Goodbye Nexus City

Happy new year everyone! I’ve used that guitar cover of The Ecstasy of Gold above as a placeholder song in various big projects over the years that haven’t worked out. It seemed fitting to share it here.

Near the end of 2012, I made the very difficult decision to abandon Nexus City (and it’s spinoff game, Selma’s Story).

For those of you with no idea what Nexus City is – it’s an RPG I was collaborating on with the writer Jonas Kyratzes. Originally a very small game, over time it grew completely out of control – at this point, Jonas and I have worked on it on and off for over two years. However, that doesn’t really paint an accurate picture – I haven’t worked on Nexus City itself since 2011, and I only worked on the spinoff game, Selma’s Story, for two months last year.

That said, even though it’s not a project I’m actively spending much of my time on, Nexus City has weighed heavily on my mind.

I’ve been thinking of Nexus City as “the thing I’m working on” since 2010. As a result, for a long time now, I’ve felt like I wasn’t really in control of what I can work on. Promising games would come along, and I’d stop myself from getting too deep into them, because I had to finish Nexus City first. Everything became a big ordered list of what I could work on and when, how long I could spend on it. It’s only when a project like Super Hexagon came along, and forced itself on me – became too much to ignore, that I was able to turn that part of my head off. And I could do it, but even then I constantly had that pressure – when this is done, I need to get back to Nexus City.

I don’t think that’s creatively healthy.

Nexus City is an amazing world with an amazing story, and there were times when I was completely obsessed with it – but the momentum is long gone now, and at this point I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I need to move on to other things.

So, what’s next for this year? Right now – for the moment, I think I may just take some time off. I feel like I haven’t really done that in some time – it’s just been one project after another pretty much as long as I remember. After that? I don’t really know! I have a clean slate again for the first time in a very long time, and I’m very excited about that.


20 Comments so far

  1. Eric Mill on January 2nd, 2013

    I know the feeling entirely, and you’re making the right call. It’s like your heart made your decision before your head, and realized it wasn’t gonna happen – but in the meantime, your head and heart were both burdened by the dissonance. The best thing you can do is channel it into awesome new greenfield projects, weight-free. I just hope relations with Jonas are still good.

  2. Robin on January 2nd, 2013

    My white whale kept me preoccupied and tethered for a good 4 years. And I just couldn’t let it go. It was just too good of an idea, but I was in no place to create it. Now that I am, I’m working on an equally awesome but much smaller scale project, because a month ago, I finally let go of that ‘dream’.

    If it’s meant to happen I’ll return to it. If not, then not.

    I took three months off. It was bliss. And I feel incredibly refreshed. I wish you the best with whatever you do.

  3. Anonymous on January 2nd, 2013

    I bet when you get back you’ll have a million other things that you’ll want to work on, and it’ll be great because you don’t have any obligation to work on that one project. You can’t finish everything, but you can learn from everything.

  4. Robin on January 2nd, 2013

    What about open-sourcing it? Or would that be too much of a distraction (which would be totally understandable)?

  5. Paul Andrew McGee on January 3rd, 2013

    As much I looked forward to Nexus City I’m glad you were able to make this decision. It sounds like a very positive move.

  6. Ricardo on January 3rd, 2013

    Would you mind somebody else taking over Nexus City/Selma’s Story or would you prefer for the projects –you being one of the co-creators– to remain in limbo?

  7. Terry on January 3rd, 2013

    Thanks for understanding, everyone.

    Robin2, Ricardo: I don’t think it would make any sense whatsoever for somebody other than me or Jonas to make this game. This isn’t a calculator app; you can’t open source an unfinished creative work.

  8. Wis on January 3rd, 2013

    Well, that hurts but hey, good things could come from this decision.
    I whish you all the luck you deserve.
    And, hoping not to sound annoying (but seeing your need for a vacation this is what immediately comes to mind): is there any ETA for Android Super Hexagon? ^__^U
    Keep up the good work!

  9. Andrew dublin on January 3rd, 2013

    I wouldn’t say never, just put it on indefinite hold

  10. gnome on January 3rd, 2013

    First of all enjoy your time off and then have a great 2013.

    I’m pretty sure you guys will return to Nexus City eventually…

  11. Stian Stark on January 3rd, 2013

    Seriously, am I the only one who listened to that wonderful cover and noticed that classical guitar music, for them, was now permanently owned by nothing and no-one but Dwarf Fortress? The title helped, of course.

    Have a great 2013, Terry, and thanks for all the wild and exciting rides in games so far!

  12. Jabberwok on January 4th, 2013

    Any insight into whether Jonas is also dropping the project? Didn’t notice any mention of it on his blog. Unless the title’s been changed to The Kingdom of the Wolf.

  13. Ava Avane Dawn on January 4th, 2013

    That’s very sad to hear. And also very uplifting. The game is dead, long live the game!

  14. Jonas on January 4th, 2013

    @Jabberwok: No, The Kingdom of the Wolf is not Nexus City. I’m definitely not going to abandon the project, though. Terry and I loved it for a reason. We just approached it the wrong way, lost too much momentum (for a variety of reasons, some beyond our control). When the time is right, the story of Nexus City will still be told.

  15. Wis on January 4th, 2013

    Well, that’s all we hoped to hear, probably.

  16. Uncompetative on January 4th, 2013

    I would agree with Andrew that you should put it on an indefinite hold. Some games just take a lot of time to bear fruit. Some games cannot even be attempted by an individual or independent without a substantial investment of time in developing tools that will eventually boost productivity. Eskil Steenberg’s LOVE is one such example of a game made possible by an original toolset based around unorthodox paradigms. I have been working on a new language with which to build the custom tools I need to make my very large scale MMORTSFPSRPG “Universe” for the last twenty years in my spare time and I am glad to still be working on it. I suppose it is a money thing…

  17. Micah on January 5th, 2013

    Well, I’m sorry to see this project go. Even though I never really knew what it was about. I think I was mostly excited because you guys were making it, and that was all I needed to know.

    Anyway, I hope you get some good rest. You totally deserve it, after all the awesomeness you’ve put out there. And then, after you’re good and rested, maybe you can make some more games that I love!

  18. StephenM3 on January 8th, 2013

    A short project becomes a big project then becomes The Project which becomes the thing preventing you from trying other short projects.

    You actually did get a few really cool things done this year. Maybe if you didn’t have Nexus City hanging over your head the whole time, some of those things would have grown indefinitely instead of getting finished?

  19. Terry on January 8th, 2013

    …that’s possible, sure.

  20. Istvan Belanszky on January 19th, 2013

    Dear Terry,

    I guess I am one of the very few fellow devs who can truly understand your decision. I have played (and enjoyed) some of your work. Let’s hope that one day you can play my “life’s work” as well — that would mean I managed to complete it. The NEWCOMER roleplaying adventure game project that I am leading for the last ten years has started back in 1990, and there were a couple of situations during its 23 years of history when it just barely escaped getting cancelled. (When|If) I manage to complete it I will release a post-mortem of our two decades worth of experiences, but you can already read some details about it:

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