A Great Moment in PC Gaming: Making an imprint on the rich tapestry of video game history is a tremendous honour. Some of our fondest gaming memories can be celebrated in the tiniest form possible in the world of PC gaming.
When you press that small publish button, you feel a tinge of fear. As soon as you press the “Done” button, you’re committing yourself to the great continuous canon of gaming history, no matter how minor your contribution may be.
“Can Androids Pray” was launched in 2019, a short game about the dying moments of two tragic mech pilots collaborating with Xalavier Nelson Jr. and Priscilla Snow (Patrick’s Parabox, A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build) on the PC Gamer website. Aside from tiny student projects, I’d already worked on Alien: Isolation and Minecraft during my summer internships at university, but this was the first time I’d released a full-fledged video game. The first one is to have a tangible sense of reality.
Game development can be a messy process. In order to get the user interface to work properly across all screen sizes, even a game this little had to undergo months of narrative rewrites and technical wrangling with visual scripting languages. Nothing more than my showing up at music festivals and museums across Europe with a laptop and way too much coffee was used for marketing our company’s music releases. In the time it took Xalavier to message me to inquire about partnering with Xbox, a Microsoft representative would show up at my stand halfway around the world.
Any release at all, let alone when you’re also a full-time games journalist, is nothing short of a miracle. If you have ever picked up a gamepad (I’m not sure what the keyboard analogy is here), I’m sure you’ve thought about trying your hand at something—even if that something is as simple as theorycrafting balance changes for your favourite MOBA character, or pondering why that one corner of your favourite CS: GO map doesn’t quite work.
In today’s world, getting started is easier than ever. Bitsy and Twine, two web-based tools, are free and easy to use, but they don’t have the same depth of documentation as mainstream engines like Unity or Unreal, which are both free. You’re a game developer if you put that stuff on Itch.io.
Only a few months of rent were paid for by Can Androids Pray’s success. In spite of this, the game was praised in print publications, released on consoles, and even generated a sequel, Can Androids Survive? (opens in new tab). Most importantly, however, is that we created something of which I am quite proud.