Gone Home
August 15, 2013 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Released today on Steam, Gone Home has garnered praise for its deeply affecting narrative, stripped-down design and a unique aesthetic steeped in 90's nostalgia and riot grrl culture. "When I played Gone Home I had the stunning realization that there could be a game for me. Someone can make a game for me." -Leigh Alexander. "It’s touching, unsettling, deeply honest, and enormously compassionate. -Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "Gone Home is an epic story, but its definition of epic is far removed from how we usually talk about scope and drama in games. It’s epic, personal and revelatory to the people involved, and that’s why it’s so special." -Giant Bomb. Polygon's 10/10 review. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story. The Fullbright Company's Journey Home.
posted by naju (197 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why I like Gone Home - Anthony Burch, lead writer for Borderlands 2.

I'm looking forward to sitting down with this next week.
posted by figurant at 3:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am so excite. Also to be noting: from metafilter's own zusty.
posted by juv3nal at 3:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes yes yes yes yes I am not reading another word about this until I have the time to properly sit down with my copy. Can't wait.
posted by emmtee at 3:29 PM on August 15, 2013


If any game cried out for a mobile / android / iOS port, it's this -- their audience is there, not on Steam.
posted by neustile at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have been dithering on the edge of " oh do I have the time for another game now" but this cemented it. I'm getting this the instant I get home.
posted by The Whelk at 3:34 PM on August 15, 2013


Metafilter: AW SHIT IT'S A DUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
posted by sparkletone at 3:37 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


If any game cried out for a mobile / android / iOS port, it's this -- their audience is there, not on Steam.

I really don't know what this means, but it reads like a dig at the audience that uses Steam... and... I don't understand that? If you've got a Steam library you just like BORDERLANDS2 and bigger guns? Give me a break. That's not a constructive argument to make.
posted by kbanas at 3:37 PM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Well I'm sold
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:41 PM on August 15, 2013


This looks interesting.

*Plays trailer, with soundtrack*

Oh God, that music sounds like screaming cats and gameplay looks mundane.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:47 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If any game cried out for a mobile / android / iOS port, it's this -- their audience is there, not on Steam.

I don't think it's a dig, just that the demographics are different.
posted by GuyZero at 3:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


*Plays trailer, with soundtrack yt *

I was gonna say this made me want to listen to a bit of Sleater-Kinney and sure enough the song playing over the clip was Heavens To Betsy, Corin Tucker's first band. Pretty neat.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I really don't know what this means, but it reads like a dig at the audience that uses Steam... and... I don't understand that?

I'm not sure that's what neustile was doing. It's just, this might not be the game for me or Brandon Blatcher, but I can think of at least ten girls I know/have known who would love it to bits (just based on the trailer and what I've read about it), and they're never going to know about it or even be exposed to any information on it. It really needs an Android/iOS port (for tablets) and it needs to be on Facebook and linked on Pitchfork and all that shit.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:04 PM on August 15, 2013


Screw catching up on my sleep and letting my poor, aching-from-RSI wrists rest. Playing Gone Home is how I plan to spend as much of this weekend as possible.
posted by alynnk at 4:06 PM on August 15, 2013


Still, if it wasn't for indie games, I'm not sure what I would even buy on Steam. Most of the big-publisher AAA stuff has hardware requirements that necessitate some kind of crazy-expensive gaming rig PC brought back from six months in the future, and all I have is a mid-priced laptop.

Bang for buck, I've gotten hours and hours more enjoyment out of cheap, small-publisher games like The Binding of Isaac and Hotline Miami and Monaco and FTL than I ever did out of any given $60 XBox/PS3 exclusive. And I doubt that I would've spent the time and money invested in those games if it wasn't for seeing them on Steam.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:06 PM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


It is one of the most important videogames of the last few years.

I really hate when people say this. It doesn't matter how good a game is, it's just built up expectations no game can live up to.

Bioshock: Infinite was my favorite game of the last few years, there were times though that i really wished there had been a version where there was little or no first person shooting. The world and story was more engaging than combat, which while fun, made me realize how much i want an adventure style game in a fps wrapper, without the shooter, or a whole lot less shooter.
posted by usagizero at 4:08 PM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am really hoping for Oculus Rift support for this one.
posted by St. Sorryass at 4:11 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most of the big-publisher AAA stuff has hardware requirements that necessitate some kind of crazy-expensive gaming rig PC brought back from six months in the future

Umm.. what? I have an Alienware x51, couple hundred under a grand paid for it, and i can run everything on max that i've bought on steam.

I have is a mid-priced laptop.

There is your problem. For a while i was mostly gaming on laptops, and even when i paid for higher end ones, their performance was way below much cheaper desktops. Still, there wasn't a game i bought that i couldn't play properly on them.
posted by usagizero at 4:11 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If any game cried out for a mobile / android / iOS port, it's this

An FPS?
posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on August 15, 2013


FP. not S.

Oh God, that music sounds like screaming cats and gameplay looks mundane.

The music is... what indie teenagers in the 90s listened to. There are three or four songs in the game, the rest of the music is by Chris "Space Asshole" Remo.

The thing I like most about this, I think, is the option to put objects back. It drives me crazy in Source Engine games that you pick stuff up and then just sort of ... throw it back into the game world. Were you born in a barn? From review:
It’s a simple functional alteration with a huge impact. In most FPSes the character is running through a hostile landscape – items are immediately discarded if not useful. This is a home – Kaitlin’s home. This simple mechanic does a huge amount to connect the character and the environment. Kaitlin’s family may be missing, but that doesn’t mean she wants her father or her baby sister to know she has been rifling through their stuff.
Re: porting - this was built in Unity, rather than a dedicated FPS engine, which means that a mobile port would be... not trivial, but possible. you'd need maybe a tap-to-move-there mechanic, though, likeThe Drowning, and probably a pinch-to-zoom mechanic also...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I look forward to playing this in several years when it comes to a platform I own and/or runs on a toaster.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more of an FPE (first person explorer). Though there are some quite workable, if rather simplified FPS's on phones as well!
posted by Drexen at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2013


Most of the big-publisher AAA stuff has hardware requirements that necessitate some kind of crazy-expensive gaming rig PC brought back from six months in the future, and all I have is a mid-priced laptop.

I could buy a PC that will play damn near anything released today for less than a grand. I play every game released today with a 3 year old PC that I recently replaced the video card with a $300 one. AAA games today are aimed at 7 year old machines (that being consoles), and will gladly run on even a modest box if you don't have an Intel video card.

The whole god-box syndrome is about 3 or 4 years out of date.
posted by zabuni at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I actually LogMeIn'd to my computer at home from my computer at work so I could fire up Steam, buy this, and get it downloaded. Because it wasn't available for sale yet before I left the house this morning.

So excited. I basically don't play games except Plants vs Zombies* but this is so right up my alley.

*PvZ2 came out today, and I almost cried when I saw it was free with in-app purchases. All the pleasure (including the pleasure of playing with a mouse on a computer) has been sucked out of it. I'm prepared for it to suck as much as the Facebook game.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:18 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This looks a lot like the "wander around a hyperdetailed environment examining things" aspect of Shenmue, which is one of the things I really loved about Shenmue.
posted by byanyothername at 4:19 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lyn Never: "*PvZ2 came out today, and I almost cried when I saw it was free with in-app purchases. All the pleasure (including the pleasure of playing with a mouse on a computer) has been sucked out of it. I'm prepared for it to suck as much as the Facebook game."

Yet another reason why EA is evil.
posted by boo_radley at 4:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I ain't paying $20 for a 3 hour game. Sorry. I'll buy it at the holiday sale for $4.99.
posted by Justinian at 4:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, will anyone care to spoil it for me? I don't have a computer, so will never play it otherwise.

THIS MESSAGE POSTED BY CHIRPMAIL, THE CARRIER PIGEON WEBFORUM POSTING SERVICE
posted by leotrotsky at 4:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is one of the most important videogames of the last few years.

I really hate when people say this. It doesn't matter how good a game is, it's just built up expectations no game can live up to.


Ditto. I have seen so many arty adventure games built up as the best story ever while containing relatively little conventional gameplay at this point: Anodyne, Kentucky Route Zero, The Dream Machine, The Path, Botanicula, Proteus, To The Moon, and Dear Esther all jump to mind. Gone Home's focus on the every day looks like a very cool idea, but I wish reviews didn't make it feel like each of these games was inventing the wheel. (I would say that one of the problems with the some review sites' moving away from numerical scores -okay, maybe I'm just thinking of RPS- is that I now read all game reviews as complete raves or complete pans. A little bit o' moderation, please.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah, hi, sure enough, I really want to play this and I have not played a computer game more complicated than Tetris in fifteen years. I've heard of Steam before, but never bothered figuring out what it was.

From what other people have said upthread, it sounds like if my only computer is a cheap five year old laptop, I shouldn't bother. Is that accurate?
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 4:24 PM on August 15, 2013


The music is... what indie teenagers in the 90s listened to.

Perhaps, but it's an interesting choice in terms of making a video game in 2013. Hope it works for them and encourages other unique takes on the medium.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 PM on August 15, 2013


Yeah - it's set in 1995 in part because the narrative relies on the characters not being able to communicate by mobile phone, sent text messages or iMessages, email etc. The riot grrl songs help to locate the narrative temporally.

According to Fullbright's Twitter feed, it's the third-best selling game on Steam at the moment, outselling Saint's Row IV. Those sales should drop in the fairly near future as the early adopters are replaced by the sale-waiters, but it's pretty good going.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:30 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps, but it's an interesting choice in terms of making a video game in 2013.

