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MedicalIamA I'm Dr. David Sack an addiction psychiatrist. AMA about substance-abuse on campus! AMA!

Sep 12th 2016 by DrSack • 42 Questions • 114 Points

EDIT: Thank you all for the support and all the questions! It was awesome. I'm headed off to bed, as it's 5:11 AM here in Finland. I had a great time!

If you would like to continue to support Dreamloop, please, reach out to your favorite journalists and streamers and tell them about our game! :)

Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax is out now in the following locations:

Xbox One

PlayStation 4 US , PlayStation 4 EU

and Steam! (-15%)

My short bio: Hey, Reddit! I'm Steve. I'm a U.S. Navy veteran who packed everything I could fit in my seabag ~10 days after finishing my service, and moved to a country I had never even visited (spoke maybe 5 words of the language) to be with the woman I love. I'm back again for another AMA. :)

Over a year ago, I founded a game studio (Dreamloop Games) with my awesome friends. We started working on Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax, a 1-4 player local co-op arcade shooter with badass giant mechs!

Today, our game is live!

How I got here: When I was in high school, I fell in love with a Finnish foreign exchange student. We started as friends, but in the year she was at my school, we grew closer and closer. On the night she was scheduled to leave, I took a chance and kissed her. That started a long and sometimes painful road of long-distance love. Shortly after we had begun dating, I joined the Navy. She flew to see me at every opportunity, but the distance was hard on us both. In spite of that distance, we fell deeper and deeper in love.

As my time with the Navy drew to a close, I had no idea what to do with my life. So I asked my best friend and lover... And she told me we should get married. So I flew to Finland, popped the question, and never came back.

I went to work in the game industry with my writing skills, business knowledge, and a profound love of games. 4 years later, I have founded my own studio, and have brought my first game to consoles!

So... AMA about being an expat, my experiences in the Navy (though I was just an Air Traffic Controller at a shore duty station), having a game studio, or being the producer/release manager for a console game!

A while back, I also wrote this little dealio about my first night in Finland, if you have any interest!

My Proof: Some pictures, and my studio's site (site got hugged to death...)

More proof, as per mod request: https://twitter.com/DreamloopGames/status/775426810951659520

Q:

What motivated you to become an addiction psychiatrist, and then focus on addiction?

A:

By any chance did you and your wife do a student exchange to a town in the centre of Ireland last year?

EDIT: Seeing as this is the top comment, you crazy people, make sure you buy this game. Also thank you to whoever gilded me.


Q:

Like many who go into psychiatry, there is a family story. Depression in my grandmother and severe anxiety in mother made me more aware of other people's emotions. That, and I like talking to people and seeing them change.

A:

This is odd... We certainly did.


Q:

I am asking, because I had 2 Withdrawals from Lorazepam. One within 4 Weeks, starting at 10 (sic!) mg, one Ashton style Withdrawal, same starting point but took 1/2 year. I can not express the hell, which the first withdrawal was and how much a lark the Ashton Style Tapering down was. Do you have an opinion on how to best taper down Benzodiazepines?

A:

I'm the Electrician who fixed something in your apartment. I forget what exactly. We talked about MMA. You were really cool.


Q:

Slow tapers are generally more successful most clinicians would put 4 weeks into that category. Many clients can have their benzodiazepines reduced but experience more withdrawal again when they try to stop them entirely. Late withdrawal reactions are much more common with benzodiazpines that with alcohol. The taper schedule should not be based on a formula but on what withdrawal symptoms an individual experiences at the dose is decreased.

A:

Holy shit, dude! You were cool as fuck, too. Thanks for that, by the way. That dryer was a pain in the ass at first! :D


Q:

I heard the drugs Prince died from were counterfeit prescription pills. If you buy prescription pills off the street, is there a way to tell if they’re fake?

