The Fullbright Company's Steve Gaynor reflects on Gone Home
by Ozzie Mejia, shacknews.com, Sep 17, 2013 12:00PM PDT
The Fullbright Company captivated players with a unique take on first-person exploration in its first indie title, Gone Home. With its irreverent take on horror tropes, an engaging setting, and an unforgettable narrative, Gone Home left a lasting impression on many players, myself included.
It's been a year since Shacknews last spoke to Steve Gaynor from The Fullbright Company, but now seemed like a good time to reach out to him. And while Fullbright remains on a tight schedule, Gaynor did make some time to answer a handful of questions, including a few from our Chatty.
Be forewarned, the following will contain light spoilers for Gone Home.
Shacknews: When I last spoke to you a year ago, you described the challenge of creating a full exploratory experience while also adding a sense of tension and urgency. Do you feel Gone Home accomplished this?
I think so! We've definitely had a lot of people say they felt very on-edge the entire time they played. If anything I think we may have pushed that sensation further than we expected to!
Shacknews: I can't remember the last time a game's narrative touched people in the way Gone Home's has. What types of reactions have you heard from players?
We've felt very lucky to get a lot of very personal messages from people saying how much they saw themselves in the game, or identified with the characters in a way they never had in a video game before, or just thanking us for making the game. It has been really powerful and something we never expected, so we are super grateful for that.
Shacknews: I was surprised by the fact that I could finish Gone Home in a single sitting, but I was also very pleased by that. Did Fullbright always have this kind of game length in mind? And do you feel that more games are going to move in this direction?
I'm not sure if more will! We started from a point of having come off of [BioShock 2 DLC] Minerva's Den, we wanted to make something of similar length and focus. We're definitely happy that it's a game that people feel compelled to finish all in one sitting, though I think it also works well to play over a few hour-long sessions.
Shacknews: Gone Home's composer, Chris Remo, is a former Shacknews writer, so a lot of our community is familiar with him and his work. So I'd like to ask, how do you feel about Chris's work on the game and how he was able to bring the story of Gone Home to life?
It's been great! He's an excellent (and classically trained!) musician, and a good friend. I love his work on 30 Flights of Loving, and it was really cool collaborating for Gone Home. His work on our game is very different. Seeing his breadth as a composer was great.
Shacknews: Now that your first game as an indie developer is in the bag, what lessons have you learned from the overall experience? How do you feel this experience has made you grow as a developer?
It's been a huge learning experience, since we're only four people--we've had to do everything ourselves, including PR, licensing, fulfilling invoices, making deals for distribution--it's been great actually, not being able to say, "That's somebody else's job." We have way more skills now than we did when we started.
Shacknews reader 'avatar_58' asks: Given the setting and the subject matter, was Gone Home based on any of the team's real life experiences?
It definitely drew from my own experiences as a teenager--the more universal themes of being exposed to new art and music, liking someone and not knowing if they like you back, the desire to escape from the home you grew up in, and so forth. For some of the more character-specific stuff I relied on interviews and research into the experiences that others had in their own lives, to inform the details of what Sam went through.
'Grumbeld' asks: Is there any concern that you may have been too obtuse with some of the hidden story beats?
Actually we wanted to hide some things (especially Oscar's story) deeply, to reward players that went back and really investigated every tiny piece of the house. We're happy that people who did the work to uncover every detail were able to piece together what we think of as a pretty obfuscated backstory. We'd rather that than for everything to very obviously be on the surface.
'mroizo40' asks: Are there plans to add Oculus Rift or Razer Hydra support to Gone Home?
We haven't looked at Razer Hydra, but we are investigating Oculus Rift!
Gone Home is available now on PC, Mac, and Linux for $19.99.