So, Yes: The Stanley Parable

By Jim Rossignol on August 4th, 2011 at 10:48 pm.


Okay, Internet! Okay. I’ll play The Stanley Parable. Jeez, I’ll play so you’ll stop hassling me. I’ve got tea to drink and stuff, y’know. I mean so what, yes, it is my kind of thing. And I do like wry and creepy first-person games, and The Stanley Parable is one of those peculiar story-driven, non-linear, thought-provoking, brilliant-constructed, acutely clever, well-written mods that we love to post about, but some of us want to sit about watching Chinese action movies at ten o’clock at night, and totally don’t have time to download 450mb of Half-Life 2 mod (which you only actually need Source SDK to play) and then wander through corridors figuring out what the hell is going on, and smiling all the while at that incredible voiceover.

It’s brilliant. Exquisite, even. I can’t spoil it by talking about it, but there’s a trailer below, if you want to take a look. But you shouldn’t look. You should play it.

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121 Comments »

  1. Teddy Leach says:

    Poor Stanley reminds me of me.

  2. sPOONz says:

    Mods are why I play pc games. This looks VERY interesting.

  3. Lewie Procter says:

    Well, you convinced me not to watch the trailer.

    • Mike says:

      Yeah, I’d probably suggest that too. It actually sells the mod quite well, but going into it blind was a lot of fun. Made it a lot more immediate.

  4. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    I hope this doesn’t have me fight shadow creatures with a wrench, because I’m not into that anymore.

  5. symuun says:

    I love this mod so much. It’s a wonderful thing.

  6. Nero says:

    Too bad I’m getting Engine Error all the time while I try to launch it and I can’t fix it :( But I watched all the endings on youtube and it’s damn brilliant stuff.
    I also replayed Dear Esther cause this didn’t work.

    • negativedge says:

      “But I watched all the endings on youtube and it’s damn brilliant stuff.”

      I’m fairly certain this says absolutely everything that needs to be said about the kind of people that would think this game is brilliant.

    • sexyresults says:

      Doesn’t say anything about anyone other then him, your just a generalizing cunt.

    • godgoo says:

      A.G.C. finally an internet meme I could get behind!

    • Nero says:

      Uh what? What’s the point of your response again? I had to do this because I couldn’t get it to run and I thought it was brilliant. So sorry it didn’t feature guns and horrible monsters that needs to be killed.

  7. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    This mod is as ugly as Kieron’s mum, but also like her, really fun and intelligent. The voiceover is perfect: Kevan Brighting has a very Peter Jones-like tone, which suits the story perfectly. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to play this several times over immediately, and it’s short enough to make that quite doable in an evening.

    I can’t say anything else for fear of spoiling it, so I’ll just say: Go play it.

  8. Narrator says:

    And then Stanley clicked the link and downloaded the game.

  9. bionicsheep says:

    I cannot recommend this strongly enough. Easily one of the best explorations of the idea of free choice in video games (which has been pretty prevalent since, roughly, Portal) that I’ve seen for years.

    Not gonna spoil it. Play the game!

  10. PanzerVaughn says:

    If one isn’t clear on what “Source SDK” precisely is, how does one get it? Is that just ‘the engine’ that i would have inadvertently accessedwith L4D and Portal, or is that more particularly linked to the Half-lifes i shamefully havent collected up yet?

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      …sorry, i momentarilly forgot im ON THE INTERNET. If anyone else is curious,
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_sdk#List_of_Steam_games_packaged_with_the_Source_SDK

    • LTK says:

      Alternatively, go to your Steam library, select Tools from the drop-down list, and find the Source SDK in that list. Done.

      No, wait, it actually automatically installs the correct SDK if you run the mod without having installed HL2. So that’s easy.

    • Joof says:

      They released it for free with the freeing of TF2, didn’t they?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @LTK: that’s not going to help you if you’re unsure whether or not you have access to SDK Base. You know, since it doesn’t come with every Steam game. :P

      @Joof: no, FP TF does not include SDK Base, just like the free HL2DM stuff from ATI a while back didn’t either. :(

    • treat says:

      What Joof means is that they did, in fact, release Source SDK for free use. That means you can download steam, install a mod, and play it without owning a single game.

