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Why you can pet the dog - Bright Blades devblog #1

The new Bright Blades demo (click here to try it!) has been getting some pretty nice feedback lately. People liike the graphics, the gameplay's been geeting way better comments than the first one did (which I take as a clear sign of improvement), and I've had some nice comments on the story. We've even got our own Discord server and a slowly-growing community.

But what people really seem to love is the ability to pet the dog, Baldur. Fun fact: that was just a silly little mechanic I threw in to cheer myself up after some sad stuff last year. I didn't realise just how many people would connect with it, but now it's become one of our game's biggest selling points. So, what exactly happened to inspire it, you may be wondering? Well, the answer I'm afraid isn't a particularly happy one.

Content warning for loss, just in case that's not what you really want this morning.

We don't talk much about loss in my family. I don't think that's especially bad or blameable, it's just not who we are. Stiff upper lips and all that. We're very British. So, when I lost my Grandma a little before this time last year, I wasn't all that public with it. Took me a good few weeks before I was finally able to cry about it.

You know what I did instead? For all that time when I couldn't cry properly? I worked on a little game I'd been making in my spare time from work and I added the ability to pet your dog. It was a really small thing, something I added purely on a whim to try and give myself something to smile about. And, if the comments I've been getting are anything to go by, it made a lot of you smile as well.

A few months later, I lost my Granddad, too. And I stopped smiling, more or less. Lost a lot of my mojo after that one-two punch. No amount of petting virtual dogs could bring me back from that. It's taken me a while to start clawing my way back to productivity, and I still have tough days where I don't really do much, but I try to chip away little by little. I guess, in a way, this game has become my nerdy little way of remembering them.

So yeah, that's the story of where petting the dog comes from. I'm not going to say some pretentious nonsense like, "Every time you pet that virtual dog, a part of my Grandma lives on inside of you." My loss is my loss, and I find the idea of dragging the world into it a bit weird and fussy. Like I said, I'm very British.

No, what I want to say is that you should hug the people you love. Right now. Do it, this instant. Get off the computer, put your phone down, whatever it is, find the people you love most in your house and give them a great big hug. No one about? Ring them up, tell them that they're important, and that you’re scheduling hugs ASAP.

I couldn't be there for my grandparents. I never got to say, "Goodbye," I never got to hold them close and tell them how much they mattered to me. I'd do anything to go back and find some way to make my last memories of them something sweet, poignant, and all those other fancy words we writers are meant to find, but I can't. But you can.

So keep hugging Baldur the dog, but, more importantly, hug the people you love as much as you can. Hug your family, hug your friends, hug your own pets. Hug them and hold them and tell them how much they mean to you. I'm sure they'll thank you for it.

I don't know if my grandparents can see this silly little game that I'm making but, if they can, I hope they know I love them. And that I sure wish I could hug them again.

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