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How a game about death gave a lawyer new life as an indie dev

"I needed to be able to write all these possible ways of grief," former litigation attorney Dean Razavi told Kotaku about why he's making Vidar, an indie RPG he wound up quitting his job to make.
"My husband said, ‘If you pay someone for this game’s art, you’d better damn sell it.’ That was when I was like, ‘Oh. Maybe I sell it!’"

- Former litigation attorney and current full-time indie game developer Dean Razavi, speaking about his upcoming RPG Vidar.

There are as many paths into the game industry as there are people in it, so it's always interesting to hear about how someone got their start as a game maker.

One such story has been published on Kotaku today, and it affords devs an intriguing overview of how Razbury Games founder Dean Razavi came to quit his job as a litigation attorney to focus full-time on Vidar, a game about death.

Vidar is being built using Kadokawa's RPG Maker VX Ace, and while it will be Razbury Games' debut release it's not Razavi's first game project. Like many developers, he says he first became interested in making games after messing around with map editors (for Warcraft II, in this case) -- but it wasn't until he tried to make a wedding invitation that was also a game that he bought RPG Maker and taught himself to code.

"I thought it’d be cute to send a little RPG with the wedding invitation,” Razavi told Kotaku. “You play as our wedding party and save the day.” 

What began as a fun idea became a year-long effort as the invitation game grew into a 30-hour RPG. Some time after, Razavi was inspired to start a new game about death after attending a beloved cousin's funeral and being surprised at the variety of responses expressed by other mourners.

"Everyone had a different relationship to his death," Razavi recalled. The idea for Vidar was born out of this observation, and in the game (where, incidentally, everyone dies) each of the NPCs reacts differently to the deaths of their fellow in-game characters.

"I needed to be able to write all these possible ways of grief," said Razavi. "My goal is to have you come back and see how people react differently. The theme, ultimately, is very much about not wasting your time.”

For some time he worked on the game as a side project, only recently quitting his job to focus on it full-time. You can read more of his thoughts on the project, as well as his experience trying to manage a Kickstarter for it while also reportedly pulling 50-60 hour weeks as an attorney, over on Kotaku.

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