Solace State: A look back over 2019

I won’t deny that the past year of 2019 was an intensively difficult one. But on the whole, I believe the net outcome was paired with incredible growth. We’ve seen friends managing overwhelming personal challenges, but we’ve also seen such incredible strength and goodwill. I’m thankful that Solace State has the support of so many great people, and I hope that I continue to strengthen those bonds and do well by all of them.

In the past year, we’ve seen exploitation and intimidation through power dynamics and systemic social injustice within both the games industry and the broader world. In this social context, for me to examine social fractures and render it into coherent storytelling for Solace State has been a herculean challenge. Sometimes it was uncanny, other times exhausting and melancholic, but at the heart of it all, it feels right and necessary. The process of creating art from my own social uncertainties feels much more than a salve, but like I’m pushing against confinements of cultural expectations that tell us we shouldn’t write our own success stories.

It’s hard to retain softness in the face of injustice and indignity, just as it’s hard to enforce stringent boundaries for radical self-love that’s backed with mindful, intersectional social action.

Thank you to friends and colleagues who chose to listen and be mindful, who take the time to care and lead by positive examples. The sincerity of these small actions over time is what becomes big gifts of community that keep on giving. I’m continuing to learn to be gracious, to share what I can, and to encourage depth of care.

Tanya Kan with laptop in forest
I’m especially thankful to my team who has seen and grown lots this year. We have had a lot to celebrate with Solace State. Some of our efforts from 2019 include:

Solace State UI
  • A beautiful new level that includes a first pass of Roy Button’s UI design and stylish new environment art by Lauren Bamlett
Solace State Tanya Kan and Gabi Kim Passos 2019
  • Gabi Kim Passos working on integrating our new narrative pipeline
  • My substantial narrative script and gameplay loop improvements
  • New character art by Seage Howlett
Solace State team in meeting room, Jayme Last, Tanya Kan, Gabi Kim Passos, Julia Pyo
  • Welcoming Jayme Last onto our team as an incredible project manager to keep us motivated, balanced, and on track
Solace State live streaming
  • Welcoming Julia Pyo to our team as community manager, developing our Twitter presence, and experimenting with our Discord channel and Twitch streaming
Solace State Tanya Kan and Gabi Kim Passos at GDC 2019
  • An incredibly fruitful Game Developers Conference (GDC), where Gabi and I showcased at GDC Play, and I established new business development connections
Solace State at TCAF Comics x Games Toronto
  • Solace State at Toronto Comics Arts Festival Comics x Games showcase
Solace State's Tanya Kan at EGLX with Kinda Funny
  • Solace State at Kinda Funny E3 Showcase (where we met again at EGLX in Toronto!)
  • We received coverage from Rock Paper Shotgun after!
Solace State Multiversity workshop by Tanya Kan
  • Multiversity at Oakwood Village Library and Art Centre artist-in-residence workshop, where I taught attendees about the process of creating their own social impact branching stories using paper-and-pencil prototyping
  • Solace State at Ryerson’s Blue and Gold event

For myself, it’s almost irrational for doing so much, but needs must!

All of the administration – and that means countless reports to stakeholders and funders, strategy, organizing meetings, budgeting, book-keeping, managing team members, setting expectations and schedules, countless applications, bizdev, talking to press… basically all the things most people don’t hear about. But I’m getting good at it. Throughout this year, I have honed my skills in this such that I can meet those challenges much more readily, and I don’t feel depleted with this type of work.

This must also continue to improve with balancing development work for me: Writing the narrative script, overlapping with Gabi on integration into engine, art direction, level design, and even a bit of 3D modelling.

Over the course of 2020, we will welcome new collaborators, including new science and cultural consultants, QA, a composer, videographer, and more.

A few years ago, when I first started this project, I wouldn’t have imagined the scale that Solace State would become. And in 2020, I’m certain that the light and life of our teamwork will bring new smiles and growth.

Peace and hope,
Tanya Kan

Roy and Gabi hard at work on new UI elements before the winter holidays.