May 4, 2021

Joshua Muise (My Brother-In-Law!!!)

Joshua Muise (My Brother-In-Law!!!)

This week on Friendless I have special guest video game designer, illustrator, and my brother-in-law, Joshua Muise!
Josh and I discuss the unexpected perks of working from home, jocks making video games, joining the Avramenko clan, friendship as a radio dial, and so much more!
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Transcript
James Avramenko:

Friendless is a proud member of the Saskatchewan Podcast Network which is sponsored in part by Conexus credit union and Direct West. Hello my sweeties and welcome back once more to Friendless, the only show about reconnecting with old friends by disconnecting from social media. I am as always your host, James Avramenko. back once again to ask what it means to be a friend by unfriending everyone I know on Facebook. This week, I have a super special guest on the show, game designer, Illustrator, and my brother in law, Joshua Muise, Josh and I discussed the unexpected perks of working from home jocks making video games, joining the Avramenko clan, the poor fella, friendship as a radio dial, and so much more. It was an absolute treat to catch up with Josh, it's an absolute treat to have him in my family. And you know what, it's gonna be an absolute treat for you to hear it. But you don't have to take my word for it. So just lay back, turn up the volume and get comfy and enjoy my interview with Josh Muise here on Friendless. I had this fucking panic attack when I was reading your name because I was like, Oh shit. You know, you've been married for 10 years you've been part of the family for God as I look at it, and I was like, Oh my God, have I been saying your last name wrong this whole time? Turns out I'm ok.

Joshua Muise:

story try being married to an Avramenko. Yeah, I still have like night sweats. When I put your names down on like legal documents or forums or anything. I'm just like, Oh, I hope I spelled it right.

James Avramenko:

well, you know what's crazy? You know, what's funny with with Avramenko is that it's like, I was trying to be really like, it's technically phonetic. Like it is spelt how it sounds. It's just that it's also Ukrainian. So it's got that dumb k that's I feel like the K is actually the thing that that fucks people up the most with it? Because it's like, if you took the k out it would just it would look more normal but that that k it's like that sudden like it's like a heart palpitation that really fucks people up at the end.

Joshua Muise:

That knockout.

James Avramenko:

Exactly. It's a journey. That's a journey of a name, though,

Joshua Muise:

but it truly takes you places.

James Avramenko:

but Josh how the how the fuck are you? It's been you know, I mean, we haven't seen each other in person in in, like, was the last time like at our wedding?

Joshua Muise:

Oh, I hope not. But you're probably it's been far too long.

James Avramenko:

You know, and like, you know, obviously we've had we've had digital talks and video calls and all those things, and we'll talk about those but, but how are things out east these days?

Joshua Muise:

You know what, we are wildly spoiled. It's not to try and and, you know, blow wind up my own skirt here. But like we we've been really lucky, all things considered I, I work with, with, you know, people from all over the world, just given what my job is. So I get to kind of touch in with a lot of different groups on a regular basis. So the last little bit is really just driven home, like how I should be very grateful to be located where I am at the moment. Given that, you know, we've we've been pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things for for what our day to day has kind of shifted into, from where it was. And I guess on the flip side of it is like kind of the sleepy laid back nature of the rural east coast of Canada. wasn't that far off of a quarantined light?

James Avramenko:

Yeah,

Joshua Muise:

you know, we weren't 10 steps away, we were, we were maybe already

James Avramenko:

ready for it right?

Joshua Muise:

You spend a fair bit of time at home, kind of keep it to a smaller group of friends, given where we live houses are a little further apart. Like we like again, this wasn't a radical switch to something that was completely unsure. So I think that again, like we're pretty lucky in that regard. That being said, I mean, you know, all the same emotional and mental things that everybody's dealing with the last little while. I mean, I've been working from home for over a year now. I have not been back in the office. I went home last March, I believe in or around the 12th

James Avramenko:

I was wondering about that actually, I wanted to talk to you about about like your work and stuff like that, but because I was wondering if you were going into the office or not still and you know, I know a lot of people with those sort of like, you know, like it I would say to be reductive but like you know cubicle jobs, right off ice jobs, those kinds of things. Right. You know, it's been a huge wake up call about how easy it could be to move to digital and remote to know Those things and, and I wonder, yeah, first of all, so, you know, tell me about the sort of like, the transition for you with that. But then also, I wonder if it's like, has it opened up your bosses to the potential of going more remote and maybe using that space for something else? Or are, are they like itchy to go back to normal?

Joshua Muise:

You know, it's a mix, right. And I think that in my industry, in particular, like in games, you know, I make video games for a living, I'm a creative director at a, at a game studio. So I think, you know, we have such an interesting little subset to look at, because within that organization, there's kind of these subsets of personalities that make it all up. I mean, I guess, like any organization, but for ours, it's, it's fun to look at kind of top down because there's very, very technical roles, very creative roles. And then there's more kind of managerial roles and administrative roles. And so within that kind of context, now, we're able to see a year out who this is kind of impacted the most either positively negatively, or kind of neutral. And what's interesting is like, there's a little bit of kind of across the board folks who are like, this is it for me, I could never be Yeah. And you know what I mean, I get it, because there are certain roles that this is kind of their dream scenario, where working in an open office, like we do in our studio, you know, there's distractions, and it's little things you might take for granted of just somebody walking by in the corner of your eye, when you're really deep in thought working on, you know, a very detail oriented kind of analytical task, maybe more on the development side of the coding side, and then somebody starts to crack

James Avramenko:

Knock knock you know,

Joshua Muise:

