Indie game developer David Wehle announced the launch of his first major project, “Home is Where One Starts.” The game was released on May 13 of this year on Steam for PC and Mac, with a DRM-free downloadable version available on itch.io.
“Home is Where One Starts” was inspired by titles like “Dear Esther” and “Gone Home.” The first-person exploration game puts players in the perspective of a young girl in the American South. Focused on delivering an immersive environment and a poignant story, “Home is Where One Starts” explores themes of childhood, hope, and memory. The game, which lasts only about 15-30 minutes, is spent exploring a lonely countryside that unveils clues as to the girl’s story of her broken home. Certain in game objects can be picked up and rotated which can lead additional story information or trigger voice-over vignettes voiced by the Wehle’s wife.
Wehle’s wife, Elise Wehle, contributed not only her voice, but also some of her internationally acclaimed art to the project. Elise plays the young girls future self as she reflectively narrates the events of the game as they unfold. This is David’s first marketable game and diverges from his day-to-day career in the film and television industry, where he worked with clients like ESPN, Larry King, and MSNBC. Prior to Home is Where One Starts, David experimented with game development in middle school-where he created several mods for LucasArts’ “Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight.”
The title has already received some positive reviews, which can be found on the Blog section of David’s website. Despite the release David has continued to work on adding additional features to “Home is Where One Starts.” In an effort to lend even more depth and immersion to the title, he is currently in beta testing stages for incorporating Oculus Rift functionality. While David has admitted the game can be compared to a short film, player involvement is still important as he explained, “The more in-depth you explore and the more questions you ask yourself, (regarding metaphors or symbols) the more you’ll find answers which explain this girl’s past.” This is supported by the fact that secret endings can be unlocked, and deeper analysis of the material can be gained, by discovering all the important relics.
David described the most likely player to enjoy his game and said, “If you are a fan of John Steinbeck novels or Terrence Malick films, you will probably be interested in ‘Home is Where One Starts’.” Despite his limited game development history, David used his experiences to provide his fellow creators with some additional insight into the release process. During the creation of “Home is Where One Starts,” David put the game up on Steam Greenlight where it was approved by the community. In a post he wrote for the website Gamasutra, David explained some in-depth changes he noticed to the Steam Greenlight process, and how they affect developers.
Additional images, videos, and updates are available on the official website and Steam page. Those interested in buying “Home is Where One Starts” can do so from Steam or itch.io for the price of $2.99.