    • the.celt says:

      I downloaded Source SDK and this mod and have no idea how to get them to cooperate. Choosing to play the Source SDK gives me a menu with a bunch of choices like “Applications”, “Utilities”, “Documentation”, etc. I have the Stanley Parable in the Sourcemods directory. It does not show up as a playable option and doesn’t contain any *.exe files that seem like obvious starting points.

      What am I missing?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I downloaded it, I don’t see an exe anywhere.

      EDIT: Ok, I figured it out. DO put it in Sourcemods, then restart Steam, and it’s in your library. Run it, and it’ll DL Source SDK if you don’t have it.

  11. MrWolf says:

    Can’t wait to get home from the pub to download and play this.

  12. weizur says:

    Oh internet you so meta.

  13. skinlo says:

    It is pretty awesome. One or two of the ending are very cool! In the end I played it 6 times!

  14. squareking says:

    Nice little Nine Inch Nails action in there.

  15. Jamesworkshop says:

    before I leap is this a parable or a fable

    which would you say

  16. Xocrates says:

    This managed to be both fairly interesting and quite fun. I’ve replayed it a load of times just trying to get all the possibilities, and even then I’m pretty sure I’ve missed several.

  17. wisnoskij says:

    But if it does not require HL2 to run then how is it a HL2 mod?

    • Mike says:

      Because it’s built on HL2 assets, and those assets are now available for free, sans game.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s technically a Source engine mod for that reason, but I don’t really expect silly ol’ journos to know.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Well to be really picky, Source engine mods don’t necessarily use the HL2 assets. So if you say “Source engine mod” you could mean an Alien Swarm mod, a TF2 mod (not that there are many notable TF2 mods as most of the community effort is focused towards adding content compatible with regular TF2), or even one of the third party Source engine games that have SDKs such as SIN Episodes: Emergence.

    • Reikon says:

      Spoiler alert: It does use (or copies) something from HL2. :P

  18. TillEulenspiegel says:

    It’s quite clever. I got five endings, or four and a half.

    Now to look for spoilers to see if I missed anything.

  19. BobbleHat says:

    This really is wonderful. I’ve just sat and replayed if through five times in one go. Reminded me of Portal, in a way, mainly due to its playful but also slightly ominous atmosphere.

  20. Fwiffo says:

    Has someone said pretentious yet? For shame RPS. In that case I will say PRETENTIOUS because I don’t understand it at first grasp :(

  21. B0GiE-uk- says:

    Weird game i did it once and got bored. No shooty!

  22. Cooper says:

    Just. Wow.

    Sure, it beats you with the point it’s trying to make until it hurts, with little to no subtlety. But, then again, it makes a number of different points on the same topic (I just got the bit where the narrator switches to commentary by a female voice), makes them well and clearly, and is incredibly well executed.

    That voice over is terrific.

  23. Strontium Mike says:

    What sort of game is The Stanley Parable? All it says on Moddb is narrative driven first person game, which means absolutely zilch.

    • Xocrates says:

      And yet, it describes the game perfectly.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      First person is just a view point, nearly any type of game can be first person. Narrative driven is so vague it’s meaningless, from B0GiE-uk’s comment it’s not a shooter so what type of game?

    • Xocrates says:

      It’s a narrative game… played in first person.

      I’m really not joking. It tells a story which you play through in first person.
      The story itself I will not spoil.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s a simple game about choices. No need to shoehorn it into a category. Suffice to say you’re not shooting things or collecting items or solving puzzles.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      That’s so vague it could describe Pong. So put it another way what are the mechanics? Is it a platformer, a button masher, will I need a game pad, or a joystick or even a wheel to play this? Does it require reflexes or strategy, what sort of game is it? Sure it’s a free mod, but I’ve still got to pay for my broadband, why would I spend 450mb of my allowance on downloading something which might turn out to be a type of game I loathe?