Yeah, you're right. So now they can kind of get into that deep work that maybe an open office doesn't necessarily offer. And what's funny, too, is like, you start to see kind of literature now that the Open Office has been like a 15/20 year experiment in a lot of these tech companies, like, it looks fucking great on the cover of business magazine, because they make cool floor plans, and you can put funky furniture in. But you know, the kind of data is coming home now to say like, it's not necessarily the ideal setup for for every desk, or even for most businesses. So I think it was interesting, you know, this happened at a time where we were probably starting to think about our kind of physical layout in our studio for those very reasons. And now people going home have got to see the other side of it, work a little bit more in isolation depend more on I am, zoom, that kind of stuff talk as needed. And for those individuals, this has been like, they're, they're loving it. This is great. Yeah. For folks that kind of fall in the middle, they're missing the interaction of kind of the face to face of team meetings, just seeing somebody else for a couple of days, or sorry, seeing everybody, for you know, it's been a few days since they've seen Oh, yes, you know, because like, we tend to have kind of a wide range of ages to that work in our studio. So this can be the first job out of college. So you know, a single individual who's coming out in the early 20s, who's living alone, gets shifted from going into a studio with 80 people they see every day, get to laugh with mess around with make games with to them being back in a one bedroom apartment. Yeah, on a screen where they can either opt to show themselves are not free. It's like a little prison almost. Right. It's like, yeah, so so it's kind of been a mix of everything. I'm not sure if I answered the question. Yeah, no, for us, I think it's gonna be interesting to see what it looks like, we're very lucky like that management and exec have been, like, really open to it, they didn't have any judgments going in, like at first, it was a survival mechanics, like, let's be honest, every business had to do it, or there was a very hard consequence to not do it. But I like that it kind of validated a lot of concerns and assumptions about like, why we could or couldn't do it, you know, so And also, like, shout out to all the tech people in the world and it people my unsung heroes.

James Avramenko:

Fuck though, right, exactly. And like, I can't imagine the like, I can't imagine the zoom, like those zoom maintenance crew, you know, like those kinds of people, right? Yeah, fuck, though.

Joshua Muise:

I know how to log. Yeah, I use the tools, but like, from a business organizational standpoint of like, making it okay for me to take equipment out of housing and get it set up in my home and have none of the friction, you know what I mean? Like to lean on those few people. And it's just like, yeah, they they killed it. And so, here we are. And I guess like, when we go back, it's all going to be tied to, you know, vaccination and causeless comfort levels. And it's going to be that but I mean, about the studio yesterday, really good question is I think a lot of businesses are going to have to be pretty eyes open and honest about like, do we need this massive space that we're paying to heat paying to run maintenance cleaning that goes through it? Or can we look at something a little more flexible moving?

James Avramenko:

Yeah, that's my hope. Right. My hope is that we can sort of re you know, re appropriate some of the space that's been taken up that isn't necessary for these companies to run. Right. And, and, and, you know, you know, a lot of these conversations are happening right now around, you know, obviously, like I'm in in the theater world. And so we're discussing a lot of like, Well, does one company need to be in one space or can we kind of like split the difference of all these offices and all these different things and enemies and that's a really small scale. This discussion when compared to something like international video game. Pretty sure you know what I mean? Right?

Joshua Muise:

So, but it isn't, it isn't like, you know, tech and portability can kind of democratize that. And I think that you hit the nail on the head too, right? The upkeep and kind of the integrity of a community, right is like tearing something down to build something bigger to house, a warehouse, or this big infrastructure for a studio versus scaling, you know, your needs to what's there, and what's available and kind of using that space or sharing that space to kind of split those costs. So if it's a 50/50 thing, if the theater could be used for live entertainment for your side of the world, and then if we needed a space to set up like a mobile mocap shoot, where we're going in and we're doing motion capture, we just need a high ceiling, kind of empty space where we have moveable, you know, walls and dividers can bring our equipment in and then leave, like, that's a type of

James Avramenko:

That's exactly it. Right, you know, the way partnership that I think is like a very interesting thing to look into. Because like, it serves all sides, and it's kind of the better thing to do for everyone. that these spaces have been? So what do you say you compartmentalize, I guess is is a way of putting it, but like, yeah, the way the way they've, they've been subjected to only one kind of company and one type of thing when they could be used. So versatility, right? You know, and especially with the way all these technologies are, are shifting and changing, but, but excuse me, um, but I want to talk about I want to talk about your video games. And the way the way I want to get there, though is, is let's say, you know, because we before we started recording, you were talking about your company being acquired, which is fascinating. I don't know how much you can talk about that in public or not. But, but if we were to sort of end the story there, and somewhere in the middle, likely, you will, you will encounter a smaller version of your wife who's got a slightly thicker beard.

Joshua Muise:

I already know the Ukrainian genes are strong.

James Avramenko:

Goddamn eyebrows, my God.

Joshua Muise:

But so in my eyebrows? there's no chance No, I'm saying. It's like, what's the goal, right? We're just gonna grow a head band.

