Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition is coming to PS4 and PS Vita on October 13th! For its console release, Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition has been overhauled technically to provide the best experience yet. I’m thrilled to be releasing this narrative-focused, fairly personal game on PlayStation, and to mark the occasion I wanted to share some of the motivation and design behind this project.
Three Fourths Home began development two years before I wrote a single line of code for the game, before I’d ever made a sprite of a car or a cornstalk. Before I’d considered moving back to Nebraska, having lived between Wisconsin and Minnesota since 2008. Before I’d even made a game.
Three Fourths Home didn’t have the most typical pre-production cycle, to say the least. I tend to think of Three Fourths Home’s earliest development having roots in the rough sketches and ridiculous plans that led to [out], my first game. Unsurprisingly, the plans for that game were far too ambitious, and I gave up for a year before using the idea to make an HTML-based text game.
The seeds of Three Fourths Home were sown sometime during that development. I knew that I could tell a story with text – I’d grown up playing games like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, and Monkey Island, so I sort of expect I default to “text as story” (perhaps) more often than I should when I think of game narratives – but I also wanted to tell a story with text that connected with a player not only because they were choosing what to say; I wanted players to have a physical connection to the forward momentum of the story itself.
I wanted players to feel the inevitability of the events of the story because they were the ones driving it forward.
I made a few games and prototypes between [out] and Three Fourths Home. They followed a progression of themes: [out] focused on coming out, Letters to Babylon dealt with the possible aftermath. I was working on a follow-up to Letters to Babylon when I had all of my development work stolen. My computer, hard drive, notes, code – gone. Shortly after, I found myself in a situation that forced me to move back to Nebraska, where I’d graduated from high school and promptly moved away from six years prior.
Starting from scratch, in a place I’d never planned on returning to, I set about making a new game that continued on with some of the themes that were explored in my previous games. With my own circumstances staring me in the face, I decided to draw from them. I wrote Three Fourths Home, starting with Ben’s story, but still needed a way to tie the player to the forward momentum of the story.
Making players drive a car was perhaps the most literal interpretation, but it worked. The story in Three Fourths Home will not progress unless you are pressing the pedal, making the protagonist Kelly barrel forward to the inevitability of the game’s conclusion. You can’t avoid the forward progression. Sure, you can dawdle and pretend that something will happen if you sit and wait, but it’s just biding time until the inevitable.
Until you realize that in the years you’ve been gone, Nebraska has changed. Your family has changed. It’s not the way you left it, and you’re not sure how to deal with it.
And above it all, disaster sits and waits to descend. A ruinous thing that will expose the rot eating away at everything you’d considered steadfast and reliable.
Once you’re Three Fourths Home.