That They Will Remember: An Interview With Homesick Designer, Barrett Meeker

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Do you find yourself, every now and again, yearning for the glory days of Lucasarts’ point-and-click adventure games? Does the slow-paced, poetry-laden adventure through the moors in Dear Esther tickle your morose fancy? Then you might want to keep an eye on Lucky Pause’s Kickstarter project, Homesick.

The project is the brainchild of Barrett Meeker, a video game artist with ten years of experience under his belt who has set out to create his own crowd-funded game with the goal of “bring[ing] a beautiful 3D world and a first person perspective to the great point-and-click genre.” The Kickstarter page for the game is building up steam; it’s only been online for three days and already has more than a quarter of its pledge goal. Barrett was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about his passion project.

Tell us a little bit about your work before Homesick. In the promotional video for the Kickstarter, you mention that you’ve been a video game artist for ten years. How about a cursory account of some of your work during that time?

Yeah, it’s been great! Most of that time I was doing cinematic for video games. I worked on cinematics for Halo Wars, Sonic Next, Dante’s Inferno, and a bunch of others. That was all when I was working at Blur Studio. I also got to do some other cool stuff like work on The Goon pitch and the Dante’s Inferno Superbowl commercial.

What inspired you to pursue a crowd-funded project? I understand you’ve devoted your savings to the development of Homesick.

The timing for making a video game just seemed right. I spent the last year working with the Unreal engine. I felt like I had Unreal down really well, so here I am, working to get my own game out. The crowd-funding is going to be really needed to make the game 100% as good as I want it to be. Seeing the enthusiasm of the crowd-funding community was also really key, working as a very small team it’s really nice to get some outside support and feedback.

How long have you’ve been working on this particular game, precisely? In the promotional video, Morgan (Lucky Pause’s communications director) mentions that you have a prototype of the gameplay and some of the art.

I’ve been working on the game two months now.

Homesick That They Will Remember: An Interview With Homesick Designer, Barrett Meeker

Your Kickstarter mentions that you’re drawing inspiration from Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games (Monkey Island, The Dig). How do those games influence the development of Homesick—and what are some other influences as well? The first person exploration in a decayed but beautiful setting seems to recall Dear Esther.

That’s a good question. The point and click influence is really in the gameplay. I didn’t want to make a game that centered on violence. I love the puzzles in adventure games, they have great and typically non-violent gameplay. This works great with a beautiful atmospheric setting, the gameplay is all about reaching out to things in the environment and interacting with them, this is great in immersing the player into the game and the world even more.

Will Homesick be a frightening experience? The information about the game mentions nightmares, dark hallways, and an axe in the protagonist’s hand. Can players expect to be a little unnerved even if it’s not, as you say, centered on violence?

Yes, players can expect to be unnerved, possibly frightened. While you can’t die in Homesick, you can fail the nightmares. More time than not you’ll be awake in the daytime world. Although the nightmares do play a pivotal role in advancing the story. In the nightmares, you can do things you can’t when you’re awake, the axe, for example, you only have that in the nightmares.

How has the feedback from the community been so far? It’s only been two days since the Kickstarter started and the project nearly has a quarter of its 8,000$ goal. Also, under the Steam Greenlight page for the game, there are a number of commenters curious about the game’s story. Do you want to address that curiosity?

The response from the community has been AMAZING! We are blown away. I am really excited about this game and it has been really great to finally start to share it. I wish I could say more about the story, but I really want players to discover it as they play. It’s the huge mystery of the game: who you are, what you are doing, why you have the nightmares. The answers to these questions are revealed organically as you solve the puzzles and unlock new areas. I will say, everything is connected.

Homesick2 That They Will Remember: An Interview With Homesick Designer, Barrett Meeker

The reward tiers for the Kickstarter are rather interesting because you’re granting a number of contributors the privilege of submitting prose or even family photos to be included in the game. Obviously, that’ll make the game more personal for those individuals, but do you feel that those inclusions will also make it more personal for the people who don’t contribute in that way as well?

Yes, I agree. I hope that including backer-submitted pictures, books, and other content will really make the world feel like a place that was a home to many people, rather than a home just created by me. It’s exciting to have this collaboration with our supporters.

Have you thought any about the future beyond Homesick—maybe just scribblings on napkins even—or are you just completely absorbed in everything Homesick at the moment?

Right now I am completely absorbed, but I do have a good idea of the game I will do next, a game I’ve been thinking about since before I was working on Homesick. My goal is to continue to make really thoughtful, emotional games.

One last question: Ultimately, what do you want the player to come away with after finishing Homesick? What experience do you want them to have with a game like this–with your game?

I want the player to feel they’ve been on a journey, with a sense of acceptance and peace. I hope that they have a good time that they will remember.

Homesick is currently being funded on Kickstarter, you can also vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

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