James Avramenko:

Oh my god it's gonna be just like, it's gonna be like a Tenenbaum headband. But so if so, if somewhere in the middle, we run into each other and I'd like to kind of talk more about that. But what I want to start is with how you got yourself into the video game scene and and the video game world and what that looked like for your entry into it and what it is also that you do know

Joshua Muise:

that's a that's an awesome question. And and I I was thinking about this to know in the conversation was coming up, so I wanted to go back and really think through it. And you know, it's, it's a it's a common story. I wish it was more special, but it's that I literally was finished school, I went to school for traditional 2d animation, like hand drawn paper animation, because I'm that fucking old. pen and paper. I'm 100 years old. So I was working in broadcast, you know, television, working on cartoons for a couple of years. And that was all contract based and bouncing around and interesting work but it but tough, you know, like I was working night shift, and that's your first real bite into the industry. And I think it's safe to say James, you really understand to the entertainment world be at Film Television. Like it's a it's a great you know, you know, like it really is and it kind of choose Yep. And so I was looking for a change, if possible. But still kind of in that world. Like I liked the studio setting. I liked the team setting. I liked all of that. And so I ran into some friends I went to college with at a bar one night, which is I guess, like, the only story in the East Coast. Like the one yeah. So yeah, we're in town ran into friends. And they said, Hey, we they were both working at the game studio. This was a partner like a husband and wife. And they said, like, Hey, you should really apply. We're looking for people. It was a graphic design role. So I figured that was close enough in the realm of what I've been doing in animation that, you know, I could at least get in for a conversation. And I think, you know, like all things that kind of kick off that way, they probably helped me behind the scenes in a way that I could probably never thank them enough for. So I got the interview went in and honestly just kind of hit it off with the founder, the founder and president who was there at the time. And you know, we just kind of hit it off and had a good laugh and a good conversation. And you know, it was a junior role. So I think it was low risk on his side. And we went in and I think the big saving grace there was that, you know, like I've been an avid video game player my whole life, but our studio specialized. In particular in sports games, which I've always played sports, you know, I've been a lifelong, you know, amateur fan athlete, play everything, try everything. And so the mix of games and sports, I think maybe maybe got my toe over the line to get started. And then it was just I was really lucky to be surrounded by like really hardworking and skilled people and where it's a small area to on the east coast. I ended up knowing a lot The people who had come into the studio in the first couple of years so from my small school in New Brunswick where I went and studied animation, like several classmates from the year above me here behind me ended up at the studio. So it was kind of one of those small town very East Coast things where the bulk of our staff was made up from people you were kind of run into, in that scene, you know, working in animation, television, and ultimately games.

James Avramenko:

Wow, that's so cool. And so now when you because I know you were you were introduced to Lisa, a former guest of the show, and also my sister, but that's a throwaway fact about her though, but but but so I know you were introduced to her through to David's through my older brother and and you're mysterious.

Joshua Muise:

Who's yet to be on the show.

James Avramenko:

Exactly, exactly. And I don't know. I don't know if he'll ever get a chance. I don't know. I don't know. Does he even I don't even use Facebook. I don't know I I'm never sure about his relationship with social media.

Joshua Muise:

If you can buy used goods on it, you better believe it's a platform he probably man that man lives for that really does. He really does. Kijiji is his black tar. To not not to put it too lightly. But

James Avramenko:

so um, so you were you were introduced her through through my brother? And I wonder like, so? Was it through school? Or was it through the studio that you that you met?

Joshua Muise:

It would have been the studio, So David and I met, We started a couple of weeks ago, actually. So I think I think I was in a few weeks before he was in a few weeks before I don't remember the specifics. But no, David and I really hit it all became friends, you know, right away similar interests. And I mean to, to kind of frame it for you, as you know, your brother and you know me now too. I would say that David and I are probably leaning more towards the edge of outliers in the gaming industry, where we are those ones who are drawn to the studio because we played sports and love sports. A little more than maybe the gaming side where I think some of the folks that came into that world came from very much the hardcore gaming side and could live with making sports. Yes. So we were we were kind of like I would say the more jock. Yeah, athletic one. So there wasn't there wasn't a ton of us and we bonded. You know, we would surf and we play hockey together and things like that. And then actually, we actually ended up living. Not together. We were never roommates, but I rented a house and then there was a studio apartment attached to it. And David lived there. So I mean, we were next door neighbors and so yeah, no, I met my lovely wife Lisa, your sister and David's sister through your brother

James Avramenko:

that crazy. I love that. I love that. And, and,and how long has it been? Like, you know, I mean, fuck, I can't I can't keep dates and years and all that shit straight in my head. But like, how long have you been together?

Joshua Muise:

We are coming up on our 10 year wedding. So 10 married and at least three and a bit before that. So we've been on the Avramenko scene for awhile.

James Avramenko:

I mean, it you hit that point, you know, it's it's it's one of those funny things where where you you've essentially hit that point of, at least in my life, of just being ubiquitous, right? You don't have enough just being like, Oh, yeah, he's just always been there.

Joshua Muise:

I met Derek, your youngest brother when he was literally a small child. You know, like he was out visiting David one time. And I remember him being young enough that like, I drew a picture for him as a gift. Just like on a scrap.

James Avramenko:

And he was like what the fuck is this? I like video games.

Joshua Muise:

Yeah, yeah, you're just like a little whippersnappers. So cute.

James Avramenko:

And now he's a teacher. That's fucking crazy. Right?

Joshua Muise:

Right. So that long Yeah, that young child is now a functioning adult who has a career

James Avramenko:

I hate it. time as an asshole. And then last thing, last thing about about, you know, I'm just I'm endlessly fascinated about the video game industry. Because it's like, it's something that is I mean, I, you know, I, I'm the opposite of David where I am, I have never played a sport well in my life, but, and I and I won't try. But, but video games are my life. Right? And so, you know, from an outside observer, it's a it gets a lot of bad press, right? Like, it gets a lot of you know, especially recently, there's been a lot of discussions around like crunch and, and exploitation of, you know, time and energy and workers and stuff like that. And, and, you know, when I think about like, the what is it the cyberpunk, cyberpunk, whatever, whatever year it was 2020 you know, whatever that fucking game was, and how they were, like, forcing workers to work, you know, God knows how long and then the game still came up broken and failed, right? And, I mean, I'm not I'm not trying to ask you to, like, spill the dirt or anything like that, or, you know, but, but like, what is it like to be within that system of sort of? What am I driving at here? It's, it's like, to sort of commodify something that's, that's a hobby for so many people.

