Good Morning

In the event that you experience anxiety or dissatisfaction in any way in your life, please play video games to mask the pain.

88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 This is the story of a man named Stanley. Stanley worked for a company in a big building where he was employee # 427. Employee # 427’s job was simple: he sat at his desk in room 427 and he pushed buttons on a keyboard. Orders came to him through a monitor on his desk, telling him what buttons to push, how long to push them, and in what order. This is what employee 427 did every day of every month of every year, and although others might have considered it soul rending, Stanley relished every moment that the orders came in, as though he had been made exactly for this job. And Stanley was happy. And then one day, something very peculiar happened, something that would forever change Stanley, something he would never quite forget. He had been at his desk for nearly an hour when he realized that not one, single order had arrived on the monitor for him to follow. No one had shown up to give him instructions, call a meeting, or even say hi. Never in all his years at the company had this happened, this complete isolation. Something was very clearly wrong. Shocked, frozen solid, Stanley found himself unable to move for the longest time, but as he came to his wits and regained his senses, he got up from his desk and stepped out of his office. Art is the material thing that happens when someone manages to release the pole around which, to a selfish person, the entire universe seems to rotate. You feel your own sense of importance slip away as your grip on that pole loosens. That loss-of-self is right at the heart of any kind of performance. This is why people who are really good at it frequently come across as simple-minded or pretentious when asked to explain how they do it. They don’t know, because they weren’t there. Now, fear is the art of selfish times. Fear is what is produced by people gripping ever more tightly to the pole at the center of themselves. Fear of losing what they take as evidence that they are, indeed, themselves, and so the center of everything. It’s usually money, but any source of prestige that can be quantified will do. Racial purity (full-blood, half-blood, quadroon, etc.) is another example. Where can you see lions? Only in Kenya. Come to Kenya we've got lions. Where can you see tigers? Only in Kenya. Got lions and tigers only in Kenya. Forget Norway. Kenyaaaaa. Oh Kenyaaaa. Where the giraffes are. And the zebra. Kenya Kenya Kenya Kenyaaaaa. Kenya we're going to Kenya. Kenya believe it. Here it comes, the unavoidable sun weighs my head, and what the hell have I done, and you know, I don't remember a thing I don't remember a thing. So I'm done, am I placating the notes? Should I fault, cut off my tongue so you say apparently I'm digging it in I can't feel a thing. And you've won so I go bury my head in the ground yet I won't lose what I said in the sound of the words and the note that it brings no I can't feel a thing. Here it comes the unavoidable sun of what's just happened and what's been done and you know I don't remember a thing I don't remember a thing. But it keeps on coming and I stop. But it keeps on coming and I just stand still. But it keeps on coming and I stop moving but it keeps on coming and I stop and it keeps on coming and I just stand still. But it keeps on coming and I stop and it keeps on coming and I just stand still but it keeps coming and I just stop so I stop running and I just stop but it keeps on coming and I just stop moving but it keeps on coming and it keeps on coming so I just stand still but it keeps on coming and I just stand still. And I run, and I run, and I run, and I run. ‘Well, Knipe, my boy. Now that it’s finished, I just called you in to tell you I think you’ve done a fine job.’ Adolph Knipe stood still in front of Mr Bohlen’s desk. There seemed to be no enthusiasm in him at all. ‘Aren’t you pleased?’ ‘Oh yes, Mr Bohlen.’ ‘Did you see what the papers said this morning?’ ‘No, sir, I didn’t.’ The man behind the desk pulled a folded newspaper towards him, and began to read: ‘The building of the great automatic computing engine, ordered by the government some time ago, is now complete. It is probably the fastest electronic calculating machine in the world today. Its function is to satisfy the ever-increasing need of science, industry, and administration for rapid mathematical calculation which, in the past, by traditional methods, would have been physically impossible, or would have required more time than the problems justified. The speed with which the new engine works, said Mr John Bohlen, head of the firm of electrical engineers mainly responsible for its construction, may be grasped by the fact that it can provide the correct answer in five seconds to a problem that would occupy a mathematician for a month. In three minutes, it can produce a calculation that by hand (if it were possible) would fill half a million sheets of foolscap paper. The automatic computing engine uses pulses of electricity, generated at the rate of a million a second, to solve all calculations that resolve themselves into addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For practical purposes there is no limit to what it can do …’



A few words about the Baby Game

Today we are pushing an update to The Stanley Parable, and I wanted to use the opportunity to talk about the Baby Game. Spoiler alert for a section of Stanley Parable that I can almost 100% guarantee you will never play.

