The life of an indie game developer can be a difficult one. It’s often lonely and taxing on the mind. While a video game can be the most expressive way to tell a story and visualize a world, it’s also a massive undertaking for one, or even a small team to tackle. We got a glimpse of this in Indie Game: The Movie, which had a fair degree of dramatization added to it, but which also showcased the toll such a development cycle can have of an artist, engineer, or singular man of many hats. In the case of Fez creator, Phil Fish, it resulted in a public breakdown via Twitter and his complete abandonment of the industry and cancellation of Fez II.
One independent artist, Robert Briscoe, has been on both sides of the video game industry. As an incredible environment artist, he’s worked on a number of small projects but his two most notable achievements is the indie Dear Esther and the EA published Mirror’s Edge. It doesn’t get much more disparate than that. I would imagine that with the success of both of those titles he would have the pick of where he wants to be, who he wants to work with, and how much money he’d like to make. I’m sure he’d disagree with at least some of that, but regardless, he has remained firmly in the indie scene even after a sequel to Mirror’s Edge began development. But in so choosing the isolated and on-again-off-again work environment of an indie artist, Robert has become a touch complacent.
In a very heartfelt blog post on his site, entitled “Leaving The Comfort Zone“, Robert Briscoe expresses his personal troubles with his work over the past 5 years and the effect it has had on his mind. Rather than seek out the mostly negative company of his Twitter followers, Robert has decided that he needs the personal interaction of other artists, and to work with a large team for a change:
“I will taking a break from indie development and moving to Seattle to spend some time working on cool stuff with a company I’ve long since admired: Valve Software.”
– Robert Briscoe
So Robert Briscoe is joining Valve. After seeing his work on Dear Esther, which began as a Half-Life 2 mod, it will be very interesting see what he could add to a few choice titles that are still locked away in the Valve labs. His ability to take full advantage of a graphics system while maintaining smooth display will surely be invaluable as Valve builds upon its Source 2 engine.
Briscoe joining Valve leaves one project hanging in the balance: In February, he posted a long blog entry detailing his efforts to port Dear Esther over to the Unity engine. The reason being that the team who coded the stand-alone version of the game using Source has since been dissolved and all support for the game ceased. Briscoe mentions in his latest post that only a few small things have yet to be completed on the port, and that he still plans to finish it soon and release it as a beta to Humble Bundle customers before finally replacing the current Steam version with it. He has also left the door to indie development wide open behind him, and says that he likely will return.
You can read more about Robert Briscoe in this great interview with EDGE Online where he talks about his work on Mirror’s Edge:
Mirror’s Edge: Building The Impossible