Joshua Muise:

It's a great question. It's a very valid question too, because here's thing, full disclosure, every criticism has been earned. None of it is unfounded. And I think that what I've now had the time to kind of reflect on, like, I'm 14 years into almost 15 years into working in games at this point. And I mean, I'm not yet 40. Yeah, this is the bulk of my adult life. And so I think what happens is, it's one of those pockets of industry that's still so young, in the grand scheme of things that you take for granted that similar to the tech industry, we'll put this as kind of a comparison that we can work against as we as we talk through it. But its success can happen to individuals who are very, very skilled and proficient in one hands on piece of the craft. And so that could mean that they're great programmer, great creatively, they can kind of do this thing. And games can ultimately be produced by a few people who are wildly passionate, who are kind of shouldering the risk and and taking on that that no holds barred attitude to just get something out because it's their drive. It's their passion. And there's the windfall potential, right, where this could turn into this massive thing. So there's kind of that accepted risk. I think, even more so in the indie world, where it's like a gold right on in this, right, and it's like, you stick with it, and it's your friends, because it's people you went to school with, like, in that world, you're just kind of bonded together. And what ends up happening is like, it's largely unpredictable work, because you're trying to do something that's potentially never been done before. Or you're iterating on something that, you know, was successful. So again, you're always trying to tune it and figure out what the next step is. And so because of it, you end up with a lot of individuals who come into this industry, and then stay in the industry who maybe haven't had the time or the training is mostly it to really kind of take a step back from the firehose and look at it and understand more about managing people and managing personalities and getting to know more about like, really understanding like a work life balance for people and not, not like over, over over drilling the resource of passion, because that's the huge problem, right is like, it's this whole notion of like, you should just be excited to be working on something you like, this is a passion industry. It's your first job. So this is how it is. And it's this weird, like badge of honor, it's this whole thing that I think now we're kind of stepping out of culturally, to where like, we had a bad 10 years in the self help industry, in the professional world where it's like, follow your passion, hustle hard, like, it's this badge of honor to overwork. And like, that's just such a sour note. And it's, it's not, it's not sustainable. And I think that because it draws in a lot of young people starting out in their careers, you can burn that hot fuel for a while. But when you then get into the second and third run of these people, like they're stepping away from it, because they're starting families, and ultimately, it's just so punishing, to stay in that environment, that it pushes people away. And it's really boils down to like, you know, I worked in tech as well, when I stepped away from games for bed, and again, like this studio is being run by this, this Gen who is like one of the brightest people I've ever met, like, wildly intelligent, very, very smart, very creative, but at the same time to like, really struggle to separate themselves from like, the thing we're working on at the time to just be like your team is like flamed out like, people are like, they're there, they're sick, they're depressed, like they This is not you can't keep doing it. And just like that, I think is where the trouble lives for. For several the studios, I'm going to can't speak for all of them. I think At the other extreme is you get so big, that you're at the the mega Corp side of it, where it's just like the expectations, the investments, the money going in, it becomes too insatiable, you know, like, the eyes get too big. And it's just like, well, if we made a million we could make a bit Right,

James Avramenko:

exactly. And then you iterate also variable, the annual releases and all these things. It's the thing that's so hard with an industry like this, which is like built off of an individual passionate experience to then be like commodified and monetized and, and made into like, into like a, you know, once more another meat grinder, right. It's like, it reminds me almost like, it reminds me very much of like, of like, young, fledgling Hollywood industry where it was like, you know, a lot, you know, it was founded by a bunch of just people with gumption, right, you know, and that but then but then when they found out how much money was there to be made, then they started you know, commodifying it and codifying it too. And and that then, you know, you you build a chain with a lot of bodies right you know, when the when the when the mortar when the mortar and put you know, the mortar in cement is people's like blood and guts, right,

Joshua Muise:

this is Oregon Trail and just you've died. That's exactly it. So now I always have this this this question and it's it's stemmed from a great respect of what you do where, you know, the working artist, as as kind of a concept, but also just as something in practice where I studied creative work, but I ultimately went to a trade school to learn a craft to work in the industry. So like graphic design is ultimately carpentry of draw. Yeah, to a degree. Now, the work that you do were like, with your poetry and kind of your self publishing, what is your big driver to stick with the release schedule, and like the continuity over over kind of the long haul, versus like having something imposed on you externally, say, from like, a publisher, or someone who's like wanting something by Friday? Like, what is your long term driver? as like a working art? Yeah,

James Avramenko:

that's a great question. Um, I mean, shame, shame cycles, right? You know, it's just like, I mean, if I'm being honest actually but like, you know, I mean, like, the real, I mean, I've actually spent a lot of time thinking about this with my, you know, I've gotten a therapist, and I've been working with working away with some, some ingrained stuff, and different sort of thought cycles that I go through, and all those kinds of things, but you know, because at the heart, I mean, for me, and I, and I observed this in a lot of artists, but but I, but I speak this directly about myself, you know, I very much became an artist as a way of, like, thinking, it would be a way to be validated by people who hadn't validated me the way I wished they had when I was growing up, you know, whether it was obviously, absolutely, whether it was my parents, or whether it was, you know, people who I wanted to respect me, you know, or those kinds of things. So it very much rooted itself in that and, and then also, with just like, a, I wanted to create an experience for someone else, the way artists have for me in my life, whether it's, you know, when I encounter you know, a song that's stuck with me, or read a poem that stuck with me, or a book, or you know, any of these things, right, you know, even I mean, even a podcast, you know, like hearing, hearing of like a fucking awesome podcast episode and how that resonates, and how it sticks with you and I, I wanted to be and continue to want to be in that lineage, right? You know, in that way, you know, when you think of what's poetry, and you think about how it's like a, it's like a lineage of humans who, since we started telling each other stories have decided, the way I'm going to tell you a story is I'm going to be as economic with my words as possible and as evocative with my emotions as possible. And I'm going to, I'm going to tell you something true. And as resonant as possible, with as few words as possible, right? You know, it's like, it's a magic trick, right?

