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OANST

What Double Fine Did For Me

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Some of you may remember that going on two years ago now, Double Fine flew me out to their studio to show me what was their then unannounced game, 'The Cave'. They had done this because I had leaked the name of the new game months, and months before hand on the forums. I get the impression that they thought I was some kind of video game super sleuth who had used my amazing deductive powers to discover their trademark. They may have been slightly disappointed when I admitted that all I did was read it on Destructoid, and then post it here. At any rate, it was an amazing experience. They were already my favorite game studio, so it was an enormous stroke of luck for me to be invited down there. But I've never really described how enormous that stroke of luck was, or how much it meant to me. Now that I'm a ways past it, and past that time in my life, I feel like I can talk about it, and maybe try to describe what it is that they did for me.

When I was there, sitting with Tim in his office, chatting, I mentioned at that time that it had been kind of a tough year for me, and that I had really needed something nice to happen. I probably also mentioned that the reason for the year being difficult was because of a divorce that I had gone through. I mentioned it in passing, just to kind of let them know how grateful I was. I didn't want to be that obnoxious sad sack guy, sitting there whining about my life, and I also wanted to just enjoy this opportunity that I was given. But tough year didn't cover it, and that trip to see Double Fine was the beginning of me finally beginning to pull myself out of the biggest crisis that I've ever had. It may not have seemed like that huge a deal, but it was a positive change in my life, even if only for a few days, and it was very kind, and I had not seen anything positive at all in a really long time.

I'm a bit of an introvert. I don't really have friends. I had my wife, and my daughter, who is my best friend, and I worked typically between 60 and 70 hours a week to keep us in a nice, stable home. One day, while I was at work, my wife called me. She said three words. "I left you." We had been together for eleven years. I got home, and they were gone. I cannot in any way describe accurately what this did to me. I had a complete nervous breakdown. I was unable to do anything but weep pretty much all day, every day. I lost my job because I could no longer do it. I could not force myself to go in. I couldn't comprehend that I was going home to an empty house every day and that I would no longer be helping my daughter with her homework, or dancing around the kitchen with her, or playing video games with her, or making forts, or playing tee ball in our back yard. Now it was just silence. Yes, I had the weekends with her. But who I was as a person was completely wrapped up in being a dad. Dad all the time. Not two days a week.

It wasn't long before I lost my house. No job, no income, no house. I had to move into my stepfather's basement. Now, on top of all this loss, I had to contend with all of the shame. Shame that I couldn't make my wife happy. Shame that I needed someone to support me when I had been supporting myself on my own since I was sixteen years old. One night, around midnight, I took a bottle of Xanax that I had recently been prescribed, I drove to a Taco Bell, parked in the back where I hoped I wouldn't be noticed for a while, and swallowed the bottle. I was humiliated, hurt beyond anything I thought possible, and I was done with it. I'd had enough. It was a cowardly act, and it takes a lot for me to forgive myself for trying to abandon my child. I can't explain it. You've either been there or you haven't, and if you haven't it will never make sense to you. I woke up almost two days later in a mental hospital, a huge chunk missing from my leg, and immediately got in a fist fight with one of the orderlies when I realized where I was, and that I had failed.

I got out of the mental hospital after about a week. Things didn't change a whole lot for a while. I did get my job back, so that was good, but I was basically walking around dead inside. I was deeply unhappy, and I thought that my life would never get better. I thought that I was unlovable, and I probably didn't deserve to be happy. Then, one day, I went to work, and I discovered an email from Double Fine, telling me that they wanted to fly me to San Francisco. They wouldn't tell me why at the time, and I was extremely suspicious that this was an elaborate prank, but it turned out that it wasn't. Something was changed. Something was different. Something was good. Finally. I went to San Francisco, getting on a plane for the first time in my life, and I soaked that place up. I got immensely drunk, winding my way through The Castro, made some friends, and just generally felt happy. I met a bunch of people that I already had a huge amount of respect for, and they made me feel as at home as they could, even posting my daughter's artwork on their wall. I don't know how to put all of what happened, or how I felt into words, but Double Fine gave me back something that had been gone from life that day, and it didn't fade away. Part of that is the fact that yes, time does heal all wounds, but it wasn't just that. I felt alive again.

Today, I live with my girlfriend, the most beautiful, and amazing person I have ever met in my life, and I have custody of my daughter. Life isn't always easy, but it isn't supposed to be. If it was, we wouldn't appreciate how amazing it can be when things go right. I owe Double Fine a lot, if only for changing the way I looked at my life for a couple of days. This is not a cry for sympathy. I don't need sympathy any more. I just wanted to try to convey how much what you did meant to me. And I wanted to say thank you.

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That's an amazing story. I hadn't heard about them arranging for you to travel to San Francisco to meet with them before, but that's pretty cool of them. I only remember you from being very active in the MMoJ forums and from posting in Off Topic around the time I started frequenting DFAF. I'm a dad myself and I don't dare think of how it would be if I for some reason suddenly couldn't see my kids anymore. I'm happy you're doing so much better now.

