Warm Sands, Skeever

I was utterly devastated to learn that AradGad, the author of Skeever, ended his life on the 7th of January 2022. My deepest condolences to anyone affected by his passing. Count me among you. I'm writing this because his passing has affected me very deeply indeed; more deeply than you'd perhaps imagine given that we only started writing to one another last July. Anyway, here I am awake at two in the morning just me, music, and my thoughts of dear Gad. I don't know if I'll post this anywhere, but the urge to do something is strong, so I guess I'll write and see what happens.

After a brief introduction in a YouTube comment section, we corresponded fairly regularly throughout the second half of 2021, quickly forming a companionable (initially technical/mod-centred) relationship that, as time went on, slipped more into personal territory. I liked him immediately. My early impression of him was of a madly productive, insanely focused, creative powerhouse. Later, he'd frequently put me in mind of an excited puppy that is inexplicably, yet deftly, operating a ten ton excavator. His enthusiasm, kindness, and sense of wonder (often clearly bolstered by his own steady progress and the lovely community he fostered) was infectious, and I always smiled when I saw a new message from him in my inbox. Knowing he'll never send me another breaks my heart.

He came to me wanting some technical answers and to potentially work on some Skeever/Inigo interactions. Unfortunately time is an issue for me, especially since the pandemic, and I'm endlessly bombarded with similar requests for collaborations (there's honestly more than I could manage in a hundred years), so sadly most go declined but Gad's message caught my eye. First of all it was refreshingly honest - he knew what he needed help with and he had clear goals he wanted achieve that were realistic. Second he was genuinely kind and interested - he talked very movingly about how Inigo had inspired him, and he asked some very intelligent questions about certain lesser discussed sections of my work. He had done his homework. It was time for me to do a little of my own. I knew I didn't have enough hours in the day to focus on a collaboration, but this Skeever fella was clearly worth looking into, at least. I watched a few of his videos, then a few more. Wow... His progress was astounding! Skeever was amazing! I have a bit of a reputation for going over the top with my dialogue systems, but this guy was right there with me - not just keeping up but zooming off down paths I had only briefly considered due to the crazy amount of work involved. To say that Gad's grit impressed me is an understatement.

Anyway, I replied telling Gad how sensational I thought his creation was. As any of you who knew him can probably imagine his response was humble and self-deprecating. After answering his questions the best I could I tweeted out Skeever's mod page and gave him access to a unique Inigo voice pack with about six hundred lines that don't appear in the mod, so he could piece together some original scenes at his leisure. He was working on implementing them shortly before his passing and what I read certainly exhibited his usual creativity and humour.

Over the next few months Gad and I talked back and forth intermittently, and at some point he told me about his past and a little about his situation at the time. I won't go into any of that, but I will say this – Skeever and his community meant the world to him, and his life as a mod author clearly gave him a positive focus that largely helped hold back the darkness. For me, creativity has always been a port in the storm; my hedges against the night, and I believe that's what Skeever was for Gad. He threw himself into his work like a man hauling himself out of a stormy sea and onto a raft of his own making. He assembled that raft as invisible iron waves crashed about his head, as an unseen dark swell threatened to suck him down, as thunder only he could hear rumbled, and as lightning ignited a sky only he could perceive. There was little to no warmth or light in his life at the time he got into modding, so he made his own. That was Skeever. What a beautiful accomplishment.

I once told him how much I admired him for dragging himself into a better place during such trying times, and he (somewhat typically) deflected the credit to myself and Inigo for inspiring him. He said “It's kind of hard to put in words what your work has done for me, but know that it saved me and drives me forward. [and you are not done!]

I remember considering that “... [and you are not done!]” and thinking, what a lovely thing to say, I hope you're right about that, but you're clearly just getting started and you've already more than doubled my output. What a staggering effort! When I said something to this effect, Gad just changed the subject. He could NOT take praise. It was so frustrating! I do see a little of that behaviour in myself as well, and honestly, reading back over some of our exchanges the mutual compliment dodging is hilarious – a little like when someone in a movie disarms a gunman and turns their own piece on them... on repeat... but with compliments instead of firearms. It's not false modesty, for me I think it's a strange fear that acknowledging that you've possibly created something of worth may lead to complacency and a lack of further progress, and progress must be made or you sink like a stone. Maybe Gad felt something similar. I can't say, but I do hope he took my praise onboard as the honest observation it was. I meant every word.

When I think of Gad I think of his enthusiasm for learning and teaching, his astounding productivity, his ingenuity, but most of all, I remember a man who was far brighter than he ever gave himself credit for, and how that brightness warmed (and continues to warm) so many people beyond the cold darkness in which he found himself.

... [and you are not done!]” How I wish those words had been true for the man who wrote them. I'll bear them in mind when things are tough; more good kindling for the fire we call hope.

Rest in peace, mate. The storm is over. Your light remains. We all say thank you.

Gary (and Inigo)

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  1. cyborgimist
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    This was really moving, and I'm so sorry for your loss and anyone affected by Gad's passing. Although I never used Skeever, I have been so thoroughly blessed by the enrichment I've experienced due to this community as a whole and I feel connected to Gad's contribution. The modding community has become a safe haven of sorts for most of us; a shelter in a storm of so much RL shit. We are here seeking solace in this collaborative space of immersive escapism and the beauty in it for me is in the dedication to making something that means something, even if on the surface it is "just a video game," this community has turned it into something so so much more. Thank you all. <3

    "You are not done!"
  2. lunarcontact
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    Thank you for this. It’s important that you shared. My condolences. 
  3. mkoch99
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    I got the notif and it only said "Testing"...I thought this would be an update on 3.0....very depressing to realize that was just a temp name for this post and is of a much darker subject. First time hearing of this person but I hope they found peace after the end.
  4. kauruclaws1
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    Thank you mr Gary. He was the kindest guy i've talked to in a while, however brief it was. And his work is just as inspiring as you. It means a lot, I am still dealing with it but onwards is the only way for us. Its what mr Skeever would want for us.
  5. Kyorlodran
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    Thanks for sharing this memory Gary: he was a kind person.
  6. NyteKitsune
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    Always sad when something like this happens, Thank you for sharing though, my thoughts go out to his family though I wish he had walked a different path as I would have liked to see such a collaboration as it sounds like he was something special.
  7. Kathartic
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    Thank you for sharing your beautiful and heartfelt thoughts.  Rest in peace AradGad.
  8. thanatos13th
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    Thank you for writing your thoughts down. I hope AradGad found peace.
  9. sudoshywolf
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    What a moving and heartfelt message. Thank you, Gary. I hope he's at peace.
  10. elavyeth
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    Beautiful words...
    May he rest in peace...