Fullbright  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Fullbright  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Tacoma Review: Houston, We Have A Problem https://www.gameskinny.com/unpje/tacoma-review-houston-we-have-a-problem https://www.gameskinny.com/unpje/tacoma-review-houston-we-have-a-problem Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:39:05 -0400 ActionJ4ck

Set in the year 2088, Tacoma puts players in the shoes of a contract worker sent aboard the titular high-tech space station to recover the ship's AI as well as the data stored there. In doing so, players will discover the traces of the ship's former crew and slowly unravel the details surrounding the workers' final days aboard their ill-fated ship. 

If you are familiar with developer Fullbright's previous title, 2013's Gone Home, then you know what you are getting into. Like the admittedly polarizing Gone Home, Tacoma is an interactive narrative experience that sets you loose in a rich environment containing a story about crisis, acceptance, and motivation that slowly unfolds before your eyes. 

As you traverse the Tacoma space station -- guided from access terminal to access terminal by your employers' instructional messages -- you'll come across 3D recordings of the station's former crew members, which can be viewed with the press of the button. These AR holograms will converse with their coworkers, open up personal computers (which can be perused for additional info), or wander off to some other area of the room. These interactions serve to deepen the narrative or yield clues to aid in your search of the space station.

Because these scenes can often include multiple conversations between different crew members spanning across several rooms of the space station -- with different narrative clues popping up in different locations at different times -- you'll usually find yourself missing out on key pieces of information if you just stick with one holographic person. Luckily, each scene comes with the handy function to rewind/fast-forward/restart at will, enabling you to watch each narrative thread unfold.

The ability to manipulate the recording at will is perfect for eliminating repetition in a game that would greatly suffer without it. Rather than having to re-watch a full 5 minute recording over and over again to eavesdrop on every conversation taking place, players can simply rewind back to the point where two characters diverged and pick up from there.

Additionally, each recording comes with sort of marker system to denote when important information is popping up -- meaning you can leave recordings with the knowledge that you found everything you needed to find. Both features are impressive conveniences that I wish more narrative-heavy games possessed. 

These recorded scenes are strung together by an environment that excellently guides you along its path, while simultaneously making you feel as though exploring it was your idea to begin with.

An early example of this is at the first data access terminal. After initiating a data download and seeing a slow-moving progress bar pop on my character's screen, my natural inclination is to glance around the hallway. Doing so, I see signs pointing to an "Obsolescence Party" over in the lounge. Curious, I followed the signs to the employee lounge where I found the next batch of narrative revelations.

By manipulating players' natural curiosity into taking them where the game wants them to be, Tacoma does a masterful job of making the game feel as though you are actively exploring it rather than simply being taken for a ride. It's a shame that the narrative it unveils so well falls so flat.

Though Tacoma's universe and characters are well fleshed out -- you'll learn everyone's favorite music and that Taco Bell lasted well into the future by the end of it -- the game's gradually-paced narrative about the crew's last days aboard the ship and their relationship with their companion AI ultimately failed to leave an impression on me. There were moments where I felt a bit concerned for the characters and moments where I felt a bit relieved, but at no point was I blown away or felt as though I was experiencing something amazing or unique.

This overall mellow narrative arc, coupled with a gaping plot-hole near the end that left me furrowing my brow and saying "Well why would they [spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler]?" left me largely unsatisfied, especially give how enthusiastically I had been willing to explore the environment over its ~3 hour campaign.

Though such a lackluster story may fly in a more action-heavy game, the entire purpose of Tacoma is to deliver this narrative to you. Like Gone Home or any of the Telltale Games series, the game is intended to be a medium through which to tell this story. But when the story fails to deliver, so does the game itself. And while I can't deny that Tacoma pulled me in and gave me a well-crafted world to explore using features that I wish existed in other story-driven games, that isn't enough to save it from a bland narrative.

