A Space Walk: Good Morning, Commander

By John Walker on April 12th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

There are two choices here. You can take my word that it’s worth playing this year-old free first-person puzzle game Good Morning, Commander, and approach it as unknowingly as I did (thanks Indiegames.com, who spotted it last week). Or you can have a bit of convincing from the words below, that shall still not contain any major spoilers. Decide… NOW!

I guess I’d call it a surrealist adventure. You’re on, maybe the moon. You wake up in your room, an alarm’s going off, and that’s all you know. And it’s all you should know, really, as the process of the game is the exploring. Built relatively crudely in Unity, the lack of textures in the scenery actually lends itself to setting the mood and feel of the place. Sparse, clinical, and practical.

Your interactions are relatively minimal – mostly moving around and pressing E. Others appear here and there, but are introduced as you meet them. And that’s your lot. What you’re doing there, what the point of the game is, comes from moving around it, exploring the wider area, and applying ideas.

I do wonder how I’d have encountered Good Morning, Commander had I not grown up attached to point and click adventures like some sort of alien feed tube. While the puzzles tend toward the abstract, the instinctive need to combine is surely not inherent in humans without having been brainwashed by Sierra and LucasArts throughout the 80s and 90s? But hard as I try, I can’t not be me, so I’m not sure how they play without that background.

I call it surreal because, well, it is. As opposed to “Ooh, it’s a bit wacky!” which it isn’t. It’s all incredibly low key, sharing a pace with the atmospherically similar film, Moon. (Although the comparison doesn’t bear out for a few reasons.) However, I’d wager the greater influence would have been Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration.

Saying all this, I’m not convinced it’s a great short game. The atmosphere works, the tone is great, but it could have been tidier. The final moment, as well, is I think a disappointing cliche, in a game that actively avoided such things until then. But as a free Unity experiment, it still stands as interesting, and often that’s precisely what you want. It’s certainly made me want to look through the rest of developer Alllen’s works.

You can download the full, short game here.

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27 Comments »

  1. mbp says:

    Can any techie person explain to me please why a game written in Unity needs two different versions for Mac and PC?

    • Narbotic says:

      Each version needs to be compiled for its specific platform.
      errr – I mean, you need to export a dedicated file for each platform.
      … I mean, PC talk different than Mac

      feh – I just woke up, not feeling too techie yet.

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    • Low Life says:

      Executable files (i.e. what starts the program, loading all the script files etc.) have OS specific hooks so they don’t work cross-platform. Therefore those will always need to be compiled for the specific platform.

      Unity also seems to have very different directory structures for the two versions so they can’t be easily delivered in the same package, but that’s more likely a problem in their implementation (i.e. completely separate packaging paths for OS X and Windows) rather than a necessity.

  2. Mike says:

    oh, he also made King of the Wood too? That was also a great little lo-fi Unity thing.

    I quit out after a while but will return to it – I liked the mood and atmosphere but it obviously needed a bit more time to sit down and properly give it a go. Nice find though.

    • Low Life says:

      KotW was nice a nice short piece. There was something about movement in the game that made just running around particularly enjoyable.

    • Geen says:

      Agreed, KotW was pretty damn great.

  3. njursten says:

    Couldn’t download from moddb, but there are working links here:
    http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=29527.0

  4. TomxJ says:

    Ok so i ran out of steam a way through. I liked the atmosphere and the pace, but there really is no direction. That may not be a BAD thing, but after 45mins it definately wasn’t MY thing.

  5. Alas Away says:

    The Moon comparison is pretty valid, as there being the name of Sam Bell, the lead in said movie, among other names I need to check out, on a shelf on name planks of some kind, presumably for room/door marking. Also, the long hallway with a sphere at the end is also a reference from said movie, where he finds all of the * MAJOR SPOILER OF THE MOVIE THE MOON PLEASE STOP READING * * * * * * * * * * * **

    clones, in the walls to the left.

    As for the other references, I have no idea.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Funny story: I was just about to give up on this game until I saw the nametags. That bought it a lot more patience from me. :P

      For the record, in addition to S. Bell being Sam Bell from Moon, K. Kelvin refers to Kris Kelvin from Solaris (which I’m suddenly in the mood to watch again; the Tarkovsky version, not the remake, obviously), and H.R. Floyd refers to Heywood Floyd from 2001.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        B Page is almost certainly a reference to Bob Page from Deus Ex; there are a number of models in this game that are based almost directly on ones from DX as well, and a few sound effects.

        • brulleks says:

          There’s also another Deus Ex reference, which is a major spoiler for one of the puzzles.

  6. JiminyJickers says:

    I’m stuck, haha.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Okay, I’m either too dumb, or I don’t have enough patience. I give up.

  7. I am Grand says:

    I played this a couple of months ago and got stuck before the end, does anyone know of/can maybe write some sort of mini walkthrough so I can finally finish the game? :)

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Well, I got through this. I don’t know if there is really an end per se, but I got to kind of an ending-ish place and then the game suddenly ended.