Not really, since the game is taking place in 1995. The music fits perfectly for that.

The price is a bit steep, but I felt it was well worth the money, and even more so when the inevitable Xmas sale comes. One thing I gained for paying the higher price, though, was a blank slate. I had basically no idea what to expect from the game apart from the initial premise, and that made my playthrough much more intense.
posted by ymgve at 4:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


PVZ2 review:

The good news, though, is that the game and its structure aren't really hurt by the shift to free-to-play. At no point while playing did I feel the need to drop some real money on the game, since PvZ 2 is surprisingly generous with its in-game currencies. One of the biggest new additions is plant food, a power-up that essentially turns any plant into a super-powered weapon for a brief period of time; peashooters fire more bullets in crazy patterns, while snapdragons let loose with gigantic fireballs. You can collect plant food by killing green, glowing zombies; I often had more than I needed. You can also buy plant food using in-game coins (which in turn can be bought with real-world cash) but, again, I regularly found myself with more coins than I knew what to do with. It doesn’t ever feel like you have to buy something.

...so not TOO bad, though I'd prefer just paying upfront.
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on August 15, 2013


I'm a sale waiter and backlog owner so I won't be getting this for a while, but I don't get the "why on steam" thing. This is on steam as is Analogue, a Hate Story, Proteus, To the Moon, Dear Esther, Kentucky Route Zero and other less than traditional games.

Dang, Going to Maine beat me to the punch on this.
posted by jclarkin at 4:39 PM on August 15, 2013


Yeah, Kotaku says not paying is actually preferable.
posted by naju at 4:40 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more of an FPE (first person explorer). Though there are some quite workable, if rather simplified FPS's on phones as well!

Hmm... Sorta? Kinda? No? Still not really an ideal platform for that? The processing oomph is there now but I've yet to see a non-awkward control scheme.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on August 15, 2013


Yeah, Kotaku says not paying is actually preferable.

Those are some ridiculous scammy prices to pay for breaking the game, mind.

Couldn't I just buy a hat or some levels or something?
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on August 15, 2013


"FP. not S."

First Person Slacker?

too pejorative?

maybe First Person Sloucher.
posted by striatic at 4:45 PM on August 15, 2013


I could buy a PC that will play damn near anything released today for less than a grand. I play every game released today with a 3 year old PC that I recently replaced the video card with a $300 one. AAA games today are aimed at 7 year old machines (that being consoles), and will gladly run on even a modest box if you don't have an Intel video card.

This is very exactly true. You do need a video card, it's true, but anything that runs on an xbox 360 (which is nearly all modern games) will also run perfectly well on a 2007-era Radeon 9800GT which will run you about $60.

That said, there are a lot of pitfalls and you need good advice to not waste your money. But given that, you can have a reasonable gaming system for about the price of a console these days.

From what other people have said upthread, it sounds like if my only computer is a cheap five year old laptop, I shouldn't bother. Is that accurate?


Post your specs? The main barrier will be the video card, and most laptops don't have much of one. AskMefi might be a better place for that, though.

Having checked the requirements, the Intel HD4000 is not a 'gamer's' card AFAIK so you may be in luck.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:47 PM on August 15, 2013


From what other people have said upthread, it sounds like if my only computer is a cheap five year old laptop, I shouldn't bother. Is that accurate?

If it's Unity engine, as a few people have said, the problem is rarely the PC it's playing on, it's the engine itself. That said, if you have an Intel video card in your laptop it probably won't run too well.

I would recommend you go to www.gamejolt.com and download a game there called Stairs or The Stairs or something. It's a Unity engine game and it's free, though it's a pretty big download, and it looks about as graphically involved as Gone Home. If Stairs runs ok then this will run ok.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:48 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


From what other people have said upthread, it sounds like if my only computer is a cheap five year old laptop, I shouldn't bother. Is that accurate?

The steam store page lists its system requirements. They look fairly modest to me but it would depend on your laptop.

The Mac OS 10.7 requirement leaves me out in the cold for now. Alas.
posted by squinty at 4:49 PM on August 15, 2013


Oops, I am sorry for my thread derail up above. I wrote it and walked home and didn't expect the reaction. I really meant it like I said it: I'm trying to play this game now and I have to go through all this nonsense to do it. I'm not a "gamer" but I play games all the time. I don't have Steam or an account there. Steam to me always meant games with guns or wizards.

I don't want to play a game on my MacBook Air (my only computer.) When would I do that? At work? In bed? That's weird. My iPad / iPhone / Android game handheld thing is much easier. I doubt I am alone.
posted by neustile at 4:52 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not really, since the game is taking place in 1995. The music fits perfectly for that

I was referring to the niche riotgrrl genre as opposed to a more popular choice from the era. Not a big deal, just struck me as odd. Whatever works for the creators.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2013


neustile: "I doubt I am alone."

You're not. "Gamers", of the Bioshock sort, have had the privilege of everything that's come out in the last 20 years be specifically tailored for them. Even in face of shifting numbers that say "casual" gaming is actually bigger and more important for the industry. It's like Zaphod in the total reality vortex, and it enables comments like this: "Oh God, that music sounds like screaming cats and gameplay looks mundane."

It's why gaming is where it is today, but luckily for all of us, it won't stay that way forever.
posted by danny the boy at 4:59 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was referring to the niche riotgrrl genre as opposed to a more popular choice from the era. Not a big deal, just struck me as odd. Whatever works for the creators.

Well, so again, I am a total non-gamer and my opinion may not be representative. But. This was precisely the point in the description where I sat up and took notice. It tells me that they probably care a lot about depicting this specific character with specific tastes — and that it's probably a character I'll recognize and empathize with, which would be pretty exciting.

Whereas if they'd said the soundtrack was gonna be, you know, Coolio and Lisa Loeb, I'd have been like "Oh fuck, some marketing asshole thinks they're gonna 'connect' to me by licensing some lowest-common-denominator songs I was already sick of hearing on soundtracks almost 20 years ago. No thanks."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 5:15 PM on August 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Downloading now, as far as the music goes, I'm glad they chose as they did. It gives the game a definite, real setting.

niche riotgrrl genre

That's part of the setting though. We're seeing a young girl become an adult, through things like music, movies, etc. Having the music match the story works.

As far as ports go, I've seen a couple of Unity Games, even first person ones, ported to mobile platforms, with not much trouble.

Played about ten minutes. If you liked the parts of Bioshock where you were investigating the environment, and not the shooty parts, you'll like this.
posted by zabuni at 5:22 PM on August 15, 2013


It is one of the most important videogames of the last few years.

This is really the best way to sound like you are making a statement about the game while really saying nothing at all.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Strange Interlude: "Still, if it wasn't for indie games, I'm not sure what I would even buy on Steam. Most of the big-publisher AAA stuff has hardware requirements that necessitate some kind of crazy-expensive gaming rig PC brought back from six months in the future, and all I have is a mid-priced laptop.

Bang for buck, I've gotten hours and hours more enjoyment out of cheap, small-publisher games like The Binding of Isaac and Hotline Miami and Monaco and FTL than I ever did out of any given $60 XBox/PS3 exclusive. And I doubt that I would've spent the time and money invested in those games if it wasn't for seeing them on Steam.
"

Don't own Monaco (Seen plenty of y'all playing it on Steam), but I do own the other three (and I play the HELL out of FTL too - Had one of my best games ever recently - BoI is, ahem, too hard on my keyboard to play often).

Wanted to say, if you aren't USING that machine from the future, I have desk space...
posted by Samizdata at 5:28 PM on August 15, 2013


For iOS really it would be better as a point and click adventure, which is a pretty successful genre there. You'd lose some immersiveness but you'd actually be able to play the thing.

I'd say the game that is most mysteriously not on iOS is FTL, which you could port pretty directly.
posted by Artw at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2013


Anyone know if this is going to get ported to the 2600?
posted by tunewell at 5:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


When someone tells me to go into something without knowing about it, my mind tends to wander to an unfriendly area. So, as I was watching the trailer, I kept thinking, "Something's gonna happen. There's no way this is a game about a regular person that nothing happens. Her family's gone because a maniacal killer's on the loose or some weird ghost curse in the house. Just wait for the jump scare. Oh crap, here's a long dark hallway shot, here it comes. Okay, nothing happened, but they're just ratcheting up the suspense..."

And I kept waiting and waiting for something to jump out, or the character to look at a door way and see a ghost or a chainsaw wielding psycho. Or see doors shutting by themselves or letters made from cut out magazines or blood on the walls or something.

Yeah, I'm way too conditioned for conventional game and movie tropes. And I hate horror. Hate hate hate.

But now that I know this is not a horror game. I'm interested.
posted by FJT at 5:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Further in. I loved the fact that the TV room had a bunch of recorded movies on blank video tapes. Very much of the time.
posted by zabuni at 5:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Short version on FTL is that Subset are a) not very interested in becoming mobile developers and b) busy. They made a shedload of sales on FTL, but they had to deliver all the Kickstarter bonuses, what at least as of April was an ongoing process.

If they do decide on a mobile version, it seems, they would want to find another studio to do it, and that is quite a complex process in itself...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:35 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


leotrotsky: "So, will anyone care to spoil it for me? I don't have a computer, so will never play it otherwise.

THIS MESSAGE POSTED BY CHIRPMAIL, THE CARRIER PIGEON WEBFORUM POSTING SERVICE
"

Weak sauce on the mail.

