Hey everyone; Robert here. I meant to get this update posted toward the beginning of the year, but as we’re all well aware in 2020, extenuating circumstances are the new normal.
Anyway, I’m here to announce a few things. First, as you may have noticed a while ago, I’ve tweaked my branding a bit. It’s no longer “Robert L. Lynch Art and Design”, it’s “Robert L. Lynch: Building Worlds” (I’ll explain the meaning behind it here in a second). It’s not a total revamp of my 2018 circle design, but it’s been tweaked to more accurately reflect my goals.
What’s the reasoning for this? Well, for that I have to to get a little personal. I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with depression and anxiety over the years, or at least I’ve never particularly tried to hide it. I’ve historically had my ups and downs, which ranged from panic attacks at work and suicidal thoughts at the lowest to maybe a general malaise at the best. Recently however, (within the last year or so) I’ve been able to really nail down my medication situation, and even reconnect with a capacity for positive emotion that I hadn’t really had access to for a long time.
For a long time I had just felt like I was drifting aimlessly, not really satisfied at work, and making only token attempts to work on creative projects with a real hit and miss track record. I have so many searches in my google history for stuff like “discovering your life’s purpose” and “how to find meaning in life”, it’s almost laughable. One result that came up a few times was a supposed “life hack” to find your life purpose fast. The way it’s supposed to work is that you sit and meditate with a notebook and just word vomit all possible ideas for what your life purpose *could* be, and eventually when you find the one that makes you cry, that’s the indication of what you should be doing with your life.
Now, as I mentioned, I hadn’t had much emotional capacity until I got my meds sorted, so every time I tried to do this before, I just ended up sitting around wasting time writing stuff that didn’t move me. But after a couple post-medication incidents that really illustrated my newfound emotional range, I decided to try it again. And unlike most life hacks, this time, it actually worked. After several hours and quite a few pages of uninspiring ideas, I came up with a three-part mission statement for my own life that resonated with me in a way that nothing I attempted previously had ever done.
Here’s what I came up with:
My name is Robert L. Lynch.
My life purpose is to build worlds through my creative endeavors that entertain, enlighten, and inspire those who explore them.
My life goal is to earn enough income from my creative endeavors that I can live a comfortable life pursuing said endeavors full-time.
My life plan is to identify and take actionable steps toward the pursuit of that goal.
Now that alone felt like a great breakthrough, and is what led to the “Building Worlds” re-branding earlier in the year. However, the longer I’ve sat with it, the more I’ve thought about it, and the combination of introspection and the effects of recent events have brought the real meaning of these bullet points into a lot clearer view.
Originally, what I thought what that meant was that I just have so much interest in developing projects in so many different mediums, that I couldn’t limit myself to just one by labeling myself “artist” or “photographer” or “writer” or something. I thought what it meant was I could use any medium to express the worlds in my mind, and that because each was an equally viable working path, I didn’t need to settle for just doing one thing. I’ve come to realize that I was looking at it all wrong.
When I was in high school, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I had some ideas. If you took the time to hunt through in my attic, you’ll probably be able to find some old folders with notes and sketches I made back then. A huge percent of these revolved around video game ideas I wished I could make. Almost every major concept idea I’ve had started in my mind as an interactive experience. Unfortunately, thanks to a series of unsupportive teachers and guidance counselors, I was convinced that video game design was unrealistic and frivolous. (In hindsight, that was one of the worst possible assessments of an industry’s outlook, since game industry revenue has about quadrupled since I was in high school, to become a $150 billion a year market).
So anyway, I tried to follow what I was told was the practical path. Instead of trying to study 3D animation or something at Full Sail or the Art Institute of Chicago, I settled for studying graphic design, because it was supposed to have better job prospects. Problem was, graduating college in 2008 set me up for job hunting at the peak of the great recession, and I was never able to get my foot in the door of one of those career prospects. The “short-term gig until I find something better” jobs I’ve taken in the custom apparel industry have now taken up a decade of my life.
I tried to work on various creative projects in my spare time, each time filtering larger concepts through mediums that I thought I could adapt to, with mixed results. That’s the mindset I came into this year with, thinking if I just kept doing the same thing, somehow it would turn out differently. However after some more introspection (and a lot of time to reflect while my job was shut down by the quarantine), I’ve come to a clearer understanding of what “building worlds” really means, and the reality of it is something that should have been obvious this whole time.
