Into The Unknown
It's a story many of us can relate to. Day in day out, we are bound to routines in the hopes of maintaining a stable life. Stable income, consistent housing, food on the table. Sometimes however, stability doesn't mean happiness. I find myself at that crossroads right now, as I'm about to embark on a journey that takes me from my real life job to pursue my own dreams. It is appropriate timing then that I stumbled across the one hour documentary titled, We Are Alright.
We Are Alright is a story about two normal guys, not unlike anyone else, who have finally had enough of routine. Forsaking the stability of shelling themselves out for corporations, the duo embark on a journey to create the next big indie game. When you pursue your dreams, it's often sink or swim, and We Are Alright illustrates that in its rawest form. It's not over-dramatic, it's not even remotely exciting. It's real life, and the ups and downs that come with it. SPOILERS WITHIN IF YOU PLAN ON WATCHING.
It Was Called Lichtspeer
The documentary begins by introducing us to Bartek Pieczonka and Rafał Zaremba only months away from the launch of their indie game Lichtspeer. They sway back and forth from humble but confident, to anticipating the worst possible outcomes including possible homelessness. Their composer frequently asks for his payment, expecting a payout long before the game is ready for launch, and at times even their own families ask them the disheartening question: "When are you going to go back to work?"
This was their reality for two years, from the start of their project called Lichtspeer to the end. The only people who believed in them were themselves, and even then that belief wavered at times. But the duo constantly managed to prop eachother up. When one would have a low, another would have a high. They balanced, they managed, they pulled together a small team little by little and brought their idea of Lichtspeer to life. To look at Lichtspeer today, you'll see something rather ordinary. A fun, hidden gem in the waves of Steam, Playstation 4 and Vita, and even Nintendo Switch games. Generally it is received positively, but positive reviews don't necessarily pay the bills.
Through the various ups and downs leading up to the launch, the team finally makes headway and they start getting coverage from both big and small games media. YouTube personalities like the late TotalBiscuit, Markiplier, Zero Punctuation all gave the game attention, as did official outlets from Sony and even Kotaku. The build up and reception by people who were able to go hands on with the game made it seem like they were going to hit the big time, that they were going to release the biggest indie hit since Minecraft (back when it could be considered indie).
The reality is much different though, and is something I didn't consider until I watched this documentary. For all of the readers to big sites like Kotaku, to small sites like us here at Hooked Gamers and for all of the viewers that some of the biggest names on YouTube have, it doesn't guarantee success in sales. While people liked Lichtspeer, at first it sold horribly. Within the first two months of the game’s launch, they still hadn't even broken even. They found themselves in a bittersweet moment: they were happy with the game they had made, they were happy they had realized their vision, but they were saddened that their vision did not seem to chime with many people.
We Are Alright
The documentary concludes with an update through 2017: Lichtspeer was finally gaining ground and despite a very slow launch everyone involved with the project seemed to be doing well and were in good spirits, and had a sustainable income to move onto newer projects. The documentary highlighted the freedom of following your dreams, as well as the hardships and risks that come with it.
Following your dreams may not make you rich, but it does allow you to grasp your own destiny on your terms. For myself, I think it was a much needed viewing to hype myself up as I move onto new things in my personal life. To free myself of my own corporate overlords and pursue my own dreams. One thing is for sure, for the developers of Lichtspeer and for all of us willing to take that risk to do what makes us happy: We Are Alright.