What happened to JFK?

00:12 After a hefty meal at Waffle House, I am finally poised infront of my laptop, in the LSM lounge, and ready to play Gone Home. I have absolutely zero expectations, for all I know this could be a first person shooter. Time to click ‘New Game’.

16.37 A bout of tiredness struck me down last night so I am about to boot the game back up.

16:58 I may be doing too much exploring and not enough in terms of progressing the story, but I just don’t want to miss anything. So far I know that a girl names Sam moved in to a house where her uncle lived. Her uncle went ‘psycho’ which made it hard for her to find friends at her new school. There is also a locked cabinate in the library which I am DESPERATE to find the code for.

17:05 I’ve ventured upstairs after exhausting all of the downstairs possibilities. Lonnie is the only friend Sam feels ‘normal’ around. She also has a funky taste in music based on the cassette she gave to Sam.

20:38 I’m back from classes and dinner. Time to get stuck in again. I’ve explored most of upstairs and discovered there’s a secret passage in the library. Sam’s bath had what looked to be blood staining on it. Upon inspecting a hair dye bottle, a monologue began describing how Sam had dyed Lonnie’s hair. It implied there was a romantic undertone to their friendship. The plot thickens!

20:47 I picked up a crusifix in the secret passage and the lights went out, it’s the first time the game has made me jump. After finding the code to Sam’s locker it’s been revealed that Lonnie and Sam kissed. Up until now I was unsure who the character I was controlling was, but by the shocked text that appeared when I hovered over a womens sports magazine in Sam’s locker or the condom found in the parents’ room and the fact that I’m reading from Sam’s journal; I can only assume I am her sister, Katie, who is becoming surprised as she learns about Sam.

21:00 I am definitely Katie. I have also now found 3 books on the JFK assassination. I’m curious as to what that signifies.

21:18 Fourth book found, they are being written by the father or uncle of Sam. Sam just gave a very heartfelt monologue on her and Lonnie’s relationship. They are being forced apart due to Lonnie enlisting in the army. As someone who is also thousands of miles from my significant other, the speech really hit home and felt very real. The voice acting by Sam is really amazing. I’ve now found the location of an exorcism. It wouldn’t be a proper horror game without an exorcism, here we go!

21:30 So I’ve finished the game… Slightly underwhelming ending it has to be said. I spent a good amount of time exploring all avenues looking for potential easter eggs only to accidentally end the game by reading letters to Katie. The strange appearance of JFK books was an intriguing find but ultimately led to nothing. Gone Home did not have enough replayability, variety and new explorable content to warrent starting again to figure out the mystery of the JFK books.

The character of Sam was incredibly well voice acted. I believed every single word she uttered. Her personality was constantly being expanded and revealed with every voice note. We followed Katie as she learned about her sister’s true thoughts.

23:00 I’m returning to post my blog. Having read my previous paragraph, I believe my comments on the underwhelming nature of the game may have been harsh and poorly thought through. It is very easy to judge Gone Home by the same standards I’d judge previous games I’ve played. It’s not trying to be FIFA or Portal, it is telling the story of a girl who is finding herself, through the medium of a game. There are aspects of creativity and problem solving but they are minimal. The real purpose of this game is to deliver a story in a way that a movie or a book can’t. The player progresses the story themselves. Yes, there are defined checkpoints (journal entries) that every player will arrive at, but the way each person gets there is unique and reflects aspects of themselves. I, for example, took my time with the main story and made sure I wasn’t missing out on any cool side features that the developers programmed in for the eagle-eyed player. Others may have rushed through, encapsulated in the dialogue.

When I look at Gone Home through the lens of the games I usually play then it does not rate highly. After considering the purpose of the game, my perspective changed. It was a movie where the script had already been written and I was the director.

SQ3: Going, Going, Gone (Home)!

As I liveblog Going Home, I’m referencing the instructions for the post here. I’m starting the game now, and instantly love the color’s being used. I need to squint, turn up my brightness and lean in for most of the room, yet the colorful “outside” is vivid, live and interesting. I can’t look at the glare for longer than a few seconds without scouring my eyes or tearing up.