Sent from my iPigeon so please excuse any typos.
posted by Samizdata at 5:35 PM on August 15, 2013


"Gamers", of the Bioshock sort, have had the privilege of everything that's come out in the last 20 years be specifically tailored for them.

I wish that were true. I could do with a whole lot more exploration/murder games where I take photos of my victims.
posted by squinty at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Without giving anything away (though, seriously, if you're planning to play the game you shouldn't be reading this thread or anything else about it until you've finished), popular 90s hits would better immerse you in the setting perhaps, but they wouldn't fit the story in the least.

I found it very moving. It's a wonderfully touching little story, marvelously presented.

Also, they've included options to let you tailor the gameplay a bit to your preferences -- you can start the game with all the lights in the house turned on and/or all the doors unlocked, if you don't want your discoveries to be guided in a particular sequence, and you can play without a map and audio journals if you want the exploration to be more realistic. It's a great touch. (And since I played without the journals, I now have an excuse to go back and play it again.)
posted by rifflesby at 5:43 PM on August 15, 2013


tunewell: "Anyone know if this is going to get ported to the 2600?"

Seriously though, what is your problem with this? The only thing an android/iOS port (comparable titles have already been done, successfully) would do is allow people who would not otherwise have access to it, to enjoy this game. How does that affect you?

I mean the only way that I can think of is that it encroaches on your idea of gaming belonging to a specific hardware platform that you approve of, and the only reason you'd care about THAT is because your identity is tied up in 'who games are for', and that this identity is so fragile that the mere idea of someone out there who can't or doesn't want to install Steam being able to enjoy a game would shatter your ego completely.

But that would be ridiculous.
posted by danny the boy at 5:46 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean the only way that I can think of is that it encroaches on your idea of gaming belonging to a specific hardware platform that you approve of, and the only reason you'd care about THAT is because your identity is tied up in 'who games are for', and that this identity is so fragile that the mere idea of someone out there who can't or doesn't want to install Steam being able to enjoy a game would shatter your ego completely.

It's more that the discussion of the game has been about how awesome it would be on another platform, and how pc gamers are some people who identify with their platform, and other strawmen, and not about the god damn game.

I'm surprised rifflesby, that you chose to start without the journals. I don't think they are necessary, but they do provide a narrative that would be lacking without.
posted by zabuni at 5:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised rifflesby, that you chose to start without the journals. I don't think they are necessary, but they do provide a narrative that would be lacking without.

I haven't started playing yet, but I have been turning over in my head the idea of doing that (I think I've decided I'm going to leave them on after all), but my thinking was that it would make it a more investigative experience, i.e. I'd have to infer/deduce the narrative.
posted by juv3nal at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]



I actually LogMeIn'd to my computer at home from my computer at work so I could fire up Steam, buy this, and get it downloaded. Because it wasn't available for sale yet before I left the house this morning.


If your home computer is logged in to steam, you should be able to buy it on the steam web store, then push a button that will have it automatically install on your home machine.
posted by heathkit at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Gamers", of the Bioshock sort, have had the privilege of everything that's come out in the last 20 years be specifically tailored for them.

Well, that's a weird game to use as an example. The industry has been incredibly focused on multiplayer shooters since 2007, for example, and BioShock doesn't even have a multiplayer mode. I mean, Infinite sold four million copies, which probably isn't as many as one would want for a game that's been in development for five years. In comparison, Call of Duty: Black Ops sold twenty-five million copies, and that's an annualized franchise.

I think we could use more gamers "of the Bioshock sort," frankly.

I mean the only way that I can think of is...

One could also make the argument that Gone Home relies on atmosphere quite a bit. I mean, I'd love for as many people as possible to play Amnesia, but it's just not going to have the same effect on your iPhone while you're sitting on the bus in the middle of the day, next to people chatting about what to have for lunch. (Not to say Gone Home is a horror game. Just making a point about how and where you play a game having an effect on the experience.)
posted by Amanojaku at 6:00 PM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, I'm super into exploration in games, and wanted to get the feeling of poking around in the house as realistic as possible. And also to see how complete the story was just from the objects and notes you find (quite complete, it turns out, though I had some initial confusion due to abg ernyvmvat guvf jnf gur *arj* ubhfr sbe n juvyr. V gubhtug gurl zbirq njnl jvgubhg gryyvat zr naq gur obkrf rireljurer jrer barf gur zbiref unqa'g cvpxrq hc lrg! Gung jnf hafrggyvat. Abgvat gur nqqerff ba gur cbfgpneqf pyrnerq gung hc, gubhtu.).

I figure the extra narrative from the journals would be akin to director commentary, filling in the gaps of anything I missed. Abgnoyl gur ynfg obbx, gur bar va gur nggvp, juvpu pna'g or vagrenpgrq jvgu orlbaq bcravat gur pbire, fb lbh bayl trg gb frr gur svefg cntr. V nffhzr gur erfg vf na nhqvb wbheany sebz gur fvfgre.

Nyfb V arire sbhaq gur pbzovangvba gb gung uvqqra fnsr.
posted by rifflesby at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ha ha, yeah! *nods knowingly*
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Idea: Tablet version of Dear Esther where you pay $3.99 to unlock an actual game.
posted by Artw at 6:11 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Either rifflesby posted gibberish, or I'm having a stroke. Please advise.
posted by Renoroc at 6:13 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh sorry, I forgot to link rot13.com.

Spoiler obfuscation.
posted by rifflesby at 6:14 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Idea: Tablet version of Dear Esther where you pay $3.99 to unlock an actual game.

The four things I will say for Dear Esther:
1) It's very pretty.
2) It's nice to have a narrative that kind of confuses.
3) It's a cool metaphorical use of a physical environment.
4) It blew a lot of peoples' socks off and is hopefully inspiring them to make better things.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, a shameless plug for Knytt, maybe the best darn freeware exploration game out there. The plot isn't particularly dramatic, but it's pretty, fast, and meditative.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


The four things I will say for Dear Esther:

Right, but what if for 2000 gems you could get the plasma cannon and six reloads?
posted by Artw at 6:24 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think rifflesby is posting spoilers, though damned if I know what they're encoded in.

Just did a marathon session of Gone Home. I adore this game so much. Also, the music absolutely fits. And like some other people in the thread, it was the very specific music choices that initially put this game on my radar, so I think it was a great choice on multiple levels.

I don't agree that this shouldn't have been on Steam (see aforementioned presence of other like-minded games like Kentucky Route Zero and Analogue: A Hate Story also being on Steam) but I would be happy to see the game ported to Android/iOS if it meant more of a non-traditional gaming audience got to play through Gone Home as well. As it is, though, I'm just happy it exists.
posted by chrominance at 6:24 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The four things I will say for Dear Esther:

Right, but what if for 2000 gems you could get the plasma cannon and six reloads?


I will give you those gems RIGHT NOW.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Esther started off really great, lovely graphics and atmosphere. Slowly, the overwrought writing started to creep in, like the scariest horror story ever. Then M. Night Shyamalan showed up at the end and you realized you were the but of a practical joke.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's incredibly weird and kind of beautiful that my now nearly ten year old PC can suddenly play newly-released games again. I just looked up the requirements for Monaco, this game, and Hotline Miami, and I can play all of them.

This looks right up my alley... I really liked environmentally constrained adventure games back in the day, but unlike the 7th Guest or whatever else this isn't full of cringe-worthy FMV and weird nonsensical puzzles.
posted by selfnoise at 6:29 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will give you those gems RIGHT NOW.

Right, now are you going to earn them by trudging around looking at things meaningfully or are you going to skip the grind and visit the in-app store?
posted by Artw at 6:30 PM on August 15, 2013


Right, now are you going to earn them by trudging around looking at things meaningfully or are you going to skip the grind and visit the in-app store?

It depends on if the cacodemons show up before or after I do the trudging.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2013


I think there's a poem or something, but if you buy the plasma cannon you can shoot the poem.
posted by Artw at 6:33 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sebmojo: "I could buy a PC that will play damn near anything released today for less than a grand. I play every game released today with a 3 year old PC that I recently replaced the video card with a $300 one. AAA games today are aimed at 7 year old machines (that being consoles), and will gladly run on even a modest box if you don't have an Intel video card.

This is very exactly true. You do need a video card, it's true, but anything that runs on an xbox 360 (which is nearly all modern games) will also run perfectly well on a 2007-era Radeon 9800GT which will run you about $60.

That said, there are a lot of pitfalls and you need good advice to not waste your money. But given that, you can have a reasonable gaming system for about the price of a console these days.

From what other people have said upthread, it sounds like if my only computer is a cheap five year old laptop, I shouldn't bother. Is that accurate?


Post your specs? The main barrier will be the video card, and most laptops don't have much of one. AskMefi might be a better place for that, though.

Having checked the requirements, the Intel HD4000 is not a 'gamer's' card AFAIK so you may be in luck.
"

As for the 9800 advice (although I am running an Nvidia 9000 series), I am right there with you all the way up to the first Alan Wake, which was almost unplayable. But I enjoyed the Bioshocks and Bulletstorm and such. My bestest advice, if possible, is hopefull watch for Unreal engine games. They have generally treated me well.
posted by Samizdata at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2013


I would also like some sweet techno beats under the monologues, please. (I imagine some serious skrillexing when you step out of the cave and turn to face the cliffs.)
posted by Going To Maine at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Esther started off really great, lovely graphics and atmosphere. Slowly, the overwrought writing started to creep in, like the scariest horror story ever. Then M. Night Shyamalan showed up at the end and you realized you were the butt of a practical joke.