A:

How's the language learning going? Is Finland like Norway where everybody knows English, so you can attempt to speak their language, but they'd rather you not for risk of butchering it further? :)


Q:

The only way to know if a medication is a fake is to send them off for testing. Most over the counter kits will not generally detect synthetic drugs like Fentanyl well. Even if you send it off and it is the real drug, the next batch from the same dealer might be something completely different. We see this with spice where people have hallucinations and convulsions, and OD deaths with Oxycontin and Heroin that's been tainted with fentanyl.

A:

Dude... You hit the nail on the head. It is EXACTLY that. :)

I try to speak Finnish, and take courses and such, but everyone who wants anything beyond a "Can you direct me to the deli counter?" conversation gives up and gets to the nittygritty in English. :D


Q:

What’s the difference between Molly and ecstasy? Or is there a difference?


Q:

Molly is a slang term for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as MDMA or ecstasy. Sometimes other synthetic euphorigenic hallucinogens like bath salts are substituted for MDMA so you don't necessarily get what you paid for.

A:

We did, yeah.

EDIT: I've been asked to elaborate, so I will... We got the request and immediately felt like it was only fair that if it was within our power, we'd do it. We want everyone to be able to play and have fun, so we put in a little bit more work.


Q:

I have had tremendous luck with Melatonin. Long term studies show no real tolerance build with prolonged use. I take 3mg an hour before bed and it seems to do the trick. Because it's a natural hormone, side effects are minimal.

A:

Oh, that was you guys? Respect.


Q:

If you are asking if this is safe, it is for the most part. Melatonin is the body's chemical signal for night and is involved in the regulation of hormones. Menstrual irregularities have been noted with melatonin and the synthetic melatonin agonist.

A:

Thanks. :)


Q:

Dude you just brushed that off like it was something anybody would do. I remember seeing that on the front page but I had no idea it was you. That is fucking legendary and only a truly dedicated dev team that really cares about their fan base would do that. Good on you

A:

He asked me a super basic question, though. :D Didn't want to over-politicize it.


Q:

What was it like moving all of a sudden to Finland and what sparked the desire or idea of making games?

A:

It was absolutely insane. I remember the first thing that hit me was stepping off the plane. I arrived in mid-January, and as I moved out onto the causeway between the plane and the airport my nose hair froze in my nose... Like... Solid. I immediately thought "Oh, shit... What did I do?" :D

The desire to make games has always hung around. I grew up playing, and always thought about games we would make if we could. So when I started over, I thought... That's it. I'm doing the stuff I always wanted to.


Q:

Cold rocks, good choice.

A:

Right now, I'm sweating. :D


Q:

I remember how over-heated the buildings in Finland were. I actually loved it. I pretty much hung out in my underwear all day, looking at the thick snow tumble onto the trees and the pre-existing snow to produce the fluffiest snow image you can imagine...!

You made a good move. I really miss Finland, even with its reticent people. I mean all it takes is one beer, and they become sobbing blobs of emotions... :-)

A:

Oh, man... Way too warm indoors in winter. I have to go outside all the time to cool off.


Q:

Hmm, guess if I moved to Finland I'd have to get a job where I could wear shorts, or have my own business just so I can control the temperature.

A:

Fans help. :D


Q:

Did you have any prior experience to game development?

How's the citizenship game coming along?

Do the huge taxes there live up to the hype that the world gives them?

A:

The highest tax bracket is only 10% more than in the U.S., so... not really. :D

Citizenship is coming along nicely. In a few years, I will likely be a dual citizen. :D


Q:

Steve, the Steam page for Stardust Galaxy Warriors says the following:

FIVE MECHS FOR DELIVERING GALACTIC JUSTICE Choose from four unique, badass mechs, each coming with its own special abilities.

Which mech is not a badass and why?

A:

Typo, but I blame Silver Wolf.


Q:

What is it like dealing with Sony, MS and Steam? How is the process done, and did you have any problems during that process?