Well I just got through the door and it was frustrating. Despite one of the first things I checked was the duck, I didn’t check under it and instead inspected the duck profusely. After deciding there wasn’t anything of importance, I spent a long time around the rest of the room. I spent an embarrassing amount of time inspecting the nutrition information on a fictional soda can before re-checking the drawer.

I really enjoy the expanse of space and ability to alter the perception through lights. I’m not sure if it’s my computer or the game’s intention, but my walking rate is painfully slow. Eventually, I decide the downstairs isn’t too interesting and head upstairs.

I want to note the importance of the score and sounds in this game. The sudden crackling of thunder builds up tension and makes me feel like a jump scare is coming.

The song that Sam has in her drawer besides the cassette player is pretty horrible, I might add. It reminds me of a teenager rebelling against their parents for having to mow the lawn on a Sunday morning. I’m not criticizing; trust me, I’ve been there plus some.

Trying to figure out combinations for Sam’s locker. Trying stuff related to the 1990’s because she seems to be into it. Maybe something to do with Aliens due to her posters; Area 51? 0051 doesn’t work.

I can’t get in and the slowness of movement is killing me.

Moving through the hallways and bathrooms upstairs. I’m really enjoying how difficult it is to parse out what’s important. When I inspect an element I have to go through the process of deciding whether or not it hold’s some unknown information. Some of the items seem to be in clear sight while other’s are hidden. As not all important items are hidden I can’t skip over anything. This feels very boring however. I wonder if that’s the point.

I’ve stopped playing the game after about an hour and a half. I finished by making my way back downstairs and inspecting more elements carefully. Not too helpful I don’t understand the point. For a while I was super engaged but after a while I just felt disengaged.

The opening sequence is very interesting. In particular, I felt like the lack of exposition dumping enables the player to feel connected to the protagonist. Both are in the unknown and the information I garnered brought me closer and feel more involved. I loved the little details like the boarding pass, name-tag on the luggage, and creaking of the floor. The game establishes itself through the player’s curiosity rather than through a traditional method of narration or storytelling. In fact, the nonlinear nature of Gone Home seems to challenge the all-action games. Gone Home seems to push back on the popular wave of games, movies, and books–modern entertainment, more generally–being action packed and lacking a distinct connection to reality. The build your own story aspects to Gone Home make each time a person plays the game unique to the individual. In a time where media is catered to the population, I appreciate Gone Home’s sentiment; I just wish it wasn’t as much of a slog to get through.

As far as predictions for where Gone Home will end; I feel like similar to Depression Quest, there’s no true end. Rather, you find yourself completely immersed in a world where there are never any true answers. You won’t know where the family went, but you might know each family members ambitions, secrets, and affairs.

#sq3 #gonehome #liveblog

Liveblogging Gone Home: My Thoughts

By Rachel Vellanikaran

6:30 – Gone Home is downloaded on my laptop, and I’m ready to play.

Link to post with assignment directions: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/quests/side-quests/side-quest-3-liveblogging-gone-home/

The opening of Gone Home is suspenseful darkness…But I think that’s just my laptop taking its sweet time to launch this game. I can already see that the game design is advanced, especially in the audio and visual aspects. The sound of rain, for example, would shift from ear-to-ear as my character(mouse) moved. This game is giving off horror-movie vibes with the dingy house and ominous flickering of lights as you enter. Everything in this game is very creepy and dark. It’s incredibly frustrating navigating the poorly-lit house.

I’m impressed with the sensitivity of the mouse as it corresponded to the movement of the character’s head/eyes. Occasionally I would slightly tap my mouse pad, and I’d suddenly be looking down at the floorboards or up towards the ceiling.

7:00 – Now that I’ve played a little more of Gone Home — my laptop immensely struggling to support this game — I’m not sure that I’m entirely captivated yet. All I’ve been doing for the past 20-30 mins is picking up random objects and putting them back down. I’m having trouble discovering clues and piecing them together. I think I’ll try again at some point when my laptop decides to cooperate. 