Somewhere in the making of Stanley Parable, someone had the idea that it would be really funny if there was a mini-game that you had to play that was really tedious and not at all fun, and that the game should ask you to play it for 4 hours. Thus the Baby Game was born: a game in which the baby crawls from right to left into the fire, and you press a button to delay the baby’s death by a few seconds, over and over, for 4 hours.

Of course the point is that you stop playing it very quickly and the main branch of the story continues onward, but since Stanley Parable is a game about secrets and odd discoveries, we knew that there had to actually be some content if you chose to sit around pressing the button for 4 hours. So I wrote a few lines of the narrator encouraging you as you push the button, and William added a second phase to the game which begins after 2 hours of button pushing.

Here’s a video if you want to see the (abridged) Baby Game content:

Yes, we are quite hilarious, hahaha.

However there’s something weird going on here. After this person completes 4 hours of playing the baby game, the screen goes white and this is what they see:

Here’s that same image one more time with some annotations, so I can draw your attention to a detail you may have missed:

Yes, the black monolith thing was not actually intentional, it’s a bug that we didn’t know about because no one actually fully tested this ending prior to the game’s launch. Turns out that the door that slides open to reveal the puppy (2:20 in the above video) was unintentionally sticking around long after it was supposed to, and getting in the way of the camera. But most of this stuff was getting added in the last few days before launch, so if we were going to spend 4 hours debugging the game it should probably be used on a part of the game that people would actually, you know, see.

Anyway, the game launched and I watched the Baby Game for the first time ever via the same youtube video embedded above. I was kind of miffed that there was a weird black monolith in there, but at least the game wasn’t crashing or deleting files off your harddrive or whatever. Besides, I guess it looks sort of like the monolith IS the essence of divine art that’s speaking to you? It’s not totally implausible.

The thing that really bummed me out though was that the monolith was covering up the text and making some of it illegible:

I want to take a quick detour here to mention that William and I never really thought that many people would play our game, and that almost no one would ever play or see the ending of the Baby Game. I bring this up because in the years since Stanley Parable’s release, many people have played and seen the ending of the Baby Game, such as in this livestreamed playthrough of the Baby Game by Futureman Gaming:

This was actually one of a few livestreams of the Baby Game that I’ve seen, and in every one of them I cringe at the end. Once the player gets to the end of their 4-hour experience, gets a reward of 95 words, and is then spat back out into the very start of the game, I always feel like the reward (regardless of the monolith) didn’t even come close to justifying the effort put into it. I’m sure right now many of you are screaming “But it’s funnier that way!!” and you’re probably right, but as the game’s co-creator I feel responsible for the overall balance of the game experience and I actually do want people to feel like their time with the game was worth it. Stanley Parable is nothing if not a game about appropriately responding to your actions.

Since we never playtested it, I never got to experience how…cheap it feels to put in 4 hours of work and get so little back in return. Am I apologizing right now? Maybe. I guess if I had watched someone play it ahead of time I would have tried to go back and do something to make the ending feel more substantial. But like I said, we never really assumed anyone would actually do it, so I never bothered to put myself in the shoes of someone who might play it to completion. Years later I still feel weird about it.

At the very least, what we can do is fix the monolith bug and make it so that you can actually read the text at the ending of the Baby Game. That’s the reward we intended people to get, so dammit that’s what they’re gonna get. The update we’re pushing today will remove the monolith and make all the text legible…I believe. I have not tested it.

And finally, for the people who actually have played it to completion, I wanted to print the full intended text of the ending here so that you can read what it is you actually earned by keeping a baby from dying for 4 hours:

Fear me, Mortal. I am the essence of divine art.
Others but you cannot read this text.
Know that when you die, I will personally carry your spirit across the River Blxwxn, into my garden built within the emotions of a flower.
There we will live together, we will dance and eat and sin and you will do improv comedy based on suggestions from me for all eternity.
This is your reward for your work here today.
Now. Live your normal human existence. Await me in the life that follows this one.

December 27, 2016 by Davey 22 comments

Game of the Year

Hmmm……I’m trying to figure out a good way to put this.

Basically here’s what happened: after the launch of Stanley Parable, I became a bit depressed. Largely this is because in those months, SO much attention was directed at the game and at me personally. And while I could not even begin to put into words how utterly grateful and astonished and humbled I am by the enormous response to Stanley Parable (all of you are the reason I can now devote my life to this kind of work), those months after launch were intensely intensely stressful.

