Jeez, Linda, I get that you feel suffocated and hopeless but take it down a notch.
If he goes, it will help with sales and might get a nice advance on his next book. Dan still has his Literary Registry from May. Just like you are in your heart, thread.
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This is so unfair! Linda wrote a letter to her late grandmother telling her how much she loves her. Last chapter we just had to read her weekly dinner schedule and her reflections on hiking. This chapter is a real downer. Linda cries. This chapter is, like, really sad and the game wants to make sure that you don't forget it. But Linda can pick up on his intentions, I guess.
But there's another path no one seems to be thinking about : Tommy's. Instead of going to the funeral or booksigning, they take Tommy to the Not Blue Angels. I guess the idea is to preserve his innocence by distracting him from Linda's funeral and Dan's corporate shilling. Tommy is very safety minded and even wears a helmet in his drawings.
You're allowed one compromise to another character if you have investigated their life thoroughly enough. Then the game will give you the outcome of your decisions through cut-scenes, showing how your decision plays out for the family. Initially, this seems like a wonderful concept - the nuance of real-life relationships has been under-investigated by games in the past, and Kent Hudson, the lead developer, nobly approaches the subject matter with guts and chops.
But the writing just isn't strong enough to carry the game - the struggling writer who can't find time for his lonely wife and son feels like worn narrative territory, and the text and voiceover parts aren't tonally distinctive from each other, meaning each of the characters just sounds like the same person speaking about dry, everyday problems through three different avatars.
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It often feels as though you're just lurking in first-person mode in a sad Sims house, without the excitement of someone wetting themselves, dying in a pool or making out with their own sister. The characters seem more like objects than people. The fact that you have to stealth around in stealth mode just makes the discovery of things in the house much more tedious and time-consuming to get to, and in story mode it's just too repetitive going around the same sparse house environment, again and again, picking up objects from the same locations.
At night-time you don't even get to watch the mum and dad do the bad thing.
More than this, the constant re-centring of the narrative on the father figure, and the ultimate placing of all 'important' familial decisions on him you must whisper tomorrow's outcome to the father while he sleeps seems slightly outdated and occasionally narrow-minded, even in a game named after 'the novelist'. As a writer myself, I often struggle with the actual act of writing, but Dan Kaplan seems unable to stop whining about how difficult it is while not even sitting at his desk. Writers are only writers when they write. Thunder only happens when it's raining.
Open that faucet, buddy. You're like that person who sits on Twitter and announces they are writing something amazing that we never hear of again. The reality is that I couldn't stop myself making a comparison.
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The Fullbright Company's Gone Home another indie game made by ex-2K staff has unfortunately spoiled many aspects of The Novelist for me by being much too good. Gone Home is a game that is also set in a creepy American house. It too can be melancholy and contemplative. It deals with issues of family and with hard decisions. It requires a lot of reading.
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- The Let's Play Archive;
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- Félix Vallotton (French Edition).
But Gone Home's developers made it look easy to make the environment interesting, craft characters that are easy to empathise with and have the player feel like they belong in and are a part of the story. This last caveat I have found is incredibly important when thinking about games. You have to feel like you belong. But there's just no feeling that Mr Ghost should really be there. The Novelist has illuminated for me that many of the best games are about making the player feel as if they belong, or the process of coming to feel as if you belong.
Take Merritt Kopas' Lim , for example.
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You could argue that Lim is about the feeling of not belonging, or suffering in order to belong. But it directly engages with those issues of belonging, making the player feel like this is a process whereby they can belong, or might belong, though it is difficult to do so. This is at the core of games. The narrative has room for us: it includes us or is centred on us in some way.
The Novelist suffers because we are essentially examining a family that doesn't care for us or know about us and we don't really feel an emotional attachment to them. Even in god games such as Populous, the characters below the cursor directly react and relate to things you have just done, indicating they know about your presence. But in The Novelist there's no real reason set up to ever empathise with a white middle-class family that has a huge house, because their problems are never contextualised.
In Gone Home, you played Katie Greenbriar, someone who was part of the family, and everything you saw was contextualised through that lens. Katie yearned to speak to her sister - it injected drama, she read about her sister's secret teen passions. It was tinged with humour, angst and sadness. In comparison, The Novelist's ghost lacks that human connection, and instead reads only grumbles written down, adding to your feeling of alienation and sadness.
It's an interesting short experiment in narrative choices, then, but perhaps I'm just missing the point because I'm single, young, childless, and will never be able to afford that house. In any case, I really hope Mr Ghost gets to flip a table over one day or spew some food just once, because he's really earned it. Read the Eurogamer. Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission.
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