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A fellow game developer died

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I'm close friends with the fellow game dev team upstairs on the 14th floor. Every time either of our teams has something to celebrate, we invite each other. We share in each others happinesses and struggles. We have a good camaraderie.

Today, I learned that Doug passed away.
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*sigh*
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He was so young. He was about my age.
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He was the smileyest guy on their team.
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He went to have heart surgery last Monday and died on Friday from complications.
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Damn.
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How fucked up is that? That you could be talking to someone one day, and they're dead and gone the next? Forever! I know the reaper comes for all of us, but it's a lot harder when it is so unexpected and sudden.
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How do you deal with that? On one hand, you've got the grief. That's the hardest. Then you've got the team members who are also grieving. Then you've got the game project. To say, "The show must go on!" is what must eventually happen. To do that, you've got to do a transition of responsibilities. Shit. They were a four man team, now they're down to three. He was their coding heavy weight. The guy who could do it all. You can't just farm that out evenly to the rest of the team. They're also pretty much broke, so you can't hire replacements. How do you pick up the pieces and make the show go on? How weird will it be to look at his source code and see his comments? In a way, it's a part of him. And eventually as the code evolves, you're going to have to delete some of those comments? In a way, we all have threads of evidence which suggested we existed. One by one, those threads are erased over time. But you owe it to Doug to see the project through to the end.
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Well, Doug worked on this game for the last few years. He wanted to "make something fun". He got to see the beta launch of the game he worked so hard on. He did what he dreamed of doing -- and when it comes to life and dreams, that's kind of rare... Things like this make us think, "what if I'm next?" and hopefully compel us examine our own life closely.

I know I'll be drinking a coffee in Doug's memory today. Damn, I wish I never had to write something like this.

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Sorry to hear.

 

From what I've seen though, it's not about saying 'the show must go on', but rather, take your revenge on life by proving someone's memory rings true.

If one of my partners was to die unexpectedly, I would grieve, and then, there would be a point where I'd be driven to 'finish what he started' (to quote Kylo Ren).

 

I think that's the reason why you see a lot of movies with a 'for (insert person close to production or staff member that died midway through the film) birth - death'.

If the rest of the team still believes in the project, then that's one hell of a good way to say 'screw you!' to the bitchy life and channel these conflicted emotions into something better.

 

It doesn't need to be all fun, perhaps it adds that slight touch of awkwardness because no one really wants to think about making 'fun' in the short run, but it makes the end product a bit more unique in that regard, and perhaps, even better.

 

Plus, losing someone tends to put him on a pedestal, and this can be also leveraged. If all other team members agree that they're no longer thinking about making the project more to their liking, but agree that they want it to make the game that 'he' would've loved, they start creating a persona. 'He' won't be there to argue, but he becomes a tool through which they may further come closer to a cohesive vision about what needs to be and not be.

 

So I don't know if your question was rhetorical, but I firmly believe there is cause to rally around a lost comrade's pet project. That being said, there's no denying the loss itself can't ever be compensated for, and what may have started out as a naive undertaking to make 'fun' can quickly escalate into something else entirely...

If his skillset was unique, it may take a long while before they're willing to have someone else brought in, someone that does not have their common baggage (losing a team member). 

 

I don't know much about Metallica or Ozzie Osbourne, but they both share a similar stigma.

Metallica had a dear friend (Cliff Burton) that would be the group's bassist between 1982ish all the way to his death somewhere before 1987. It was short-lived if you consider the legacy of that band, but the people that were present when Cliff died (James, Kirk and Lars) still talk about him like he was/is their bassist. Jason Newsted was brought in in 1987 and played with them up 'till 2001, and if you watch some interviews about when he left the band, he paints a pretty good picture of what the climate was for him during his time with the band. Though he was with them for arguably 3 times as long as Cliff was, he wasn't there when they first experienced fame, and he didn't die, and for this, he was always an outsider (he didn't have to live through the pain of losing Cliff).

 

Ozzie Osbourne has a similar story to tell about Randy Rhoads, an amazing though short-lived guitarist that essentially spearheaded his solo carreer.

Though Ozzie was blessed with an amazing array of largely talented guitarists over the years (many who's spin-off projects would take wings), he was deeply scarred by the loss of Randy Rhoads, and save for a few faces, he wasn't able to keep a steady 'man' in this position after. Arguably, it being a solo career project didn't require the same sort of unity with potential team-mates, but we'll never know the story of 'what if Randy Rhoads was still alive', so it's a moot point. Still, watching Ozzie speak about Randy should leave a lasting impression, and that's not something that even enduring drug abuse can start to hide.

 

TL;DR: It sucks, but I hope the team recovers and finds a way to channel this loss into positive energy to elevate their craft, and possibly find a way to recover emotionally to accept new team mates despite the innocence loss.

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I'm truly sorry for your loss sir. I hope the team rallies and delivers an awesome game. I think your post was a great idea and it couldn't have been easy to write. Hopefully it will light a fire under people's asses to follow their dreams before it's too late.

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