Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gone Home - The Amnesia Edition

From time to time we get requests from people who want to license our HPL2 engine in order to make a commercial game. This is quite flattering, but the answer is always "no". Our reply is to simply state that there is no documentation, we do not have time for assistance and they are far better off employing Unity or UDK anyway. In all honesty, we also do not have any high hopes of these projects finishing at all. Deciding on an engine is a single of the very 1st decisions made when beginning the development of a game, and really handful of games, specially indie ones, go beyond a pre-production phase.

So it came as quite a surprise for me when I learned that Steve Gaynor, 1 of the people behind the phenomenal Gone Home, had sent this sort of mail to us! I met him briefly at GDC this spring, and was really amazed to hear that the extremely 1st prototype of the game was created in HPL2. He had mailed and asked if the engine would be feasible to use for a industrial game, and got the usual response. Fortunately this did not discourage the group from continuing. It also seems like they took our advice considering that the final version of Gone Property is produced in Unity. I genuinely wanted to see the level, and told Steve that I would mail him when I got back from GDC. But as often other stuff occurred and I just pushed the thing forward. I swear that I had "Mail Steve about Amnesia: Gone Residence" written on my todo list for six months!

Then Steve mailed me for totally diverse causes, and I decided I genuinely had to get this Gone Property prototype over with. He scavenged his files and managed to dig out the map. This was throughout the complete SOMA teaser campaign and I did not have time to look correct away. A handful of days ago things lastly settled down a bit and it was time to take a look.

The prototype is quite brief and extremely standard it is really a lot more of a proof of idea. But it nevertheless gives a really very good sense of the game, and possessing played the complete version, I could recognize really a bit. It does feel a bit awkward to play an early test like this though. Gone Property is a quite individual game, and playing this prototype felt like a meta version of the game's voyeuristic thematics.

We got Steve's mail concerning HPL2 engine on the 14th of January 2012 so this prototype must have been created before that. This means the prototype is over a year and half older than the final game and produced almost five months prior to the game was announced. My guess it is the 1st time that the suggestions for the game got some sort of substance.

Right here is a few comparisons amongst the prototype and the final game. Prototype is on the proper (as if you couldn't tell...):

The game opening is in the exact same location, on the porch of the property. There is even nevertheless a chair and small table with a pot next to the front door!

The first key is nonetheless found hidden under an ornament! I believe this is a very neat puzzle as it explains to the player that it is worthwhile to do some added scavenging and acts as a sort of unobtrusive tutorial. So it is not that extraordinary that it stuck so extended. But still, very enjoyable to see this intact.

And right here is the 1st view when getting into the house. It is not visible from the screen, but each versions have paths top both to the left and to the  right, giving the player three various techniques to commence their exploration. Like the important puzzle, there are great causes this stuck, but it is still amazing to see it this comparable.

Taken with each other, the prototype is truly extremely close to the final game.

In case you are not amazed by the similarities in such an old prototype, check how Amnesia looked at the finish of 2008 (a couple of months significantly less than two years just before release):

I also have to note the amazing handy function on this toilet:

If you want to attempt the level out yourself, you can download it from here:
Just extract the file in the "custom_stories" directory in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, start the game, press "Custom Story" and pick and start off "Test Game".

Lastly, if you have not played Gone Residence, do so now! It is a really exclusive and emotional knowledge that is a must for anybody interesting in videogame storytelling. You can get it right here:

Lots of thanks for Steve Gaynor for saving this beautiful slice of history and letting me (and all of you now) attempt it out!

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