The game, itself was quite interactive and detailed. Thoroughly examining objects, reading brochures and letters, trying, with much difficulty, to find a light switch, and the advanced audio aspects I mentioned before…It all made it feel like I, as the player, was personally experiencing the narrative and story they are trying to tell. 

I love the detail the game add’s to the objects(like this letter and magazine) throughout the house.

The Gone Home Gaming Experience

After waiting in agony for the game to begin, frustrated after the purchasing process, the game title slowly appears on the screen. I am unamused. Eventually I am thrown onto the front porch, the quality is slow and the camera is jerky which quickly gave me a headache. After learning that the doors were locked, which I already knew, and that I could pick up a cup and put it back, I found a way to change the settings which made my experience a little bit more enjoyable. The rain sounds are soothing, and there is not much I can click on. Finally, I found the key and was able to get inside the dark home.

Am I Home?

5:10: I am about to start playing the game Gone Home. I read some of my classmates’ posts and from what I saw, I’m expecting the game to be gloomy and mysterious–especially towards the beginning. Now I’m starting to get scared! I’ll keep you updated on this prediction as I walk you through my live experience playing Gone Home.

5:15: So here goes nothing… I’m standing on the porch. The vivid sound of the rustling wind creates an erie feeling for sure, and the darkness aside from the porch lamps doesn’t make me feel any safer. The game establishes a setting in a suburban neighborhood in Portland. I actually used to live there so this makes me feel even more creeped out. Does the game know me or something? Since I am alone and there is no dialogue between myself and other characters, I the game designers still make it feel like a conversation because I am prompted to do various things and interact with certain objects and clues. I predict this game will head to me looking for my family and never finding them. Perhaps something bad will happen to my character during this process. I am prompted to open the door and see this note addressed to me:

5:20: I feel even more startled now. Home alone in the suburbs in my big house? This just doesn’t feel right at all. I wonder what’s going on–it’s certainly not something good. Pulsating with fear, I conquer my anxieties and step inside. 

5:25: Wow! Isn’t my house nice! A beautiful velvet stairway extends before me. I look around and this is the grandest foyer I’ve ever seen. At least my parents left me with something… if I predicted right that they are gone. 

5:29: I open the drawer as prompted to and see a note written in loopy cursive handwriting. 

On this note are instructions and a map to a new house. At least that’s what I think it says. I’m having quite a bit of trouble reading this handwriting. I feel confused. I wonder… Am I supposed to follow this map or is it old? Who wrote it? Was I meant to find it or was it written for someone else? I’ll just hold onto this information for later if it comes in handy. 

5:34: I walk over to the desk in the foyer and see another myserious piece of paper. It looks like some sort of financial record or bill. I wonder what it’s for? 

Terrence Greenbriar… that must be my dad. I see the date on the top says August ‘94. This makes a lot of sense since the house does not have a modern feel nor did I see any electronics, such as a flat-screen TV or telephone. The grand total is $2750. For all the items listed, I would assume they would cost more. But I guess things were cheaper back in the ‘90s. 

5:41: I’m beginning to feel frustrated. I keep trying to open doors but many of them are locked. And I can’t seem to find the keys anywhere. I finally did come across something interesting, though. I opened a drawer and found this note from my roommate. It’s purple around the edges and glows in a way. 

It seems like this girl Carol and I were really good friends. I wonder how long ago this letter was written. She seems very inquisitive about my life. Maybe I am bad at keeping in touch? Oh wait… seems like she’s talking about me and leaving on my “European adventure.” This letter must’ve been written to my mom not so long ago since I just got back from my travels in Europe. The letter was opened so my mom must’ve been here not so long ago. I wonder where she is? I miss her a lot. I am having a lot of trouble piecing these clues together. I miss my family and wish I knew how to find them. I’ll need to keep playing another time to find where they went and why I’m stuck alone in this spooky mansion.

