We all have a handful of dream clients we would like to work with - brands that are larger than life or that we have a special connection to: Iconic things you grew up with that have never really left you.
Something like Star Wars.
When we first started working with Disney Channel on a game for Big Hero 6, we would dress up in costumes and joke on our conference calls all of them about how much we wanted to do a Star Wars project. I think we even sent an email at one point with the headline "Will Star Wars for FREE" to keep a dialogue going. We had zero expectations but were just being ourselves and having a good time imagining the possibilities. Then the call came in...
"Hey guys everyone really loved working with you on the Big Hero 6 project and we would like to have you submit a proposal for a game for Star Wars Resistance." (silence)... "Hey guys, you there?"
I think we all would like to have bottled up the emotions we each were feeling in that moment. All the excitement that Star Wars brought to each of us as kids came flooding back. For so many of us, Star Wars is probably the franchise that had the biggest impact on our childhood. I went to film school and started my career as a visual effects artist because that fascination I had as a child never left me. So many years later it's still part of our fabric.
Still it's just a proposal... ZERO expectations.
When we were awarded the project it happened all over again. Our design teams couldn't contain their excitement as they realized they were going to be working on interfaces that pioneered modern sci-fi design and our 3D artists couldn't believe they would have access to high quality models of recognizable ships like the X-wing to work with. John Williams anthems blasted throughout the studio as daily and light saber battles ensued.
As we worked on the project, it was interesting to talk about how it made us feel and what it meant to us personally. Our lead developer, Shane has young kids that share his passion for the brand; so, when we were awarded the project he knew it was something they would be equally excited about. I remember him telling us that he blasted the Star Wars theme song in his house to announce we had gotten the project to his family.
There are very few things in life that are timeless and resonate with multiple generations, which can be intimidating. You feel a great responsibility working in this vast universe that fans will scrutinize if it doesn't feel authentic and, at the same, time you are honored to have an opportunity to create something meant for a new audience and younger generation of fans.
I recently saw a video of Gary Vee opening a pack of Topps baseball cards and seeing his own series of cards featuring the top entrepreneurs in baseball. The look of childhood joy on a grown man's face... I can definitely relate. You awaken your inner child and decades of experiences involving that brand come rushing back all at once. These are memories with family and friends, nostalgic moments that are genuinely you. Some of my fondest memories as a child were spent with my grandmother. When I would visit, she would take me to our local toy store and let me pick out one action figure to add to my collection. She would watch me play for hours by myself in this magical universe. I am lucky to still have her around: she was the first person I called to tell we got the project and in hearing the joy in my voice she said, "I can die happy now."
Even when you love what you do, you don’t get too many opportunities like this in your career. So when you do, take a moment to appreciate what it means to you. In the end these are the big wins, not awards you receive for your work, but amazing opportunities from people you want to work with.