A lot of the things you see and hear in Dear Esther are randomized. Maybe it just picked the most Shyamalan possible combination for you.

My playthrough was largely about syphilis. Much like the role-playing I'm doing in Gone Home.
posted by Jick at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Moderate spoilers follow)

Jura V svefg fgnegrq cynlvat gur tnzr V rkcrpgrq vg jbhyq raq hc orvat fbzr ubeebe tnzr qhr gb gur bccerffvir zbbq jura V fgnegrq rkcybevat gur ubhfr. V jnf pbafgnagyl vzntvavat frrvat guvatf ba gur rqtrf bs zl fperra (Jnf gung n svther qbja gur unyyjnl gung fubjrq hc sbe n fcyvg frpbaq nf V ghearq nebhaq?*), gurer jrer nyfb zbzragf jura V fjrne gurer jrer fbhaqf bs fbzrbar zbivat nebhaq va gur nqwnprag ebbzf. Naq gura gurer jnf gur abgrf fpnggrerq nebhaq nobhg gur ubhfr orvat unhagrq, naq gur zlfgrevbhf cerivbhf bjare, naq Fnz'f qnooyvat vagb gur bpphyg ivn na Bhwvn obneq.

Zvqjnl guebhtu zl cynlguebhtu V unq svtherq bhg Fnz'f frperg, ohg vg fgvyy qvqa'g rkcynva jul gur ubhfr jnf rzcgl. Gur cneragf' fgbel raqrq dhvgr nagvpyvznpgvp, naq V ernyvmrq guvf jnf Fnz'f fgbel svefg naq sberzbfg, ohg hc hagvy gur irel ynfg ebbz bs gur tnzr V qvqa'g xabj vs vg jnf gb or n gentrql be abg.

* Zbhfr pbagebyf znxr n ovt qvssrerapr urer, fvapr lbh vafgvapgviryl qb fanccl 90 naq 180 qrterr zbirzragf jura lbh zbir nebhaq juvpu yrnirf cyragl bs bccbeghavgvrf sbe qbhoyr gnxrf. V qba'g guvax gung pna or erperngrq jvgu n gbhpu fperra be tnzrcnq jvgubhg ybfvat fbzrguvat.
posted by ymgve at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trying to avoid spoilers... When I started the game, I wondered if, like Dear Esther, it was a nice enough short story unnecessarily shoehorned into interactivity. What really made it for me was the side-quest nature of the parents' story. That is, you can blast through the game just learning what happened to Sam, since that's what opens the doors. But if you put in extra time to explore, you'll find out a whole lot about the parents, and some of their more unsympathetic actions will become at least more understandable. And that seemed like such a perfect metaphor for the early-20s stage of life that your character is at: very much able to see things from the teenager's point of view, and just starting to be able to understand the adults if you really try.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


rot13 time:

V unir zvffrq fbzrguvat, jurer vf gur nggvp xrl. V unir hapbirerq zbfg bs gur ubhfr.
posted by zabuni at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2013


Never mind. Found something else.
posted by zabuni at 6:42 PM on August 15, 2013


Also, this comment thread at RPS is awesome.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:43 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, they are totally playing the game wrong though. The ghost is much easier to defeat in cyberspace as a technomage.
posted by ymgve at 6:47 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apple port's nearly done...

You are in a teenaged girl's bedroom. There is an open drawer. There is a stereo with an open cassette deck door.

What now?

>LOOK DRAWER

There is a cassette tape here. It says "PLAY ME" on the label

What now?

>PUT TAPE IN PLAYER

You don't have the tape!

What now?

>
posted by Devonian at 6:47 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bought this. Really want to play now, right now. Have edits to finish. Hmm. Hard.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:47 PM on August 15, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard, they are totally playing the game wrong though. The ghost is much easier to defeat in cyberspace as a technomage.

The reviews I've been reading said that the technomage was a bit overpowered after you unlock the robofamiliar. If you play as the steamknight you'll get a more interesting (& challenging!) experience.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Most of the big-publisher AAA stuff has hardware requirements that necessitate some kind of crazy-expensive gaming rig PC brought back from six months in the future, and all I have is a mid-priced laptop.

Might be a bit late to the game here, but when i was living in a shitty party house and some of my friends were in school, and some of them just working foodservice/retail i helped several of them build or get REALLY cheap gaming systems that could play basically any game. at medium-high settings.

and by really cheap i mean like, $250-300. All you need is a cheap generic desktop(hp, gateway, lenovo etc) with a decent CPU, a better power supply*, and a decent graphics card. We'd hunt down the cheap towers used, buy the power supplies at pc recycling centers(they'd almost always have nice gaming ones!), and buy the cards on craigslist.

Most consoles are $399 now. For that much you could get an even better system that would likely run most games on high. If you're not afraid of craigslist, and also watch the newegg refurbished section like a hawk you can do this no problem. Also, sometimes people who spent all their rent money on booze or drugs put up their awesome gaming systems for the amount they're short. I got an entire setup including speakers, super nice keyboard+mouse set, and a nice monitor for $400 once...

Personally though i got utterly fed up with chasing this dragon and sold all my stuff off and got a PS3. I'll buy all the AAA games i want to play when they're $9 on ebay from some sketchy seller. My older imac runs starcraft 2 and league of legends fine anyways...

*you don't even always need this depending on the system, some come with surprisingly decent power supplies.
posted by emptythought at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If any game cried out for a mobile / android / iOS port, it's this -- their audience is there, not on Steam.

There may be a larger untapped audience there, but it seems they're not doing too shabby on Steam.
posted by juv3nal at 6:55 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just finished.

Gunaxf Tbq vg jnf n unccl raqvat. V unq thrffrq gur frkhnyvgl natyr cerggl ba, ohg V gubhtug vg jbhyq raq nf fbzr fbeg bs gentvp cynl.

I still need to play some more, just to see more about the subplots. I think I got most of them, but it left some things hanging.

Still, a really nice way to have a first person explorer game (FPE), and add character to every scrap of paper.

I wouldn't mind seeing a 20 or so years later about what happened though.
posted by zabuni at 6:55 PM on August 15, 2013


(reply to zabuni, for-real spoilers)

Lrnu, fnzr urer. Jura V sbhaq gur abgr cbvagvat bhg nabgure frperg ebbz jvgu gur yvar "Urer'f jurer jr'yy qb vg!", nsgre fbzr abgrf vaqvpngvat Ybaavr jnf zbivat njnl, V jnf fhqqrayl irel irel nsenvq V jnf tbaan svaq gur erfhygf bs n fhvpvqr cnpg.

V ynhturq bhg ybhq jvgu eryvrs gb svaq vg jnf whfg tbbsl xvqf' jvgpupensg.
posted by rifflesby at 7:01 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Can we use the rot13 trick sparingly? A few instances are ok, but it's just noise to most people trying to read the thread, and I don't want it to get out of hand.]
posted by mathowie at 7:04 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Can we use the rot13 trick sparingly? A few instances are ok, but it's just noise to most people trying to read the thread, and I don't want it to get out of hand.]

It would make great Lorem Ipsum for Lovecraft collections, though.
posted by Amanojaku at 7:08 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry.

One thing I can ping the game on is that it all centers around the big reveal what happened. Although some of the subplots are neat (original owners of the place, Mom and Dad's problems), the main thing is what happened that night? Once you know it it takes a lot of suspense out of the game.

Anyway, the big spoiler is what happened that dreaded night, the rest I surmised from just watching the trailers. I find stories, both in print and otherwise, who need to be unspoiled rather dull. I think the game stands on its own even with spoilers.

Any way, one last spoiler :-P (hamburger)

Yberz vcfhz qbybe fvg nzrg, pbafrpgrghe nqvcvfvpvat ryvg, frq qb rvhfzbq grzcbe vapvqvqhag hg ynober rg qbyber zntan nyvdhn. Hg ravz nq zvavz iravnz, dhvf abfgehq rkrepvgngvba hyynzpb ynobevf avfv hg nyvdhvc rk rn pbzzbqb pbafrdhng. Qhvf nhgr veher qbybe va erceruraqrevg va ibyhcgngr iryvg rffr pvyyhz qbyber rh shtvng ahyyn cnevnghe. Rkprcgrhe fvag bppnrpng phcvqngng aba cebvqrag, fhag va phycn dhv bssvpvn qrfrehag zbyyvg navz vq rfg ynobehz.

Well what do you know, it does make a good Lovecraft filler.
posted by zabuni at 7:13 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Um! Hey, guys! I didn't realize there was a thread!
I was one of the four person dev team for this game, so, uh, feel free to ask me things?
Oculus rift is a little hard because it depends on look and interact being separately controlled, but we've tried out the game on it and it's at least interesting. But, yeah, not yet for release. It won't run on mobile platforms due to being 3d & having a lot lot lot of high res textures.
Um. Hmm. I'm writing this on my phone, so I can't go back and look at everything. Feel free to hit me up though?
posted by zusty at 8:05 PM on August 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


Almost any decent newsreader will automatically rot-13 highlighted text with a keystroke.

...

sigh come back usenet
posted by Justinian at 8:06 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was one of the four person dev team for this game, so, uh, feel free to ask me things?

I have to ask, were you all in your 30's? The feel of 1995 is pretty spot on. I have to wonder if you did any research about it.

About the ending, were there any other paths you might have chosen? It could have easily become either a triumphant ending or a tragedy. Did you argue over the path the ending would take?
posted by zabuni at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, whiny rant ahead: I really want to play this game. Really really really. I stopped reading the comments when I began to fear spoilers because I still might try to find a way.

