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After graduating, I've been doing a lot of reflecting as I plan my future. One thing that's become abundantly clear to me is that without Newgrounds, my life would have taken a completely different direction. Undoubtedly a less interesting one.
Ten years ago when I was just 13, Newgrounds was a reassuring pat on the back that people liked the same shit I do. I've always been kind of a quiet kid with odd tastes. But I found this site and realized I wasn't the only one. The content I saw lit a fire under my ass. I was no longer content with just consuming, I had to create. I remember being blown away by Fallen Angel: Teaser at the time. Dan Paladin and Luis's stuff were also huge sources of inspiration. So I started making animations, none of which were very remarkable. But that's how I met Tomamoto, who I feel is going to be a lifelong friend.
Flash forward to a year or two later, when I got more interested and involved in the game side of Newgrounds. I had some lousy experiences and some great experiences making games before I ultimately had a remarkable experience - Alice is Dead. Alice is Dead has literally changed my life, for both better and worse. The success of Alice and the incredibly generous support of Newgrounds and Tom put me through high school and college. It didn't pay my tuition, but it meant that I didn't have to go to a typical day job while I was in school. I had just enough money to get by. I worked at menial 9-5 kinda job for awhile and I found the experience incredibly taxing on my mental health. When you're a creative, I'm not sure there's anything as distressing as spending time on a menial task. I felt like a cow in a slaughtering house waiting to get butchered. I had to get out of there. And like I said, Newgrounds made that happen. If it didn't happen, I'm not sure where I'd be.
But it's not just about the financial and creative support that Newgrounds has provided. It's about the relationships and friendships. I'm hesitant to start naming names because I know I'd be bound to forget something. But holy shit, have I met some absurdly talented people. Absurdly kind and generous people. People that had absolutely no reason to help me other than loving what they do and for (maybe?) believing in my dumb ideas.
I've been a lot quieter on the site lately. I lurk every day and check it out, but I haven't interacted as much. I certainly haven't made as much. I feel really sad about that sometimes, when I look at my output. If I'm being perfectly candid, part of the reason is I've been some contacts in the entertainment industry because of Alice and I've been slowly...very slowly...grinding towards getting involved with film-making in some capacity. I love movies, I love storytelling. That's why I gravitated towards creating animations when I first joined Newgrounds and that's why most of my games, for better or worse, revolve around story. So basically I haven't be here as much as I'd like to because I've been writing. I've also been procrastinating and screwing around. Like I said, I'm in a reflective time of my life.
But with all of that said, that was then, and this is now. I'm really excited about now. Thrilled even. I'm about to make the leap from web games to a full fledged PC game with an A-team of Newgrounds talent. I can't give out too much info yet, but it should be awesome. Something I rarely talk about, and something only my closest friends know, is the psychological impact that Alice had on me creatively. It was a success I didn't expect to happen. And when success happens, it's hard not to chase it. When you find the winning formula, you want to keep making it. But eventually, you want to do something else. I'm infinitely grateful for having the supportive fan base that I do, but the pressure to make a new Alice game was sometimes overwhelming. There was also a dark voice in the back of my head saying, "You'll never do it again. You'll never make a success series again. This was a fluke. This was a lightning strike." I've had to battle that voice for way too long. It's finally starting to quiet down.
I'm excited to be working on a game again. Excited in a way I haven't been in years. In some ways, excited in a way I haven't been since I first opened up Flash. I've been to PAX East twice now. As basically a shy introverted consumer.
But I'm really hoping that the next time I go, I'll be going as a creator. No matter what happens, I'm going as someone that was profoundly shaped by Newgrounds.