Verdict

While Tacoma succeeds with how it guides you through its narrative, the story that it delivers ultimately fails to impress. It's an exemplar of carefully considered game design, but the story falls so flat that even perfect execution can't make up for it. 

If you want to check it out for yourself, though, you can pick up Tacoma on GOG for $19.99.

[Note: A digital copy of Tacoma was provided to the writer for the purpose of this review.]

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The 10 Best Indie Games of All-Time https://www.gameskinny.com/us8ll/the-10-best-indie-games-of-all-time https://www.gameskinny.com/us8ll/the-10-best-indie-games-of-all-time Fri, 05 May 2017 08:00:02 -0400 Curtis Dillon

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Well that's it for our list, and I'm sure you're all happy and agree with every game on here. All jokes aside, we want to hear what your favourite indie games are. Feel free to drop your personal Top 10 in the comments below and let us know where we went horribly wrong!

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There are so many amazing indie games it was super difficult to narrow this list down to 10 - hence the overlong honourable mentions. It pained me personally to leave out games like Oxenfree, Rogue Legacy, and Guacamelee, but that's part of the fun. The gaming world is so vibrant right now, with amazing titles coming out on a weekly basis. It's incredibly encouraging that six of the games in this list, came out in the past three years!

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Gaming is alive and well in every spectrum, the least of which is the indie scene. Games like Shovel Knight prove that what's old can be new again, while Everybody's Gone To The Rapture show immense beauty and a narrative that can only be told in a game. There's so much breadth and diversity that everyone can find something to love. And on that note, we also want to hear which of those 10 is your favourite! So get chatting in the comments and be sure to stay tuned to GameSkinny for all your gaming coverage!

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Honorable Mentions:
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  • Bastion
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  • Limbo
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  • Dear Esther
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  • Braid
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  • Super Meat Boy
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  • Hotline Miami
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  • OlliOlli
  • \n
  • Spelunky
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  • Rogue Legacy
  • \n
  • Oxenfree
  • \n
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • \n
  • Don't Starve
  • \n
  • Tokyo Jungle
  • \n
  • Actual Sunlight
  • \n
  • Three Fourth's Home
  • \n
  • Guacamelee
  • \n
  • Her Story
  • \n
  • Nidhogg
  • \n
  • The Beginner's Guide
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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/r/screenshot3-dbdc6.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/r/screenshot3-dbdc6.png","type":"slide","id":"157674","description":"
Stardew Valley
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Stardew Valley is a phenomenon. Similar to Undertale, it has a rabid fan base and everyone that plays it falls in love. And there's a very simple reason why: it's addictive.

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I'm not a fan of farming simulators, games like Animal Crossing never appealed to me. Yet I kept hearing reverent praise for Stardew Valley, so eventually I picked it up on a PSN sale and figured I'd play a few hours before deleting it. 94 hours later I finished Stardew Valley.

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Why? Never before had I played a game with a better carrot on the end of the stick. Every day cycle in Stardew Valley lasts one hour, and in that hour you might water your crops, chop down some tree's, run into town and go fishing, and go to the bar to talk to the locals. Of course you could turn it off there but tomorrow you want to go to the blacksmith and crack open an ore, run down to the forest to see if the gypsy with the travelling cart is back, then maybe go up to the mines where you accidentally run out of stamina and pass out. You wake up the next morning and someone stole your money, so now you have to make it back, as well as check out the community centre, and maybe you have your eye on a villager so you'll want to bring them a gift. That's a quick example of how you could easily lose three hours to Stardew Valley.

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Stardew Valley is a really special game that is every bit as charming and fun as it is life-consuming. It's so much more than a farming simulator; Stardew Valley is like Animal Crossing meets The Sims, with a dash of Zelda thrown in. Even now that might not sound like it's for you, but I bet if you give it a couple of hours, you will be caught, hook, line and sinker.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-1ebd6.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-1ebd6.jpg","type":"slide","id":"148191","description":"

Shovel Knight

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Shovel Knight was a game funded on Kickstarter and one of the true success stories to emerge from the platform. Carrying-on the lineage of classic platformers like Super Mario World, Mega Man, and CastleVaniaShovel Knight didn't reinvent the wheel but it might have perfected it.

