Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

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gagaplex
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by gagaplex » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:01 pm

Whew, that took forever to compress and then upload and YouTube is still working on it. The original file was 39 GB! But here it is now:



By the way, I didn't quite hear it right when near the end Gabby's letter reads: "Losing our daughter..."
So in the minutes after that I call the daughter of Thomas and Gabrielle "Lucy". Yeah.

Speaking of Gabrielle, here's a little something to celebrate the first complete branch:


So, if I may indulge in trying to interpret things for a moment:
Based on all I've seen in this playthrough, I'd have to assume that the daughter died from something to do with her guts, perhaps acute bacterial appendicitis or something (a rather common illness in children that can still lead to a lethal outcome, especially if it is not recognized and treated early on; considering that this takes place about a hundred years before our time, it would've been even more deadly). That would be why guts are so significant in the final level, lying around everywhere and being chomped down on.
Perhaps the parents misread the early signs and the severity of the ailment, which is why Thomas blames himself for her death and - in his vision - stabs her in the right side of her abdomen, the side on which the appendix is typically located.
So, she died and Gabrielle left him because she couldn't bear to stay in that home and with Thomas, surrounded by constant reminders of the daughter they lost (or she committed suicide - think of the many hanging Gabbys - although that would seem very odd considering she writes to Thomas about him "living his life", so I'm thinking Gabby is still alive but left). Thomas in turn couldn't handle this double-whammy and, yeah, the rest we know, more or less.
The imagery with Gabby bleeding on a gynecological examination chair, Thomas walking into and curling up in the uterus etc. might be references to them "losing their baby", which they did, even if their daughter was already a child at the time, not an unborn. I'd assume Thomas still thinks of her as "their baby", basically, being protective of her.
Whaddaya think?

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gagaplex
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by gagaplex » Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:14 pm

JPrice wrote:- The new elements (Intestines everywhere, doll hands coming out of the floor) are just...creepy man *shudders* :? hahaa
Agreed, although I wish there was more of that doll hand stuff! It's too disturbing to use just once, isn't it? Maybe in one of the other paths? Maybe even make it an "enemy" then, where you have to slowly walk through them reaching up without being too loud/fast lest you be grabbed and pulled down...?
- Walking through the hanging Gabrielle corpses was also very creepy, both in the forest and in the house
I particularly liked the inclusion of the forest and the cemetery, both of which we saw very little of in the first level.
- The actual ending though was good and made sense, like I can't really point out how it wouldn't make sense at the moment anyway.
Yeah. I thought it was a bit sudden, but looking back it made sense. I'm just curious whether the other endings will also have other constellations. Perhaps in one Gabby actually is the psychiatrist or in one Gabby actually is the sister. Just because one path has her be the wife doesn't necessarily mean it's "the right one" or "the only one".
I'm still interested though how she died. I'm guessing it was something to do with hanging as that often appears with her (Hanging in the attic, the forest, the mansion near the end) but who knows!
See my above post for what I think. Mind that I now think that the young woman we see hanging and the young girl we saw get stabbed are - at least for this ending - two distinct people, Gabby - Thomas' wife - and their daughter - the one who died. I figured that all the hanging women are rather older than the daughter, so they'd be Gabby. I'm not sure whether the hanging Gabbys are meant to convey that Gabby killed herself or not, but I think the daughter herself didn't die of hanging. Although considering what Matt says below, I might be entirely wrong about my interpretation...
- Only thing I thought was weird was how quick it cut to the ending.
Agreed. I'm guessing it's one of those polish-issues.
matt wrote:Some things like how Gabby died are going to be left up to your imagination. There’s no wrong answer. Actually, I think my ideas might be explained in the design doc, but that doesn’t count as “canon”. Hahahah I guess if you really want a cryptic hint, I would just note that the hanging Gabby’s are supposed to be the adult version. I realize it’s kind of hard to tell the difference. Take that for what it’s worth.
Yeah, because now I'm confused.

I thought I had figured it out in that Gabby and the daughter are distinct. But here it sounds like Gabby actually appeared as a child at some point and then later as the adult version that could be hanged.