People don’t just play your game and then shut up, they’ll come back to you in force and really let you know how it made them feel. The vast majority of the response to stanley was extremely positive, some of it was also extremely negative. I had emails from people who told me I had forever changed the way they saw the world, emails from people who wanted me to know I was a spineless coward who should hate himself, emails from people asking for advice and for tech support and to look at their work and just talk about what they’d been up to, emails from fans and journalists asking over and over and over and over and over where the idea for the game came from, until the answers to those questions simply became stock and lost their meaning and even I began to lose track of where the idea had actually come from. Thousands of people asking you to carry some amount of weight for them, to hear them, to talk to them, to tell them that things are going to be okay, to not turn them away. I tried, I did the best I knew how to do, but after a certain point the many little requests added up and their collective weight broke my back. I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t talk to more people. I couldn’t continue to use other peoples’ opinions of myself to feel good about myself and about my work. Every time I turned to someone else’s opinion of the game, I felt less sure of my own opinion of it. I began to forget why I liked the game. I was losing the thing I had created.

So I withdrew. I basically checked out of the world, told people “I’m just gonna be by myself for a while.” I had never done that before. I spent a few months not really talking to anyone. It was lonely, but it was nice.

Then toward the end of 2013, news outlets begin releasing their Game of the Year awards, and Stanley Parable is back in the spotlight. Suddenly the personal requests start flooding back in again. Suddenly I am the object of peoples’ emotional baggage again. The GotY awards did not cause me to be depressed, they simply unearthed a depression I had been harboring and trying to bury since the launch of the game. But for whatever inexplicable reason, I felt depressed and anxious again. (part of what made the depression worse was that being given awards actually did not help me feel any better. “Is something wrong with me??” one tends to ask in a situation like this)

So: to help myself better understand and isolate the feeling of depression around the GotY awards, I wrote and drew a comic to explain what I had been feeling. It was simply the best expression I had for the thoughts and emotions that were running through my head at the time at the time, I just wanted to put it into some words to help make it less nebulous and unknowable. I wanted something I could hold in front of myself and say “This. This is what I am experiencing.” It’s nice to get it out of your head.

So I finished the comic, and read back over it, and thought to myself “There’s no way I can post this online.”

The point of the comic was purely just to clarify that financial and critical success does not simply make your insecurities go away. If you were insecure about other peoples’ opinions of you and addicted to praise in order to feel good about yourself, the dirty truth is that there is no amount of praise you can receive that will make that insecurity goes away. What fire dies when you feed it?

But if I go posting on the internet about how awful I felt receiving all these Game of the Year awards, no one is going to take that seriously. “Oh, yeah, we get it, real rough life you’ve got there. Sounds pretty miserable to be loved for your art. Maybe go cry about it into a pile of money?” And then of course I’m back in the problem I was trying so hard to avoid in the first place, where I’m stressing out about peoples’ opinions of me and forgetting simply to feel good about myself. I want to be able to like myself and my work, but it becomes SIGNIFICANTLY harder once people on the internet start asking you to feel ashamed of yourself. It’s really really hard to ignore.

So either I share this thing that is simply True, that is a representation of what I actually felt at this time, and risk being shamed for it, or I hide it away and continue to pretend that success means you never feel shitty about anything ever again in your life.

I’m going to post it here, but I also decided to write this preamble to contextualize it. If you do decide to read the comic, all I can ask is that you enter into it open-mindedly. You may not agree with or understand my feelings, but I guarantee you they are True, they are what I felt at that time. If you’ve read this and still think to yourself “oh come on, this guy can’t be serious, there’s no way that receiving game of the year awards would cause anyone to feel upset,” then I’d perhaps tell you that it’s unlikely that the rest of this post will convince you, and maybe now would be a good time to stop reading?

Obviously you get to do whatever you want, that’s how this creator/audience thing works, and no matter what happens I’ll be fine. But I want to stress that the weight I have carried is real and it is heavy. And despite my trepidation about posting this online, I really do want to share it with you. I want to be able to show you this weight, to put you in my head. I am compelled to. It is just in my blood. I have no other explanation. Thank you for joining me.

February 21, 2014 by Davey 404 comments

Video monetization

I, Davey Wreden, founder of Galactic Cafe, give full permission for anyone to record, stream, and upload any videos of our games (including Stanley Parable) to anywhere on the internet, and to monetize these videos with ads. No need to ask our permission, go forth, and cultivate revenue. Sow the seeds of your own financial viability. Monetize, and all is right with the world.

Davey Wreden
Galactic Cafe
October 22, 2013

October 21, 2013 by Davey 352 comments