The score for Minirl was born out of a desire to craft something beautiful and joyous in the midst of chaos, misery, and hurt. That statement probably requires some unpacking, so here goes.
Not a day before I began the score for Minirl, the most important relationship in my life was cut off. We've all been there in some capacity or another. We all know that void, that sickness, that complete and total desolation. The hurt following something like that usually takes months and sometimes even years to sort out.
Yet here I was. With an amazing opportunity before me, a creatively rich game, a two week deadline, and only my heart stopping me.
And try to stop me it did.
The first three days, my ear wandered aimlessly. Every note that came from me felt false. Aesthetically, I was disgusted by what I wrote. And I could not find a way out. I tried thematic permutations. I tried reharmonizations. I tried different transpositions, different meters, and different instruments. I scoured my music library for inspiration, everything from the rich atmospheres of Jeremy Soule to the intricate design of Chris Christodoulou to the colorful mystery of Disasterpeace.
And yet even with all this beauty passing between my ears, I could find nothing that delighted me, nothing that inspired me, nothing that made a single note feel like "me" let alone capture this wonderful game called Minirl.
I have discovered that even though loss is the ultimate catalyst for inspiration, I first had to wade through the filth of self-doubt. The swamp of questioning my very existence. Whether or not there was anything of value to myself as a person. Whether or not getting up that morning would have been worth it.
And then at that lowest moment, when I was confronted with even more hurtful news, something clicked. I shut off. Emotionally, a dam came down over my heart and stopped it from gushing. It was almost as if my body had said "enough is enough."
I took my rig and worked elsewhere for the two weeks up to the game's release. Something changed. The dam burst and all of those emotions came flooding out all at once. And every note that came out with them felt incredible. The notes flowed effortlessly, the overall musical scope of the game synced instantly with the visuals and gameplay. Two weeks later, we launched a trailer I never dreamed of writing and released a score I could be proud of.
So this score, this little tiny chiptune score, is proof that I do have value. That I can do good work in the worst of circumstances. So for anyone in that situation, creative or not, please keep your head above water. There is an island miles off in the distance waiting to give you the rest you need. It will suck to get there. Even six months into my new life, the daily struggle to get out of bed and find meaning is still there, but the grief for what I lost comes in small waves now rather than thundering tsunamis, tiny reminders of what was that honestly pale in comparison to the beauty of what is.
Chin up, and don't forget to be awesome.