Joshua Muise:

You know, and, but just to jump in real quick on that for, like, I love I love art with constraint. I mean, I think the biggest, the biggest misunderstood piece of the artists, you know, lifestyle is like, it's a blank piece of paper, you can do anything, just come up with a parallel, yeah, it's, like, it's paralyzing. Like, you need bookends, and I think that what draws you into that poetry is very appealing to me, in some of the work that I do is like, I like knowing as a starting, yes, and kind of being able to serializer are sequentially draw a line under it, just like it has to live on its own. And it's moving along to that, and you're done.

James Avramenko:

And that's I mean, and very much, I mean, that, to me is a big reason why I'm so drawn to poetry is that it's my attention span, I can only really, I can only really focus on a page at a time. And if I start working on things that go beyond one page, I get overwhelmed by them. And I get like, kind of bored by them too, because I start questioning myself and I start wondering if it's really worth the effort and the time and so it's really hard for me to do longer stuff, but but then and then and then So then, you know, so those are all the route things and then in terms of like, staying on it it's purely because like I'm just in a way it's like you know, I'm a junkie right and I'm and I'm chasing the high of creating something that I'm proud of and want to give to someone else you know, and and, and I don't believe in perfection but I do believe in consistency, you know, and I do believe in like, you know, I really pride myself in forcing myself through you know, days when I don't want to write I still write or days when I don't want to record I still record and not missing days of you know, whatever I've scheduled for myself and I'm really proud of that kind of stuff. I take a lot of pride in it, you know, and

Joshua Muise:

it's usually it's usually like, impactful and I think that like body of work is something that's so underrated is like the the body of work and the continuity is huge. And I think like full credit to you I've always really admired about about your work and about you is like sticking with that. Like there's so much you know, positivity and just so much stuff that comes from that like it's right, like nothing's gonna happen if you sit down. So Even on the grind days, like having some level of forward momentum not just opens you up to so many more possibilities of anything good coming.

James Avramenko:

That's exactly right.

Joshua Muise:

And I love and writing to, like, you know, stumbling upon like the press fields of the world like just these old tired motherfuckers, who just like grinded it out and got there at bat and then just, like, smashed it Because ultimately, like they had the reps,

James Avramenko:

that's exactly that's it right there. That's exactly it. And I think about that all the time where it's like, you know, like, you know, I always use this similar example, but it's like, you know, you think about something like, Moby Dick, right? You know, it's held up as this great landmark novel, and it absolutely is his beautiful novel. Um, but like, Melville didn't write it. His first try, like, it's because he had spent his whole life writing books. And so a lot of what a lot of people who want to write or want to do, you know, be creative in in any number of ways. they'll, they'll try once, and they'll give up because it's no good. And it's like, no, like, you have to suck so much more than be good in order to do something good. You know, and, and so for me, it's a Yeah, it's like, it's just doing the reps. That's exactly right. I think that's a perfect example is just like, yeah, it's just continuing the the exercises. And when something does pop, it's awesome. Because you're ready for it. And then and then if it doesn't, then cool on the next thing, you just move on, move on move, right?

Joshua Muise:

Well, that was always so funny to like, jumping between video games and tech for the last decade is like the whole, you know, just make me the next angry. Yes, exactly. Rovio was a prime example of a studio who had was on their last dollar last dime, 250 swings at this thing, and we're striking out and then hit it with one. And then it's like, when you're only looking at the end result and kind of that gleaming product that's succeeding, you're missing the whole point. And and I think that what makes it hard in games, and probably difficult in games versus some other mediums is like, you only get so many swings at the piano, you know what I mean? Like to just kind of make it work. And then these these brilliant teams that you've brought together, have to disband and move and like, I think to like, you know, where we're located in our studio, one thing that's like, it's a blessing. And a curse is like, we had to make it work like we were, we've been an independent studio up until the last little bit for 20 years. put, like, if if shit didn't happen in our studio, there was no other option. There was no other game studio down the block. So I think some of these hubs like the Los Angeles is of the world or Montreal, Vancouver, these areas you really, you know, in your mind know, are these like mecca of, of game building and making great content and video games is like, if a team member was kind of on the fence about how things were going, like, maybe there was the ability to say, Okay, well, if this don't work out, I can go down the road and make it totally out here. Like that scrappy underdog mentality had to be part of our DNA, because like, again, it's like, well, I guess I could go fish law.

James Avramenko:

Yeah. Right. But there's no safe The next point. Exactly. Right. Yeah. Yeah. No, it's Yeah. And it's Yeah, it's Yeah, it's, it's, yeah. When I really think about it, when I when I, you know, thinking about the root of that question. I mean, really, so much of it, it just comes down to being like, it's more important to me, like, like, I would, I don't do it to be paid, right. I don't do it to make money. And I and I, you know, I mean, the dream would be that I would be able like to dream, a dream, I could give my art away and still pay my rent, but obviously, that's not, you know, conducive to the system we live within, so you have to adjust accordingly, you know, but yeah, it's, it's just like, I don't know, it's, it's it's lunacy is what it is. You know, I always give the same sort of spiel about this. But it's like, you know, I originally started this podcast, So speaking of your creative process, and things like that, and I originally started this podcast as a bit of a joke. And I sort of had the idea and I thought, wouldn't it be funny to have Facebook people on? And then, and then through the years, it's developed and morphed into more of an explanation of, you know, the meaning of friendship and the meaning of connection? And how do we connect to each other? And, you know, I've realized that I'm at the at the baseline, I'm asking, have I been a good friend to people? And in order to sort of try and unpack that question, I'm first trying to figure out what it even means to be a good friend. So I'm curious how you would define friendship.

