Icon ASCII : A Love Letter


Icon My Neural Network isn't working! What should I do?


Icon Phase-Functioned Neural Networks for Character Control


Icon 17 Line Markov Chain


Icon 14 Character Random Number Generator


Icon Simple Two Joint IK


Icon Generating Icons with Pixel Sorting


Icon Neural Network Ambient Occlusion


Icon Three Short Stories about the East Coast Main Line


Icon The New Alphabet


Icon "The Color Munifni Exists"


Icon A Deep Learning Framework For Character Motion Synthesis and Editing


Icon The Halting Problem and The Moral Arbitrator


Icon The Witness


Icon Four Seasons Crisp Omelette


Icon At the Bottom of the Elevator


Icon Tracing Functions in Python


Icon Still Things and Moving Things


Icon water.cpp


Icon Making Poetry in Piet


Icon Learning Motion Manifolds with Convolutional Autoencoders


Icon Learning an Inverse Rig Mapping for Character Animation


Icon Infinity Doesn't Exist


Icon Polyconf


Icon Raleigh


Icon The Skagerrak


Icon Printing a Stack Trace with MinGW


Icon The Border Pines


Icon You could have invented Parser Combinators


Icon Ready for the Fight


Icon Earthbound


Icon Turing Drawings


Icon Lost Child Announcement


Icon Shelter


Icon Data Science, how hard can it be?


Icon Denki Furo


Icon In Defence of the Unitype


Icon Maya Velocity Node


Icon Sandy Denny


Icon What type of Machine is the C Preprocessor?


Icon Which AI is more human?


Icon Gone Home


Icon Thoughts on Japan


Icon Can Computers Think?


Icon Counting Sheep & Infinity


Icon How Nature Builds Computers


Icon Painkillers


Icon Correct Box Sphere Intersection


Icon Avoiding Shader Conditionals


Icon Writing Portable OpenGL


Icon The Only Cable Car in Ireland


Icon Is the C Preprocessor Turing Complete?


Icon The aesthetics of code


Icon Issues with SDL on iOS and Android


Icon How I learned to stop worrying and love statistics


Icon PyMark


Icon AutoC Tools


Icon Scripting xNormal with Python


Icon Six Myths About Ray Tracing


Icon The Web Giants Will Fall


Icon PyAutoC


Icon The Pirate Song


Icon Dear Esther


Icon Unsharp Anti Aliasing


Icon The First Boy


Icon Parallel programming isn't hard, optimisation is.


Icon Skyrim


Icon Recognizing a language is solving a problem


Icon Could an animal learn to program?




Icon Pure Depth SSAO


Icon Synchronized in Python


Icon 3d Printing


Icon Real Time Graphics is Virtual Reality


Icon Painting Style Renderer


Icon A very hard problem


Icon Indie Development vs Modding


Icon Corange


Icon 3ds Max PLY Exporter


Icon A Case for the Technical Artist


Icon Enums


Icon Scorpions have won evolution


Icon Dirt and Ashes


Icon Lazy Python


Icon Subdivision Modelling


Icon The Owl


Icon Mouse Traps


Icon Updated Art Reel


Icon Tech Reel


Icon Graphics Aren't the Enemy


Icon On Being A Games Artist


Icon The Bluebird


Icon Everything2


Icon Duck Engine


Icon Boarding Preview


Icon Sailing Preview


Icon Exodus Village Flyover


Icon Art Reel




Icon One Cat Just Leads To Another

Gone Home

Created on Oct. 26, 2013, 10:34 p.m.

Gone Home London

As a child I have many memories of arrival back home after having been on holiday. These are almost all set to dark evenings driving back through London. I remember pressing my face up to the car windows, perspiration from the wet roads rolling down them, distorting off-licenses and terraced houses as they pass by. This journey was always somewhat ritualistic. As we drove through the edges of London we'd eventually reach an area I'd recognize. Soon after that would come Wandsworth, Furzedown, and eventually Home.

When we reached the house my parents would turn the heating back on. We'd huddle around the TV with drinks and food. That was my first house, before we moved, and before I left for university. And so these remain some of my most potent emotional memories, that I will never relive again. The problem is, since moving away, I've got another home now. And I've had ones before that too, moving around as a student. Even so it still doesn't stop me from searching for that arrival anew.

Gone Home starts here. You play as Kaitlin, arriving home to a new house, after a week long trip to Europe. The night is stormy and wet (and dark and thundery and scary etc.). The new house is ancient, cavernous and mysterious. Left on the door is note by your younger sister Samantha asking you not to try and find her, or to investigate what has happened, with no more information given. As you explore the house it appears to be deserted. The rest of the game is spent uncovering exactly what has happened while you've been away and where everyone is.

Gone Home Game 1

Although the atmosphere can be creepy, even scary, this isn't a horror game. It progresses calmly, and steadily, and the narrative is contemporary. The story is told visually as much as audibly. It features voice-overs in the form of Samantha's diary. Yet the house also tells its own tale with objects and paraphernalia left around that explain the life of each of the members of the household. Fewer things are more joyful than a great story told visually (from Dr Seuss to Into the Wild). A particularly touching moment for me was walking into the bathroom to see a large red stain over the bath. I felt a genuine pang of worry for my sister. Approaching the bath I realized it the stain was red hair-dye. Shortly followed an extract from Samantha's diary describing one of the more intimate moments of the story. Slowly my feeling changed from concern to compassion.

There isn't much real gameplay, but that is somewhat to be expected with these sort of games. It's becoming more clear (and the review scores reflect it) that we don't require constant gunshots and explosions to be entertained or enjoy games. Sometimes the more subtle experiences are equally rewarding.

I have memories of moving into our second house, and of being alone there in the evenings. Unlike the fantasy and escapism of many games, Gone Home gives you a chance of projecting yourself, and your own memories onto a character and environment. It enriches the house beyond the vision of the artists, and cranky atmosphere. In this way it can contains a tiny nugget of human truth - which is what storytellers always try to dig out.

Gone Home Game 2

There has been a lot of experimentation in this genre with games such as The Stanley Parable and Dear Esther attracting considerable media attention and recognition. Unlike these titles I don't believe Gone Home was built to change perspectives, or leave a peculiar taste in mouths. It doesn't play with the aspect of being a game (or not a game). The fact it has been received so well shows there is room for wholesome meals in this market.

Gone Home isn't perfect and it wont be to everyone's tastes. But it is warm, honest and generous. It does not ask a lot of the player, and gives rewards freely. It is a sweet novella amongst the many hard stones and sharp edges of modern game development.

github twitter rss