Fullbright On What Lies Beyond Gone Home

By Nathan Grayson on October 10th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Probably not this.

Gone Home has been out for a little while now, and in that time it has captured the heart of literally every human being on Earth. Also Alec, but we don’t really know what manner of creature he is. So then, what’s Fullbright up to these days? Resting on its laurels? Basking in the motivation-searing afterglow of past success? Finally realizing that – oh crap – they totally forgot to add in all the guns? Turns out, the answer is none of those things, despite overwhelming plausibility. The next immediate step, then, is more content for Gone Home, but not the sort that might muck up the game’s musty, lived-in history. And after that? Well, probably don’t expect Gone Home 2.

I guarantee that we’re not going to be doing Gone Home, but in a different house.

Gone Home was created by four people (three of them living and working out of the same house in Portland, Oregon) over the course of a grueling year-and-a-half span. You’d think, now that it’s out, that’d warrant a much-needed vacation. A step into morning sunlight after a very lengthy night. And you’d be right. Sort of.

The game is done. Odds are, its story and content will remain untouched, even though writer/designer Steve Gaynor fully admits that he’s not quite fully satisfied with things like [MINOR SPOILER] the basement area’s design or the mom character’s development [END SPOILER]. And there’s a good reason for this: Gaynor and co love their first bouncing baby architectural structure, but they need some space.

“If it’s successful commercially, that’s great, because it gives us freedom to do another thing we want to do on a schedule without having to be, like, ‘Oh shit, if we don’t ship something else in another six months, we’re all gonna be broke,'” Gaynor explained to RPS. “I think that’s the dilemma a lot of triple-A studios fall into. You start a triple-A studio to make your dream project, and you hire 50 people or 100 people or whatever, and your game breaks even or whatever. But you can’t just take a breather. You have to keep paying those people. So you’re like, ‘OK, I guess we’ll just make this game again but put a two on the end.’”

“Or you spend so much time with your head in a game – we worked on Gone Home for a year and a half – and you think in terms of that game for a long time after you’ve released it. I think that, if you go straight into another project, you’re in danger of thinking of it in terms of the thing you just made.”

Gone Home will, however, at least see one addition to its age-gnarled trunk of tricks. Gaynor wants to put some distance between himself and the game, but he absolutely does not want to leave it behind. And so, instead of cluttering up the place with all manner of side rooms of subplots, Fullbright’s planning to toss in some extra background. For free.

“We’re working on a commentary mode right now, and we’re going to release that as free DLC,” Gaynor said after, I kid you not, banging on a table and laughingly bellowing “exclusive” because he is delightful. “If you have it on Steam, you’ll just get it. We don’t have a date for it yet, but it’ll be relatively soon. We’re aiming for the short-term, and we’ve already recorded most of it.”

“A bunch of icons appear, and you’ll either hear one of us or – and I haven’t talked with her yet – maybe our voice actress, Sarah Grayson. I want to talk to her about the experience of playing Sam. So it’s a bunch of background stuff. Some easter-egg-y stuff, too. I actually got to talk to Corin Tucker, who’s the lead singer of [riot grrrl bands] Heavens to Betsy and Sleater-Kinney. I got to get her on the tape talking about her experiences at the beginning of the riot grrrl scene. So you’ve got the four of us talking day-to-day, but you also have people who contributed their own presence and identity through their voice or music. That’s really exciting to me.”

That’s not necessarily the only bit of sprucing-up Gone Home will receive, either. Don’t expect a total remodeling, but more detail work can’t hurt. “It’s stuff like [the commentary],” said Gaynor. “We can keep supporting Gone Home in certain ways as we’re trying to get in the headspace of what our actual next game will be.”

That, of course, is the next big question. Where does Fullbright go after Gone Home hit home for so many? Once upon a time, the team would’ve been shuffled into another wibbly, wobbly, hyper-stuffed triple-A deck, but now it has full creative freedom. And that’s magnificent, until you realize that limitless choice is actually the scariest thing in the entire universe. Decisions. Responsibility. The weight of the world. But you don’t always have to bulldoze everything in order to begin anew. Foundations are important, and Gaynor thinks he’s found a solid one.

“I’m inspired by indie studios that build on what they had success with, but do something new and interesting with it,” he explained. “The guys at Supergiant, who made Bastion, have been an inspiration to me the whole time. The idea of them taking basic facts of Command & Conquer, which they worked on, and making something really striking and unique in Bastion [was great]. And now they’re not going, ‘We’re gonna throw it all out. We’re gonna make a flight sim.’ Instead, they’re saying, ‘We’ve got Bastion, and we want to build off that to make a really new, unique experience that stands on its own with Transistor.’ The core way you interact with it is different, but it’s built on the base of the first thing they made that had a lot of potential.”

“I guarantee that we’re not going to be doing Gone Home, but in a different house. I don’t think people would be interested in something that amounts to, ‘Oh, it’s just Gone Home, but different content.’ But we’re also not going to make something that we have no experience with whatsoever. So it’s about walking the line and figuring out what you can add or change to make the result totally stand on its own – but to also be fed by this other thing that built the framework.”

I hope this one comes with tissues.

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45 Comments »

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  1. Jockie says:

    Having not played Gone Home yet and thanks to the RPS review thankfully being very careful with spoilers, there’s a level of amusing ambiguity to the sign-off there

  2. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    Loved Gone Home. I’m glad they’re unlikely to do a sequel, as it’s a story that really doesn’t need further embellishment. Can’t wait to see what they do next.

  3. Low Life says:

    So, one city block confirmed?