But here's the thing. I just can't get into PC games, for many reasons. So many times I'm just one spec away from being able to play. Sometimes I start to check the specs and . . . I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's just too fucking confusing. I have to have an Intel something or better? Well, what if I have a different brand name video card, like ATI? Now I have to look into whether my ATI card is equivalent to the Intel whatever?

And I know that there are sites that will test your system, but in this case I already know that my laptop fails big time on the video card aspect so that's irrelevant here.

The biggest thing, though, is that playing a game on a PC makes me feel like I'm missing something. Like, I don't know . . . hands? Like I'm typing with my elbows? I feel thick and slow and ponderous and I keep having to look at the keyboard - oh god why am I admitting this?

Is it because I literally grew up with a controller in my hand (I'm 37) and I NEED to clutch a warm, comforting controller with both paws in order to feel in control of the game? (this visual image actually caused a sense of calm to wash over me, WTF.)

So in conclusion, I wish game makers would put everything on at least one console. The end.
posted by peep at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2013


Well, I dunno about your video card question, but you can get USB Xbox controllers, and many pc games are compatible with them, including Gone Home.
posted by rifflesby at 8:33 PM on August 15, 2013


Just finished. I'm feeling so moved by this game right now. Maybe it's the few beer I had while playing, but I'm awash with gratitude for this thing that seems like it was made for me--the me that grew up with cut and paste show posters, zines, mixtapes, and illustrated notes slipped into lockers; and the me that finds it hard to reconcile my love of gaming with popular games where nobody even tries to pretend I'm their audience.

And congratulations to the devs on the authenticity of the ephemera in-game. Those hand-written notes are, at least to my ear, pitch-perfect and straight out of the memory boxes of me and people I know.
posted by 1UP at 8:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm dying to play this game and I never, ever, ever say that about games, which I hardly play. Part of it is: that's my era. Another part is: it sounds substantial and highly experiential. The downside is: yowch, eighteen bucks.
posted by Miko at 8:46 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"what if I have a different brand name video card, like ATI? Now I have to look into whether my ATI card is equivalent to the Intel whatever?"

Nothing is worse than Intel.
posted by idiopath at 9:07 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The biggest thing, though, is that playing a game on a PC makes me feel like I'm missing something. Like, I don't know . . . hands? Like I'm typing with my elbows? I feel thick and slow and ponderous

Which is weird since it's been well established that mouse+keyboard is vastly superior for many types of gameplay. Microsoft was considering allowing PC and Xbox players to compete against each other but scrapped their plans because even the very best Xbox players were being demolished and they didn't want to embarrass xbox players.
posted by Justinian at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The downside is: yowch, eighteen bucks.

While I guess it's maybe a little high compared to other video games of its technical scope, this was made by a small team who bet a year of their lives and a lot of their savings on the appeal of something really sincere and special.

I think the emotional investment and the emotional content kind of exempts it from the normal "video game as commodity" rules.

I bet you'd get at least as much value out of it as you would a couple of movies.
posted by Jick at 9:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Serious question to those who've played it: how sad is it? Because it looks sad. I'm 30 years old and nostalgia already hits me pretty hard sometimes, so I need to know how sad it is before I start.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2013


I bet you'd get at least as much value out of it as you would a couple of movies.

I think that's the way to think of it. If you compare it with FTL, even, which if you are the kind of person who is into that kind of procedural, roguelikelike game could give you literally hundreds of hours of play for $10, it feels like a lot. But it's a very different experience.

(Also, it's on Steam - which means it will start appearing in sales in about three months. I imagine The Fullbright Company would prefer people to buy it at full price if they are able to, but I also imagine they'd be ten dollars worth of happy if someone who wouldn't have bought it otherwise buys it for 50% off in the Winter sale. That said, avoiding spoilers for three months is going to be a challenge, and really the less you know going in the better...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:33 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


the rest of the music is by Chris "Space Asshole" Remo

GOD DAMNIT EVERY TIME SOMEONE POSTS THAT VIDEO I HAVE TO WATCH IT AND THEN SPEND THE NEXT TWO WEEKS SINGING "SPACE ASS-HOO-OO-O-OLE" AT VERY INAPPROPRIATE TIMES.

(Also, this game looks really interesting... but still... space asshole...)
posted by aspo at 10:37 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I just played for two hours. I'm guessing I got about 75% through. I have to say by the end of those two hours I was feeling more frustrated than captivated by the environment, going over areas I'd already visited two or three times to make sure I'd turned on every single light and picked up every piece of paper. I would have preferred the game without locked doors, but maybe that's because I'm not much of a gamer and I find navigating 3d environments in games mostly an exercise in frustration.

I did like the period details--the mix tapes, fantasy novels, hair dye, and renfest costumes were perfect. And the dad's plotline is pretty fascinating--that letter from his father about his first novel? Brutal!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:19 PM on August 15, 2013


I would have preferred the game without locked doors, but maybe that's because I'm not much of a gamer and I find navigating 3d environments in games mostly an exercise in frustration.

Probably a bit late for you, but there's an option to do that (have everything unlocked). I think the reason for gating the content is so that while there can be some non-linearity to the way you discover information, by locking things off they can make sure you haven't missed key beats before showing you stuff that builds on that information. It's a non ideal solution, maybe, but at least the option to disable it is there.
posted by juv3nal at 11:59 PM on August 15, 2013


HI ZUSTY!

I tweeted you today. I was the guy who said that I'd waited for years for a video game that would make me cry. And now it's finally happened, a game gave me characters human enough and mechanics transparent enough that for a brief moment toward the end, as I was rushing toward the attic, I was genuinely worried and apprehensive and upset about what was awaiting me.

I'm sorta thinking you got a lot of tweets about that.

I'm avoiding spoilers because this is a game that deserves to be unspoilered. It's an enormous achievement in storytelling, the kind of narrative and characterization that is only possible in an interactive environment and incredible proof of the room for growth left in the medium we generally call "games." To me, at least, it's an incredible achievement, it's the game I've been unknowingly wishing for ever since I started caring about how stories are told.

Play this.
posted by Soultron at 12:30 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


For some reason this thread has a lot of cats sleeping on their keyboards.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:05 AM on August 16, 2013


And I kept waiting and waiting for something to jump out, or the character to look at a door way and see a ghost or a chainsaw wielding psycho. Or see doors shutting by themselves or letters made from cut out magazines or blood on the walls or something.

For the first hour I was afraid of stumbling across a ghost.

For the last hour I was afraid of stumbling across something actually horrifying.

(It's worth experiencing, though.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:39 AM on August 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, if you are intrigued by the empty-house-horror tropes and want to play something that pushes those buttons hard, two games to be on the lookout for:

Among the Sleep - you play a two-year-old wandering through a surreal, nightmarish environment one night

The Intruder - There's something unspeakably awful coming to get you in just a few days. Spend the time you have left collecting weapons, supplies, and barricading your house as best you can. Good luck.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:42 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


While I guess it's maybe a little high compared to other video games of its technical scope, this was made by a small team who bet a year of their lives and a lot of their savings on the appeal of something really sincere and special.

I think the emotional investment and the emotional content kind of exempts it from the normal "video game as commodity" rules.


This is the argument that gets made for every game of this type. I remember the reviews of Thirty Flights of Loving that basically effused that while the game was only fifteen minutes long and pricey, it was also a solid fifteen minutes of heaven that completely exonerated the cost. They were wrong; it was five minutes of okay-ness that I would say was worth $1. (I am bummed that I payed $2.50 for it when it was on sale.)

If you do want to help encourage innovation in the indie scene, there is certainly an argument for paying full price. But there is an economic trade off here that people seem to not want to make. Price should theoretically be dictated by some combination of quality & quantity, but indie games currently seem to blow up the box for the assessment scheme. And in one or two Steam sales' time it'll be five bucks, like every other game.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This reminded me of a multimedia-enabled Adam Cadre IF piece.

The price was a little high, but early 90s indie punk girl music had me locked in, and my total games budget is still pretty low.

I liked the stories that were revealed, though I don't think I found every scrap of them. My FPS was so bad that searching a dresser was like Euro Truck Simulator 2 level of gameplay. I couldn't check everything. I liked all the little things I did find, though. Somehow I knew that pamphlet was going to be from Reed before I even picked it up. And poor Essa and Borislav! I loved the hopeful turns to the stories.

It's a little strange to have a game so inward-facing and sentimental featuring music that was vibrant and energetic. If there'd been Cure songs on those tapes I would have worried more.
posted by bleep-blop at 6:03 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Probably a bit late for you, but there's an option to do that (have everything unlocked). I think the reason for gating the content is so that while there can be some non-linearity to the way you discover information, by locking things off they can make sure you haven't missed key beats before showing you stuff that builds on that information. It's a non ideal solution, maybe, but at least the option to disable it is there.

Maybe I'm being nitpicky, but I actually read about this feature in an interview after getting frustrated, and couldn't find it anywhere. It should really be under the options menu or something. I dunno.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:05 AM on August 16, 2013


While I guess it's maybe a little high compared to other video games of its technical scope, this was made by a small team who bet a year of their lives and a lot of their savings on the appeal of something really sincere and special.

