Showcase / Homegrown Games presents “Father’s Island”

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Ertlov
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Posted: 21st Jun 2016 21:46
A mystery visual novel in a 3D open world, a walking simulator with adventure and movie elements: Father’s Island, the new game from Austrian indie veterans Homegrown Games simply doesn’t fit into an exact genre definition. However, the primary focus of the game set in the same expanded universe as “Legacy of Cthulhu” (2007) and “Into the Dark” (2014) is storytelling end exploration.





The player takes over the role of John Richards, a high school teacher from New England. Charged for robbery & assault, with his face on the security camera and his DNA all over the crime scene – despite the fact he was 50 miles away. Alone. Bad alibi, no plea bargain, the hammer of justice smashes him.
5 years later, recently released from prison, John Richards starts to explore an island along the coast-side of New England. A priest had disclosed its location to him, pointing out that there he will find all the answers he is looking for. Trying to get hold of whoever had framed him, the player starts his journey to an island where almost everything is familiar, yet there is nothing he can remember exactly. Two square miles of beautiful landscape, strange architecture, abandoned buildings and structures, mountains, forests and even small lakes are waiting to be examined - while fighting the demons of the past coming as nasty flashbacks and buried memories.





Father’s Island is a new twist, combining elements of visual novels, walking simulators and adventures. The fully narrated game features the voice of John J. Dick (Serious Sam) as John Richards and Ivan Ertlov as Henry Richards.



Reading notes, discovering points of interest in the landscape and experiencing the memory flashbacks as FMV ingame scenes pushes the story towards the climax – or, better, to one of the four different endings the game offers, based on the decisions the player makes. The dynamic soundtrack reacts to the player’s mood and the surroundings of the character.



Father’s Island is available for Windows via Steam and delivers 3 – 8 hours of playtime for US$ 4.99.


Please support us by buying, sharing, caring about the game and giving us a thumbs up on steam!
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Bolt Action Gaming
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Posted: 25th Jun 2016 21:26
Wow man, this looks like a real solid title. Well done.
Ertlov
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Posted: 25th Jun 2016 22:02
Thanks a lot!
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Posted: 26th Jun 2016 03:30
Quote: "Wow man, this looks like a real solid title. Well done."


It's not perfect,...but what game is ?,...it has a long loading time and the fps is not the
best,...but that's GG for you in it's present state, considering that, I think Ertlov did a good
job here,....he pushed GG to it's limits at this point in time and made a game with an
ambiance and atmosphere that I think I have not seen in any other game before,...the
story, visuals, sound effects, music and so on all blended well with each other to create a
unique experience that is hard to describe in words,....it is one of those games you
just have to play yourself and come to your own conclusions about, but, love it or loath
it,...you will definitely have had an experience, and at the end of the day,...isn't that what
gaming is all about ?.
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Merries59
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Posted: 28th Jun 2016 15:27
Looks very good, it's the style of games I love to create, you go!
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Posted: 29th Jun 2016 11:55
Thank you very much!
Meanwhile it has it's 2nd patch up and running
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maimas
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Posted: 2nd Jul 2016 07:52
Hey Ertlov, I saw this on Steam a couple of weeks ago and thought WOW this looks very familiar, like I had seen some of it before....then I followed the "webpage link" and started the video there and then I saw the start screen...and WHAM it hit me a GameGuru game. Then I read on, YEP it is...AWESOME...I will check this out very soon!! Looks VERY cool...GREAT JOB! ~maimas
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Ertlov
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Posted: 2nd Jul 2016 08:38
Thank you very much! Would be very appreciated. In the meantime we have 2 very positive prerss reviews, 10 / 11 positive user reviews, and the third patch online:



Most stuff adressed the performance and how user friendly the game, its settings and the menu are, but we also fixed a sometimes even severe issue.

Check it out in the patch notes!
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Posted: 2nd Jul 2016 18:31
Fantastic work Ertlov. Well Done. The game is looking great.
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Ertlov
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Posted: 3rd Jul 2016 14:52
Thanks a lot!
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Ertlov
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Posted: 4th Jul 2016 16:50 Edited at: 4th Jul 2016 16:50
Austrian State TV / Radio has covered Father's Island in an extensive review on air and online:

http://fm4.orf.at/stories/1771601/

While they consider the textures and the soundmixing sup-par or mediocre at best, they recommend the game overall:

"For 5 Euro, you get a game that can be considered an insider tip. Don't get distracted by the brute presentation: Political Pop-Trash like that is very rare in gaming and a welcomed diversion from the polished stories we usually explore!"
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Posted: 6th Jul 2016 16:46 Edited at: 7th Jul 2016 04:57
Well, if there were not the part of the review that you quoted and translated faithfully, Ertlov, I'd call it one unbalanced review of your game. Although it isn't somehow "my kind of game", I think the criticism is too hard. The textures are looking strange in places, but calling them ugly is not justified. The colouring and lighting is not really of this world, but one could pass it off as "dreamlike".
I must admit, I do have my own criticisms about your game, but that has much more to do with aspects of logic than aesthetics, which I would at least rate "ok" with your game.
Just my two cents.
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Posted: 6th Jul 2016 23:25
Quote: "Allerdings sind sich Ivan Ertlov und Team dessen bewusst - es ist ihnen einfach egal. Teilweise werben sie sogar damit."