I suppose rather than Thomas and Gabby losing a child-aged daughter, they might after all have lost their unborn child (meaning that the stabbing from the vision would refer to Gabby's uterus rather than the daughter's appendix and the bits about the gynecological chair and the uterus would be more literal than I interpreted them above).

Did they break up over Gabby having a miscarriage then? But what's the significance of the guts then? Why is "young Gabby" chewing on those guts rather than reaching into the abdomen to munch on the uterus? And didn't Thomas have a picture of himself, Gabby and a girl in his office at the very end? That wouldn't make sense unless Gabby actually had the child, their daughter grew to become that child and die then! So I thought I could rule out miscarriage for this path.

Maybe I'm overthinking it.
matt wrote:Asuming it was you and you are comfortable discussing it, what do you think we need to do? Is it that the game needs some polish or that it is too short? Gone Home took me 113 minutes for $20, and it was a really well received game, so I'm of the opinion that short isn't necessarily a bad thing.

We are adding the branches, so it is going to be significantly longer. Our goal is another 3 nightmares, which is probably 45 minutes to an hour of gameplay if our current nightmares are an indication. In addition, you'll have to explore the world to find the branches, which probably would add another half an hour to an hour. So if you say our playtime is two hours now, it could easily get up above 4 assuming you are interested in unlocking all the secrets.
I haven't filled out the survey, that said: In its current form I would agree that it is a bit too short. It's a very nice game but it doesn't have much replay value as is. But with three more unlockable endings, I don't really see the issue then.
However, I worry that people will just hit one ending, call it done, and then complain the game is still too short and not worth $14.99. I'm especially concerned with the people who responded that we have a lot of work left to do think....
Perhaps make it obvious that this is not the only ending. For example, rather than - after the credits - jumping back to the main menu, you could make the game load up the earliest level with a branching path and - after the credits have faded to black - have Thomas wake up there. Not only would that fit with the the idea of never, ever ending nightmares (even after beating the game Thomas reawakens in his nightmare from before), it would also quickly let players know that there's more to do still.
ranger_lennier wrote:I tried to experiment a bit with the baby monsters that break through walls. With the first one, if as soon as you hear it, you run toward it instead of away, you can see the wall it supposedly broke through, but it isn't actually broken. In the final level, you can't run back that far before you're caught, but you can backtrack after entering the stairwell. Again, the wall isn't broken.
Yeah, same here. In fact, considering there wasn't a closed-off door behind us this time, that was the very first thing I did after I escaped the monster.
Did Thomas leave footprints when he stepped on glass in the asylum? If he did, I didn't notice it.
Dunno about earlier builds, but in this one? Yes.
matt wrote:Doing the destroyed art is time consuming, and we didn't think it was worth making the assets when we hoped no one would see them. hahah It probably isn't really worth doing since it's going to be a small percentage who try to check.
Well, as I said (and as you can see in my video), I immediately went back there, too, looking for secrets or something of interest. As I recommend in the video, though, perhaps you could have some of the "collapsed ceiling"-stuff from the earlier mansion levels block off the path back after leaving the area for the first time. That way, you don't have to include a door on that screen transition, but can still avoid people walking back far enough to see the intact wall.

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AironNeil
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by AironNeil » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:05 pm

matt wrote:However, I worry that people will just hit one ending, call it done, and then complain the game is still too short and not worth $14.99. I'm especially concerned with the people who responded that we have a lot of work left to do think....

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks!
I was one of the people said there's a lot of work to do, I think when I answered that I kind of forgot about the branching levels; however, I was mostly thinking about the build right now. The last level doesn't feel right, right now. There's not enough interactivity, and I know what you mean about the polish you mentioned in your Kickstarter update. Comparing it to Gone Home, I believe it's probably a better value than it (when finished of course). I feel that you posted that question too early as well; people could have felt that if they said that it was worth $14.99 in its current state than you and the rest of the team might have slightly slacked knowing that people already think it's worth the full price.

