Self-referential mind-boggler The Stanley Parable is an experimental indie game that defies reasonable description. Beginning as a mod for Half-Life in 2011, it is simultaneously a game, a story and a joke, while also being none of those things. Frankly, it hurts just trying to write about it. The Stanley Parable is also a success: over 100,000 copies sold in the last few days. Developer Davey Wreden has now written a blog post detailing all of the things that went right and wrong in the run-up to the official release.
“I think the biggest takeaway from all this is that we released a lot of free and personalized content leading up to the main game, each of which was itself engaging and fun for people to experience,” Wreden writes. “We wanted the media on its own to be something a person would want to share and talk about, and because every piece of media we released contained something that wasn't in any other piece, each one got its own press and conversation. The focus from the game itself to the supporting media was always the same: make this something that people will want to talk about.”
People have certainly been talking about the game and the staggeringly well-executed demo , a personalized copy of which was sent to several Let's Play videomakers on YouTube . By re-recording three lines of dialog for each demo, something that took very little time, Wreden was able to make a huge impact on the YouTubers and their subscribers.
Wreden also discusses the emotional impact of being suddenly successful and wealthy, something he spoke at length about to PAR: “I felt myself becoming competitive with other devs who had made a lot of money, becoming upset if I hadn't made as much as they had, or if I had made some decision that left money on the table, etc,” Wreden said . “It's a really toxic mindset, and in talking with other people in this situation I found that it's something everyone goes through.”
The Stanley Parable is available now on Steam , and it's a bit like being trapped in a Douglas Adams novel with an all-powerful narrator who is entertaining himself by torturing you. Go check it out.