Joshua Muise:

That it's it's such a good one and you know, spoilers to everyone out there listening. I knew it was coming and I've still been juggling this around in my head for days. I listen to my, I listen to Lisa's podcast now. You know what, for me James. I Think, to try and I hope I hope this visual makes I think about it in a weird way, kind of like a radio where, when a radio is not working, and it's just static, it feels so broken and it feels so far you're like this is this is, there's no way this is going to ever work. It's just a loud wall of sound that just like, there's nothing that you can tap into and be like this is working or it isn't. But then as you start going through the dial, and you start to hear something come in a little bit, you get a fragment, and then it gets clearer and clearer. But then when you hit a station, and you lock on to that frequency, and it's clear, I think the friendship is like that, where you're out in this loud, noisy world. And every now and again, you get so lucky to just hit the same frequency as someone and it shared over this quick moment, this quick glance that if anyone else in the room wasn't keenly watching, they probably didn't get and they didn't pick up on it. But I think that is the spark that starts that friendship. And then from there, it's like it to keep going with like the radio metaphor, it's like it, the frequency is clear. So the friendship is established. But then it's like a song comes on that you both like, and then it's a DJ you like, and then it goes deeper and deeper. And it's like, those things start to compound. And that's where the closer friendships come in. But you know, there's friends in your life that are that halftone frequency that you can put up with a bit of static, every now and again, it gets clear for like 10 seconds, and you're like, cool. How's your mind?

James Avramenko:

Yeah,

Joshua Muise:

they're the other ones that are just that white noise that you're just like, I don't need to know anything about you ever. Get away shut away. Right, and you just spin away from it. So I think for me, that's what friendship is. It's it's finding that frequency that, you know, you just kind of lock in on those core pieces of who you are together. Yeah. And it's that shared experience where there's nothing too small. And there's nothing too big. You know, there's so many great quotes about friendship, and I'll butcher a bunch of them. But like, I think go into cartoon school. The one that jumped out at me like, you know, there was a Jim Henson one that I always remembered. I went and looked it up today, cuz I want to make sure I read it correctly. But you know, there's no word. There's not a word yet for old friends who have just met.

James Avramenko:

Wow, that's so right. Yeah.

Joshua Muise:

You know what I mean? We're like, because when you meet someone, and it's like, that whole thing, like, Oh, I feel like I've known you forever. It's like, I feel that frequency. Yeah, you finally just found the station. And it's coming in clearly. And you're like, of course, we're here in the sea.

James Avramenko:

I mean, there's something to that though, right? Like, there is something inside that. And I because I know exactly what you're talking about. And I and I, I know that feeling? And you're right, we don't have those kinds of words. But there's also no mean, I'm somebody who, like I don't, I don't necessarily explore it with any kind of seriousness or any kind of intensity, but like, I do genuinely believe that there are deeper forces at play within, you know, within our interactions, you know, I mean, look, we know that there's wavelengths and read all these different energy fields that like the human body, and the organs were equipped with, just can't perceive. And so it's sort of hard for me not to believe that there's other things at play when you interact with with each other. And, you know, whether it's like harmonics, or magnetism, or any number of these different things, and I think that you really nailed I mean, I love that, that the the image of the radio and the white noise and the tuning, and I think that's beautiful. And I think that it really taps into something even deeper with the thought of, you know, when you, you know, because, yeah, you go through life, and there's so many people all over the place. And, and, and when you do encounter somebody who you want a connection with it, it's like, yeah, you could see each other across the room, where you can be sat together accidentally it any number of ways you interact, but you just, you just know, right? You just know you, you there's no real words for it. There's, there's and again to there's these gradients, right, like the radio dial, there's a gradient of it, where it's like, you know, there's there's aggressive white noise and you sort of like, okay, cool, yeah, you you can go live, you know, and then, but then you're like, Yeah, right, you know, but then the clearer it gets, the more the more direct it gets for you. And for the experience, I think that's beautiful. I love that.

Joshua Muise:

You just you push that button, and you save that but yeah, that's that's you building up the friends. It's like the five precepts. And yeah, like, one can be country, one can be hip hop, one can be rock, it can be different things. And I think that's, that's where my mind goes to at this too, is like you can tap into various frequencies, and you can share those with different individuals. And and it ultimately builds up who you are, because we're not, we're not one thing. And I think that that's what's so we're so lucky to be able to have close friendships and like, you know, families and everything is just like it lets you kind of create this richer tapestry that's bigger than Yes. And you can get excited about things that people you're close to are super excited about. I may have a passing interest, but I can ride that high and I can ride that energy, and you can bring that into your stream and like that's, that's awesome. Yeah,

James Avramenko:

I love that too. Because you're Yeah, it's like, it's that whole thing about like, it doesn't need to be all the same station like yeah, and each each one These stations are different people in different friends and yet they're all on the same dial right? And so like your that dial, you know, that's fuck I love that. I always love this question. This is probably my favorite question of the whole show. And I just because it always ends up like either reminding me of something that I haven't thought about or like, totally spins me for a loop or you know, and, and I feel like you'll have some fun ones. So I'm curious, what is your most vivid memory of our friendship?

