The Spirit Behind Luna

Robin took to Twitter to share the world the story of Luna, what inspired it, and how it became a fairy tale about a Bird and the Moon.

Today, I wanna talk a little bit about @LunaVideoGame and what motivated us to create it. To begin - here is the very first page of the notebook I kept for the first year of the project. It is simple - but also probably the most direct explanation of our goals.

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In many ways, humans are sponges. Often, without realizing it, we take on the stories, attitudes and beliefs of the people around us, even when they are not helpful. Sometimes, when they are toxic. This can lead to a lack of self-esteem, self-reliance.... and self-advocacy.

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When we hurt inside, because of an attitude, experience or story that is self-denying, self-destructive it self-shaming ... it has so many long lasting effects. It takes away from our ability to believe we belong, we are enough, and are worthy of love.

I, like so many of you, have survived sexual violence and sexual harassment. In these recent months, as we look at the ways #MeToo  illuminates this pain, it can feel hopeless. And when we look inward to confront our shame or pain - that can also feel so very dark and lonely.

But the truth below that pain, the hope that lies beyond the shame, is that we have an immense capacity to thrive in the face of intense & painful struggles. We have so many brothers and sisters out there who care, who will listen, and speak out for change. We are not alone.

Not every event in your life will be welcome. Many times the suffering of others will bleed into your life and multiply your pain. It is an unavoidable fact of living as a human on this planet. But the shared nature of this reality, while painful, binds us all. We all suffer

It is what you do with your pain that matters. You can’t avoid it - but you can learn to process it and let it go. Sometimes, the pain will lead you to anger, frustration, regret. We have all lost it, felt rage, spoken words and done deeds in anger. This is also very human

But every painful moment has the potential to lead to healing, learning, empathy and personal growth. In every moment of suffering there lies both the seed of violence and hatred... and the seed of kindness and peace.

I began this project because I wanted to process my own pain. I wanted to let go of some ugly, difficult and trying times in a way that was simple, elegant and open to all. And as the team grew, and more people contributed, that dream became a reality.

Luna is not a long experience. It is not difficult to play. It does not ask much - just that you touch, explore, look and listen to help a lost & curious Bird. But I hope it also shows that pain can beget calm, gentle beauty.

You are human.
You are beautiful.
You matter.

Peace.

Funomena @PAX 2017

Hello everyone! It's a fantastic week for Funomena at PAX West - we're super excited to have released not ONE but TWO new teaser trailers!

Luna has a new teaser celebrating our partnership with Microsoft & a variety of key partners for the new Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Full announcements are to be made Friday at IFA in Berlin! We showed the game at Microsoft's Pre-PAX event, and will be meeting with select press to demonstrate the new headset behind closed doors while at the show.

Wattam has a new teaser celebrating our partnership to release Wattam for PC and Console with Annapurna Interactive. We will be on the floor in their booth (Keita even designed some cute Wattam-themed seating!) this whole weekend so please come out and say hi!

As different as both of these games are, both of them reflect our geniune interest as a studio in pushing the boundaries of what games can be. We're so thrilled to have such amazing, talented folks working with us on both of these projects and can't wait to meet you here at PAX and throughout the new year as we share both titles with you.

<3

Here we go...

In September of 2012, I co-founded Funomena with my friend and colleague Martin Middleton. We moved into our office in the fall of 2013 and shortly after that we had 2 little teams going. It's been almost 5 years since we started - and in some ways it feels like the time just flew by. But in other ways, it feels like a lifetime. Especially with the eclipse coming up (and Luna starting with an eclipse of the Moon), the passing of time is on my mind. 

Martin and I met in 2009, at the TGC ship party for Flower, and we began working together a few months later when I left EA to join the studio as Executive Producer on a new title - cleverly code-named Journey (we didn’t actually think the name would pass trademark). :D

At our very first 1:1 lunch, Martin informed me that he was actually considering leaving TGC. He’d been living in LA since first going to USC, and was curious to try living somewhere else - maybe even going off to make something other than games.  He let me know that in addition to this sense of wanderlust, shipping two experimental Indie games in a row had left him a little burnt out. The prospect of Journey (which was clearly a more ambitious title than its predecessors) was a little daunting.

You can imagine how surprised and dismayed I was to learn this - we’d just hired our 8th person and I couldn’t imagine the team without him. So - I let him know that. I’d noticed that he lent an important voice to creative and technical discussions, speaking only when he felt it was really necessary. Caught off-guard, all I could do was be honest. And after some consideration, he agreed to stick around, and see what happened (at least, for a little while).

Looking back - while it was really intense, I’m grateful that our relationship started with this very direct & open, honest conversation. It set a tone between us that is still the foundation for our relationship 8 years later. In our communication, mutual respect & honesty are key - *especially* when the topic of conversation is difficult, and one we would probably rather avoid. We have many strengths at Funomena, but I really believe that any success we have will stem from the seed of trust we planted at that lunch meeting.

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Starting a company is a little like planting a seed as well. It doesn’t seem that difficult at first. You can register a name, get a domain, a business license and so on for relatively little money... and rather quickly. But over time as the business grows, its needs and shape change, evolving  in ways that you won’t be able to predict. After a while, you realize that *keeping* the company going is what’s really difficult. It’s the task of constant, caring attention to all the little things (while dealing with the big things) that stretches your mind, your patience, your wallet and your approach to problem solving. 

I get asked a lot of questions about Funomena - especially from younger folks who see our diversity as a model for positive change. They ask how we built the company, how we funded it, and how they too can live that dream.  I often find myself saying things like "well it depends" or "a lot of it is situational" - and honestly feel like I don’t have the time to answer them as completely as I would like.

So as we approach our 5th anniversary (September 26, 2017 - also known here as "Awesome Day"), I thought I would take some time to answer some questions, write about how the company came to be, why, and what we believe is important from experiences we’ve had along the way. At the very least, it will be a helpful exercise for me - at best, it can demystify some of the process for those who feel the call to step out on their own and do this in their own way.

To that end, I created this handy dandy form to collect questions from all of you. Think of it as a really deliberate and zen Reddit AMA, which I respond to while also attempting to explain the story of Funomena, and the things we did to get from “Hey let’s start a company” to “Holy crap, it’s happening!”

Next week: Well - I guess we’ll see!