Hi Mum, No, I’m Driving, Okay, Fine: Three Fourths Home

By Alice O'Connor on July 15th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

I do also like how the rain streaks pass in front of the text.

As someone who always leaves their phone to ring into the answering machine, Three Fourths Home lets me briefly experience being a good daughter. It’s an interactive story about a phone call with your family while driving through a storm, one hand controlling your car and the other your conversation. It’s a short, pleasant, and slightly affecting experience, out now on itch.io for $3.99.

It has a clever split between real-time driving and conversation menus, and I really do like how this takes two hands, forcing players to physically multitask too.

While the bottom of the screen goes to usual dialogue menus, controlled with arrow keys, the top is a beautiful animated view of your car trundling through the Nebraska countryside, stalks of corn flitting past and landmarks far in the distance. And you do need to drive.

It’s no Project CARS or Enviro-Bear 2000. Three Fourths Home demands one finger to hold down a button then letting you use others to flick the radio on and off, honk your horn, play with the wipers, and control the headlights. If your attention wanders and that finger lifts, time slows and the menus fade until you press again.

That small demand of engagement is unexpectedly strong, bodily dragging you into the game, then being able to distract myself flicking buttons during unpleasant conversations felt right. Three Fourths Home needs these. And it needs the lovely rumbling storm, the radio’s crackly warbling music, and the satisfying click of dashboard buttons. Its conversation side works the same as most interactive fiction (which I rarely play, ironically because I don’t enjoying reading on a screen), but the game uses inputs and outputs of a computer so very pleasingly.

Not wanting to spoil too much, you’re chatting to your mother then the phone ends up passed between other members of your family, sparking feelings of responsibility, regret, life, hopes, and worry, worry, worry. Which says as much about me as it does the game. I enjoyed how I felt bad. Not that this is a Wot I Think. I don’t Write Wot I Thinks. I do news. This is a news post, okay?

Three Fourths Home is the work of two brothers, Zach Sanford under the name [bracket]games and his brother Jon providing the music as Neutrino Effect.

Here’s the opening cutscene, before Kelly hits the road (and all that driving and chatting stuff):

, , , .

32 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. PopeRatzo says:

    Is there multiplayer?

  2. Vinraith says:

    I find the idea of a family that purports to care about you trying to keep you on the phone while you’re driving (especially through a storm) very, very strange. Is the big reveal is that they’re all trying to kill you?

    • JFS says:

      Plot twist: They already did, and you’re in hell. Hell is Nebraska. Stormy Nebraska. They’re not really contacting you through a phone, either, but through a medium (beyond the veil and all that), and that’s why they won’t hang up and pass you around. It’s because they’re longing for you, for your voice, and because they’re feeling guilty about forcing you to talk to them on the phone while you were driving and getting you killed that way.

      I made this all up, but if you play the game and my prophecy turns out to be true, feel free to sacrifice me a goat or something.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    Sorry to be that guy, but $4 for something I can see being about 10 minutes long seems like terrible value.

    • The Random One says:

      I suppose that if you value quantity over quality it indeed is.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        Even if we do somehow accept the dollar/minute metric as not horrible, the time I spent playing this game plus the time I spent with it alt-tabbed listening to the noise plus the time I suspect I will spend thinking about parts of it make Three Fourths Home far better value for money than many far ‘longer’ games I’ve played.

      • Vinraith says:

        It’s not either/or. It never has been.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      This is why I never buy sandwiches

  4. The Random One says:

    First there was Unmanned. Then there was GlitchHikers (which I’m pretty sure had an article of its own but damned if I can find it – this is Graham’s fault, I’m sure). Then there was this. Is driving while talking on the phone set up to be the next walking simulator?

    The thing I find strange is that you have to click on an answer, which is an abstraction of talking, when you could be typing down text messages and you wouldn’t need that much abstraction. OK, first we need to convince Christine Love to drive cross country…

  5. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I tend to leave phone messages ringing until it’s convenient for me to answer, although I admit I’m the kind of person who ranks voicemails somewhere near National Socialism, unless the person calling literally has no thumbs and is unable to type a text message.

