and I. Without further ado, I leave Robbe to his introduction.

IMG_1469.jpg
Be careful; he’s a charmer. Made by Anuja Photography

 

Who am I?

A difficult question to answer, yet even harder to write down, for me at least. I’m a straightforward guy without much shame. ‘As long as something is fun, why refrain from it?’ is my personal creed.

My ability to put things in perspective grew as life seemed not to be all too kind; whatever it has thrown at me has always been countered by my sense of humour. I’m exceptionally loyal to anyone considered family: people close to me know that I’d go through hell for them.

With these personal strengths, I believe I can help a brother reach a fellow childhood dream by co-piloting this shuttle to the sun.

But what got me into games?

Many years ago, I think it was July or August, we were on route to the coast for a family vacation. We’d been nagging for a while now to get ourselves a Playstation. My brothers and I were already deep into the wonderful world of Pokémon when the car  slowed down, which usually caused us to shout ‘No, not yet! We can’t save while we’re in a battle!’. Though now the car went silent… To our surprise the nagging had finally paid off, as we stopped on the way there at a local game store to claim ourselves that long- awaited heavenly gift.

Joke’s on us though: once we arrived, our cousins and uncles swarmed us and decided setting up the PS was going to be a group effort. Of course, back then everyone was a genius with everything connected to something else. Collectively, we eventually got it right and got our hands on the controller. After being ‘tested’ extensively by every single family member we could start at about 35% of the story in Gran Turismo, right when the difficulty ramps up. So after crashing those rectangle chunks of pixels we got our first taste of a console game. With Spyro soon to be next, we knew this was going to be the beginning of awesome times.

That experience is something I’d like to pass on; the promise of awesome times, difficulty, family, entertainment, a new beginning, learning from mistakes, growth…

As the more straightforward guy my role will be the less creative side of the bunch. Helping the creatives reach their goals by providing planning, budget, and communication between branches while maintaining an overview.

My heroes:

My dad for being a mountain for a broken family.

My late mother, for showing perseverance in most desperate times.

Joel (yes, from the Last of Us)

Anthony Hopkins.

My faves: The Last of Us, Soulsborne, Shadow of Mordor, Gears of War, Age of Empires, The Witcher 3

IMG_1432.jpg
Anyone else remember ‘who is this pokémon?’ Made by Anuja Photography

Meetings, meetings, meetings!

The last couple of weeks have been all about meetings! Informal chats in which we, as a team, regularly saw new people, fresh talent, interesting individuals. It’s been inspiring, really! We’ve even been able to recommend like-minded people to each other, which was great; we’re always happy to see creative talent finding their way in the world.
In earlier posts, we’ve tended to stress how challenging our flight to the sun was going to be. While we still believe that, I think it’s necessary now to share how much fun it’s already been.

So this all comes down to a simple ‘thank you’ post, really. A massive thank you to our first followers and the people we’ve met with so far. You’ve made our journey interesting from the start!

Do you want to meet us? Send us a message either here or on our Facebook page come talk to us at this month’s Indie Game Salon.
I speak for the whole team when I say we’re eager to meet even more people!

Yours truly

Kilian

Introducing the crew: Brian

Now, introducing a fellow founding father, lead writer and one of the most authentic people I know: Brian Connolly!

Brian's favourite
He only looks slightly psychopathic in this one. Made by Anuja Photography.

So, I’m the guy who writes stuff.

I asked my cat whether I should add anything to that, and just got a blank stare in response. I guess that won’t do.

 Well, the guy’s name is Brian. He’s the type you look at and go ‘oh hey, that’s exactly how a semi-sentient AI would act if they escaped the lab’, which I’ll take as a compliment since I’m barely smart enough to escape a sweater. I’m still figuring out raincoats. Let’s see, what else…

I’ve worked as a copywriter, and spent time on some small film projects. There’s a vague number of manuscripts hiding on my laptop. Writing has been one of those consistent threads throughout my life, in one form or another. I like creating things, and I love stories. So the next logical step was to create my own. I’d use whatever I could find as a child. Yours truly would spend hours alone in their room with a bunch of marbles, directing a sweeping drama filled with heroic and deceitful oblong characters of glass. I was a weird kid. And now I’m still a weird guy.

 But aside from film and literature, I’ve always held a great affinity for video games. It’s one of the only forms of entertainment that actively involves their audience (aside from tabletop role-playing, which I’m an ardent fan of as well). Good games tell a great story, great games let the player be a part of that story. The writing in a video game has to be engaging, yet not too obstructive, it leaves just enough room for you to make it your own. That’s something I highly respect and can only aspire to.

