RAMI IS CURRENTLY IN THE NETHERLANDS.
YOU CAN REACH HIM AT RAMI@VLAMBEER.COM,
OR BY CALLING +31 (0) 621206363.
Wedding Special Thanks
We’re writing a long-form analysis of producing our wedding, because that’s how we deal with big things in the past as game developers & those two days on Malta were absolutely perfect and we don’t want to forget even the tiniest detail if we can. Writing that analysis in a way that is appropriate for the importance of our wedding to us takes some time, and we wanted to thank everybody that made the wedding possible a bit faster than we can turn writing that around.
- Engagement Proposal : Bungie ( @Bungie )
- Engagement Proposal Producer : Poria Torkan ( @ptorkan )
Visual Design & Photography
Clothes, Makeup, and Jewelry
Logistics & Legal
- Notary and Prenuptial Agreement : Notea Hilversum ( https://www.notea.nl/ )
- Visa Services : The Embassy of Malta in Cairo ( https://foreignaffairs.gov.mt/en/Embassies/Me_Cairo/Pages/Me_Cairo.aspx )
- Further Visa Services : VFS Global ( http://www.vfsglobal.com/ )
- Hotels : Booking.com + The Intercontinental Malta, Le Meridien Malta, The Westin Dragonara, Golden Tulip Vivaldi, Hilton Malta, DDreams Hotel, Hotel Valentina
- Flight Logistics : Hipmunk, KLM Platinum Service Desk, Al Italia, EgyptAir, Emirates, Air Malta
- On-site Transport : Charlie Portelli, Malta
- On-site Logistics Help : Jakub Koziol ( @jakubkoziol )
- Welcome Music : Excerpt From The Hope, from “Destiny Original Soundtrack” by Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Martin O Donnell & Paul McCartney
- Seating Music : And We Got Older, from “Sword & Sworcery LP – The Ballad of the Space Babies” by Jim Guthrie
- Bride Processional Music : Radical Dreamers ~ Unstolen Jewel, from “Chrono Cross OST” by Yasunori Mitsuda, arranged by Shota Nakama, performed by Video Game Orchestra
- Recessional Music : Sparkle, from “Your Name” by RADWIMPS, arranged by Leizel Banci, performed by Leizel Banci
- First Dance : Stand By Me , from “Songs from Final Fantasy XV” by Florence and the Machine
Fear your customer
I run a creative business. In fact, I make entertainment. One of the most common discussions I face on social media is the idea that I should not put politics into my work, and that I should not use my platform to talk about politics. I should not talk about politics because my purpose is to entertain, to distract, to make my entire existence a function of my job.
Making games isn’t what I am. It’s what I do. What I do is game development, but despite the fact that most of my life so far has been focused around that, it is only a tiny part of what I am. I’m Dutch-Egyptian, a fiancé, a socialist, an airplane enthusiast, an avid reader, a pop culture consumer, a gadget lover, a traveler, someone who likes cooking, but hates the dishes. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces if my life depended on it, but I run an indie games studio that has reached million of people across the world. I am someone who will happily travel across the Atlantic to talk to a dozen enthusiasts in South America starting a development community, but who loathes walking six minutes to the supermarket unless I really have to.
My job does not regulate what I can do outside of my work. A sold copy of my game doesn’t entitle someone to anything beyond a functioning game. A sold copy of my game definitely does not exclude me from any type of political thought, or any other opinion about the real world. A customer at a fast-food chain can’t tell an employee what to do when they’re at home, and they’re only entitled to the french fries they ordered.
At the crux of the argument that I shouldn’t post political content is a simple notion: the idea that my customers are somehow leverage against me. That I should be careful to not lose them by being myself too honestly, or too bluntly. That my work should cater to them, and that my existence depends on their grace and acceptance of me as a whole. I should be afraid of them, and that fear should guide me.
Here’s the thing: I don’t fear my audience. They’re not leverage. The notion that some random people on the internet can tell me what ‘my audience’ wants from me is preposterous. Every time we’ve had a boycott announced against us our sales have gone up. I love my audience. They’re the greatest audience I’ve ever had the privilege of working for – they’re passionate but polite, they’re curious and understanding, and they tend to ask rather than shout.
Fear doesn’t produce the best work one can create. Not in art, not in games, not in marketing, and not on social media.
One of the few things in live I really wish I had as a kid that I didn’t was creating music as part of my life as a kid. We weren’t a very rich family, although we got by, but the luxury of a piano was never there. I’m not sure if that was because we didn’t have the space, time, or knowledge in house – but regardless, it is something I regret.
So for my 2,5 year relationship anniversary with Adriel – who did learn to play piano as a kid, and thoroughly misses having one at home – I saved money for a few months and ordered a piano for our apartment. It’s a gorgeous digital piano, one that took me weeks to pick.
