Developer's Thoughts: A Letter About The Rumors, Controversy, and Anti-fans

Hello,

My name is Ajané. I’m the sole full time member of Aeon Dream, and director of all of our games. You probably have heard a lot about me, and perhaps not much good. I haven't said too much in an official, public capacity in places about the group of ADS antis before this letter because I felt there was no point.

I'm well aware these people are seeking attention on as many platforms they can to speak their mind about me, and some of it has been outright untruths stated for attention and personal vendettas, so it just didn't make sense to entertain that any further than I have.

There was no real way for my singular voice to shout over those banding together with so much hate in their hearts towards me. Fighting and arguing would only beget more fighting, I felt.

In the past, I hadn't made enough actions to correct my mistakes, and perhaps I still haven't yet, but with things intensifying, and innocent people getting dragged into the drama that is being created around me, I believe I need to speak out as clearly as I can. I am not here to defend myself, or fight with them, or tell you that what they're saying is incorrect. Some of it isn't, and I've already admitted to those mistakes multiple times.

A lot of it isn't true, though, but I recognize simply saying as much wouldn't convince anyone who chooses to believe those rumors. I understand that people will choose to believe whatever truth they want, and simply saying "That's not true" isn't powerful enough to alter their chosen reality. I am simply here to provide my perspective, as I believe every story needs the balance of hearing others viewpoints for the audience to consider.

The Past ADS

As a new indie game dev, I made many mistakes during my ambitious pursuit of my creativity and in my attempts to survive in a financially harsh environment. The company itself also underwent many changes, and challenges as time went on. I made ambitious promises with a team that ended up leaving game development entirely.

Delays were had (and we’re still suffering from them) and “understaffed” became a permanent state. The company that began in 2015 is no longer the one that it is now in most ways. I am always looking forward, sometimes too much, but that kind of mindset also allows me to get up, change and improve and avoid stagnation.

The negative feedback and positive feedback I have gotten caused me to stop and evaluate those matters that were being discussed by others. I took the opportunity to think about whether or not my decisions that had sparked that feedback aligned with my personal vision, and who I am. In some cases, it did, and some cases, it didn't. If it aligned with who I was, even if it was an unpopular decision, I remained firm on it.

Any time the decision didn't align with who I am, I evaluated why it occurred, where I went wrong, and made changes to avoid it in the future and improve. I also tried to make it up to people if I saw unintentional harm was caused by my actions, such as when I offered refunds for our much delayed game, Mystic Destinies: Echoes.

I believe that people are entitled to their opinions, whether they are about me or my work, and I believe I am entitled to mine. I have a company name with which I release games, because I used to be part of a creative team, but essentially I have always strived to be a creator that's frank and direct with people. I aim to be polite, but generally speak to them on the level that they speak to me.

A lot of people felt that, because I have a business name, that I should hold myself to the standards of what they believed to be a traditional professional capitalist "the customer is right" business. I should have been clearer about who I was, what the business meant to me, and how I viewed my company as a vehicle for releasing my creations. I generally try to treat everyone the same, as we're all humans and equals.

This led to a lot of confusion as people didn't see me as an individual artist from whom they were purchasing goods from, but as a traditional company. I gained a reputation as being a "bad" company, because my actions and the way I spoke was more in line with an individual artist than their perception of companies.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a strong identity when I created the business, and had initially only taken the lead because my teammates weren't interested in leading. I think this is part of why there was so much confusion and therefore distrust and hatred towards the informal ways I handled conversations and situations occasionally.

I learned from that mistake, though, and am doing everything I can to have a clear identity so people can understand what to expect from me/ADS, and then make their decision on whether they engage with me/my content with that in mind.

Anti-fans

However, due to these delays, and people's perception of me as a business, a small group of disgruntled people who had previously been fans became antis. I’m not here to complain about them, but to clarify some of their actions from my perspective. My apologies for my mistakes were ignored and called "victimizing myself", my explanations for why delays occurred were considered "placing blame", I was constantly questioned over the same events repeatedly, and my promises to do better in the future and following actions were considered never good enough.

It became clear that they no longer wanted the games, or for me to improve. All they wanted at this point was for me to fail, and discuss almost every single day amongst themselves when I’ll finally fall.

I've heard they've posted negativity about me, on every possible platform, and even researched into my personal life and made judgments about that. They congregated into a group, calling each other "cohorts", and said they would continue to create new accounts with which to call me out on my alleged wrongdoings, nonstop. Every decision and action I make is scrutinized, criticized, and judged to be somehow proof of me being “evil” or is just outright called inferior or not good enough in some way.

One of them saw me and my solitary fellow coworker and friend out eating before, and they came up to us to ask if we were in fact, who we were. They then proceeded to tweet about us, and the group came in to judge us on eating out (supposedly "with their money") when I should have apparently been working. Because work-life balance isn't a thing and artists aren't allowed to do anything besides work, in their opinion, I assume.

They've yelled at me on my personal social media, on posts with nothing to do with the company or games, calling me whatever they want. They've engaged with ADS fans and fought with them for the simple "crime" of continuing to be our fan. They filtered into our Discord server and made everyone uncomfortable there on multiple occasions. It recently finally got to the point I had to block and ban them because other people were uncomfortable. And still, they said they'd continue to make new accounts to harass me.

Am I here to say I don't deserve this? Well, truthfully - unpopular opinion here - but I don't believe anyone deserves to be outright harassed on a regular basis, especially while they're working to correct the mistakes they've made. Even if that isn't "fast enough" for someone's tastes. Constructive criticism and questions is one thing, but nonstop, aggressive questioning, and rage giving way to deep, personal hate is entirely another, in my opinion.

But whether or not others think I deserve it, the real reason I am finally posting about all of this in detail, is because I believe that the people who have been subject to hearing these people’s words deserve to also hear the other side of the story. That way you can come to your own conclusions, no matter what rumors pop up about me or ADS in the future.

Only you can decide the truth for yourself. And no one else can tell my side of the story except me, so here I am.

In the end, if ADS has no fans left because of my mistakes, because of my controversial decisions, if not a single person purchases my work again because they believed a lie, misconception, or rumor about me…

That's fine with me. I can only change me going forward, not others around me, nor can I change the past. I accept that reality is what it is.

I am not entitled to be liked, or for my stories to be liked, or to receive success or money. Some people feel as if they deserve those things, or that others owe that to them. What I want, is to have the strength to be me and become truer to myself despite whatever adversity may created as a result.

The past ADS with my past teammates doesn't wholly reflect my vision, and now that I'm largely solo, with a host of various experiences under my belt, I'm working everyday towards correcting that. It can't be done overnight, though. And most people do understand that.

Right now, I am only creating for two reasons:

1. To fulfill my obligations to those I've promised who have been waiting patiently. I want to thank these people for their kindness and do better in the future.

2. To create stories with deep meaning that help change society for the better, that enrich and comfort people's lives.

I've always said, that if only one person finds some kind of value from my stories, then it's worth it. I've never needed a ton of fans or accolades to want to write.

The truth is, this job just doesn't pay much right now. I could make the same amount doing something else, and that fact combined kind of harassment and stress I've been under in the past hardly justifies continuing, logically. Almost every single core member has moved on out of game dev by now. But for those two reasons, even under fire, I won't give up trying to make things right. And I will take the time that's necessary to do that.

That's my side of the story. It's up to you to decide what you believe and think. As for me, regardless of what people think of me, my decisions, or my stories, I'm going to continue improving, become truer to myself, and continue to create the best experiences that I can.

P. S. I'd like to get back to the games, and sharing info about them, so I promise the next blog posts in June will be about that.