A:

It isn't easy. There are a lot of names to remember, and each concern may be handled by an entirely different person within a certain company. It's my job to know who to talk to, when, and why, and so on. When you're dealing with 3 giant companies, it can be hard. They helped and made the process as easy as they could though!

The problems we had are my fault. I had a lot to learn in a short period of time, and sometimes I wasn't quick enough.


Q:

I imagine its a bit of a mine-field. Good work my man, wishing you the best.

Also... whats the Nintendo NX look like? You got a dev kit yet? ha ha ha

A:

Haven't seen it! :D Don't have the NX devkit, no.


Q:

Is Finland the country where you go to saunas co-ed, completely naked, and no one thinks anything of it?

Edit: Thinks, not things.

A:

Yep!


Q:

How did you find developers and where did you get the money and knowledge to start your own game studio?

A:

I worked in the industry for like a year and a half before forming my own studio. I took my knowledge of leadership and management from my time in the Navy, business acumen from being a lifelong student of business (entrepreneur, enthusiast, and university studies), and a deep knowledge of gaming from a lifetime of playing to start it up.

In terms of funding, we put up the initial funding ourselves, then a bank helped us get a bit more through a small business loan. After that, the Finnish government saw viability in our project, and threw us a little more funding.


Q:

After that, the Finnish government saw viability in our project, and threw us a little more funding.

This is what I don't understand. In the USA, I can go over $100K in debt with student loans. But I can't get a loan for a small business in the same manner. It's not even remotely easy unless you already have funding and collateral. Forget about grants, they're pretty much non-existent.

A:

Finland has dedicated themselves to investing in their own people. The same, sadly, cannot be said of the US, in my opinion.


Q:

You would think that access to financing to create businesses would be something the USA would foster. With it's pledge to "create jobs". But from my experience in starting my own business here, that's not the case. The only easy financing I have is equipment leasing though a commercial bank. Getting a bank loan would have required 35-50% down and/or collateral. Neither of which I have. So essentially my only options are angel investments and/or venture capital. SBA suggests asking friends or family, but I grew up poor so none of my friends and family have money to invest.

I'm a Veteran too, aside from education I haven't found any benefits in the small business sector aside from free advice/workshops.

A:

Just quick, unsolicited advice:

As a vet, use that GI bill. Study your ass off, and hustle to become an expert in your field, then leverage that reputation with investors. Network. Fellow veterans will likely show you love. Meet everyone you can and see how you can help them, and how they can help you.


Q:

Hi I just joined the navy last week. My question is how did your family feel about you joining the navy and moving to Finland right after it?

A:

They miss me, but I visit as often as I can and skype pretty frequently. Since I had previously been in the Navy, they were pretty used to not seeing me.

In the end, they knew I was following my heart and they all adore my wife, so they supported me. :)


Q:

Ah my uncle lives in Tampere, have you heard of a hockey club there? It has the lynx as it's symbol or something, my uncle runs it if I remember correctly, pretty proud of that even though I barely keep in touch with my finnish half family(it's a pretty dispersed family, last name is katainen).

Half Finnish guy here.

A:

Wow... That's Ilves! It is a super popular hockey team here. They also denied my application for a marketing aid position back in the day. :D


Q:

Nordic people are reticent, but it's all because it's considered to be polite not to disturb other people. We value our personal space, and being as nice as we are we value your personal space as well.

A:

Personal space?! BOOOORING. ;)


Q:

Have you got your r's rolling yet?

A:

Rrrrrrr. ;)


Q:

Tappara vai Ilves? :)

A:

Tough question... I choose... Neither. Tampere Saints! (American Style Football team! ;D )


Q:

My first post was auto removed. There are about 4 of us Marine Vets living in Helsinki. You ever make it down here? Can you shoot me a PM?

A:

Not as often as I'd like, but I'll for sure shoot you a PM!


Q:

What's your favorite type of video games and what is like having your own studio?

A:

My favorite type of games are usually games with a deep and involved story. The Last of Us is probably my favorite of all time.