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Of course, in the world of gaming it comes as blasphemy to say anything is better than those that pioneered the way, those that people hold the most nostalgia for, but the reality is that Shovel Knight combined the best elements of all of those classic games to make the perfect action platformer. Even though it is an amalgamation of those games, taking the world map, inventory, and combat from NES classics, Shovel Knight was a success because it has a personality of its own.

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With whimsical characters, fairytale setting, and flawless mechanics, Shovel Knight did was so few other modern platformers were able to achieve: originality and peerless quality. Available on pretty much every platform imaginable, there's no excuse not to play Shovel Knight. Personally I played it on the PS Vita, where it feels right at home. Furthermore, Yacht Club Games, developer of Shovel Knight, has released two full-length DLC's, the most recent being a brand new game from head-to-toe, and there's more to come. Oh, and all of it has been free if you already own the game. That's fan service like no other. So, what are you waiting for?

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Journey

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Journey is often considered the crown-jewel of indie games. A break-taking voyage through a scorching desert in order to reach the shining peak of the mountain ahead; a deceptively simple premise.

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Journey celebrates the majesty of nature and offers-up an adventure that is as unforgettable as it is beautiful. The game clocks-in at around two hours and takes you through the full spectrum of emotions, from the awe of climbing your first dune and seeing the vista ahead, to the dread you feel when traversing the dark underground locales.

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And, perhaps most importantly, along the way you might meet a friend. As you play Journey you can encounter another traveller, who joins in your trek to the mountain top. This partnership formed the core of many Journey experiences, especially when the game ends and you realise it was another player and not just an AI. In all the online gaming house I've played, none has been as unique and touching as my solitary Journey playthrough.

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There's a reason Journey is revered to the extent that it is. It is a masterpiece of storytelling and visuals that manages to tug on all the right strings while not uttering a single word. When people say video games cannot be art, point them in the direction of Journey.

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Gone Home

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What can I say about Gone Home that hasn't already been said? The game launched in 2013 on PC and set new standards for environmental storytelling and progressive topics in gaming.

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Gone Home, from The Fullbright Company, tells the story of Katie, a college student who returns from a summer abroad to her family's new home in Oregon, set in 1995. The family is still in the process of moving, so there's a lot boxes and disarray around the home, and her parents and sister are nowhere to be found. Once again it's hard to say much more without spoiling the game for anyone.

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Gone Home, in a way, put "walking simulators" on the map. Even though the term is often used in a derogatory fashion, the sub-genre is alive and well, in large part thanks to the brilliance and success of Gone Home.

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Inside

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Playdead was always going to have a very hard time attempting to follow-up its smash-hit Limbo. However it did something much, much better; the team eclipsed every single element of Limbo and crafted a game so stylish and weird that it demands to be played. They crafted Inside.

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Not quite as grayscale as Limbo, Inside added a little red to the proceedings and some excellent lighting, to create a really stunning game. It's difficult to talk about the plot, or even mechanics, of Inside without delving into spoiler territory in some fashion. I will say that it plays a lot like Limbo but much improved, and I guess that kind of sums-up everything about Inside: it's Limbo on steroids.

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In short, Inside is a fantastic game that you should play. It's the modern evolution of the puzzle platformer, which uses all the facets of the genre to perfect it.

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Everybody's Gone To The Rapture

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Set in a perfectly recreated 1980's English village, in which every single person has disappeared, Everybody's Gone To The Rapture tells a story of everyday life coming to an abrupt end.