  4. Bishop99999999 says:

    I hope that they figure out a way to change the weather and time of day. Granted, they’d have to go over most all their assets to adjust lighting and such, but I couldn’t help but feel that the rainy night setting was a bit too cliche. A bright, sunny afternoon would have hit home (yuk yuk) a lot more. It would have made it even more normal.

    • Hadjimurad says:

      Considering that the game takes place on the northwest coast, the rainstorm is very important. If you’ve ever been to Portland, you’ll know that it rains more than it shines, with many weeks of overcast, cloudy skies and freakish thunder and rainstorms.

      • akins286 says:

        As someone who lives just out of Portland we don’t get many thunderstorms, a few per year, nothing major. But rain? Yeah, that’s pretty much a constant.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Hey, me too! We should become best friends and then I can make a skinsuit out of…um…nevermind.

  5. Vernalagnia says:

    I happened to be listening to Sleater-Kinney as I read this, so this news comes as a nice surprise.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    Fullbright are the subject of a boycott on my part, due to their stance on boycotting PAX.

    • MarcP says:

      I don’t boycott PAX or people who boycott PAX, but I’m going to boycott the inevitable try-hards who will show up to tell the world the world supposedly doesn’t care about your comment.

    • Premium User Badge

      slerbal says:

      lols people like you make me laugh lots.

    • The Random One says:

      I was going to boycott you for boycotting Fullbright for boycotting PAX, but Graham Chapman suddenly appeared and started shouting at me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Er – you realize that RPS is also boycotting PAX, right? So, to be consistent, shouldn’t you also boycott RPS? Which would mean…not commenting here?

  7. Piecewise says:

    What lies beyond gone home? Maybe it’s a game thats actually worth two shits.

    http://i.minus.com/iw5ymDsjZ5oE3.gif

    Hey look, you can beat the entire game in less then 120 seconds! Which is actually shorter then the damn credits!

    Seriously, this game has gotten attention for exactly 1 reason. Lesbian girl. That is it. The graphics are bad, the story ripped straight off the banal ramblings of some 16 year old’s live journal, the gameplay is non-existent, the creators are about as whiny and pretentious as fucking Phil Fish, and yet, a million pounds of acclaim. I can’t believe how easily gaming journalism is being played with pandering this naked and obvious.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        But what if he also doesn’t like trophies?

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          Call it an achievement and call it a day.

          Isn’t that what all the cool kids want?

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      cpt_freakout says:

      Yeah man beat that game! Beat it to a pulp in 120 seconds NOSCOPE!!!

      And the reason was not the lesbian girl but the condom you find in the parents’ room.

    • ZIGS says:

      Ha ha, this guy!

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      He’s trying to save our and our family’s life

      Put on the glasses

    • WarThunder says:

      Well said Piecewise – I’m pleased that there is somebody else out there who has the courage to state the obvious, ie the Emperor really is NOT wearing any clothes. At all.

      I thought gone Home was dreadful – the story and writing were clunky as hell, the sound was lousy and the graphics were incredibly clunky. It was basically a Dear Esther rip-off, but with none of the excellent writing, superb graphics and stunning sound mixing, not to mention Dear Esther’s fantastic music.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        I could make a joke about having missed the hidden level in Dear Esther that contained all those things, but hey instead let’s meet halfway and admit that people can like different things than us, and have very good reasons for doing so, without having been fooled by some massive conspiracy.

    • Courtney says:

      Actually I’m just really into middle aged hi-fi reviewers.

    • Muzman says:

      Someone didn’t find the jumping puzzles obviously.

    • blobb says:

      Agree completely. Gone Home got a free pass from the press because it has a lesbian in it.

  8. kwyjibo says:

    They should make the next Amnesia.

    • Premium User Badge

      felisc says:

      I was scared going to the basement. In gone home. Who needs amnesia when you’re a wuss like me.

  9. The Random One says:

    Gone Home 2: This Time, There Are GhoooOoooOoooosts!!!!!!

    • Senior Super Couch says:

      Gone Home 2: Jeff Goldgame.
      OooOOOoooh, scaaaAAAaaarrryyy!

      Seriously though, I thought Gone Home was absolutely brilliant.
      Oh, and a ssspoOOOoky coincidence: In an old episode of the long-defunct Games For Windows Radio podcast, Shawn Elliott–games journalist turned Irrational Games level designer–brought up the notion of exploring an empty house to explore its occupant’s backstory, and more specifically the concept of going into a character’s room and popping in a tape and having it play as you learn about the character in question. I remember hearing that musing and thinking how damn much I wanted that sort of game.

      Thank you, talented folks at Fullbright, for making that sort of game. I love you for it.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Gone Home 2: Ghost In New York

    • SillyWizard says:

      Gone Home 2: Gone Homier
      Gone Home 2: Escape from New Home
      Gone Home 2: Home Alone
      Gone Home 2: The Homening

    • tossrStu says:

      Gone Home 2: Electric Homealoo

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      I’m waiting for the next-gen console exclusive, Hom3. It’s a procedurally generated open world rogue-‘em-up-like action survival sim. You play Lonnie after she’s retired from active service. She has to save the world from communist zombies one more time. But first she has to find her keys, and the electricity’s out

  10. Penguin_Factory says:

    “I don’t think people would be interested in something that amounts to, “Oh, it’s just Gone Home, but different content”

    I’m going to speak up here and say that I would totally be interested in this.

    • Donjo says:

      Yes, that would be fine actually.

    • malkav11 says:

      Me also.
      Well, I mean, I’d hope it wouldn’t be literally a retread of the same themes and concepts and so on except with a different family in a different house (although, frankly, I’d probably enjoy that well enough). But another gamespace with a different narrative delivered through exploring that space and its contents? yes please.