I don’t believe in expensive gifts, and I always believe that experiences are better gifts than material goods, and as such a piano is a bit of an odd gift for me to give. In the end, though, I concluded that that missed experience in my life – the one of not having a piano around as a kid – means that an instrument might not actually be a material possession. It’s just a very long-term experience.
My hope is that the gift not only a way for her to play an instrument she loves, but also something that anchors our apartment in a gift that evokes consideration and confidence in our relationship, a gift for us, something that makes our apartment more ours. I hope she likes it.
A while ago I was introduced to the concept of idea debt – which approximately states that any time spent on planning an idea without taking concrete efforts to realizing it will increase the mental friction to actually starting those efforts. It’s a simple concept, but it’s been occupying my brain for quite a while since.
What is important is that concrete planning is distinct from abstract planning – contacting a potential collaborator is concrete, while thinking I wish this person would join my team is not.
It’s far from a perfect metaphor, but think of ideas as unstoppable architects and your execution as little construction workers. Depending on how complex the idea is, and how important the idea feels, the architect is allotted a larger part of your mental city plan. Any time you spend any mental time on the plan, your architect starts drawing ideas, plotting the ground, and moving from there. At first, it’s a single pillar, but as things evolve, the plans get more complex. Walls emerge, then rooms and floors and – if your construction workers haven’t started doing some work – the task suddenly starts seeming unsurmountable. And the architect is unstoppable, so they add new floors and helipads and in-building airports and a slide from the 249th floor to the 3rd floor. Sure, every building is built with a first stone, but if the drawing tells you to build a tower into space because the architect just couldn’t stop drawing, no construction worker will take on that job.
And I guess, looking at my life, I’ve got a lot of construction workers that saw the drawings and walked away. I have ideas that have been building this incredible tower of expectations and hopes, in impossible fidelity and flawless execution, and it’s time to admit that I’ve let those ideas construct that tower for too long. They’re outdated, irrelevant purely by the passage of time, or simply have reached an almost mythological status in my imagination.
It’s time to let those ideas float away, clear the allotted terrain in my mental space for new ideas, and maybe start work on building those a bit sooner.
One of the things that hurt me most throughout my career in games was my complete inability to rest when I needed it. It’s a discussion that came up a bit when Witness developer Jonathan Blow posted a rather curious joke tweet, seemingly implying that he’d been working so hard he never had opportunity to leave his desk. Whether it’s truth, or an unfortunate joke isn’t extremely relevant – but what is important is to recognize that this by all means should’ve never been a joke to begin with. Jonathan Blow spent seven years of his life making The Witness. It’s a game he cares about a lot, and a game many people (including myself) are looking forward to.
No game is worth hurting yourself, your health, your rest or your social life over. It just isn’t. I’ve released a dozen games since I started in games, and the romantic idea of the starving indie, working from early day till late night on just pizza and Coca Cola? It’s not romantic. I’ve seen it in hundreds of developers and students. It’s exciting until you burn out, and then you lose it all. It’s a bad way to start a company, already relying on overtime to make your income. It’s miserable, but you don’t know it yet.
If you’re crunching on your own game right now, please don’t. Do something that relaxes you for today. I’m stressed, and I’m under a lot of perssure, but I’m watching the clouds pass under the airplane on my flight to Dallas, and it’s calming me down. I need to finish my work on Nuclear Throne, but I’m sure people that like the game want me to be healthy enough to continue working on it and to work future games. I’ll get the work done, but for now there’s clouds.
Feeling a fraud
Polygon wrote an article on what I feel is one of the most common and underdiscussed topic in creative work: imposter syndrome. I’ve talked about my own extensively, and discussed how I believe it fits into the Donning-Kruger curve. While there is no right or wrong way to feel when it comes to making creative work, it can be helpful to understand some very common feelings aren’t discussed out of fear of not fitting in anymore. Imposter syndrome is one of them, and as such, I decided to ask Twitter about imposter syndrome.
As expected, I got hundreds of responses from developers, press, content creators and anything in between. While an overwhelming majority confirmed they felt that way, some people pointed out they don’t. That’s all perfectly fine. If you want to see just how common struggling with your self-worth in any capacity is, just scroll through this list.
My dentist is an artist
A sterile room, slight wrinkle on a shining bald head, the man is staring at his computer screen. He wistfully stares at a photo of my teeth taken years ago, and makes a dismissive gesture towards the screen. “I’m still not entirely happy with that root canal”, he mutters under his breath. It reminds me of the people I work with, people that are primarily artists. I don’t like the dentist, but I’ve realized my dentist is an artist. Maybe every dentist is. It’s a surprisingly personal little piece of art, a root canal or a cavity filling. I wonder if he has a favorite tooth he has ever worked on, or regrets about a tooth that didn’t work out.