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I knew you went through a divorce a while back, but I had no idea how bad it was. I'm glad you're doing better, man. I wish you all the best, and hope you pop into Off Topic more often. I miss you over there.

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I'm still a little jealous, but knowing what it did for you, I'm glad it was you.

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Hey, man!

When we met you in our offices, we had no idea what was going on! No idea of the stuff you were going through. You just seemed like a regular dude, hanging out. Not a problem in the world! That's pretty amazing.

As a father, when I read the line " I would no longer be helping my daughter with her homework, or dancing around the kitchen with her, or playing video games with her, or making forts, or playing tee ball in our back yard. Now it was just silence." ...that really gets to me. Like a kick in the gut. I can't imagine the pain. But as a guy who has a divorce in my past (1992!) I do know a smaller part of it.

I'm just happy you got through it, and found out what I did--that a better life is waiting for you down the road! Marriage is like waffles--you always throw the first one away, right?

I'm especially glad that you ended up getting to spend every day with your daughter after all.

What an amazing story. I remember the idea of flying you out to DF as one of the first things that Chris Remo did as our then, brand-new community manager. So that was a great thing that happened.

As you know by know, of course Chris turned out to be a big jerk, and we had to send him off to Campo Santo. But I hope you and your daughter have the sense to play the Cave together, and not that tree growing simulator they're working on over there.

(j/k Chris! Miss you!)

Anyway, it's very humbling to us that we were fortunate enough to play a tiny part of a positive upswing in your life. Here's wishing you and your daughter and your girlfriend many more happy days!

If you do play the cave, make sure she understand that poisoning your parents is really a bad thing.

:)

Tim

PS Remo's a jerk!

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Oh wow, who's cutting onions over here?!

Thank you for imparting this, I can't imagine the pain you went through. Good on you for getting to the other side, hope nothing as bad ever happens again. Everyone deserves a second chance, a new lease on life no matter how cliche that sounds. You have so much more ahead of you with your child and loved ones, best wishes and prayers for success in your life from a muslim dude in UK who just wants to give you a big hug! Make sure your kid is brought up on the best games :D

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PS Remo's a jerk!

Now that Chris Remo is dead (to you), will there be anyone to take up his mantle, fill his shoes, and possibly sit on his lunch table spot as the new undisputed community manager?

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Thank you for sharing your story. I can't say I've endured the kinds of things that you'd been through, but I did have a time where I'd lost myself when someone important left my life and on that level, at last, I can relate. I'm very glad to hear you got through it.

I've spotted a few tales now of DF changing people's lives, and it's solidified for me just how special Double Fine is, not just as a studio, but as a group of human beings and the core of a lovely community. Not a day goes by when I don't feel thankful for being at least a small part of things.

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I'm glad that this post was taken in the spirit that I meant it. I wasn't sure if I should talk about this at all. I didn't want to come off as seeking attention or wanting people to feel sorry for me. Tim, I know you guys had no idea! That's how I wanted it! If I had been the person that I had become accustomed to being when I was there, I would have ruined the trip. This trip to meet you and your team forced me to smile and think of things that didn't involve me being a failure as a human being, which was pretty much all I thought about up to that point. You guys really did provide a tipping point in my life, whether you knew you were doing it or not, and I'm not sure if I would be sitting here in my little house out in the country surrounded by the people I love if something hadn't woken up the person that I used to be, and brought me back. So, thank you, and thank you, Chris, and Ron, and Brad (you were definitely a highlite, you grinning psycho), and thanks to Sara and the other nice lady whose name I unfortunately can't remember right now and Matt, the producer on The Cave, and everyone else who I'm forgetting to mention. You guys are the best.

And if anyone is wondering, this is what happiness looks like.

Edit: I just noticed that you can see the Stacking poster in the background of the last picture.

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Just saw this post today. I can't imagine the pain you must have gone through. I'm really glad to see your life is starting to improve again. Thank you so much for having the bravery to tell this story here. I know that the internet have the unfortunate tendency to contain a small but loud group of hateful people that will attack people for talking about stories like this, so I am all the more glad to have been able to read about it.

I'm also really happy to see how special Double Fine is to so many people, both as a company and as a community. I hope that, as the gaming industry becomes even more accepted by the rest of the world, more communities like DF that really impact people on a core emotional level become more common. It's real, human moments like these that remind me why I want to become a game developer: to make games and human experiences that can sometimes have huge effects on people's lives.

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Just chiming in with the others here, but really happy to hear things turned out great in the end, OANST! And I'm glad you started out by saying your story was going to have a Happy Ending from the get go. That made it all the more inspiring!

So what I've learned from this thread is that:

1. Double Fine = still the coolest bunch of peeps on the planet

2. Marriage = waffles

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