I want to make games. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but never thought I could. I’ve been playing with concepts ever since I downloaded that old bootleg Russian version of RPG Maker 2000 back in high school. I’ve been keeping up with game engine and hardware news despite not being able to play most modern games for lack of adequate gaming platforms. I’ve tried to keep my 3D modeling skills fresh despite 3D studio constantly crashing on my 10-year-old laptop.
In short, video game design has been my passion as long as I can remember, but I’ve only recently rediscovered that fact about myself.
Now, realizing this was only part of the issue. I still had to deal with the problem that I’ve been unable to upgrade my design hardware for about a decade. Another unfortunate effect of being stuck in “whatever I can get” type jobs is that I’ve never been able get past that paycheck-to-paycheck financial situation, so I haven’t been able to put away any savings for upgrades. The last “modern” computer I purchased was my Acer laptop that died on me about two years ago. Now, having a fairly clear direction in mind at the beginning of the year, I came up with this whole plan where I was going to scrimp and save and buy components a little at a time, and end up building a moderately capable PC sometime by the end of the year. Then we had the plague hit, and my whole plan was tossed out the window.
Ironically enough, this turned out to be for the best in my case. Between unemployment, government stimulus, and simply not needing gas to commute an hour and a half every day, I was able to keep my bills paid, and still end up with more cash on hand after the lock-down than I would have made if I had worked the whole time. Enough so that I was able to finish my new PC build way ahead of schedule, and with performance specs far exceeding my original plans.
So what does all this mean? In short, it means for the first time in my life I feel like I know what direction I need to go, and I feel like I have the resources necessary to head in that direction.
I’m hereby announcing that, from here on out, I am not a graphic designer. I am not a comic artist. I am not an author, I am not a carpenter, and I am definitely not a custom apparel decorator.
I am a video game designer.
From now on I’m targeting the focus of all my creative works into Gem Studios, my indie video game design label. I’ll be starting by taking online training classes to learn Unreal engine, and supplementing that with additional training in modern standards of 3D modeling and animation. I have made the firm decision that my current apparel-decorator job will be my last. As long as I am employed there, I will continue to perform my duties to the best of my abilities, however my ultimate goal at this point is to become successful enough at game design that I can leave that position, pursue my passion full-time, and never be employed by another business.
I’m sure some of you are worried that means an abandonment of all my other projects, to which I say I don’t want to leave anything I’ve started incomplete. However, some of my projects may end up taking on other forms as they are completed. Maybe instead of writing a novel of Lily of the Uncanny Valley, it might become an episodic adventure game. Maybe instead of Heroes Inc. ending as a web-comic, it might end as a free-to-download platformer fan game. Everything not game-related is currently up in the air, and we’ll just have to see where things go.
Additionally, I’m planning on documenting my progress as I go, sharing my learning and development process with anyone genuinely interested. In order to best deliver that content, I’ve decided to set myself up on Patreon. I’ll share a link in the description for anyone curious, but essentially, I’m planning on posting videos and such through that platform first, as a sort of thank you to everyone who would support my journey enough to drop a few coins in my hat. My idea is to drop important stuff like game trailers and such there first, then make them public for all some time later. Other stuff like game demos and behind-the-scenes content would go there and remain exclusive content. I’m planning on making another video in a bit that I’ll be posting there with a tour of my new computer for those interested.
Long story short, I guess I just feel content with where my life is, for the first time I can remember. I’ve been lost in the woods for a long time, but I’ve come to a clearing and can finally see where I am. And I’m fine with where I am, because now I know where I want to be, I can see a clear path to that destination, and I have the means necessary to start down that path.
I want to thank everyone who’s followed my creative journey throughout the years. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met online through my project platforms like Deviant Art and Heroes Inc. – You’ve all been tremendously supportive and I really appreciate all the love you’ve shown me over the years. If you’ve liked my work over the years, I invite you to follow me going forward as well. Subscribe, like, share, all that, and keep an eye on this space for future updates. I hope to be able to entertain and inspire you with my works for years to come.