April 25, 2012 2:00 PM | John Polson
Benjamin Rivers recently began taking pre-orders for a June 1 release of his pixelated horror adventure Home. A mere $2 will net a DRM-free digital download of Home. The ambitious Old-School Collector's Edition costs $20 (plus shipping) and includes physical packaging, a town map and mapping tools, classic-style game manual, and exclusive game-universe artifacts.
IndieGames' readers seemed pretty excited about Home's trailer that warns no play through will "end well" along with the game's narrative that adapts to choices made. Readers also got pretty worked up over another indie developer releasing boxed copies of his games, so I asked Rivers about his bold move to box Home.
While Rivers had previously done contract work or freeware releases, Home is his first commercial release. Even so, he felt the box set is important because of the design concept that defines Home. Rivers tells IndieGames, "I gave a talk at last year's Gamercamp regarding what I call 'ambient narrative' -- that combination of elements in a game that hints at background, history and context, clues that an eager player will pick up on and use to flesh out a game world in his/her own mind."
Rivers explained that because technology was so limited, games used to use physical packaging as part of the experience "through artwork, in-universe tchotchkes and overall presentation-- that was more than just an excuse for a pretty layout. This packaging was often essential 'getting' the game as a whole; in a way, old releases were part computer game, part board game, because that physical aspect was so important."
The Home Collector' Set even contains some things that are meant to be viewed after playing through the game. "Since Home is a narrative based game that requires players to invest themselves this way, it seemed natural to provide a physical component, just to get folks in the mood, so to speak."
Those who take the plunge and pre-order Home's collector set will get something personalized that Rivers hopes will complete the experience. "It's a small detail, but an important one, I think."