The Fullbright Company

The E3 2014 press conference PC gamers deserve

Evan Lahti at

E3 remains the place for big developers and publishers to reveal and showcase their games. We love PAX, Gamescom, and GDC, but E3 is where Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, EA, et al. come out swinging with millions of marketing dollars to try and outdo one another in spectacle in a series of Monday press conferences.

The PC, lacking a sole, corporate representative or elected monarch, doesn’t have its own press conference at E3. Our platform has a great presence on the E3 floor, which we’ll be covering tirelessly this week, but we can’t help but wonder each year: if PC gaming a press conference, what would it be like? As we’ve done in 2013 and 2012, here’s our vision.

Best narrative game of the year: Gone Home

PC Gamer at

Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.

Traditional storytelling techniques suffer in the transition to interactive entertainment. While many games choose to compartmentalise their storytelling and interactive sections, others experiment with new methods. In Gone Home, exploration becomes a form of authorship. The entwined stories of each family member unravel at your command as you flick through the detritus of their lives. The resulting tale was the most affecting of the year.

A warning for those who haven't played it yet, the discussion below does contain a few spoilers.

The making of Gone Home

Cara Ellison at

There is a strong feeling of place in The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home. A critically-lauded first person exploration game about a house and its inhabitants, Gone Home tells a powerful, moving story about two sisters’ lives through the artifacts of the everyday. The tapes left lying around the house are tracks from Riot Grrrl bands, the sort that grew out of Portland, Oregon in the 90s. Letters and postcards addressed to the house litter every surface. Like its spiritual parent the Bioshock series, the environment is the fabric of the story itself. The relationships the family have with each other, their neighbours, their childhood friends, their longings fall into relief as you traverse this home. There’s no doubt in your mind once you finish the game that this house contained real people who liked each other, got on with each other, were a family.

The Fullbright Company - Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, Johnnemann Nordhagen and Kate Craig - live in a house together in Portland, Oregon. This is where Gone Home was made. This is a retrospective look at the collaborative aspects of how Gone Home was produced, and how pragmatic game design and projects of a strict scope can be more of an expression of who the creators are. Go and play the excellent Gone Home now, if you haven't already, for what proceeds are a few small spoilers.

Going home with Gone Home

Philippa Warr at

I am standing outside the train station with my bags at my feet, painfully aware that I do not own a key to my parents' house. My arrival is unexpected and comes on the back of a transatlantic flight. I am exhausted but almost home.

I am standing in the front porch with my bags at my feet, painfully aware that I do not own a key to my parents' house. My arrival is unexpected and comes on the back of a transatlantic flight. I am exhausted but almost home.

I lost my keys three years ago in the snow after a friend's birthday party. Most were replaced immediately but the one to my parents' front door was always tucked away at the forgotten end of a to-do list. An unnecessary hassle and entirely my own fault.

I don't have a key yet. This isn't the house where I did most of my growing up. My parents moved about an hour's drive away while I was travelling through Europe and tonight will be the first time I see their - our - new place.

Gone Home, Thief and the mansion genre

PC Gamer at

Article by Robert Yang. This post does not spoil any specifics of the "plot" in Gone Home, but it might sensitize you to its delivery mechanisms and some details.

Mansions are old, rich, and scary. Most "mansion games" (like Maniac Mansion, Thief, or Resident Evil) emphasize these qualities for specific effect, and they would not work without the mansion tropes at the core of their designs. The video game mansion starts as an alien place that, through repeated visits and backtracking, becomes YOUR MANSION because you know all the rooms and secret passages and stories inside it.

Gone Home is very aware of its place in the mansion genre, a genre that emphasizes "stuff" and who owns it -- inventories, objects, and possessions. Here, the lightweight puzzle gating and densely hot-spotted environments evoke adventure; the first person object handling and concrete readables evoke the immersive sim; the loneliness and the shadows evoke horror. In a sense, this is a video game that was made for gamers aware of all the genre convention going on (in particular, one moment in the library will either make you smile or wince, assuming you notice it) but in another sense, this is also a video game made for everyone.

Gone Home review

Logan Decker at

Every connection we feel with another human being begins with a gradual descent through layers of familiarity until we touch something unique or resonant, when we go from the general idea of a person to the specific. Gone Home makes that process visible, and through the first-person exploration of one family’s home, turns it into a surprising and moving game.

It’s 1995, and Kaitlin Greenbriar has come home eager to reunite with her family after a year-long adventure in Europe. Instead she finds a deserted house and an apologetic note from her sister Sam begging her not to dig around “trying to find out where I am.”

Gone Home trailer announces music from '90s riot grrrl bands Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile

Tyler Wilde at

Gone Home is a "story exploration" game from The Fullbright Company which takes place in 1995, and stars Samantha, a teenager "dealing with tons of uncertainty, heartache, and change." Riot grrrl is an often misrepresented '90s feminist punk rock genre. Well then, how appropriate that the latest Gone Home trailer introduces music from riot grrrl bands Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile as a plot element (and also really great).

The Fullbright Company announces Gone Home

Tyler Wilde at

The Fullbright Company, a new indie studio founded by a small team of former BioShock 2, XCOM, and BioShock Infinite developers, has announced its first game: Gone Home. The first-person adventure takes place in "a modern, residential locale" -- a large suburban home, from the looks of it -- where players will uncover some manner of mystery by "investigating a deeply interactive gameworld."

Though the studio has only been working on Gone Home for a few months, it's already sharing "very unfinished" pre-alpha video and screens of the game.

“Since we're indie and want to be transparent about the process, this is unfinished work-in-progress content, as opposed to a splashy trailer," said Fullbright Co-Founder Steve Gaynor in an e-mail correspondence with PC Gamer. "So brace yourself for some untextured walls and stuff.”

Former BioShock devs found bright new studio

Henry Winchester at

BioShock 2 DLC Minerva's Den was pretty much a game unto itself, so it makes sense that its development team should found their own studio to create something free of the constraints of a major publisher.

The Fullbright Company is the name of that studio, and their aim is to create "immersive places to inhabit, and a deep, personal story to explore at your own pace." According to co-founder Steve Gaynor, "We missed working on a small team, on a small project, focused on telling a personal story in a player-driven way."