Other than FPS/Third person shooters, I prefer strategy games, arcade shooters, and anything that tickles my fancy at a given moment, really.

Having my own studio is awesome. I've worked at other studios, and I love being able to take the things I learned should never be done, and give them a hard no. No one can make me act against my conscious, or tell me no without a reason. I love that. :) I get to make games I love.


Q:

If someone had the capital, and the skills of a writer, designer (graphic design), and a good sense of narrative (from studying literature/film etc), but had no programming knowledge, could they still run a successful studio?

A:

Running a studio is about a knowledge of game development, finance, accounting, wise business decisions, leadership, and so on. It can all be learned, or the task can be delegated. If you have the capital... sure, it can be done.


Q:

Congratulations! How is life in Finland compared to U.S? How much food do they pickle? That last one was a joke. :~P

A:

Life in Finland is much better than it was for me in America. I came from a poor family that could never afford healthcare or dental care, and now I don't need to worry about that. Plus I have a game studio and my wife is awesome... :D

They pickle herring, beets, cucumbers, and not much else. I love pickled stuff.


Q:

How long did it take you to learn Finnish?

A:

Still learning. :D


Q:

What was the most difficult thing about moving suddenly to another country (other than the language barrier)?

A:

I did a pretty weird shift. In something like 10 days I went from military air traffic controller, to unemployed civilian, to expat in a country where I know a handful of people (only my girlfriend for any length of time).

The difficult part was for sure social isolation. In winter, people aren't just walking the streets in small towns during the day, so getting out and meeting new people was pretty hard.


Q:

Wow, I feel a sense of idolism toward you. You did exactly what my dream is. I'm twenty and just joined the navy, and I plan to move to england when I get out to be with my best friend. So, I guess I have two questions:

1) were there any difficulties or any resistance from the U.S. government about your move?

2) did you apply for citizenship in your new country, and how hard was that to accomplish? I plan on making it to England and never looking back.

Thanks in advance, for your service, and for just reminding me that what i'm doing isn't crazy; that it could be the best decision of my life.

A:

Wow. Never been told I'm idolized. Feels like that moment in Fable "Hero... Your renown grows." :D

  1. There wasn't any difficulty, beyond them just moving me to my home of record (Nevada). So I ended up just taking one seabag of stuff, which was fine, because I only owned like... 2 boxes and a seabag anyway. :D

  2. I haven't applied for citizenship yet. I need to be fluent in Finnish and have lived here for 5 years. Once I meet those requirements, I will apply to be a dual-ie.


Q:

Sorry if that was over the top. It's just that i spent a good part of last night talking to her and making plans. And you know, i kinda feel crazy at times. Im going across the atlantic on a hope. Ive never even left the states! But to hear from someone who ACTUALLY DID IT, it's just very reassuring. And on top of that, ive always wanted to design video games.

Thanks so much for answering.

Edit: didn't even see the fable reference. You rock. Not my favorite game, but it was fun and silly, and honestly it felt like Sims, with guns and murder and a plot. I enjoyed it

A:

Don't be afraid to take chances. Even if you fail, you'll have one hell of a story, and better perspective. Totally worth it. :D


Q:

Can you help me with one more teeeny tiny navy question?

I have to choose between three jobs. CTR, nuke, and seals. My biggest thing is i need to know what is most viable after i get out of the navy. Any idea?

A:

From what I gather Nuke Techs make a lot of money while in, AND when they leave. I imagine SEALs go career most often, so civilian viability normally isn't a concern. CTRs... Man... I don't even know what they do. :D


Q:

Hi, Awesoem game, might grab a copy off steam! How long did it take you to develop this game? How many members on the team, what did each member bring to the team, and finally, how were you qualified to develop games, coding skills, designer perhaps. And another finally, how high were studio expenses when developing this game?

A:

Hey there! From concept to release, we sunk about 2 years in. We didn't decide to become a company until it started to materialize a little more firmly.

