My name is Wlad Marhulets. I came to the U.S. in 2007 from Poland, when I was 20. At the time, my parents had just split up in a devastating divorce. My mother ended up abandoning me, and my father passed away not long after. I was completely broke and had to borrow money to book a flight. I came to New York with $300 in my pocket, without knowing anyone there. I spoke zero English, and to make matters worse, I had a severe stutter. It was so bad that it would take me up to a half a minute to say a word.
Despite the circumstances, I was going to audition for the most prestigious music school in the world: The Juilliard School. My dream was to become a film composer. Having gone through a period of actual starvation and coming close to homelessness, I ended up becoming one of the three students of Oscar, Pulitzer Prize, and 5-time Grammy Award-winning composer John Corigliano. I was also awarded a full scholarship. (John Corigliano describes this story in more detail in the book’s foreword). It was pure luck. The kind of luck one never gets to experience in the absence of action.
After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue film scoring career. It wasn’t long before my name started showing up in the credits of big Hollywood movies (I wrote additional music for The Giver, starring Meryl Streep, Sabotage, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, November Man, starring Pierce Brosnan, and others).
Although one could say I was doing well, I felt emotionally drained working in the film industry. My dream of becoming a film composer started to fade because of constant stress, countless all-nighters, and the lack of financial stability (film gigs didn’t come regularly, so for the most part, I was still struggling financially). I had a burning desire to change my life. With a few months’ worth of savings, I started watching gamedev tutorials and working on DARQ. I didn’t quit my job immediately, but as the wishlist numbers for DARQ continued to grow, I eventually focused on the development full time.
Making the transition to the world of game development was the best decision I ever made. Releasing DARQ gave me a sense of financial stability I had never had before. It’s not just about money, though. Going from a broke, stuttering orphan to the founder and CEO of a rapidly growing company is an unparalleled experience. I want more people to realize how much potential lies within them, no matter what obstacles stand in the way.