I absolutely don't doubt it. I understand games as a creative product and want artists to make money and I'm sure this is a good value. That's just a fairly large chunk of entertainment budget for me, and it means that, like a lot of luxuries, I probably have to let it pass. It's not a "hey let me check this out" price that offers a low barrier to entry. It's more "is this worth the cost of a day's meals" kind of thing. I'm sure it is worth it but it means it's got to be more of a planned expense than an easy splurge, and at least some people, like me, will decide to pass on it because of the price.

I bet you'd get at least as much value out of it as you would a couple of movies.

I'm a skinflint about movies too and see maybe 2 a year, after they've been heavily recommended, because of this issue of value.
posted by Miko at 6:57 AM on August 16, 2013


I bought the game on Steam yesterday, played it a bit, went and did some other stuff. Figured I'd get a few more minutes before going to sleep, and wound up being sucked into it and wound up binge-playing it until 3am. This is not the first time in my life I've had a binge-gaming session that stretched far too long.

But it's the first game that's made me cry.

I can understand people's complaints about the price of the game given its length (and I'm not sure that it has the same replay value as different genre games). I'll compare this purchase against a hardcover book or a night at the movies or even dinner out. Compared against that yardstick, I think it's well worth the price.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 6:59 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, just played through the ending areas with modifications in place (lights on, doors unlocked). I liked it much better--it didn't feel like a horror game and I suspect the non-linearity would have appealed to me from the start. Felt much more natural, given the form.

Honestly, I got more choked up over Dad's storyline than Sam's. Writerfeels. Though also, it sure seems like Sam and Lonnie are kinda making a terrible decision.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, just played through the ending areas with modifications in place (lights on, doors unlocked)

Where are those options?
posted by bleep-blop at 7:14 AM on August 16, 2013


You have to start a new game, then go to "modifications."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:16 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, they got me with the X-files videotapes. Because apparently I need mid-90s' nostalgia trips today.

Guess what I'm buying when I get home...
posted by Katemonkey at 7:22 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Intruder - There's something unspeakably awful coming to get you in just a few days. Spend the time you have left collecting weapons, supplies, and barricading your house as best you can. Good luck.

That trailer almost made me hyperventilate. I hate games like this but I can't stop wanting to play them.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


@zabuni: Yeah, we're all in our 30s. I'm the eldest, and closest to how old Sam is/would be at that time. Much research was of course done. (I'm rabid about it for art/mise en scene, and Steve is rabid about it for story stuff, too.)

Ending: Yeah, we had a few different ideas going there for a while. We actually didn't decide on the very ending until fairly late. We had a lot of hard constraints (no characters!), so we mostly went from there.
posted by zusty at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, and the modifiers! You have to pick the really big game-changers when you start a new game. (Fortunately the whole game is knowledge-gated, mostly, so you hopefully don't lose much in the way of progress when you start a new game.)
posted by zusty at 9:24 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


As for the money thing, when you're indie it seems like if you ask a higher price people get annoyed and say it's too much, but if you undervalue your work and sell lower, people tend to not respect it all that much and just think of it as a cheap indie. Which is crappy! I don't know how to make everyone happy on this, sadly. There are always Steam sales?
posted by zusty at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


@QuantumMeruit you are super kind, and I'm glad you were into it.

@PhoBWanKenobi you would be surprised how few people actually seem to have thought about two teenage girls running away together! It is almost certainly a bad decision, you are totally right.
posted by zusty at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One who was giving up a scholarship to a summer writing program at Reed! She would have been so happy there! Hope Katie called the 'rents, gave them a talking to for being judgmental assholes (though really, "you can't have the door closed when your girlfriend is over" is pretty mild in the scheme of things for 1995), and helped to find her little sister. Cause, yeah, in the long run, I can't see that as being anything but a mistake.

Two details I enjoyed were the underlying pain of being a younger sibling left behind when your older sibling begins adult adventures and also how deeply Sam's personality starts becoming subsumed with her growing love affair--I'd probably have to look more closely at the dates, but I get the sense that she tried to bring Lonnie into her interests of piratey fantasy stories and constuming but ultimately they were both pretty subsumed by punk culture and riot grrrl. Which is cool, and absolutely a haven for creative, weird girls of that era but there's some sadness in it, too, I think. I guess it's true for Lonnie, too, giving up her Army dreams. See also: giving up the aforementioned Reed summer program.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is almost certainly a bad decision, you are totally right.

I think it's more the available options. Given what we start with (no one home, tearful letter on the door), the ending is probably the best outcome. I was fully expecting a murder suicide going in. I ran to the attic with trepidation because of that.

And I have to repeat, the feel of the game as the mid nineties is pitch perfect. The collection of taped movies reminded me so much of home.
posted by zabuni at 10:48 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


PVZ thread
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on August 16, 2013


Just skimming on a break from work, but it doesn't seem anyone's mentioned another awesome thing about Fullbright: its announcement in June that it wouldn't be showing Gone Home at PAX after Mike Krahulik's Transphobic Tweet Incident became the final straw for the company.

It's awesome to see such sharp, thoughtful people getting rewarded. I haven't bought or played a game in a long time but I'm so, so excited to buy this one. It sounds great.
posted by mediareport at 12:08 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd say playing with locked doors is best for exploration, simply because it makes it easier to ensure you haven't missed any nooks or crannies. The audio journals are a little on the nose, though, and might work better heard all at once at the end if you prefer deducing the story yourself.

One thing I didn't understand: what was the deal with Oscar? His old letter and the "psycho house" stuff implies he did some terrible "transgression," but I never caught what.

To ROT-13 my speculation:

Vf vg cbffvoyr ur nohfrq gur sngure, Greel, nf n puvyq? Uvf ncbybtrgvp, nyzbfg fhvpvqny yrggre va gur fnsr vf nqqerffrq gb uvf fvfgre (Greel'f zbgure), naq gur tnzr cbvagrqyl fubjrq (jvgu gur urvtug puneg) gung Greel fcrag n ybg bs gvzr va gur onfrzrag nern jura ur jnf lbhat. Cyhf ur frrzf gb unir na hahfhny bofrffvba jvgu geniryvat onpx va gvzr gb cerirag terng gentrqvrf sebz unccravat...


Also, speaking of letters that contain terrible things, I thought it was hilarious how the one diary page from Sam that starts describing some sexual stuff auto-closes after a few seconds and won't open again... because naturally Kaitlyn (the player character, and Sam's sister) doesn't want to read about that.

First Person Slacker?

too pejorative?

maybe First Person Sloucher.


First-Person Sister, obvs.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Aw, thank you, mediareport!
posted by zusty at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2013


@Rhaomi: I believe you have the right of it. Well done.
posted by zusty at 1:03 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I haven't paid that much for a game in a while but here's how I justified it to my inner accountant:

$10 - game that is by most accounts a short but very special experience
$3 - supporting a game with a female protagonist that isn't used for titillation
$4 - stand-in for the beer I would have bought for any member of a team that stood up to Penny Arcade buffoonery so awesomely and possibly to their own detriment
posted by pishposh at 1:06 PM on August 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Thanks! That's awesome. (Well, not for "gur sngure, Greel.")
posted by Rhaomi at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, it's sure not everyone who put all the pieces together! It's not a requirement, but it's still super nice to hear that people figured it out!

Also, @pishposh: thank you so much. You are the nicest.
posted by zusty at 1:42 PM on August 16, 2013


One thing I didn't understand: what was the deal with Oscar? His old letter and the "psycho house" stuff implies he did some terrible "transgression," but I never caught what.

Here's an article that breaks it down in greater detail (MASSIVE SPOILERS, OBVSLY)
posted by juv3nal at 2:25 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Finished earlier today and loved it -- really turns the "explore the spooky house" trope on its ear.

I graduated from high school in 1994, so Katie and Sam are very much my contemporaries and I am just floored by how spot-on the recreation is -- the Sassy-style magazine, the glow in the dark stars on Sam's ceiling (I think I still have a box of those somewhere), and the printed TV schedules all took me right back.

Here's the mystery I wasn't able to figure out: there are three television sets in the house, all of which are conspicuously missing the VCRs/game consoles that were formerly attached. Where'd they go!?
posted by trunk muffins at 2:59 PM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been looking forward to Gone Home for a while because it sounded like something I'd love. I grew up playing the Myst games and still love fiddling with room escape games. I like exploration-based games like Knytt and immersive environmental experiences like Sleep No More. A first-person exploration game seemed right up my alley.

And I loved it for those reasons.

But the great thing was that in addition, I played a game where I felt like the characters were people like me and my family. Not space marines or wizards or robots, but teenagers with ALL THE FEELS and forest employees and honor students and aspiring artists.

I've never before played a game that felt so made for me. Thank you, zusty and the rest!

(I guess I do wish it could have been longer, but the length seemed right for the narrative. Maybe I mean I want more and longer-form environmental storytelling games.)
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:01 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's the mystery I wasn't able to figure out: there are three television sets in the house, all of which are conspicuously missing the VCRs/game consoles that were formerly attached. Where'd they go!?

Yeah, I was wondering that myself. I eventually concluded they were grabbed for pawning, for road money. Parents' bedroom looked looted, too.
posted by rifflesby at 3:02 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a note at one point asking Katie to tell Mom and Dad "sorry" for the missing stuff.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:33 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't there a note from Sam asking Kaitlin to smooth things over with the parents for what's "gone missing"? I wonder if the fancy bit of stereo equipment the dad was reviewing was part of that. (Or if it was around but I didn't notice it.)

Thinking about it the next day, I really liked how the game mounted this pressure, toying with the idea that the world is scary and cruel, but then it lets that lift, carried through by Sam's youthful optimism.