Heroes: Chris Avellone, Jeremy Soule

Favorites: Neverwinter Nights, Shadow of the Colossus, Planescape: Torment, Kotor II, Journey, Undertale, Civilization, Final Fantasy IX, Klonoa, Fable, …

 And now here we stand, at the brink of a new story. The sun rises, blistering hot, mocking us from above. It’s wondering what those idiots are up to down there, and can tell you one thing: it probably involves some pretty cool stuff.

Two of the FF
Two out of three founding fathers. One still awaits to be revealed. Made by Anuja Photography.

Next up in the series: who knows? Maybe it’s you!

Introducing the crew: Kilian

This blog is introducing a new series!
Every new member of our crew gets their own introductory post, including at least one photograph from aspiring photographer and all-around great human being Anuja, of the esteemed Anuja Photography. Go visit her instagram!

First up is, well, the first one, meaning: me.
I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, since you can find out more in our introductory post.

Shuttle_To_The_Sun_Kilian_2.jpg
Staring off beyond the horizon. Bonus points for people catching all the refs. Made by Anuja Photography.

I can’t quite recall where my love for games originated, but if I must take a guess, it’s somewhere around the day I first lay my hands on a PSX controller (the days before they started counting) and played the very first Spyro. For some, that means I’m fresh-faced and naïve, born after the ‘good ole’ days,’ the 8bit era, pong, the Sega Vs Nintendo war, and the like. But for me, that’s still most of my lifetime ago, and since then, I’ve played quite a lot more.
I said I’d keep it short – a promise I regularly fail to keep – so without further ado, here’s a short list of my heroes and favourite games. If you want to know more, you could always just ask, I won’t bite.

Heroes: Hideo Kojima (of course), Hidetaka Miyazaki

List of faves: The Soulsborne series, The Witcher 3, the Metal Gear Solid series (these three are my golden triad.) Golden Sun series, Transistor, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Journey, the Last of Us, the Splinter Cell series (especially the early trilogy.)

Next up in the series: co-founder and lead writer Brian!

 

Introductions are in order.

As I’m listening to the haunting, mesmerising tunes of Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond, I’m wondering whether this voyage to the sun is a good one to be broadcasting. I might already be walking a fine line between bravery and foolishness in trying to make it as a game designer in Belgium, but to be blogging about the whole ordeal from the get-go is bordering on madness…
Yet I’m not one to shy away from a healthy amount of crazy in my life – just ask my mates. So let us raise a cup of coffee, a drink or whatever you’re holding in your hands right now. Here’s to making that leap of faith!

I’m guessing introductions are in order, before I move on to other ramblings and status updates, no?

My name is Kilian Biscop. I have dreamt of becoming a game designer for as long as I can remember – which, to be honest, doesn’t take me that far back, since I’m still young (-ish.) But still, there’s always been a little voice in the back of my mind (figuratively speaking, I’m not that crazy) that commented upon every endeavour I ever made: ‘but does this lead you to become a game designer?’ or ‘is this better than game design?’ The answer was almost always a tall glass of ‘nope.’ That little dreamy voice stayed there for the longest time, pushed ever to the background as the naysayers in life kept reminding me how unsafe that idea was. ‘Better to be doing something else,’ they’d say. ‘Something less risky.’ Starting one’s own business in Belgium is in the opinion of many something reserved for only a special crazy few. ‘It’s hard to make it in this financial climate,’ and so forth.

To be fair, I almost gave up on the idea. That is, until I met that very special someone in my life, who ignited the weary fire once more, assuring me she’d support me no matter what crazy dream I’d follow. That I’d be good at designing games. And so, encouraged once more, that little voice increased in volume and took over. Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve made every effort to increase my understanding of games in my academic career. I wrote the (branching) narrative to game in pre-production stage as an intern, developing the concepts to go along with the game. I wrote my master’s dissertation on games (which is still being re-written and tinkered with in order to be published in the near future, if you’re interested.)
After my graduation, I felt truly inspired to make it in the world of games. Thus, I set forth to work as a writer -or whatever, really- in Belgian game companies. I had little luck finding a company that would hire me, but I hold no grudges. Our teams are limited in size, and funding is (still) sparse and often insufficient. Deciding that I wouldn’t wait for that one special company that would hire me to show up, or the risky environment of game development in Belgium to change, I figured it was time to take matters into my own hands. ‘If you want something done right…’ so they say. I am starting this blog because I’m a firm believer in transparency. In today’s society, social media highlights the successes, the good times, victories big and small. Little time is spent looking at the struggle, the voyage itself, the hardship, the amount of work that goes into our lives and other grand projects. Whether this ambition of mine will be a success or not, this blog might still provide insight or inspiration to others.

So here I am: Kilian Biscop, future game designer. Kind and just captain looking for a team to board this shuttle towards the sun. I make no promises that the voyage will be a successful one; but the flames will be glorious.