Joshua Muise:

I, I'm going to cheat. And I'm going to say a few of them. I'm going to I'm going to create a rich tapestry here. One of them that I really liked was the first time you and I hung out in Vancouver, and a gentleman who I will call maybe some sort of like a swindler had a scam running where he he pushed a cardboard or something of it out into the out into the sidewalk. Like as you were stepping forward, so that it made contact where by all accounts like this was a set. Oh yeah, big time. I had not really understood that world. I didn't spend a lot of time in bigger cities. This was the first thing and like at first I'm like, Oh, no. Did you accidentally kick

James Avramenko:

Oh, no, it's a jar of pennies. I was like, Yeah, right.

Joshua Muise:

rightfully, you stepped in and you're like, no, like looking at you. I just saw you do this push it out. And like I had missed I guess the second that it happened. So I was kind of caught in the middle right this is I only met you minutes before. And so I then I'm watching this transpire and like you You held your own and you were just firm with him. You weren't you weren't like, you know, there was nothing like hostile or aggressive but you held your own with this this Jen who was like, No, man, you kicked it over and like trying to get more money out of you. And I was just I remember being impressed with like, kind of your calm in the moment, but also the street smarts, if you will of like getting hustled you know, and I'm just like, look at this guy! He knows what's up.

James Avramenko:

I think about that all the time. You know that? Because I think about like, I think about how quick I was to be like that, right? Yeah. But I remembered we were crossing the street and I saw him put the cup out. And I was like, the fuck is this guy doing but then we got talking. And then it was suddenly in the way and I tripped over and it was like, it was like kicking a brick. And when I looked at was exactly and when I looked at what it was, I was like, this is a cup of pennies. Like this isn't your fucking you know, nobody's out there tipping. Right? So I was like, This is bullshit. And then I remember there was a woman who walked by us who like was like, Oh, you're not going to help him clean clean up and I was like, Fuck, no, you help him out. He got up. And then she of course just like, you know, the like, swooped by shame. That's a big one of Vancouver, Vancouver loves to swoop by tell you you're wrong. And then keep going, you know, and, and so I was just like, get fucked. Right. But

Joshua Muise:

yeah, so that that was one of them. And then the other. The other one is kind of again, like there's a few just like moments or snippets that I really enjoy to hang on to just as a visual. I think I'm a visual person. So you're a good sport. I think we're kindred spirits in that sense, where you know, we're usually up for just about anything to our detriments probably big time as we're both very agreeable so I remember you coming to a yoga class to support your sister getting getting stuck it had wrapped I got trapped in a look of fear on your face it the fact that I stepped in sooner to help but it just like well we get laughing I just like I was I was like this poor dude. He just came here to be supportive. His sister died. Yeah.

James Avramenko:

I've never done a yoga class since. I've literally I have never done a yoga classes that that ruined yoga for me. I've tried to do, I've tried to do. I've tried to do like, like, like video classes and stuff, like just myself in a room. And you know, I watched like DDP yoga and stuff like that. But, but yeah, I've never been able to go back to like an instructor class. You know, the East Coast has had a bit of a different experience. And I know it fluctuates. You know, but like, you know, stuff is a little more open than than out here. But But, but yeah, like you say it's still not been exactly an emotionally easy year. And, you know, with you know, with rollout of vaccines, as awful as it's been, and with the was our stop start of reopening stuff? I'm, I'm curious what you think it's going to take to remain a good friend in, you know, in 2021 going forward? And also to sort of add into that, I wonder if there are things that sort of like actionable steps that either you are doing? Or would sort of, you know, think about other people doing in order to try and be a good friend?

Joshua Muise:

No, for for sure. I think I think this year, in particular, in the last year has really made me rethink this a lot. And, you know, I think that when you're when you're little, and maybe, maybe this is just the way I always looked at it, as you think of friendship, or even relationships, as 50/50 is your happiness and I have in it. I think that at a time like this, you have to step away from that as much as you can. And try and think about it is like 100, or 199. And one, if someone can't meet me halfway, right now, I have to understand that I'm probably in a better position than most people, because I am in a spot that hasn't been as impacted as others and like, so I have more whitespace in a time where nobody has any. And even if it's not a lot more, I have some more. So if I have to give 99% to this friendship, and 1% is the most I can get back on the other side, right now. I can live with that. Because I know that if the script was reversed, these people who I hold dear to me would do the same for me. So the expectation can't be what it traditionally was of like, well, I called you and you didn't call me back, it's like, I call twice that, where I have to show up more. And like, if you have any means to just initiate and just be be the one who's pushing it a little bit more. It will in the long run, you know, start start to probably feel more normal in that. But like, Yeah, I just don't take for granted for a second that like we've been spoiled, but not to like kind of squander that, right? Where it's hard, right? It's hard being the one to reach out or pick up the phone or send an email or send a text and to check in. And you know, like you're writing everything to like, the more you do it daily, the easier it gets. But I would just say like, the big thing is, everyone's going through it like every, every single person is going through it. And if you can muster just a little bit extra for those who you're closest with, they will, they will be super appreciative of it. Because I know I have been right for the people that have reached out and kind of held me up during this because I know they're all going through it too. So it's like, yeah, it's the time to stretch yourself a little bit that way, if you can, yeah.

James Avramenko:

I wonder if there's a way to like on the flip side to like, I wonder, you know, I'm always really hesitant to use like, sort of like hot button words, things like normalize or problematic, or those kinds of things like I you know, I understand the intent, the intention behind those words, but I do try to personally steer away from them, and more just sort of like, adhere to the sentiments. But like something like, how do we encourage the other side of the friendship, like somebody who is pretty tapped ad but who wants more more? Like, support? or, or, or understanding or whatever it may be? You know, I wonder if there's a way? Like how do we encourage those people to communicate that? Or is it? Do you think it's like, do you think it's on them to reach out in some way? Or do you think it's on the, you know, side A to be more observant and more more engaged in in sort of patterns of their friends?