GLOOMY GONE HOME: I DON’T GET IT.

I am about to play the game “Gone Home”. In this post, I will give you my authentic feelings and reactions to the game as I am playing. So let’s get started.

So when I first play this game my first question is what do I do? I realize that I am on a porch and when I tried to open the door it was locked and I did not have any key. So how am I going to get in the door? I kinda don’t want to finish playing. This game is honestly very gloomy and mysterious and I feel like something is going to jump out at mat any minute.

I realized that the backpack has a time: June 7th 1955 and 1:15 am. What is the significance of this date? Also, who in the heck is Kaitlin?

I then read the note on the door. Are we playing as Katie?

I try to open the door again and this time I used a cup to throw at the window…and yep, that was a FAIL.

I then cut on the lamp. Man, not matter how many much light or brightness that the room has, it still seems so ominous and dark. Why is that?!

HA! I found the key. It was located inside the lil cabinet. I opened the door and realized that they must have been packing and the home we were at was the old home. Did the character come back to a home that was empty and they didn’t expect to be or was the character simply coming back to reminisce on the home?

Gone Home: The Start

Gone Home begins with a very slow and ominous introduction. It’s interesting how it doesn’t begin with any imagery like a usual game, and just jumps into some random dialogue. It then proceeds to show a black elongated title and setting screen to hold suspense. It’s also interesting how the creepy plot twisting note on the door is left by “Sam”, a character who has not been introduced yet. The only character we know is the main (first person) character, who can be matched to the dialogue from the beginning. The first scene is supposed to be spooky, with rain pouring and darkness in every direction you look, even inside the house. I think the storyline of Gone Home is going to be scary and suspenseful, and gameplay will definitely be captivating.

What is going on…

22:01 Entering to the lounge: “Oh shit my mouse is too sensitive that I cannot control my cursor well. Why I am moving so slow?”

22:04 Searching things on the right side: “Oh, I can open the shelf. Oh, here is a map. Wait, do I need this map after I go outside of this building?”

22:08 Opening the closest door on the right side “Oh no… I feel like there will be a creepy thing inside… Oh, it’s just a closet. There is a name tag. I should take a look at it. Oh my god, my screen is lagging.”

22:17 Looking at the shelf on the right side: “Is there anything behind the shelf? Oh wait, there is a question mark. Let me click on it. Oh, what is this. I’m going inside. Oh, there is a key to go to attic. Nice! I’m probably going to need this later. I feel like there are more hidden entrances.”

22:28 Finding out that the right door is locked: “Oh my god. This game might take longer time than what I am expecting. I should have started this game in the morning.”

22:30 Starting search the left side of the lounge and hearing a sudden Sam’s voice: “There is a folder. Oh, so they just moved here? Seriously? Do I have to memorize all the things? (Taking a picture of this instead…) Oh ****! (I freaked out by the Sam’s narration.)”

22:32 Finding a letter to Sam talking about Daniel: “This guy is pretty suspicious…”

22:35 Finding a letter from the principal and hearing a sudden Sam’s voice again: “Okay… (Taking a picture of the letter…) Oh ****! (I freaked out again by the Sam’s narration.) I cannot get used to this sudden narration. Oh, so this house is haunted…”

22:42 Looking around the parent’s room (?): “JFK… I don’t know how these things are all related…”

23:15 Finding an “interesting” magazine: “Oh, this is a book about JFK. I see. Yikes. (opening the ‘interesting’ magazine) Wait, I thought this game is horror.”

23:18 Finding the combination: “Oh there is a folder again. This number should be the combination for something.”

23:32 Starting to realize what is going on: “Oh so Lonnie and Sam love each other. There might be a problem between them, and that is why Sam probably left.”

00:12 Guessing the combination correctly: “I already know the last three digits. I should just guess one digit. Easy. Oh there is a key to basement.”

00:30 Finding out about the relationship between Sam and Lonnie and what happened to Lonnie: “Yeah, I kinda knew it. Oh that’s kinda sad. Did Same leave to find Lonnie?”