Our team is now 10 members. I'm qualified in terms of writing, business development, and in terms of producing and release management. A lot of people forget you need someone to help coordinate between teams, communicate to outside parties (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.), and so forth.

We didn't take any pay during production, so our expenses were rent, and utilities.


Q:

Didn't you just do an AMA not that long ago?

Regardless, what's up shipmate?

A:

I did like 4 months ago, yeah. :D

Not much! Just... launched a game. ;)


Q:

Actually I have a question.

Does your game have trophies/ achievements?

I've always wondered the process behind that. Who chose them? Did you have to submit for certain trophy requirements (with or without a platinum) or were you given full control in that situation?

Normally games with platinums sell like hotcakes.

A:

We do have achievements, yeah. Our lead game designer chose them. :)

They have some rules, but we were given pretty free reign.


Q:

When Finns hibernate during the winter, what do they stock up on?

A:

Jaloviina, and salmon...


Q:

How did the idea of a Game Studio begin? I mean Even if your writing skills are on point there would be Many other opportunities? Why exactly video Gaming ?

A:

I went to work for other studios first. I decided to apply at game studios because they work in English usually, and I love games. There was an open position helping a local studio communicate with the English players, and I snagged it for a few extra bucks per month. Then I fell in love as they gave me cooler assignments (like world building, dialogue editing, etc.) and decided I wanted to stay in gaming. :D


Q:

How did you know that sehe was the Love of your life... I mean if you met in Highschool i cant believe that you knew back then that you are going to see here a second time. Didnt you have any Trust issues? Or didnt she have any? I know these questions are personal but its ama, Right.

A:

We made the relationship work for YEARS before I decided she was the one. We were friends for two, then dated for 2. Sure, there are little hiccups, but we both decided to make it work, and (most importantly) acted accordingly. This means prioritizing the relationship, honesty, communication, etc. above all things.

I would stay in on Friday nights skyping her for 8-10 hours, talking about life, the universe, and everything. I would wake up at 4 AM before PT to Skype her. I'd come home after a 10 hour day, and Skype her. I'd send her viber messages about my day, etc. Communicating a lot, and prioritizing a relationship really does a lot for trust issues.


Q:

Thanks for putting yourself in the public like this. It takes true courage to put your personal life up for scrutiny.

That said I want to ask a complicated question. I'm sure there is no short and easy answer.

I have been developing a new RPG. I have all the combat math tuned and everything is on paper (I'm old). How do I go about turning it into a digital game? I can code HTML, CSS scripts and have a solid understanding of the object oriented Bethesda language. What language(s) do you suggest I learn? Is there a suite of software considered to be universal (like Maya is to animation)?

I have spent 3 years getting my game to function. For what it's worth (nothing) my friends enjoy the game. I will learn any language and/or software. Where do I start?

A:

Find a mentor, I would say. Someone you can trust that knows design. Put your game up to their peer review (use an NDA if you want to be 100% sure they don't take anything). Perhaps learn C#, and start working with Unity.


Q:

Have you heard of the theory that Finland is not real? It's a big conspiracy that people believe. Can you give us your input on that?

A:

I vaguely recall something like this, but don't know the specifics. It sounds like some debate team stuff people do "prove Finland exists or does not exist based on argumentative reasoning". Hahaha.

Verdict: Goofy. If it ain't real, some people are trying REAL hard to convince me. ;)


Q:

Best and worst places you were stationed at?

A:

I loved all the places, honestly. Can't say bootcamp was much fun though.


Q:

How does one just up and move to another country? I know you need a passport and all. But how are you able to get a house and be a legal resident. Or are you just considered an illegal until you apply for residency? I've always thought of moving to another country but am confused about the process.

A:

For me it was super easy. My (now) wife and I had been talking about getting married. When I went, and saw her again after all that time, I knew I couldn't take my return trip. So we sped up the process, got married, and I applied for residency on those grounds.