    • Decimae says:

      It is a story-driven game, in first-person. Nothing more.

    • rclesham says:

      These replies are quite amusing. As frustrating as it is, this really is just a narrative driven first-person game. There really is no more to it. It’s fucking ace, just download the 450mb.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      But who’s on first?

  24. ABearWithAGun says:

    pretentious hipster bullshit. OH WOW THE NARRATOR IS DESCRIBING THE VIDEO GAME HOW FUCKING META AND ORIGINAL IS THAT?!!?!?

  25. Splynter says:

    Dan Deacon in the trailer sold it for me. Downloading now.

  26. s1ckd0nk says:

    Quite enjoyable, played it three times. Could have been a bit longer
    (note to developer in the maps/ directory you have Stanley.bsp.bak which uses about 240 megs of space)

    PS. I want to make love to that voice.

  27. Hides-His-Eyes says:

    I think I got five endings. Worth doing, although read the Author’s Commentary afterwards (in the zip)

  28. Lantzalot says:

    Edit: maybe spoiler? ish?
    So is this posted as an example of the type of trial-and-error, ‘game creator messing with you’ type game John and Kieron are arguing about with the Lingo discussion below this one?
    Also, not really pretentious, I would say. It makes very little to no claims, so how can it be claiming to be more than it is? Just because you assume the creators think its “super deep” doesn’t mean they do.
    second edit, haha: Ok, maybe there are a few claims in the author’s notes, but I don’t think they’re beyond the scope of the experience.

    • Symitri says:

      I think the difference between this and Limbo is that in Limbo, your goal is clear – you have to replay a certain hazard over until you find the correct solution, the one where you don’t die. If you don’t, you’re not progressing towards the end as defined by the creator.

      There is no correct ending in the Stanley Parable, the only reason you replay is to see a different experience – all are accurate endings depending on your choices. It’s cute and dark in a way that doesn’t involve a ton of black and white scenery with ominous music :p Mostly it’s the narrator that sells me on this game though/

    • Shih Tzu says:

      You know, in a lot of ways this is very much in the same genre as Slouching Towards Bedlam. Anyone who likes this sort of multiple-endings meta-commentary short-story game ought to give that one a try as well.

  29. Gabe McGrath says:

    Haven’t played it yet.
    But just watching the trailer reminds me of Gabe’s Law*.

    “A great voiceover turns a ‘C’ game into an ‘A+’ game. And vice versa.”

    MEMO to modmakers: Find a good voice.
    The chances that ‘one of the mod team’ has a good voice is *not much*.
    Go through your local drama school, community radio station, whatever.
    Find a good voice. It. Is. Worth. It.

    *Oh OK, I just made that up.

  30. Hiphoppington Hippo says:

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been lurking on this site for months and months but reading about and subsequently playing this mod was what finally made me register and post. And I did it all just to say thanks for the recommendation.

    Seriously.

    This is brilliant. Thank you.

  31. ColOfNature says:

    Was I the only one expecting Stanley to get a 16 ton weight dropped on him, or blown up or something, at the end of the trailer? I was getting a distinct Monty Python vibe from the voiceover. But it’s late, and my mind is doing strange things.

  32. Symitri says:

    The moment with the generator… Is quite possibly the most brilliant moment in video gaming history ever.

  33. lurk says:

    Why is everyone drooling over this? It isn’t very clever, it isn’t very pretty and it isn’t even a game.

    • Thants says:

      You’re not even a game. YOU AREN’T!

    • Fox89 says:

      Why is it not very clever? It’s a brilliant commentary on videogames. Is it because it TELLS you what its point is rather than making you work it out yourself? Perhaps something is only clever if nobody really knows for sure what it was trying to say, so you have to discuss it with your philosophy club over brandy and cigars.

    • lumenadducere says:

      Oh my goodness, people have different opinions? How utterly baffling. I must ponder this more.

  34. starclaws says:

    Please keep an eye out for more mods in the future RPSers. Please!

