First of all – thank you for opening this post on our website! My name is Jonathan Stemmildt and I am the developer of ‘The Piano’. I developed this version of the game for more than two years now and it is currently on Steam Greenlight. (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=779365013)
So what is this blog, website, post about?
During the last days of development for The Piano and the greenlight campaign, I want to post one longer article here each week, talking about the game and the process creating it. See these articles here as development blog posts in a way. I will however someday use the blog for other things like announcements.
Jonathan Stemmildt, male, born 1994 – developer of The Piano. I am currently studying informatics at the university in Hamburg. As you can see on the Steam Greenlight page, ‘The Piano’ is now a third-person adventure game, but this is not how it all started. It started simple. I played Dear Esther, loved the simplicity gameplay-wise and the story. Then I came across a game made by MIT for educational reasons. So I stumbled upon Unity3D. I worked with map editors like WC3-Worldedit before and thought – let’s try something completely new. After five minutes in Unity3D, I uninstalled it and decided that having dreams in your life is lame anyway.
It’s hard to describe it today – the best idea I can give you is an echo. An echo that came from my “heart” – the part of my body which was not okay with not having dreams. And it got louder and louder until I installed Unity again, and decided to work hard and to learn hard to get something done that I like. Obviously the first results were horrible, but everything I created with Unity was made by me and somewhen on this little “first-try” journey, the dreams came back. I started to dream becoming a successful game developer.
Around 2012 I created the first version of The Piano as a first-person slender like horror game that had a story. A little sweet story about a misterious man called “John Barnerway”. My girlfriend told by the way that it’s ‘weird’ that the protagonist is named John and my name is Jonathan. Before some theories will pop up – THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN ME AND JOHN!
So back to the game. The game was ok. I think I got the horror part right so I went to indieDB and about 200 Let’sPlayers recoreded it, reviewed it and I patched it a little. I used a lot of free 3D from sites like turbosquid.com – it was a nice experience. The moment I found the first LetsPlay video of a video game that I somehow created, was one of the happiest memories from this part of my life. It was a new beginning for my life, my dreams, everything. It was going well and then I started to make a indiegogo campaign to fund the game and make it ‘better’. Short and easy – I failed. Not many people were interested in another horror game that should stay free and tries to be ‘AAA’. Understandable. A first “Fail” since I installed Unity again. My dreams shattered into ashes and I was back at the beginning. I lost my will to change the game and just made some ‘fun’ halloween mini games for my friends – nothing really big, but something changed. I started to have so many crazy ideas about games I could make and I started like 3 of them at the same time all of the size like 4 hours playtime. It was very chaotic and aimless. After this let’s say “learning-phase” in Unity, I finally got to the point to be a somewhat skilled developer. Again with my new skills I started to dream again to make “The Piano” to a Amnesia-Like game. And so the story continues.
2015 I started another Indiegogo campaign for “The Piano” and tried to remake it all over again. I created a demo with a launcher and again some Let’sPlayers played it but the kickstarter failed too. And finally I did what I had to do for a long long time. Take a pause. STEP BACK from what I was before – young and chaotic. In this time the indie development scene exploded. Literally there are so many indie games these days (good and bad ones). So I thought about the most important thing I will have to remember myself for the rest of my life. Why am I doing this? For money? For fame? For fun? Without a doubt for fun, but also to translate my emotions to other people and show them a world that is not black and white. I want to create games that make people sad, happy and everything in between. I want to fascinate people enough so they would say “I want to do this too” just like I did after playing Dear Esther. I want you to lose yourself in my game, my stories, my emotions. This may sound a little bit crazy, but I really want to create this emotion in the player. Think back what you felt in an emotional scene in a game or in games like Dear Esther. A full package of anger, fear, empathy, happiness. I’m sorry that I am not a native speaker – It’s hard for me to find the words I am looking for to describe this moment in videogames. It’s the moment you realize that it’s just not a game. “It’s a book, a movie and an artwork in general.”
This is what I want – find an audience loving these story-driven games that are emotionally challenging and stating questions you didn’t even know where in anyway relevant for your life and suddenly they get the most important thing in your life – even if it’s just a short moment. This is what I want – this is what can make me feel completed and happy.
And after this new realization I started again and never stopped to this day to create this game – to create the first real work of life. If I learned anything about it then that this is my way to do things:
DREAM > FAIL > REPEAT
Something personal? Yes! Definately!
Unique? I think.
Emotionally challenging? I hope.
So here we are – a diffrent game, the same story more detailed. So please never stop, because of a little fail. Someday you will find yourself making your dreams come true and no fail in your life will seem important to you. Not anymore.
Thanks again for reading!
Have a nice day!,