Joshua Muise:

I think it's really hard. Yeah, I think it's, it's tough, and there's probably no right answer. But I would say again, like, you know, the more the more you are, like listening and kind of looking for those cues, and not necessarily waiting, but I would never put the burden on, on somebody who's really struggling. If we're talking about people, you're really close with you, you can kind of know, you know what I mean? Like, even just the regular check ins, you can kind of tell when things are a mess. And so, knowing that it just means like, you're, I think you just have to be more open and be willing to be vulnerable with them too. And again, like to touch on a word like normalize, or, or, you know, like talking through about like that, I'm going through all these things, too. So even if you're the initiator who's like pushing the conversations, but talking about like, getting a good therapist, and just like, also, sometimes the best thing you can do is talk to him like it does, yeah, and not offering a solution because like, there may not be an actionable solution to the short, medium or even long term. And right now it's okay to kind of dwell in the the ambiguity of it all. And to just like, say, like, at least I fully empathize and I like I feel it with you. And then just knowing that that person is at least acknowledging those feelings with you can can help, you know, kind of tread water. And sometimes that's all you can do. Right? Yeah, it's like, you know, like, on not everyone's gonna, you know, like, again, I hate the the mass media approach of like, you know, like, all the things you should get done, like all the books on my shelf that I should have read. Well, I was hoping Right, right, right. Right. Renovations I should have finished and it's like, you know what,

James Avramenko:

I just survived. That's exactly right.

Joshua Muise:

Yeah. And that's all that you need to just tread water. And you know what That's, that's the gold star for this whole thing, it's like being able to get through it and support the people around you to get through it. That's,

James Avramenko:

yeah, it's, you know, you really touched on something that I think about a lot, and I've heard it in passing from, from a lot of people who have spoken to you about various forms of, you know, mourning or trauma or things like that. And, you know, because somebody goes through something traumatic, you know, say there's a death, you know, death around them, or, you know, a breakup or anything like that, and, and the people outside the experience, almost uniformly have the same reaction of, because we've been very much conditioned as a society as a culture to have answers right and to, you know, to have the be the fixers, right, and to be the person who says the right thing to fix the situation. And in those moments, when there's a death, or there's mourning, or there's trauma, more often than not, there's nothing to say, and there's nothing to do, other than to be present and to be open. And I remember years ago, a friend of mine, who had who had lost his sister, you know, years before, and we were talking about it, and he was saying, you know, all he needed at the time, wasn't for somebody to say something, but just to be there to listen, if he had something to say. And that's, you know, and it's not. It's not on the person outside the experience to fix the experience, but it is on them if they want to, right, it's not, it's not an imperative, but if they want to help, it's just there. It's on them to be present. And to just roll with it kind of thing, right. 100%

Joshua Muise:

No, I think so. I mean, something I really liked that we were doing is like, you know, when we were watching shows together drink. Like, we weren't necessarily even talking to each other. But it was like a fun experience to see you and Jen getting to enjoy something together with a totally, that felt so good. And that was such a rich thing where you would take for granted that like, it's kind of weird and probably like, redundant to some people. Like why would you be like watching TV while watching somebody watch TV? But there was there was that comfort there where it was just to be there. If and you know what, that's you. Yeah,

James Avramenko:

that was a big one. I love those. Oh, my god, that was so fun. Josh, you know, I, we gotta we got to look at wrapping it up. But, you know, I mean, it's the thing that I absolutely adore about you. And it's the thing that I'm so grateful that you were in my life for is that it's like, you're you're just you're so infinitely. Talk to people. I don't know what the right word for it is. But like, you know, I'm I'm just I'm, you know, I'm very I'm really grateful you're in my life. And I know, I have very little say and in the connection, but I've just like, I'm I'm just really glad that Lisa, you know, Lisa, Lisa picked a good one. So

Joshua Muise:

Well, I appreciate that. And I've just always been so grateful to absorb, you know, a pile of brothers that I never never had the opportunity to grow up. Yeah, no, it's been a treat.

James Avramenko:

but I just you know, yeah, I just you know, I love you Josh. And I'm really I'm really I'm really glad you're part of the family and I'm really glad that I yeah, that you are that you are my brother. It's really it's a

Joshua Muise:

it's an absolute joy. I love it. And so great catching up. Yeah. And love it. We'll do it again. So we can't be on this podcast. I guess we'll have to make an ass just

James Avramenko:

catching up with bros the new show. Well, we got one last thing to do. So I'm gonna pull up your I'm gonna pull up your Facebook. Here we go. Joshua Muise. We, oh it's thinking, we are no longer Facebook friends.

Joshua Muise:

Well, it's been a journey.

James Avramenko:

And that's it. Thank you once more to Josh for coming on the show. I'm so lucky to be able to call him family and I can't wait until this is all over so I can travel east and give them a squeeze and then watch him soundly beat my entire family and a push up contest. Did you like the episode? Tell a friend share the links or you know what? Better yet? Make your own link. Share that tell everybody about friend list and help me grow This show we're doing whatever man you know what you you. It's rough out there. No big news to keep you on the hook this week. You can always sign up for the newsletter or grab a copy of butthead is still on sale The links are in the show notes. Be sure to follow friendless on all the social medias @friendlesspod, give the kind of like give it a follow. It helps me out so much. You have any questions, comments, compliments, you want to send me something nice, just email me friendlesspod@gmail.com. I am always receptive to compliments and funny links. But that's it for me. So I'll just leave it there. Be sure to tune in next week for another fabulous episode of Friendless but that of course is then and this is now. So for now, I'll just say I love you. And I hope you have as great a week as you can. And I will catch you next time. Fun and safety y'all