Leo Milani Nov 30, 2012 @ 6:59am
To Benjamin Rivers
First of all: congratulations.
I found this game VERY entertaining. I loved the graphics, the audio, the suspense/horror feeling throughout the game, and most of the writting. The way you constructed the storylines was exceptional. But that ending...
I won't say I didn't like it, that it had sloppy writting, or anything like that. I got the message you were trying to give, and the freedom you gave the player to define what happened, but here is the thing:
During my whole playthrough, I was asked if the character did or did not certain actions, like pick up the gun or knife, cross the river, and whatnot. I got really immersed in that after 15 minutes, and that was awesome.
In the end, this mechanism - to which I got used after 1h20m - was broken and the immersion compromised: the game didn't asked me what the character did, but what actually happened. The "empathy" I, as a player, developed for the red-haired man was no more, as I could define the whole world around it, and not just his actions. If this kind of control had been inserted right at the start of the game, that would be ok, but it only messed things up in the end.
That, I believe, was the greatest flaw - and the only one, for all that matters - of the game, and probably the thing that most of the reviewers had a hard time putting their fingers at, but knew in the back of their heads.

I really recommend this paper, by Frictional Games devs., when making suspense/horror games: http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com.br/2012/08/the-self-presence-and-storytelling.html

I'm waiting anxiously for your next games!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 comments
Lestrade  [developer] Nov 30, 2012 @ 7:02am 
Thanks for the comments.
Leo Milani Nov 30, 2012 @ 7:09am 
You're very welcome!
The Ax-Man Dec 2, 2012 @ 3:36pm 
While you see the ultimate "I choose the end" choices as a flaw, I found them rather unique in the wake of the rest of the game. The whole time, you're piecing together what happens, learning more and more about the characters and events that transpired, when suddenly, you're forced to make a decision. Because things are so vague, you really do get to choose the ending you want. If you feel like that broke the immersion, that's unfortunate, I think, but it is all up to opinion, so I ain't getting on your case for that.

I feel like that actually added something interesting. Most games with various paths and endings just drag you along for the ride, telling the story of these charcters and expecting you to feel for them. This, though... when I was first presented with the question "Did I find my Rachel?", I literally sat at that screen for... I dunno, 20 minutes, just piecing together the things I had learned and trying to come up with my own answer. I /loved/ it. It really was my story, even though I was playing as another person. All the things I had learned led to my own conclusion. True, the way things were worded with those choices sort of broke the pre-established form of writing, but I thought that set it apart from the rest of the game.
Leo Milani Dec 2, 2012 @ 8:25pm 
I understand that point, and I relate to that until a certain point.

The problem is not that I chose what happened in the end. Giving the player the freedom to create the story that he/she built in his/her head during his/her playthrough is indeed awesome.
However, the issue that I talked about is not this "freestyle ending", but how that was executed. Let me try to explain it in another way.

When I played the game for the first time, I had as many doubts as the character. I wanted to know what the hell was going on, why there was so many corpses in my path, where was Rachel, etc. I was investigating the environment, and, while I did that, I empathized with the character. Partly because I needed the awnsers just as bad as him, and partly because I was controlling him (and that's VERY important point).

But suddenly, when I was about to get one big answer (climax), the game tells me: "Ok, the rules have changed. From now on, YOU tell me what happened. The investigation part is over."
And THAT broke the immersion. The sudden switch of game mechanics/rules messed my head up. It brought me out of the game, to my room, to my desk, to my partial notes, so that I could adapt my brain to another game: a game where I give the answers, and not the questions.

But maybe - just maybe - I tried too hard to get into the game, and the fact that it didn't gave me the answers I was looking for left me frustrated. There were TOO many things that were unknown to me - even after I played it the second time with extensive notes and researched the forums - that the first thing I thought when the game asked me if Rachel was there was: "well, how the ♥♥♥♥ should I know?". Not only that, but the some of the subsequent questions hardly touched some things I were sure that happened, so I couldn't really give all that input after all.
Lestrade  [developer] Dec 8, 2012 @ 12:53pm 
I just want to address one thing for s0n1cm4yh3m. Thanks for caring enough to post and discuss; this is exactly what Home is supposed to encourage.

The "big answer" you speak of and how it was handled was very deliberate. The only thing I want to add to the discussion here (and then I'll bow out, because it's better for you folks to discuss) is that for the whole game, you (the player) were the one explaining what happened. This choice often comes as a shock, but it is not incongruous with the rest of the game.

Okay, that's all I wanted to say! You folks have fun!
Leo Milani Dec 8, 2012 @ 1:33pm 
Thank you so much for that answer, because I was thinking just about that this past week!
But, since my role here is to be that boring guy that keeps complaining, I will argument the following:
It is completely true that the game text/writing implies that I, the player, am (re)building the past through a recollection of my memories. However, I disagree that the game itself behaves in that direction.
For example: if I said yes, I would have picked up the gun; if I said no, I would have left it behind. In this case, I was explaining what Rachel's husband did in the past - I am, in fact, controlling his actions -, and not what happened around him. Every single question I answered until that ending point was about his personal actions, not his surroundings.
The issue in this particular point, I think, is that this would be perfectly normal and adequate on an non-interactive media, like a movie where the main character keeps trying to remember past events, and we are brought to his mind through some sort of narrative tool. Since we're talking about a game, the approach seems problematic, because the character and the environment are two completely distinct entities.
If the player were able to somehow control both the character AND the environment (to a lesser extent, obviously), the immersion would be maintained in the end.

Well, that's it.
Thank you for reading and replying! Sorry if i bothered you in any way.
I am very anxious to know If you have any other game in the making! =)

Ps.: I still don't know what happened in that first house where I woke up! Damn!
TETSUO! Jan 8, 2013 @ 11:53pm 
I felt that the questions and choices at the end offered a way to more deeply characterize the "hero" by developing his own delusional coping mechanism. You get to rewrite your memory, saying "of course there's never been a girl, i didn't see anything down there" like a sane person who's cracked, not allowing himself to beleive what had happened. Then, the "truth" that comes at the end is actually the fiction painted by a killer not letting himself be a killer. Alternatively, it could permit the majority of the game to be a fantasy conjured by a lonely depressed soul only to wake up alone.
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