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As a voiceless wanderer, you are guided through the picture-perfect village of Yaughton by an ethereal ball of light that seeks to reveal to you the mystery of what happened to the locals. The people have left behind literal traces of themselves, which, when prompted, take form and act out some of the last moments of their lives like a message from beyond the grave. You can follow these particular people and watch exactly what they did: who were they with? Or were they alone when they met their demise? Did they at least get a goodbye?

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The answers to those kind of questions are what pushes you through the game, while unravelling the much-larger mystery at hand. You become connected the the villagers, while never actually meeting any of them. Everybody's Gone To The Rapture is a testament to well-written dialogue and a perfectly created setting. These elements come together to weave a story that will tug at your heart strings as much as it makes you scratch your head and wonder.

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Undertale

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When you talk about beloved video games, you think Pokemon, Zelda, Skyrim, but you can definitely add Undertale to that list.

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Emerging from obscurity in 2015, there was a long ground swell of devotion and fanfare for Undertale. It seemed that everyone who played it, fell in love with it, and rightfully so; Undertale masterfully created a game that weaved typical RPG elements with original Pokemon-style graphics, and a fairly simple story. Then it took all of those elements and flipped them on their head; the story twisted into something much darker and revelatory (while still making you laugh), and the battle system changed, continuously kept you on your toes.

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Undertale is the perfect storm of mechanics, characters, art-style, plot, etc., melding together to create a masterpiece. It's an example of every single element of a game being utilised to further the experience and keep players engaged. Undertale is an adventure like no other and one I implore everyone to take - and you can play it on your standard laptop for $10!

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The Unfinished Swan

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Giant Sparrow is a games developer that was signed by Sony literally out of college, and the first thing they created was a plain white room, in which the player would splash black paint around. Eventually, after years of development, that rudimentary idea formed into The Unfinished Swan.

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Standing toe-to-toe with Journey as the best indie game on the PS3, The Unfinished Swan portrayed the adventure of Monroe, an orphan, who was only allowed to retain one painting from his mother's collection, after she sadly passes away. One night, Monroe wakes-up to find the swan missing, and so he leaps into the canvas and finds himself in a completely white world.

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The mechanic of the game sees Monroe throwing paint, which splashes on surfaces to reveal the world and help you navigate. The sheer sense of wonder that comes from throwing every blob of paint to find a mundane object, such as a park bench or a wooden crate, is equalled by the touching story of Monroe searching for place in the world. The game is a beautiful, serene journey, narrated by a soothing voice, that will stick with you long after it's over.

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Firewatch

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The first game from developer Campo Santo, Firewatch had lofty expectations ahead of its release in 2016. With a development team that worked on The Walking Dead and Mark of the Ninja, and art courtesy of Olly Moss, it's easy to see why this game was so highly-anticipated.

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Firewatch puts you in the shoes of Henry; a middle-aged man who needs a break from his difficult life, so impulsively takes a job as a forest lookout in the Shoshone National Park, Wyoming. The game takes place in 1989, a year after the horrible Yellowstone Fires. Playing as Henry, you have a walkie-talkie that connects you to the other nearest lookout, Delilah, who guides you through the first days on the job.

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Firewatch is sheer beauty. From the jaw-dropping art by Olly Moss, to the emotionally-charged voice acting, Firewatch is everything a narrative-driven experience should be. The gameplay aims to serve the story, and the overall package is so finely crafted that it's impossible not to become immersed in the gorgeous world that Campo Santo has created.

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FEZ

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Fez was arguably the first big-hit of the indie scene. Created almost entirely by Phil Fish, Fez is a marvel of game design.

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With mind-bending level design, in which you rotate the levels to progress, beautiful pixel-art, and pleasant sound design, Fez is simply a joy to play. Sure it might look like a Super Nintendo game but your SNES would have a stroke if it tried to play Fez.

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Fez begs you to explore its world at your own pace and it's a testament to the design that you can do so without getting frustrated. The first time you jump into the blocky world and the entire perspective shifts, you'll have a smile on your face and be hooked to the brilliance of Fez.

