I’m the author of Starseed Pilgrim, and I’m alive.

Spoiler warning for Starseed Pilgrim. Discusses a piece of ‘what it really means,’ as well as the ending (in somewhat vague terms). Also I swear a bit, because I got emotional while writing.

Dead-authorism appeals to me because I hate looking back and seeing the trail of destruction and confusion I leave in my wake – I make things, meaning one thing… but once they are out there in the world they are interpreted, in the hands of others, they become more. Outside of the period of the work in which it truly was mine, a game has always felt like a played artifact. Something that belongs to its players.

But, part of that is a learned helplessness, perhaps just my response to the overwhelming reception of Starseed Pilgrim. I didn’t decide how that game was perceived… my authorial intent only mattered so much as it helped me to create the work. After that, it was out of my hands.

Nobody wants to hear what it’s really about, I told myself.

Well, I may be about eight years late, but I think it’s time to free myself of those shackles. It’s not for the sake of the reputation of Starseed Pilgrim that I want to talk about what the game was about… it’s more for my own sense of closure, and my own sense of pride as an artist. Even if it’s true that nobody wants to hear what it’s really about, I fucking want to say it anyway.

I’m not writing this because I want you to think about Starseed Pilgrim differently… but, I am writing this because I think it’s a problem that I don’t want to influence how you think about Starseed Pilgrim! I want to get over it. I want to say things and mean them, and part of that is accepting that I’ve been downplaying what I thought I was saying with Starseed Pilgrim.

This isn’t to say anything I said was particularly well-said or meaningful, but I want to know that, whatever it was, my past self’s voice existed… so that I can have faith in my own voice today and continue to say things. To make things.

i've redacted much of the article in which i reveal what Starseed Pilgrim is about to me because... i wanted to. this blog isn't about me baring my heart to the internet. my email is at the bottom of the page if you want to ask a question though. i am still alive, after all.

-- 2021, august 20th

Starseed Pilgrim is about [REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

The poetry in Starseed Pilgrim is scattered and hidden in a way that marries perfectly with my attitude at the time and my attitude for the next several years: “What I’m saying isn’t important or real enough to communicate directly, so I’ll hide it behind layers of obscurity until nobody notices what I really meant, and I can forget it ever existed in the first place.”

[REDACTED]

In some ways I think finishing Starseed Pilgrim is missing the point, but at the same time I’m always thrilled, proud, overwhelmed when I hear that someone has beaten it, finished the game.

The end of Starseed Pilgrim.

[REDACTED]

[REDACTED]

Even if the prison was beautiful.

Cruel World and the future.

I have a lot of miserable nihilism about the state of the world today. Cruel World was a pessimistic game about how everything is fucked and how individual action just doesn’t matter. And when everyone had a good time anyway, I was… god, I was overjoyed but also kinda angry! How could everyone be missing the point and having a good time with my nihilistic, pessimistic videogame about the end of the world.

I wanted to pull the strings and have people blame each other (like it says in the subtitle), in good fun, but I wanted the vicious cycle to show itself so viscerally that everyone would agree, yes, what a cruel fucking world.

There was a bit of a turn when Patrick Klepek asked me directly if the experience — of Cruel World’s players actually having a good time and striving to co-operate and connect — made me more hopeful and less cynical. And I struggled, I tried to find the good, but I fell back on how terrible it all was.

People can get used to—and even find joy, beauty, and solace—in just about anything. [..] But maybe it means as the end of the world draws nearer, instead of fighting to stop it, maybe everyone will just endure it.

me, in that article, giving an awfully depressing response

I’d like to take a step back and be able to focus on the beauty in the world around us, in our lives, but it’s really hard. It’s hard.

I’d like to make more games about birds and nature and humans and the plain & simple joy of interaction. I want to make a game that says “the world is beautiful” and mean it. I don’t want to shy away from the sharp edges of reality, but I don’t want them to be the only thing I see, either.

In a way, I suppose the positive events of Cruel World are making me hopeful and less cynical, but it took a while.

It’s taking a while.

… It’ll take a while.

Thank you for reading.

6 thoughts on “I’m the author of Starseed Pilgrim, and I’m alive.”

  1. thank you for making starseed pilgrim. it’s a very important game to me and I’m glad you told us what it meant to you.

  2. Hello, I’ve been looking at the starseed observatory website for a while now as I quite enjoy it but I can’t seem to find any links or downloads to the mentioned ‘dreamwalk’ dlc/expansion and was wondering what came of it?

  3. Synapse: although i did make some (very small) prototypes back when the observatory came out, they were never released, and were never release-ready. that said, starseed observatory was a third-party analysis of starseed pilgrim, and dreamwalk was not conceived as an actual dlc/expansion — rather they were (afaik) pushing at the idea of “what if games criticism contained suggestions?”

  4. thanks for the response, I assumed it didn’t make it out of development
    I hope all is well on your end!

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