    • Vinraith says:

      I guess that makes me evil, I’ve never texted in my life. To be honest, I’ve no idea what the point is.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Depends, it’s more disruptive to send short messages by calling someone on public transport or whatever than by just sending a text. Your reply would easily fit into one text, for example. If you’re having a conversation or actually want to hear someone’s voice then calling is obviously better.

        • Vinraith says:

          Why not just send an email? Or an instant message for that matter? What’s the distinction, even?

          • derbefrier says:

            you must be old ;)

          • The Random One says:

            For many carriers internet is absurdly more expensive than text messages, and if you don’t expect me to answer you message it’s free for me.

          • Premium User Badge

            Harlander says:

            Text messaging is probably one of the worst value-for-money services you can use. I heard somewhere, can’t substantiate but I hope it’s true because the idea amuses me, that data transmission to the Hubble telescope is cheaper per byte than a text.

            Of course, I still text, because I hate talking on the phone with a seriously out-of-proportion aversion. “Why not email/IM?” you ask. It’s because I still associate those with requiring the recipient to be at a computer.

          • Phasma Felis says:

            If you’ve got all of them set up on your phone, there’s very little distinction. Texting is basically instant messaging for the phone, and now that phones can also IM, they’re blending together so much that Google phones now try to make you use the same app for both.

            The only real distinctions remaining are that IMing on a phone requires the extra step of setting up your IM account, and it’s difficult to send/receive texts on a desktop/laptop. Because of those, and because of tradition/inertia, texting remains somewhat more natural for phone-to-phone communication.

            As for email–when would you choose to send an IM instead of an email? The reasons are exactly the same.

          • Niko says:

            It is expensive, but Wi-Fi coverage isn’t ubiquitous yet.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            A few reasons: 1) Not everyone has email on their phone if you want to send them a message immediately 2) If I’m abroad I often don’t bother getting phone internet or 2a) the metro has phone signal but usually not data connections or wifi 3) While it is stupidly expensive per byte, it’s not *too* bad per text.

            I also don’t have Skype logged in on my phone as it’s a faff to have a conversation with a phone keypad, but sure, email is a good alternative if you know the other person has email on their phone (and hasn’t turned off email notifications like me because I don’t want my phone to buzz every time I get an email)

      • dE says:

        Then I’m Satan, because I still deny mobile phones. I just don’t want to be available 24/7, with the exception of life/death situations, EVERYTHING can wait until I’m home or at a convenient place to talk. No Lina, you not getting with Frank isn’t a life/death situation, now would you kindly fuck off and let me commute in peace.

        Naturally, that makes me an alien, an outcast, something to shun and some companies even refuse to deal with me, because I refuse to give them my mobile number. I’ll survive and keep denying 24/7 availability til the day I die.

        • DrMcCoy says:

          *mobile-phone-eschewing-high-five*

        • The Random One says:

          Just get a mobile phone, then keep it off most of the time. Works for me.

          • Vinraith says:

            This has always been my solution. Keep a functional, basic, cheap mobile phone around for emergencies and similar situations, and leave it off 99% of the time.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Hurrah for the mostly-off prepaid dumbphone brigade!

          • unit 3000-21 says:

            We should invent a cool acronym if we want people to take us seriously.

        • Juan Carlo says:

          I’ve never had a real mobile phone either. I do have one of those pre-paid phones for emergencies, but I never actually give the number out to people.

        • Premium User Badge

          Unknown says:

          Last weekend, my buddy and I agreed to meet at his place at 3:30. I got there at that time, and rang his buzzer and got no response. I gave him a quick call and found out he was still out at lunch with his girlfriend and would be home in 15 minutes. Without a mobile phone, how would I have known what to do?

          • DrMcCoy says:

            Find a better friend, one that actually honours agreements?

          • Phasma Felis says:

            @DrMcCoy: That’s a great idea. I’ll just abandon every friend who is ever late to anything even once. That certainly sounds like a recipe for a full and happy social life.

          • JFS says:

            Mobile phones are in fact a big part of the root of this problem, because hey, it’s okay to be 50 minutes late if I tell the other person 5 minutes in advance per text.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            I think I prefer having a communication device in my pocket to living life like a Prussian drill sergeant, too.

          • Vinraith says:

            JFS has it right, the ubiquity of mobile devices makes this kind of thing much more common.