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What defines an "indie game"? That is the question... that I will not be answering here today. That's right: I'm not about to answer the tired debate of what actually constitutes an indie game and what doesn't. Truth be told, the word has lost all meaning in the current development landscape of Kickstarter and Steam Early Access.

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For the sake of this list, we can agree that indie simply means downloadable title made on a low budget by a small team of developers. That, too, is redundant considering all games are available to download -- but I digress.

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Anywho, the world of indie games exploded onto the scene way back in 2008, with Braid. Back then, downloading a game onto your console was still a foreign concept and few gave the idea a second thought. Fast forward almost a decade and these games are making up two-thirds of the games released on PS4 and Xbox One.

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It took a long time, too long, for these games to get the recognition they deserve, with a lot of gamers clinging to the ignorant idea that if it isn't on a disc, it isn't worth their time. Thankfully that mindset is all but gone today, and most gamers use the valuable time between AAA titles like Resident Evil 7 and Mass Effect: Andromeda, to catch-up on many smaller games that can be completed in a single sitting.

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The best thing about the "indie" games, is that they are filling the void left by mid-tier developers like THQ. Such B-level video games have been replaced by passion projects that don't have the same requirements as a full-release title would -- for example, had Outlast released in 2007, it would have been 10 hours longer, you would have had a gun, and it would have been less impressive.

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The "indie" scene allows developers to be artistic and branch out, spreading their wings without pressure. Furthermore, we may have once considered an indie to be a side-scrolling, 2D game that could run on an SNES, but now it can be anything from Limbo, to Firewatch. There is no pigeon-holing or defining this aspect of gaming and I for one love it.

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So here we are, about to celebrate the ten best indie games you can possibly play. This list is in no particular order and it's important to remember that there is always a level of partiality, so do not be offended if your favourite title is merely an honourable mention. So, without further ado...

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Gone Home finally coming to consoles https://www.gameskinny.com/zh3be/gone-home-finally-coming-to-consoles https://www.gameskinny.com/zh3be/gone-home-finally-coming-to-consoles Mon, 07 Dec 2015 19:56:21 -0500 Andrea Koenig

It's been in the news before, but hopefully it's for real this time. The Fullbright Company announced today that its 2013 indie hit Gone Home will finally be making its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in mid-January. This comes after cancellation for a console edition occurred earlier this year.

The earlier 2015 cancellation occurred not long after the publisher Majesco's indie branch company, called Midnight City, signed on to be part of the console edition's creation.

A formal announcement in March stated that the relationship between the two companies unfortunately ended, due to financial issues, including low stocks in Majesco. So with the end of this relationship came the end of the console port production.

In a recent announcement, it was said that Fullbright and Midnight City kept in touch and are now ready to release the upcoming indie for Xbox One and PS4 on January 12, 2016.

The console version will contain the same consuming atmosphere and strategic manner of storytelling that gamers came to love in the PC version. In addition to the game, console versions will also come with over 90 minutes of commentary from the development team. 

For those unfamiliar with the award-winning indie game, Gone Home is a first-person interactive storytelling adventure exploration game. It takes place in the player-character Kaitlin's home in Portland, Oregon on a stormy night when she returns from college to find that nobody is home to greet her. You must uncover the whereabouts of Kaitlin's parents and her sister, and discover what else lies in wait in the home based on the clues you find.

The game's developer, Fullbright, was founded by a three-person team that previously worked on a special single-player campaign together in the hit action-adventure game, BioShock 2.

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Interview with Fullbright: The minds behind Tacoma and Gone Home https://www.gameskinny.com/pdoz5/interview-with-fullbright-the-minds-behind-tacoma-and-gone-home https://www.gameskinny.com/pdoz5/interview-with-fullbright-the-minds-behind-tacoma-and-gone-home Sun, 12 Jul 2015 14:30:01 -0400 Matt Amenda

We reached out to the newly renamed Fullbright, the creators behind indie hit Gone Home and now the E3-featured sci-fi title Tacoma. Kate Craig, the environment artist behind both games, shares with us the new fan reactions, the inspirations behind the new title, and some new tidbits on the title itself.

