Dear Esther

Grab A Ton Of Great Video Game Music For Almost No MoneyIt's almost Thanksgiving break, which means that a lot of you will be doing some traveling. And what better time to listen to delightful music than when on a plane or in the car?

The game music bundle has got you covered, with a typically great collection of soundtracks all available for as little as you want to pay. For just a buck, you can get the delightful sounds of Spelunky (though sometime we'll have to chat about that out-of-tune sax), the retro beats of Retro City Rampage, Disasterpiece's chicken pickin Shoot Many Robots soundtrack, the mournful music of Dear Esther, and Jim Guthrie's beautiful soundtrack to Indie Game: The Movie.

Go up to ten bucks, and you'll get a bunch more good stuff, including "Adventures in Pixels," and a grip of tunes from Hotline Miami, a game that easily has one of the very best game soundtracks of the year.

Good music, a good deal, and a good way to support video game composers. What's not to like?

Game Music Bundle [Official Site]

Dear Esther

Indie sensation Dear Esther won lots of praise for its distinctive feel and moody narrative when it came out earlier this year. Even though it's short, The Chinese Room's experimental title is the kind of experience you take your time with so that the mournful vibe and lushly drawn virtual world can seep into your pores.

But one guy doesn't have time for all of that. In the video above—courtesy of Speed Demos Archive—Simon 'default' Albacke Eriksson speedruns through Dear Esther in 23 minutes. Apparently, just because he can. Usually, speed runs are challenges to execute the jumping, shooting and other precision movements of video gaming as quickly possible. But providing a skill-based challenge isn't really the point of Dear Esther. So, blasting your way through it is like speedrunning an art exhibit. "I made it through the new MoMA Impressionism exhibit in three minutes flat. BEAT THAT."

However, Eriksson's sprint through Dear Esther isn't all subversive. A sort of manic tension gets made manifest in the speed run and shifts the literary appreciation into a high-speed dread, almost as if the player is running away from all the talking. So, if someone else beats this time, Dear Esther might seem… scarier? Who knows?

DearEsther_SS_2353 [Speed Demos Archive]

Dear Esther

Now That Dear Esther is Done, Everybody’s Gone to the RaptureIndie developer thechineseroom's experimental first-person adventure Dear Esther was a runaway success, despite the fact that wonderfully moody and atmospheric experience wasn't exactly what one might consider a game. Now that they've set the mood, it's time to add in a bit more game with Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, the story of the end of the world and the inconveniences that might cause.

In keeping with the isolated nature of Dear Esther, this isn't the end of the world on a global scale. Rather it's the end of the world in a tiny English village in Shropshire. It's a tight-knit community that keeps to themselves, so when God starts calling everybody home they aren't exactly at the front of his little black book.

Speaking to Beefjack, the game's creative director explains the inspiration behind Rapture:

"The concept of it is this almost '60s-'70s Brit science fiction – this John Wyndham, John Christopher kind of thing – of how the end of the world would be responded to in a rural English location," explains creative director Dan Pinchbeck. "It's kind of like that film that was made after the Second World War about what would have happened if the Nazis had invaded – and actually, the film was so controversial because not a lot would actually change for the vast majority of people, or they'd just accept it really, really easily."

There's definitely more game here than there was in Dear Esther, which really just featured a lot of walking. In Everybody's Gone to the Rapture the player will be given an hour to explore the village, interacting (or simply watching) six different characters (or memory traces of those characters) going about whatever business they might have at such a time. The player will be able to affect the story through interaction, opening and closing doors, discovering hidden places, or by simply standing there, letting events unfurl.

Whether you choose to or not is a different matter. It's perfectly feasible, says Pinchbeck, to play Rapture by standing still in the middle of the world. The game's characters will continue to follow their own path, and their actions will still change the world, so you'll still get to experience a story even if you decide not to participate in it.

With only a single real-time hour to experience a slice of humanity's end, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is the sort of game you'll want to play again and again, sharing your experiences with other players.

Now That Dear Esther is Done, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

It all sounds very transcendent, much like Dear Esther, only with more freedom to shape your personal experience.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is coming to the PC in 2013. Hit up the link below for more screens and info.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture – Dear Esther's successor [Beefjack]

Dear Esther

How Game Value is Like Six Boxes of HorseshitThis is from Dan Pinchbeck, writer of PC indie story/thing Dear Esther, while giving a presentation at GDC earlier today.

For reference, the full quote is below:

Of all the turds in the pipe, this is the granddaddy. Games are not too expensive. If you go to the store to buy granola and accidentally buy horse shit, getting six boxes for free is not extra value. Games do not need to add extra content to be a better value. I used to spend a long time pumping money into slots as a kid with this. 'The gameplay never changed, there was no kind of like change in the experience, this kind of stuff/ I played it, I put a lot of money into it because I loved it.

Dear Esther

Quiet Indie Mystery Dear Esther Profitable in Six Hours

This February is proving to be a fascinating month for non-traditional development and funding paths in game design. While Double Fine's Kickstarter proposal has been in the news, indie title Dear Esther has been making small waves of its own.

Dear Esther became available for purchase on Steam yesterday, and launched to mixed reviews. (The Kotaku review found the game to be obtuse in many key ways and yet still recommended playing it.) And yet the niche exploration-based title, that began life years ago as a Half-Life 2 mod, was the top-selling game on Steam on its launch day (remaining in second place on day two) and reached full profitability in under six hours.

The money necessary to make the game came in a loan from the Indie Fund, a small group whose mission is to provide loans to indie developers to help them become successful enough to self-finance in the future. While this model is somewhat more traditional than the still-novel idea of crowdfunding, it still provides small, unusual projects like Dear Esther with the resources they need to help keep the indie scene thriving and fresh.

Dear Esther may not be for everyone, and it may be a flawed game. But the wider the array of possibilities and experiences we can try, the better off we all are. Personally I'm a big fan of seeing what experimental, indie, or avant-garde projects come up with because the best new ideas often end up with lingering influence on the wider world.


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