Even though Sam and Lonnie may be making "bad" choices, the tone of the game then is that life will go on and be okay, so I think it sells it as a happy ending. On the other hand, in real life it's often not actually a bad choice to not do the thing you just really don't want to do.
posted by bleep-blop at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh, okay, the entire game doesn't rest upon the magic-eye pictures in Sam's room, does it? Because those never fucking worked for me.

My 90s' nostalgia has faded away with the sudden appearance of those fuckers.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:02 PM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


(No, the magic eye pix are TOTALLY nonessential. Don't worry.)
posted by zusty at 4:07 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Considering getting this to play with a friend, who I played through the first three Myst games with. This looks right up our alley but I want to be sure…is this Myst-like throughout? I'm not going to turn a late-game corner and go into horror mode?
posted by caphector at 4:26 PM on August 16, 2013


The game is completely unplayable for me after loading a save game -- uses over a gig and a half of ram and it's a slide show. Bizarre because it worked perfectly well before I quit and reloaded.
posted by empath at 4:44 PM on August 16, 2013


I'm not going to turn a late-game corner and go into horror mode?

It's only scary insofar as poking around in someone's poorly-lit basement when they aren't home might be kind of spooky.
posted by rifflesby at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2013


Considering getting this to play with a friend, who I played through the first three Myst games with. This looks right up our alley but I want to be sure…is this Myst-like throughout? I'm not going to turn a late-game corner and go into horror mode?

Use the modification to turn the lights on. And no, no spookies jump out at you. I got nervous at one point, but it was just a TV on in the other room.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:03 PM on August 16, 2013


The missing VCRS also explains the trashed parents room - someone was hunting money!
posted by xiw at 5:53 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, rebooting fixed the slide-show problem. Adored the game. Just a perfect thing.
posted by empath at 6:03 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Much as I enjoy the playthroughs of "the Rad Brad," I can tell you not to bother with his new playthrough of this game. He went into it expecting a survival horror title, and his ADHD style will drive you absolutely nuts. He reads part of a note and then wanders away, starts the answering machine and then wanders away while the messages are playing... l mean, lord love him, but he is so not the audience for this thing that the juxtaposition was kind of amazing. It's a pity, because my dusty laptop has no hope of ever being able to play this game, and I'd really like to try it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:18 PM on August 16, 2013


A pair of interesting critical pieces from Ben Abraham and Brendan Keogh. Also an interesting interpretation from my twitter/gaming forum pal Bombsfall which even if the designers didn't intend it that way, is pretty apt. SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL OF THOSE, but worth reading if you've finished the game.

Also, Ben & Brendan's pieces manage to articulate the gut reaction I had to refrain from jumping in with "no spookies jump out at you" in response to caphector's question. (er, that's not meant to be a dig at you, PhoBWanKenobi) even though obviously, I wouldn't want to prevent someone from playing the game when it's ultimately true that no spookies jump out at you.
posted by juv3nal at 1:14 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want more games about real characters in real life.
posted by empath at 2:01 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, Ben & Brendan's pieces manage to articulate the gut reaction I had to refrain from jumping in with "no spookies jump out at you" in response to caphector's question. (er, that's not meant to be a dig at you, PhoBWanKenobi) even though obviously, I wouldn't want to prevent someone from playing the game when it's ultimately true that no spookies jump out at you.

Eh, I know the game is consciously playing with horror tropes (as several people have said, a murder-suicide is a plausible ending given the beginning, and the house itself is laid out suspiciously like the house from good ol' Maniac Mansion), but as someone with anxiety, I've had a lot of trouble with indie games like Eversion being bait-and-switch horror games. This seems to be a game that people who don't normally play games are showing an interest in, and not all of them are going to be interested or even attracted to the horror trope aspect--I had to read a good number of spoilers myself to confirm nothing scary happens before I'd play it myself. So I'd rather be clear if someone asks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:10 AM on August 17, 2013


I just played the game through in about 90 minutes. Definitely enjoyed it, and mad, mad props for making it spooky as hell -- I'm home by myself and it's late and dark out and I kept thinking I should stop before I scared myself too much to sleep. I'm glad I played it through!

Also, so, SO many mad props for all the X-Files Easter eggs. I was all kind of "meh, yeah, 90s, weird high school kid, I Want To Believe, riot grrl anime-ish zines, we were all there" but the best part was finding the pack of Morleys. Love it. Well done to you and the rest of the team, zusty!

And apparently I somehow totally missed Oscar's locked safe and the height chart, both. Guess I need to go through some areas more carefully.
posted by olinerd at 5:02 PM on August 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So now that we've all established that this game is really awesome.... Now on to some of its very real problems. I feel like we're all grading it on a curve because it's progressive along several axes. But no artist was well served by an A for effort.

I think Ben Abraham's piece was the last straw---the jump scare of a flickering light is "ludonarrative harmony"? By that standard, Dead Space is the most ludohamonic game ever. This overpraise especially jumps out because the game has some pretty severe ludonarrative dissonance going on at the most basic level.

Namely: Those diary pages. For a game that prides itself on realism, it's awfully weird that Sam has inexplicably torn pages out of her diary and scattered them in a linear path throughout the house. And while it's neat that all the secret passages are accessible before you know about them, the game is still basically "look for the key that opens the door", with keys that make less narrative sense than Doom-style key cards.

There's a problematic sloppiness to how a lot of the narrative materials are distributed, actually. Some stuff is great (Dad's diry magazine hidden under a stack of unsold books is both believable and sad). But the letter about Ranger Rick (and why is that a letter anyway?), the diary pages, many of the postcards, they all seem almost randomly scattered, and it really breaks the illusion of exploring an environment where people lived.

It's a great step forward for the medium in a lot of ways. But I was frustrated that for all the ways it was really smart, there was a basic spatial sloppiness that the designers never made up for.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:47 PM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Namely: Those diary pages. For a game that prides itself on realism, it's awfully weird that Sam has inexplicably torn pages out of her diary and scattered them in a linear path throughout the house.

She hasn't. There are no torn pages of the diary scattered around the house, or you would see them. The sound files are triggered by objects that are not torn pages. The pages are in the diary. This is all pretty clear within the game.

How you want to deal with the contrivance whereby you, the player, are getting these diary entries read to you at the time that it makes sense to be aware of what Sam has written rather than in a big chunk at the end of the game is pretty much down to you. The easiest way to think about is is that Kait is in the attic, reading the diary and remembering her journey through the house - your playthrough is that memory.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:40 PM on August 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hunh---that's an interesting theory. I wish it was more signposted somehow, but I'll buy it. The placement of the Ranger Rick letters remains weird, but I'm glad the diary wasn't scattered.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:49 PM on August 17, 2013


@olinerd: Yesssss! Someone recognized the Morleys!

The odd placement of some items: basically, we had to make some sacrifices for the sake of keeping things in the right order. There's only so much you can do when it comes to making the location of things seem plausible... yet findable. It's a trade-off, you know?
posted by zusty at 7:11 PM on August 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


running order squabble fest: You have the right of it!
posted by zusty at 7:13 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just finished this.

I think that anyone who was a kid in a dysfunctional family in the 1990s is going to have a really unique relationship to this game. I know the specific reaction I had was to go into Foobar and queue up all the music I listened to in high school.

It really brings up such an incredibly complex stew of emotions, shit I haven't thought about in years. And I think the fact that the game is in the style of a signature 90s game genre (adventure) really enhances that. It's like I'm back in my parent's basement, playing through a game that consists of my future memories.

So thanks, zusty. I think?
posted by selfnoise at 7:18 PM on August 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hugs, selfnoise! That means a lot.
posted by zusty at 7:22 PM on August 17, 2013


zusty: Yeah, I hear that. And please understand, this is coming from much love---I thought it was a terrific game! But, y'know, there's never been a great work without problems.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:30 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I REALLY want to play this game, but like squinty, I'm left out in the cold because of the Mac 0S requirement of 10.7. My system is 10.6.8. Zusty, is there any hope this game will be made for slightly older Mac systems?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 10:59 AM on August 18, 2013


@suburbanbeatnik—I have 10.6.8 and I played through the whole thing without any problems. I'm not sure why Steam has 10.7 listed as a requirement.
posted by aparrish at 11:54 AM on August 18, 2013


Sys requirements: we basically have been getting mixed results from older versions of Mac OSes. Maybe it will work? I hate to steer you at it if it might not behave, though.
posted by zusty at 12:48 PM on August 18, 2013


FWIW, I had 10.6.8 and it froze at the first loading screen. Upgraded to 10.8.4 and it worked fine. (This was the only thing that made me upgrade, such is my commitment to All the Teen Feels.)
posted by naju at 4:07 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]




Worth the price of admission. Played well on a Linux machine with nvidia graphics using proprietary drivers.
posted by jepler at 6:23 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, Veruca Salt is an obscurity? Seether was everywhere in 1994...

(By "everywhere" I may mean "my room". Which pretty much was everywhere I went in 1994.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the NYT story juv3nal linked to: Sam and Lonnie are a little too hip for high school seniors, even ones from Portland. In 1995, people listened to Coolio and R.E.M. and TLC, not just indie and grunge bands

I guess I can only speak for myself but there were plenty of high school seniors (and younger) in 1990 who were listening to indie stuff and staying far away from the mainstream, and for whom R.E.M. was over with "Green". That was just one group of kids, there were the kids who would have Rush or Megadeth or Siouxsie or Ministry or Public Enemy or Zappa or Minor Threat etc. etc. posters and putting those songs on mix tapes, who all despised the mainstream. Not to mention the people who just liked older mainstream stuff and would have Bowie/Doors/Who/Hendrix/Zeppelin etc. posters. And that was in the Midwest.

