Опубликовано: 22 марта
“I think that any entertainment, any art worth a damn allows you understand people better. And I think that the unique tools of interactivity allow [game developers] to do this in way no one else can.” -- Steve Gaynor, Why Is Gone Home a Game
What can I say about Gone Home? Very much a labor of love. It's a game with more detail in the corners than it needs to have. That seems to be one of the main ideologies in developing this game -- more detail than necessary. But some of the best parts are hidden where you wouldn't even think to look. So you have to check it all.
I'll be honest: at first I didn't think the 20 dollar price was justified. Figured maybe 10 dollars worth of an experience. I loved it, but 20 dollars still seemed high. But after listening to all the developer commentary and Steve Gaynor's (Gone Home writer and developer) 2014 GDC speech Why Is Gone Home a Game [gdcvault.com]
, and thinking on the game, and understanding the sheer amount of collaboration and the ridiculous detail and love that went into making this, to make this genuine and real, I feel as though the price is justified.
I LOVE that all the handwriting is done by different people -- that all the relative's handwritings were done by real mothers and fathers of the devs to get "real parent handwriting". That's the kind of hilariously, unnecessarily detailed research and development I want to go into a video game. They worked so hard, so desperately to imbue this house with humanity. To characterize it, to characterize the people as whole individuals.
And everything, through all the small and unnecessary bits, they truly did. It's more than just environmental storytelling. More than just the sum of its parts! Fullbright has made something uncharacteristically intimate and vulnerable in gaming. They took a big, unusual risk, and for me, it paid off. I ended up empathizing with every single character along the way. Even the ones I didn't expect to. Those were the characters that I believe became the most human to me.
Is the house haunted? Yes. The spectre of past shame and regret -- the original owner and the dark matter that I won't spoil. Only after Sam ends up exorcising the spirit of that hurt is she finally able to be free with Lonnie. I just love how so many different themes are handled with such loving care, and how the story is told through the game mechanics. Interestingly, I wonder if Katie (protagonist) is a ghost – a powerless spectator, not a part of this house (they moved after she left), and not really TRULY knowing her own family.
That is one of the main themes of the game, and also one the main criticisms: That the game isn't "interactive". That it's not a "game". Because it doesn't give the player explicit feedback, constantly. That you can't change the story. Because you can't. It happened in the past. You can simply see, and try to understand. But that interaction is so important! How you go about doing that, that is the game!
You can hate this game and its story, but if you do it for its subject, it's kind of silly. Steve Gaynor, writer for this game, one of the designers for Bioshock 2 and the lead designer for Minerva's Den, and senior level designer for Bioshock Infinite, employee of Ken Levine, worked on all he did and decided to leave the realm of what he knew and make this. He's not a punk rock chick -- he's a straight, white man. He took a huge risk doing this, trying to make something genuine that he couldn't truly understand. I think that's the kind of man you should listen to. The kind of game worth making, the kind of game worth playing. So if you're writing it off because it deals with girls and sexuality, I encourage you to play it and try to appreciate it, or at least understand why you dislike it. Take the kind of risk Gaynor did.
As a sidenote, I also really loved Sarah Grayson's delivery of Sam's lines. Such a natural combination of smoky and intimate. She did a great job of adding to the personable feeling in this game, to the atmosphere of it, right next to Chris Remo's music. So subtle, yet so evocative. Hearing both of their creative processes through the commentary was very illuminating. Right next to Gaynor and Karla Zimonja’s dialog about designing the game. And Kate Craig’s methodology around detailing every single obtainable prop, and Johanneman’s thought process of improvising unusual code for the game.
Understanding the sheer volume of work that you can all just walk past is so necessary in appreciating the price tag for the game. No, it’s not a long game. But it tries so hard to animate a story that sticks with you AFTER the game is done, something that makes you ask questions about your own past and re-evaluate your own life well after it draws to a close. It worked. For me, anyway.
Thank you Full Bright, for such a thought-provoking game.