E3 and Fan Reactions

Matt Amenda: Now that Tacoma's been featured at E3, what have things been like at the studio? Did it get crazy for a while?

Kate Craig: There were some long nights and some last minute bugs, absolutely. When putting together a trailer or a playable demo for a big event, especially something as big as E3, it can get pretty busy at any studio, and we were no exception. Some punch drunk Slack chats, a few extra cups of coffee, etc. Now that the trailer’s out it’s been a little more relaxing, we’re back to normal - more or less.

MA: How have fan reactions differed between Gone Home's announcement and Tacoma's?

KC: Both have been/were positive, but it’s a little different this time around in that we have something that people can refer back to - a previous game and a house style, whereas with Gone Home, when we first started talking about it all we had was a greyblock room with some drawers you could open.

Folks are also pumped about space as a setting. In the past few years it feels like space exploration has become more and more humanized - you can read personal Twitter accounts of ISS astronauts, see them answer questions on YouTube and watch mission control react when something like the Curiosity rover landing is a success, so I think there’s a real interest in seeing the human element behind all the science.

Expanding the boundaries

MA: Tacoma looks like a bold departure from Gone Home. First an old house with no one in it, then a sprawling space station. What inspired the team to go in that direction?

KC: We were always looking to work on another narrative-focused game, but initially the game we were working on was much closer to what we’d done in the past. A little too close, even. So when Steve pitched shifting the game upwards, into space, I think there was a round of immediate, emphatic yesses. We’d spent a couple of years trying to stay true to a very specific time and place, trying to pin down the atmosphere of the 90s, so the idea of having more creative freedom, of extrapolating current tech into a near future setting was really appealing.

MA: Developing a sci-fi environment sounds a lot harder than building one house in Gone Home. What were the challenges that went with switching gears like that?

KC: With Gone Home, we were pulling from our own personal experiences with regards to story, to environment - pretty much everything. When it comes to creating a world set a) in the future and b) in space, you can’t rely so heavily on those elements, so it means we’ve been doing more research, which takes much more time. For example, we’ve moved the location and scale of the moon a number of times, and I have to do it again next week to roughly approximate the correct scale based on what we’ve read.

A space station is also ground well covered in the game world (and in other areas of pop culture) so thinking about how The Tacoma is different (and similar) to existing stations is another consideration we’ve been tackling.

New Experiences

MA: What tone are you going for in Tacoma, story-wise? What do you want the player to feel?

KC: Gone Home, there might be a couple of spooky moments to the game, but overall we’re hoping for more of a sense of mystery and adventure. Tacoma is a game about the relationships and motivations of a crew living in relative isolation, but it’s also set on a station with a focus on space tourism, so hopefully it’ll be a fun place to poke about in.

MA: What new gameplay features will there be? Will it still be entirely exploration based, like Gone Home was, or will there be things like combat?

KC: It’s an exploration based game, but this time we have the added benefit of microgravity, so Amy can explore the station in more of a 3D sense, launching herself towards different surfaces and attaching with her magnetic boots. She’s also able to interact with the computer systems in the station, so in terms of gameplay, we’re building off what we learned making Gone Home and expanding on it.

And there won’t be any combat in the game, which always takes away some of the pressure.

MA: Any plans to release the game on other platforms besides Xbox and PC/Mac/Linux?

KC: Just those for now!

MA: After Tacoma, what next? What does the future hold for Fullbright?

KC: It’s a little too early to say. When we’re working on a game, our focus is wholly on it and nothing but, so we’ll have to see once we wrap up.

From the looks of things, this small Portland indie studio is going places. We'll see in time if they can deliver a larger-scale game while keeping the heart that fans loved about Gone Home.

For further reading: Fullbright site, Tacoma site, and company blog.

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