Maybe things were totally different by 1995 but I doubt it. This, "So unrealistic! Where's the Top 40 pop?" type objection sounds amazingly wrong to me.
posted by bleep-blop at 8:02 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Agreed, bleep-bloop. I was in 8th grade in 1995 and happily listening to Sonic Youth, Orbital, Bjork, Flaming Lips, Aphex Twin, Sunny Day Real Estate and the Pixies!
posted by naju at 8:24 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


My sister graduated high school in 1997, and by tenth grade was heavily into Riot Grrrl/the zine scene. The sound track was 100% spot on--the stuff she'd play on the tape deck of her first car, exactly (I grinned when I heard Heavens to Betsy, which I probably haven't heard since car trips with my sis when I was 11).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:38 PM on August 18, 2013


Yup, I was around Sam's age in '95, and the soundtrack felt perfectly natural to me - just like the posters for Sonic Youth and Frank Black. And the zines! Oh god I wanted to hug the zines. But then, the game had me at Christmas Duck, and probably could have done anything it liked after Christmas Duck.
posted by Mike Smith at 8:48 PM on August 18, 2013


Well, that was a fun, sweet, touching, multi-layered little puzzle of a story. I wish it were richer, with more characters and more backstory, but it was spooky, clever and emotional and I hope it sparks more games like it. The way the details fit together was great - the missing VCRs, the Earth Wind & Fire ticket, the stuff revolving around 1963 - but some of the subplots (like the Rick/Mom story and Dad's career) wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly.

I think this Eurogamer review raises some interesting criticisms, although I think it's off-base in complaining about the framing as a spooky mystery. The reviewer claims the haunted house trappings suggest "a disappointing lack of confidence in the intimate scale that is Gone Home's whole raison d'être." I mean, I'd like to see more games leave the horror trappings behind and tell more diverse good stories, but I think the misdirection works well in this case and bears interesting fruit. (It's also doubtful folks would be talking about Gone Home so much without the horror macguffin.) Anyway, the review is pretty measured and worth a read.

Finally, I can't help but think about Chris Ware's Building Stories box - an amazing collection of rich, interlocking comics you really *can* read in any order - and wondering if or when there have been games that go that far in experimenting with narrative. I gather Dear Esther would be the next one to try?
posted by mediareport at 12:18 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


mediareport, Dear Esther isn't really experimenting with narrative - you wander around an island and randomly selected narration segments play at set points, which makes it a lot like interactive media exhibits that recreate a point in history - even if you go through and get a different set of narrations, the overall effect is still the same.

Some things that actually play with narrative a bit are Facade, which uses a conversation engine and AI, or The Stanley Parable, though neither of them is an endless well of stories either.
posted by 23 at 2:25 AM on August 19, 2013


I think the spooky mystery (or fear of the unknown) element is tied in well enough to count as thematic, not tacked on or gimmicky. If the game had been titled, "What Are You Afraid Of", that might have put a finer point on it.
posted by bleep-blop at 6:44 AM on August 19, 2013


Thanks, 23, I'll look at those. I'm not really needing "an endless well of stories," just thinking that the narrative limitations of games don't seem to have changed all that much since I stopped playing them ages ago - e.g., the "gamey-ness" some folks note about how the clues are doled out, which might be related to what ThatFuzzyBastard above called "a nice enough short story unnecessarily shoehorned into interactivity."

The limitations always used to seem inherent in the genre, so it's always nice to learn of a game folks suggest pushes those boundaries, which Gone Home does, for sure.

Oh, and "first person snooper" is how my neighbor described it last night. I like that.
posted by mediareport at 8:17 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The NYT article is basically a walkthrough of the game, if people don't like spoilers, they should avoid.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I played Dear Esther after Gone Home and was very disappointed. It's incredibly beautiful, but the "story" is ambiguous to the verge of meaninglessness, and the randomized nature of the encounters and dialogue snippets make it feel even more pointless.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:49 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Esther is a poem, not a story.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


some of the subplots (like the Rick/Mom story and Dad's career) wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly

Actually, now that I think about it, the reason I thought the Rick/Mom story wrapped up too quickly is probably that the kitchen was one of the last rooms we got to, so we had most of the is-it-adultery pieces in place when we saw the calendar. I'm assuming that's not how most folks played it.
posted by mediareport at 9:34 AM on August 19, 2013


Dear Esther is a poem, not a story.

Is it the Citizen Kane of poems?
posted by bleep-blop at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dear Esther is a poem, not a story.

Also an experiment which probably helped clear the way for things like Gone Home. And its creator since went on to work on the sequel to (the excellent) Amnesia, coming out next month.
posted by Mike Smith at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I finally finished it.

Because Sam's journal entries were audio, I could only play it in bits and pieces, whenever i could have my speakers on.

And I'm not tearing up, honestly. It's the onions from dinner. Really. Truly.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


bleep-blop: I suspect that people who think that teens only listened to top 40 grew up in a barren subcultureless wasteland, which heck of sucks. (I myself listened to only comedy tapes til embarrassingly late, but my local alt-radio station, WFNX, which used to be just the damn PINNACLE, introduced me to the Pixies and so much good stuff -- so I was lucky, but you know. Some people are just stuck in places that aren't as accommodating.)
posted by zusty at 3:36 PM on August 19, 2013


So I took my damn time (5 hours) and finally finished. My favorite part is the onion layers to the story, all the threads of subplots which form together to illustrate how tragedies and traces of difficult histories can be perpetuated through family lines. Reviewers are only half right when they say that the haunted atmosphere of the game sets up expectations and then subverts them. There are haunted people in this game, and a figurative ghost story lurking underneath. A player can get through the game by only paying attention to the Sam and Lonnie story and miss all of that. You're just trusted to piece things together and figure out whatever you can. But if you do, the story that emerges might not lead to anything as dramatic as a murder-suicide, but it's nevertheless soaked in a sadness and darkness that shouldn't be ignored. That's the true triumph of the game, the complex larger picture that emerges in the margins of what might initially seem like a simple story. There's so much to talk about!
posted by naju at 4:08 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, and even though this isn't horror in the same way, I'm actually reminded of Kubrick's The Shining, and the way hints of family darkness and subtext can be gleaned by paying close attention (there's a strong indication of an abuse subplot in that as well.)
posted by naju at 4:13 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm playing Gone Home now and enjoying it. It definitely has a similar feel to Myst - exploring a space after it's been abandoned.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:12 AM on August 21, 2013


For the first hour I was afraid of stumbling across a ghost.

For the last hour I was afraid of stumbling across something actually horrifying.


Yep. Finally played through it last night. That initial tension of the unlit, empty house seems so important to the emotional notes the game is going for I'd almost consider reassuring people that there are no actual monsters in the dark a bit of a spoiler. Even though Gone Home can't help but invoke certain scary game tropes by virtue of being an FPS, I felt like the foreboding mainly just came from being in a house where no-one's home and the lights are off. That's legitimately creepy in the real world, even if you haven't been conditioned by other games to expect something to jump out of the closet when you pass a scripted trigger point.

Thinking about it the next day, I really liked how the game mounted this pressure, toying with the idea that the world is scary and cruel, but then it lets that lift, carried through by Sam's youthful optimism.

Reaching the conclusion, the relief of not having my worst fears confirmed, and then the wave of happiness for Sam was quite a rollercoaster. And all done with the slightest of conventional ways of relating a narrative. Like the quiet terror of looking down a dark hallway in a basement and thinking "Nope, not going down there", the Fullbright Company has managed to make almost all of it take place inside your head.

I didn't know before how much I wanted to play something like this. I'm very glad I did.
posted by figurant at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


With a couple of days distance, I've given this a replay. It's worth it, since there were a few things I'd missed out on before or had been confused about. You can't recreate the tension or the fear of the dark, but uncovering a bit more of these people's lives is worthwhile.

Also, once you unlock the final area, it's perfectly possible to end with a very dark conclusion if you rush straight to the the diary and miss Sam's last note. The audio clip that accompanies the end of the game is ambiguous enough to kick the wind right out of you.

zusty, thanks very much for your part in making this. I really hope that Gone Home ends up being as influential as it seems like it should be (and of course that it's as financially successful as it deserves). If other developers start picking up the concepts that your team has put down here, gaming is going to be a lot richer for it.
posted by figurant at 4:46 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Aww, jeez, thanks!)
posted by zusty at 5:26 PM on August 22, 2013


Yay! I finished it today, then read all the comments and spoilers in this thread. (I had stopped early on so I could play with more or less fresh eyes.)

I was in high school in Seattle in 1995, and like many other commenters I was pleasantly tickled by the nostalgic details.

One thing I had trouble with for a long time was how weirdly the house is laid out (I blame my parents, both architects.) I was relieved to find out there was a good explanation for it after all (along with many other seeming oddities in the game).

From the start I ran around turning on every light I could find, to try to dispel the spookiness of the darkened house. (I do the same coming back to my own house when it's empty and dark.) Then I felt guilty when I saw the mom's note about turning out the lights. Heh.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:45 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok so I just finished and it's amazing and I can't wait to read all these comments and oh my god Complicated WAS my teen angst song and I'm sobbing and thanks zusty and your team for all of this.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:57 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


<3 all you guys!!
posted by zusty at 9:39 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


« Older Sea saw   |   Nothin' but stem Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments