Dear Esther

Dear Esther

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Smig 11 noi., 2012 @ 16:51
Not really a game
I have contradictory feelings about this game. The first, and the potential source of many arguments, is that this isn't a game. Or in other words, it shouldn't have been released as a game. The second, which I think is unanimous, is that this is a very good piece of art.

We could get into a philosophical debate about what it means for something to be a game, but instead, let me just tell you about my experience:

I saw a video about this game and thought it was pretty interesting. I bought it on Steam and ran it. I explored that first house and thought it was weird that there was nothing to "do" in it. I wouldn't have wasted so much time inside if I had realized I wasn't supposed to find things to pick up, or buttons to press, or notes to read, etc. I felt a little frustrated because I didn't know if I was missing something but eventually carried on. Then I walked around the beach and spent 15 mins trying to get to some rocks that I wasn't supposed to get to.

Then I closed the game and played a walkthrough on youtube. I put down the controller, sat back on the couch and had a great experience for 50 mins.

So this is the thing, there's nothing in this "game" that benefits from a controller. The confusion that will set in when you're looking for things to do in places where there is nothing to do; the time wasted due to misdirection caused by the map and your expectations; and the requirement to press the required keys/buttons to slowly navigate a linear map, it all detracts from the experience. Simply put, the ideal way to experience this is by "watching" it, and if the author had put together his own "walkthrough" then you'd be sure to get the intended experience with none of the drawbacks of thinking about it as a game.

I suspect the choice of the medium has to do with some sort of difficulty monetizing this in some other way. Still, great work! Not wasted money at all, even though I ended up watching this on youtube. Had I not bought the game, the author wouldn't be compensated for his work so I'd encourage you to buy it even if you do watch it elsewhere.
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You're entitled to your feelings, of course, so this is less argument than the expression of another point of view, but I disagree strongly that there is nothing in this that benefits from a controller.

On the contrary, to me, the fact that you are in control is central to the experience. It's what lets you be in this place rather than just watching it. Sure, you can't pick things up, push buttons, solve puzzles; but you can explore at your own, natural, pace. The responses of looking around, checking behind a rock or a door, stepping to the edge of a cliff to look down, turning when you hear a sound - they are your responses, and that gives them a power they would not have otherwise.

I can assure you the choice of medium had nothing to do with difficulty in monetising a film - thechineseroom[] had done a few little mods before the original Dear Esther; the studio's existence is due to Dan Pinchbeck's interest in experimenting with first person gameplay and storytelling. Dear Esther is one such experiment: basically, pare back the layers of first-person game mechanics and see what you get. And I think it's an enlightening experiment, one that highlights the power of those basic things we take for granted, like simply looking around. And we (as a population) clearly do take them for granted, because many people have over time come to the conclusion that these interactions are somehow just not interactions - that when they are the only interactions left, this is no longer a game. Personally I think that view is kind of absurd, and that's why Dear Esther and games like it are important.

Not that I think you're wrong in saying you'd prefer the video version. That's your business. But if this were just a video, I know the world would be missing something I enjoyed very much. For me the ideal way to experience this game is definitely not just by watching it.
Editat ultima dată de Gus the Crocodile; 12 noi., 2012 @ 19:16
Postat inițial de Gus the Crocodile:
Outstandingly well said.
Mystix 14 noi., 2012 @ 21:01 
It's a wonderfully involving experience to take my good 'ol time to "play" it on my computer rather than just watching a video. I can imagine I'm really there, explore and soak-in the nuances, the wind blowing, the clouds rolling along in the ominous looking sky, the waves lapping, the weeds swaying, the "feel" of walking through some old decrepit lighthouse and such or walking along some rocky overgrown path, the sounds of all of these elements coming together, etc... I don't think I would have the same feeling of involment or of "being there" by just watching it as a video.

And, sometimes it's nice just to load-up Dear Esther, just to stay put in one area for a while, watch and listen. It's almost meditative. :)
Fearsyth 22 noi., 2012 @ 16:18 
You're right, it's not a game. It's called an "Immersive Story".
I think something has to be said for interactive storytelling, no matter how basic or "boring". It's about to a certain extent becoming the charector so you can empithize with them.
I just like how everyone who played this "game" pretends there some kinda philosophy major with a minor in fine art afterwards. There is absoutly NO content in this that makes it a "game" in any way shape or form, there is litterally NO interaction with the player other than speech and text bubbles. It's an interesting experment, like "The Stanley Parable", but unlike "The Stanley Parable", this completely lacks and substance to justify calling it a "game". I found it to be painfully slow, pretentiously written, monotonous, confusing, and just plain boring. It's either the most interesting interactive story I've ever read, or the worst attempt at a narrative story telling "game" I've ever "played", I honestly can't decide... all in all, check out "The Stanley Parable" for free...
Editat ultima dată de ☣ 12d3 ☣; 23 noi., 2012 @ 21:30
Mystix 24 noi., 2012 @ 0:05 
Postat inițial de 12d3:
I just like how everyone who played this "game" pretends there some kinda philosophy major with a minor in fine art afterwards.

Really? Intersting observation. Nice to know that, according to you anyways, definitively everyone falls into your categories. I guess you do too if you played Dear Esther as well.

I enjoy Dear Esther for what it is, even though I realize that it might not have the typical elements of a "game" per se. To me it's more of an interactive-story, and an involving and immersive experience.

PS: I don't claim or pretend to be studied in philosophy or fine-arts, but does that mean I can't enjoy or appreciate those things or a "game" like Dear Esther?
Editat ultima dată de Mystix; 24 noi., 2012 @ 0:09
Whatever you want to call it I enjoyed it - especially in the caves. I kindof enjoyed the "what's going on here?" feeling I had throughout.
I actually must agree with the OP. I purchased Dear Esther after hearing rave reviews about it, and although Dear Esther is aesthetically beautiful, I felt let down by how the authors chose to convey their message and what I feel to be poor use of the medium.

The biggest problem for me is that although there is interaction, the interaction fails to be meaningful to the message being conveyed. The story is unveiled through audio snippits, which are in themselves frequently inconsistent with one another, and have little-to-no bearing to the actions the player is currently taking. When player interaction is regaled to activating further audio cues and nothing else, the player fails to be a meaningful agent in the narration.

It could be the case that the draw is not unravelling a mystery through poking about the island, but rather exploration and experience of the scenery itself. Indeed, the environment is beautiful, and I did find myself wanting to explore it, but the act of exploring was, in my experience, sabotaged by several design decisions.

The game is highly linear, meaning that my desires to look over the crest of a hill were met again and again with futile struggles against invisible walls, sessions of hopping madly in place attempting to clip my way out of the railroad tracks the developers had laid for me. If the goal is immersion, then barricading my access to the world in which I am immersed is explicitly undesireable. Exploration is made difficult by the linear nature of Dear Esther's world.

And that's not the end of it. For the side passages that were unroped, my character's slow speed ensured that any time I dared stray from the path, I would pay for it with a slow, plodding death march on the return trip. Some people may find the pace relaxing; for me, it felt limiting. If this is meant to be a game about discovery and exploration, the design decisions ought to incentivize, rather than decentivize this.

Which leaves me here: A lack of meaningful interaction meaning I'm a spectator to the narrative, design that makes it painful to attempt exploring a visually lush and beautiful world, curtailing enjoyment I might derive from that - even if the audio snippits and the visuals themselves were engaging, the two strongest reasons I might want this to be a game rather than a movie have been hamstringed by the design of the game itself.

If the designers feel that the story need not be told through a player's actions, but rather what they see and hear, and that they need be kept on a very specific track, then it seems to me that the most suitable medium for this story would be film. My biggest objection to Dear Esther is that it is poorly suited to its medium.
goofinga 28 noi., 2012 @ 17:05 
Game? Hardly! It took me 4 hours to download and 114 minutes to get through the whole thing.
This was a collossal waste of my day, and the $10 it cost.

Sorry, but it was nothing more than a "pretty" interactive video. I'm bummed!

Oh, the narrative was useless too! It served absolutely no purpose.

I sure hope "The Witness" is alot better!
Editat ultima dată de goofinga; 28 noi., 2012 @ 17:08
...You know The Witness is a puzzle game by a completely different guy, yeah?
The fact is that it's NOT A GAME. I'm not saying that Dear Esther is a bad product, BUT IT'S NOT A GAME. Yet, Dear Esther is fasly marketed as a game.

From Steam page: "Abandoning traditional gameplay for a pure story-driven experience"
If there is literally no gameplay besides walking, then how is it a game? Pure story-driven experiences are called movies. Something that is all graphics would be a tech demo, or a work of art. Game are games because they have gameplay in them. Sorry holding w is not gameplay. And you can't even explore really, if you try to explore you end up drowning or you're not able to actually get to where you wanted to go. Exploration is the only gameplay element you could argue for Dear Esther if you heard it was just walking, and OH LOOK YOU CAN'T EXPLORE.

Dear Esther needs to be taken off Steam or put in a category that is not games. Maybe put it in the software section with 3DMark 11.
You can't explore? Why, because the world isn't infinite? Would you say exploration in real life isn't possible either because you can look up into the sky but, not being a bird, you can't get there? Come off it.

If you're looking around a place you haven't been before, congratulations, you're exploring.
You can't explore because when you try you drown or can't climb of a easily climbable rock
If I try to explore the ocean myself in real life that's what happens too. Maybe I should try exploring land instead.
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Data postării: 11 noi., 2012 @ 16:51
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