      SPOILERS SPOILERS OMG SPOILERS STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING SPOILED PUT YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EARS AND HUM AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

      Ahem. So, there is one task that must be accomplished in each lab; I also found two outside encounters, but don’t know if they matter or not.

      When you wake up in the white lab, hit e on your computer, and take the floppy disk that is ejected. Wander around the white lab until you find the Lab area, and put the disk in. Go back out, and in one of the rooms (storage, I think) you will find a pickaxe and some bolts on one shelf. Pick up one of the axes and one box of bolts, and hit use on the rectangle in the middle of the room. The pickaxe wedges in, and if you hit use again, you will be taken through a trapdoor to a very long hall. Throw bolts, get to the end of the hall, and hit e. You will be able to return to the station, and will notice in the lab that one of the monitors is on now. Every time you complete an event in a lab, one more will turn on. Exit the white lab by taking the spacesuit and going to the vehicle, and fly to the blue lab.

      In the blue lab, on the right-hand branch you will find another testing room. Hit e on the switches on either side of the room until they are all green; you can then hit the middle switch and activate the next event.

      Fly to the yellow lab. In the left-hand building (from the landing pad) there will be a switch on a table. pick it up. In the other building, there is a breaker box missing a switch. Add the switch to the breaker and throw it, turning on the lights. There’s now a tent in the middle of the two buildings, which you can enter to trigger the next event.

      The orange lab has four rooms followed by a forcefield with a code to enter. The first room has 0 objects; the next has four, then five, then one. Enter 0451 (the looking glass code) onto the pad and enter, and trigger the fourth event.

      There are also two (that I found, at least) events outside the station. One features the crucified spacesuit you can see on a monitor in the white lab, and the other is a sort of holding tank. When you hear a pinging and see a red dot in the upper right of the vehicle screen, you are near to one of these things, and have to fly around to find them. I’m not sure if they are necessary to complete the game, but are neat. One is on the mountains above the yellow lab, the other is near the blue lab, between it and the orange lab.

      Once you have activated all four events, the rest should be pretty clear once you go outside.

      • I am Grand says:

        Brilliant! Thanks so much, I missed floppy disk, hope that is the key to where I was stuck :)

        SPOILERSES…

        Potentially spoilers, anyway. There’s some other things I noticed:

        I don’t know why, but you can also collect toys from each of the labs and put them on the shelf in your room. Maybe they have a purpose, maybe not, I dunno.

        The orange spacesuit bit, I don’t think it’s just a spacesuit, there’s a second bedroom back at base and no-one in it. I made their bed for them after that event…

        The bit with the bolts really creeps me out.

        • allen says:

          Spoilers~~~

          if you collect the 4 objects and place them on the shelf, and lay your buddy on his bed you’ll be ‘treated’ to an extra scene at the end of the game.

        • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

          Yeah, there are a ton of little things, didn’t include quite everything in my last post. It’s worth it to fly around the labs in the vehicle, they change when you go in them. By far my favourite is that you can see blue-suit sitting behind the desk in the lab with the administrator’s office, just watching you. But when you go in, it is always empty.

  8. garisson says:

    Good GOD. When will it end? Is there no relief from the rampant SMEXISM that plagues this sacred hobby of mine? WHO will relieve me of the wicked PATRIARCHICAL MADNESS that permeates every. Single. Fucking. GAAAAMEEEEE!!?

    I suspect RPS holds the key to this insanity, and that their eminent politically-correct wisdom will somehow set the planets on a PROPER course.

  9. brulleks says:

    An excellent little game, which I felt has just the right balance to allow you to explore your way through it with a little patience. It reminded me of the old Freescape games too – Driller, Dark Side etc – although they were in many ways too open, allowing the puzzles to become too loose and obtuse.

    Thanks for the heads up John.

  10. whoCares says:

    Anybody noticed the plane that flies in the sky? Don’tknow if timing matters but I saw it as soon as I first entered the terrain.

  11. barney says:

    I love this. Point and click adventures never held the appeal for me — I loved Alone in the Dark and Grim Fandango but ye olde school stuff — the Lucasarts classics like Monkey Island and Broken Sword I really wanted to get into but the stories never blew me away and I got no satisfaction from “combine everything with everything to progress”.

    With this one, the mood is great. The lack of progress over long periods, just breathing in and out while travelling to another silent base… Somehow doesn’t irritate me. But I’m stuck with one puzzle to go!

    The blue base, with the lighting rig. I got the toy car from one of the rooms but the other one seems empty of interactive items. There’s a big light detailed box-type-thing in one of the rooms and an indistinguishable object on a desk in the other that look like they’re meant to interact, but I’m all out of Es. What’s the trick?

    • Magnetude says:

      Turn the headlights on in the vehicle (left-click) and point it into the buildings, there’s an object in one you can use in the other. I’m not sure but I don’t think it lets you use them unless they’re illuminated…