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.