March is always a crazy month - with preparing to teach MDA, organizing the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, and prepping ourselves for the gamut of parties and events associated with GDC. It's probably my favorite time of year - especially since San Francisco is becoming so lovely and sunny just as everyone arrives. And then, there's my birthday... But the good vibes seem to be following us through this year month to month... which makes this year feel a bit like a ride in the clouds! At this year's BAFTA games celebration, Journey won 5 of 8 nominations - earning yet another award for Best Online Game. Crazy!
Why crazy? Because last year, at this time, while the rest of the Journey team was prepping for GDC, Martin was hard at work simulating network play for the game, checking our server code twice, and then again... waiting for launch. We'd had a small beta (just a few thousand players) which helped us nail down a few issues - but had no idea if the game would hold up once we launched. Really.
One year ago today, at SXSW, I was sipping a beer as it softly rained outside - sitting with Martin, Kellee and her husband Mike. We wondered aloud what the launch of Journey would be like. Will people play the game connected? Will they find each other? What if they can't stay connected - or worse, don't want to? The suspense was... intense. Here's a photo I took of Martin later that night. We were just.. waiting.
I suppose that's true with any creative effort - launching is when you face the music. And with an experimental concept, the stakes are just a little bit higher because you don't know if people will really enjoy it. But when you're trying something totally new to your team, especially on the tech side, it's unnerving.
Returning to the US this week I felt especially grateful that Martin's seamless lobby code held up at launch - especially considering the harsh alternative. It's a good reminder that it's important to count your blessings. A deep and heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported us when we had no idea if Journey would really *happen*... and to the BAFTA organization for recognizing how hard we worked so that it could.