Marco watched the sunrise for the fourth time in over a week. He knew he couldn’t keep this up, the hours away from Jenna, the lack of time goofing around with friends online, it would eventually lead to something breaking.
In his caffeine-riddled mind rattled along to a beat made by the endless tapping of the Blue Cherry MX switches on his desk keyboard. The song it made didn’t matter, only he knew the steps to the maddening beat that was bug stomping in the 25th hour.
This build had to go out before they left for PAX. It had to be finished before the world exploded because that’s what would happen to Marco’s world if this build was trash. It would catch fire and burn down the con.
Or maybe it would just be buggy, the reviewers would hate it, the players would shit on it, and he’d be out of a job because feature creep and pie in the sky designers cannot stop bickering about the what was the driving force behind the player’s robot killing other robots in pursuit of a child’s love and would the players notice the cognitive dissonance that was the game’s core gameplay mechanic?
Would the player know that their robot was made from the bones of a mutated rabbit that eventually brought about the downfall of this now desolate colony?
Was that even the storyline anymore? He pinched his nose as he adjusted the finer points of the lighting engine for this vertical slice.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, he finally remembered to check his messages.
That’s strange. Usually, there’d be something there from someone he knew. He checked again and found his phone dead. In the flurry that was hacking together this engine to pull off the surprise reveal he’d forgotten to plug it into the wall.
Haphazardly, his hand shot across the desk and grabbed the nearby cord. As he plugged his phone into the wall his office door shot open and in ran Chase with a beet red face saying, “Ma, Marco. Meeting. Now.”
He almost shuddered when he asked, “Skype?”
“No, in person.”
The sleepless man stared at the messenger, and as if he were underwater, he shrugged his body up from his seat and walked out of the office.
The sun had begun to fade away from the sky as Marco finally returned to his office. The build along with all of the game’s assets was shipped off to another dev team. They lived somewhere, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t listen anymore after the words ‘budget mishaps’ were muttered.
He sat down in the seat behind the desk and looked at it for none of it was his anymore.
None of it, but his phone.
He grabbed it and found a text from Jenna: My key is under the mat.
Marco felt his world turn into a tunnel made out of shouting soundless horns. He stood empty from the desk, walked into his empty bedroom, and slept on his empty apartment floor.
It was the best sleep of his life.