As for my thoughts on the ending...I see it as Thomas and Gabby's daughter never actually being born and was killed from some kind of miscarriage. I think this because of the one flash in the "Together at Last" level where it showed Gabby on a hospitable bed in the kind of position you see pregnant women with blood every where. Also, on the last level I see the random strands of bloody somethings as umbilical cords further symbolizing a death at birth. Plus, Thomas' daughter looks exactly like a younger version of Gabby, which further could mean that he's never seen his daughter and his mind puts Gabby's face there because that's what he associates with the whole situation. And of course the very end where Thomas was inside of the womb.

EDIT: Not sure why I didn't finish the last sentence, haha...
Last edited by AironNeil on Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:08 pm

matt wrote: Also, on the surveys someone mentioned "I did notice that there is no longer a part where you run away from one tortured girl and another one has popped up behind you, I liked that setup in the previous build."

Actually, I didn't remove it. It's just with the changes to the behavior of the enemies, it's possible you weren't backtracking long enough to trigger them. Everything was all set up with the assumption that you are running from the enemies, but since you don't need to run, they might not always trigger. Did the set up work for everyone else? It's possible there is another bug, but maybe I just have to tweak the placement of the triggers and all that.
Oh yeah that was me. I thought I ran both times I played that section, but maybe I didn't run fast enough because I didn't see the second Gabby either time.

I think the speed issue might be caused by Fraps on my end. I'm not 100% sure, as I haven't found a way to reproduce it consistently yet, but this weekend I'll be playing around with it some more. I'm wondering if anyone else ran into it, I started watching through gagaplex's video and I haven't noticed him running into it in the sections I did yet.

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JPrice
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by JPrice » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:37 am

matt wrote: However, I worry that people will just hit one ending, call it done, and then complain the game is still too short and not worth $14.99. I'm especially concerned with the people who responded that we have a lot of work left to do think....
Hmmm maybe after the credits you could have a final showing of the pathway screen with the branch that the person chose, kinda like the stat screens at the end of TellTale games. Could clue people in to knowing that there are alternative pathways that can be chosen. Just an idea though!
"Always look on the bright side of life"
Check me out on Steam if you like! - http://steamcommunity.com/id/JPrice321/

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:51 am

ranger_lennier wrote: I also ran into a difficult to reproduce animation glitch with one of the baby monsters. After falling through the floor, I encountered one where I believe you're supposed to run forward into a cabinet before he can get you. By the time I saw him, it was too late to get to that cabinet, so I tried to run back (left) instead. I didn't make it to the previous cabinet, and when he grabbed me, Thomas glitched through the monster's arms, and ended up superimposed over the monster's shoulder to the right while the blood squirting animation happened.
Did it look like this? I just happened to be recording for what was I think the second alpha when I got a bug that sounds like what you're describing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o98mHTZJjcY

I tried recreating the same situation over and over to get it to happen again, and I never could.

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matt
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by matt » Sat Jun 28, 2014 2:40 pm