00:51 Finding the entrance to attic and searching around attic: “Finally I found the attic. Oh Lonnie asked Sam to meet her again. Oh there is a green book. Is this ending? I did not even explore basement. Oops.”

This game is not a mystery game or a horror game. This is more like a “story” for me. As I played through the game, I learned what the game is about. I probably should not realize that there was a hidden door to get the key to the attic. Although the sequence of how I played was probably not right, I believe that I got some key points of this game. This game tries to reproduce the atmosphere in 1995 by placing many items that were common back in 1995 like a radio. Also, I believe that LGBT was not considered a positive factor in 1995 and that fact could be inferred from the story. However, I could see her father’s effort to understand Sam’s situation. Each member in the family could not see each other’s effort, but there was the warmth of the family.

#sq3

Gone Home Observations

8:03pm – Just started the game and I’m already getting very creepy vibes. After my character comes back from studying abroad she arrives at a large, dark house on a rainy night. The first thing I noticed about this game was the sound design was very good. With headphones in I can hear the direction of the rain changing as I move the character. After walking around the house for a little bit I’m impressed by how many objects in the game I can interact with: from a phone to and answering machine, to random pencils and pens in drawers. The dates on the pieces of paper I pick up and lack of cellphone access make the setting unmistakably the 90s, which I think makes the game more interesting.

Another thing I’ve noticed about this game is that it is very dark. Even after I adjusted my brightness I have to turn on every light in the room before I can see what I’m doing clearly. This is a challenge for me and I hope it doesn’t get too irritating as I continue the game.

8:45pm – I’ve continued the game since the last post: walking around the house in search of clues for where my family went. I am oftentimes a perfectionist in story-driven games such as Gone Home, so I like to read most of the clues that are laid out. One interesting thing I’ve figured out about the family is that they (or at least one of them) are Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theorists. I found one book at first in the TV room, but then I later found a whole stockpile of them in a closet. I don’t know if this is relevant to the story, but I find these side details very interesting and I hope to investigate them further. For now though, it seems the main plot pertains to the friendship of Lonnie and my sister Samantha. After hearing the audio of Sam dyeing Lonnie’s hair, I’m beginning to suspect they might be more than friends.

Alan Li Blog Post 3: Live blogging Gone Home

Start game: 4:00 PM

Link back to course website: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/quests/side-quests/side-quest-3-liveblogging-gone-home/

4:10: Some of the first clues I found are screenshots underneath. The audio quality in this game is excellent, my foot steps, sound of rain, thunder and relative positions in the house makes the game feel realistic. The sound of raining is much louder on the porch than inside. And each drawer, sliding door makes their unique sound during opening and closing. I am amazed by how detailed and realistic this game is.

4:22: I found a lot of notes from drawer, and reading them is becoming a little bit boring. I keep looking around the house for details and looked through every room, drawer and anything that can be picked up.

4:30: At 2nd floor, I found a clue about the secret room in parent’s bedroom, it was really cool to discover that door. I was a bit scared of the darkness inside, and the spiderweb after I turned on the light. The visual message is dark and intense, which is what I expected to find in this kind of puzzle game. The lighting and darkness are really helpful to convey that kind of emotion. I feel more involved in this game as first person. Still, I am trying to figure out

The hidden door

4:35: clues keep coming and I found 3 hidden cabinets in different rooms. Unlocking the lock was easier than I expected, I thought I have to figure out how to turn the lock, but I don’t need to. Time, background and setting are very much set up by the letters and as I read more, I started to understand more about the history of the family. I think this will lead to a murder case, and I hope I will not see blood or body in this game.

4:50: I really like the hand-writing style of the papers I pick up. The marking on my map makes it easier for me to track the spots. Also the ghost hunters makes it more dreadful. The tapes that I picked up can be used to play and give more clues as story progresses. Different media types for information input is useful to make this game more intriguing and involving.

5:08: I like this red color in complete darkness, I look forward to figure out what is behind that door.