  35. Hybrid says:

    It’s interesting. Well worth a few playthroughs. I actually was startled at one point and totally almost knocked my keyboard across the desk. It’s sort of a mix of Portal, The Prisoner, text adventures, Spooky Squid Game’s Night of the Cephalopods, and Every Day The Same Dream.
    After playing it, if you want something more action-y, check these out if you haven’t already:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/06/11/pyramod-curse-episodes/
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/07/20/science-in-action-research-development/

  36. SpaceDrake says:

    So, I played through it many times and it’s brillig. Pretty sure I got all the possibilities. I’m wondering, though…

    *SPOILER ALERT*

    Is there an actual solution to the “puzzle” if you turn the generator on? Or is it just metacommentary on the nature of puzzles and whatnot in video games?

  37. ziusudra says:

    Fun. Nothing i havent already seen in those old dungeons and dragons roleplaying books, where you choose your ending . Fate,destiny, eternalism, time and being, and all that jazz. I get it.

  38. Stuart Walton says:

    Firing up Desura right now.

  39. zoombapup says:

    Oh man, I’m sooo sad. The only thing I can think of is that there’s no windowframe in the window of stanleys first room.

    Guess thats what you get for seeing too many student levels (the number of times I’ve seen students do windows without frames, sigh).

    But.. its interesting at least.

  40. Heliocentric says:

    Phew! I disarmed the nuke, that was intense.

  41. Thants says:

    Pretty great. Reminds me of Stranger Than Fiction.

  42. LennyLeonardo says:

    This mod is absolutely brilliant, not pretentious at all. In fact it’s probably the most irreverent game ever.

    Pro tip – play more than once.

  43. RagingLion says:

    The best mod I’d ever played and it has a legitimate claim to being called the one of the best games I’ve ever played given its cohesiveness and actually having a worthwhile message to explore, which it does expertly. I’ve played through it well over 10 times back-to-back already but more telling than that is that I feel like I’d want to go back to it and play in the future to explore those concepts again and better understand what’s being presented – there’s some deep things in there particularly for anyone interested in game design that I want to chew over and think about more.

    Like, seriously this perhaps deserves being put in a museum. I think this could be a really good way to introduce non-gaming people to what games are and can be, all in a really approachable way.

  44. KenTWOu says:

    According to readme.txt this mod contains “Everything in its Right Place” by Radiohead. Well. I played this mod already 7 or 8 times and I still can’t find the ending with this soundtrack : (

    Anyway, this mod is fantastic!

  45. mda says:

    Definitely read the author commentary after playing :)
    “-Isn’t Kevan Brighting, who does the narration, fantastic? I got his sample from a voice casting
    site and immediately knew he was perfect. I sent him an email with the script saying I was interested
    in hiring him. He responded with a 30 minute recording of all the dialog in the game. 1 take.”

    *SPOILER BELOW*
    On my first playthrough I disobeyed at the second option…

  46. Vinraith says:

    Mildly interesting, I played through to three endings (including the one that give you “The End” and the one that gives you the closing credits). I know there are three more, but find I can’t motivate myself to bother with them.

    Actually, the greatest emotional impact from this whole affair came from reading the final paragraph of the author’s commentary. It took him two years of his life to make this. That depresses the hell out of me.

    • KenTWOu says:

      I guess the most important part of that final paragraph was: Find people to work with, at least people who can keep you in check from time to time…

    • mda says:

      It is my opinion (and it may differ from yours) that one must learn to enjoy what already *is* in life (and therefore enjoy life as an amazing journey) rather than hoping something else will be and being depressed because it hasn’t happened yet.

  47. Vile Vile Vilde says:

    Some of you humans are really really annoying.

    I’ll go back to my cyborgs.

  48. Haroshi says:

    I finished this a few times and then had to stop because being alone scares me.

    • noclip says:

      I don’t think it’s meant to be scary as much as unsettling. I will admit the elevator bit looks (and is) very creepy.

  49. BatmanBaggins says:

    Agreed with most, this was surprisingly good. You have to play it more than once… more than twice, or thrice, even, to get the full experience, though. Luckily, no matter which path you take, it’s not much more than 10 minutes long.

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