Thank you everyone for all your feedback. Let me see if I can answer your questions.
Agreed, although I wish there was more of that doll hand stuff! It's too disturbing to use just once, isn't it? Maybe in one of the other paths? Maybe even make it an "enemy" then, where you have to slowly walk through them reaching up without being too loud/fast lest you be grabbed and pulled down...?
All I will say is we didn’t finish that section. :)
Perhaps in one Gabby actually is the psychiatrist or in one Gabby actually is the sister. Just because one path has her be the wife doesn't necessarily mean it's "the right one" or "the only one".
The other endings are going to be completely different! That’s all I’ll say. :)
Yeah, because now I'm confused.
I guess I am only confusing the matter by talking about things. Hahah I think you are reading into what I said too much. The hanging character is supposed to be a woman. I think that's what I was trying to say. haha In my mind, Gabby is a lot of different things because I know all the endings and what everything means, so I guess it's hard for me to give clues.
And didn't Thomas have a picture of himself, Gabby and a girl in his office at the very end?
That picture is definitely a good clue to the meaning of that particular ending. :-) Just remember that there is no “true” ending or objective reality. Things may be total different in the other endings!
But with three more unlockable endings, I don't really see the issue then.
There will only be 2 more endings – 3 total. Do you still think we’ll have enough content?
I feel that you posted that question too early as well; people could have felt that if they said that it was worth $14.99 in its current state than you and the rest of the team might have slightly slacked knowing that people already think it's worth the full price.
Ha! If you think I would slack off, you clearly don’t know me very well! The purpose of the question was three fold:
1) I’m curious whether people think we need more work on polish or more content. We could take the Retro/Grade course and polish the hell out of the things we have or continue our plan for branching narratives. From the surveys, it seems like the amount of content is more of a concern. We will still continue to polish things of course.
2) The idea of value for a game is a strange one, and I’m trying to understand what you guys think.
3) I’m nervous as all hell, so if people like what we have now, I can sleep a little easier.
Oh yeah that was me. I thought I ran both times I played that section, but maybe I didn't run fast enough because I didn't see the second Gabby either time.
Well, I think there may have been a bug related to that, but I spent a few hours polishing that segment, so now I think it’ll be difficult to avoid the second girl (unless you let the first one trail you really closely).
I think the speed issue might be caused by Fraps on my end.
Dan thinks he fixed it for the 0.6 build. I’m still uncertain as to whether we managed to even reproduce it, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Hmmm maybe after the credits you could have a final showing of the pathway screen with the branch that the person chose, kinda like the stat screens at the end of TellTale games. Could clue people in to knowing that there are alternative pathways that can be chosen. Just an idea though!
That is a very good idea! I’ve actually been planning on doing that for a while, but I was waiting for us to actually put in the branches first.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

ranger_lennier
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by ranger_lennier » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:51 pm

RightClickSaveAs wrote:
ranger_lennier wrote: I also ran into a difficult to reproduce animation glitch with one of the baby monsters. After falling through the floor, I encountered one where I believe you're supposed to run forward into a cabinet before he can get you. By the time I saw him, it was too late to get to that cabinet, so I tried to run back (left) instead. I didn't make it to the previous cabinet, and when he grabbed me, Thomas glitched through the monster's arms, and ended up superimposed over the monster's shoulder to the right while the blood squirting animation happened.
Did it look like this? I just happened to be recording for what was I think the second alpha when I got a bug that sounds like what you're describing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o98mHTZJjcY

I tried recreating the same situation over and over to get it to happen again, and I never could.
Yes, it looked a lot like that.

Matt, I'm curious about what sort of tools/processes you use to debug the game. Do you have a way to record all of the player input so you can play it back as many times as you want and look into what's going on under the hood?

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matt
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by matt » Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:28 pm

Matt, I'm curious about what sort of tools/processes you use to debug the game. Do you have a way to record all of the player input so you can play it back as many times as you want and look into what's going on under the hood?
We do, but I honestly don't use them very much because they don't work very hot. The problem with playback is that just recording input is not usually enough. You need to record inputs and deltas, but even then, the playback doesn't always work right because of floating point precision issues and other things that are pains in the butt to track down.

I think I spent more time making sure playback worked on Retro/Grade than the benefit I got out of it, so I haven't really messed with the playback system Dan had set up...

I'm sure games with larger tech teams can make a good playback system, but I don't think it's worth the engineering effort for us...
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Post by matt » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:19 pm

I watched all of your playthrough the other day. You had a lot of mentioned a lot of issues and asked lot of questions, so I'm not sure I can remember them all.

I fixed the game breaking bug with the cobwebs. :-P I saw another bug or two in your video too that you didn't notice, which I fixed as well. Holding right when you go through a door on the left side moving you back to the door is by design. If you change your mind and don't want to walk through the door, you'll go right back (even with the camera rotation). I did make some changes to that system that might make it work a bit better. It was a little weird in the last build.

We are addressing a number of the things you pointed out, but I don't want to say any spoilers. :)

Anyway, it was really helpful, so thank you so much for preparing the video!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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