And this is why you are heroes. It makes your game a lot more entertaining than anything "the chinese room" ever put out.
(Playing their game can feel like watching someone masturbate...very pretentiously while tasting fine wine and talking about its bouquet...and winning a BAFTA for it. Whatever that is.)

The textures aren't ugly either. I made some of these textures, how dare these austrian reviewers



-Wolf



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Posted: 7th Jul 2016 08:08 Edited at: 7th Jul 2016 08:13
Well, I've played through it now, and overall i'm pleased with my purchase.

It's not perfect, but then again what game ever is perfect?

Are there things I don't like about it?

Sure, the lighting isn't what I would choose, it's far too "orangey" and makes many of the entities look grainy to me. It's a little too "open" in parts, there's quite a few areas where you can bye-pass mechanics completely, "oh I need a key do I?" .. "nah i'll climb this hill here instead" .. etc. To me in a story driven game your character needs to be directed by the story and the map a little more, sometimes it's not clear where to go and you can end up going around in circles. The voice acting is a little over acted for my liking, and the Chroma key work just doesn't blend with the game, a video of a real person just seems out of place with the art style of the game in my opinion. My biggest bug-bear is the keys, keys, keys scenario, I see it a lot with indie games, the developers get it stuck in their head that every door needs a key that you have to find, many of the keys could be replaced with a variety of simple puzzles, the "key" here is variation, nobody likes doing the same thing over and over and to be honest I found myself saying "oh don't tell me, I need another key!".

But none of that detracts from the fact that it is a good game, and when you factor in the software used to make it, a very good game indeed. You can tell that Ertlov has put his heart into the work behind the scenes, the story is very creative, the placement of objects and terrain is very well done, and it's obvious a lot of care an attention to detail has been made here.

So, in short: While I feel that the lighting downgrades the look a little, and it could do with a few invisible walls and such to guide the players around, as well as more variation to the puzzles (ie less keys), I still find it a very pleasant, and to be frank impressive game, it's a thumbs up from me!

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Ertlov
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Posted: 7th Jul 2016 09:24
Quote: "So, in short: While I feel that the lighting downgrades the look a little, and it could do with a few invisible walls and such to guide the players around, as well as more variation to the puzzles (ie less keys), I still find it a very pleasant, and to be frank impressive game, it's a thumbs up from me!"


Thanks a lot, and taking some of the feedback into consideration for the next patch.

Quote: "The textures aren't ugly either. I made some of these textures, how dare these austrian reviewers "


It's the same blasphemy as calling my acting talent "mediocre". They will burn in a special hell for that!

Quote: "Well, if there were not the part of the review that you quoted and translated faithfully, Ertlov, I'd call it one unbalanced review of your game."


Agreed, however we still have not a single bad review, no matter where. And that's something quite motivating!
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Posted: 7th Jul 2016 16:15
Quote: "
Agreed, however we still have not a single bad review, no matter where. And that's something quite motivating!"


Yes, keep up the good work, Ertlov.
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Ertlov
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Posted: 8th Jul 2016 07:50
The next review, this time from Germany. This case is interesting, as the editor owns GameGuru himself and had some experience with that. Hew writes that he was under the impression you couldn't make a good game with GG, but now he has to change this assumption

http://www.game-2.de/fathers-island/#more-11811
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Posted: 8th Jul 2016 14:09
Well, that review seems much more balanced. It does by no means economize on harsh remarks on the qualities of GG (or rather the lack thereof, in the author's view), but the praises of your game, storywise, is profound. "As they always say: a GOOD game is founded on interesting gameplay, not on shiny graphics."
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Posted: 10th Jul 2016 02:37
Quote: "It's the same blasphemy as calling my acting talent "mediocre". "


Considering Ertlov is not a pro actor, I would say he did not do a bad job at all,
and for me, as an English man, it goes without saying that I just loved his
"Arnold Schwarzenegger" accent.
At the time of writing this post, so far, Fathers Island has 13 positive reviews on Steam
and only 1 negative review, and for a GG game in it's present state, I would say that is
damn good.

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Ertlov
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Posted: 13th Jul 2016 12:41
For all of those who believe in "try before you buy", we released today a limited demo on Steam:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/460940/

It's partially already based on the upcoming 1.07 version of the game.



So take a look!


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Ertlov
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Posted: 29th Jul 2016 09:59
Update:

Including the demo, we've had ~ 3500 players on Steam so far.

94% positive Reviews.


And we've seen already some people buying GameGuru after they have played Father's Island. So it advocates a little bit, too
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Ertlov
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Posted: 31st Jul 2016 19:49 Edited at: 31st Jul 2016 19:49
Der Standard, one of the biggest Austrian newspapers, has covered Father's Island - and recommends it.

"The surreal mystery story improves heavily throughout the game and is turned into a B-Movie gem by the vide appeareances of the father as vision, played by Ivan Ertlov himself."

(I feel flattered!)

Article
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Posted: 4th Aug 2016 00:14
@Ertlov
Well done...
I'm pleased to see one of my store items used in your game (the one with the shirt in the window). Couldn't help but notice a couple revisions.
Not a problem, glad you found a use for the model.

Again well done!
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Ertlov
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Posted: 4th Aug 2016 19:31
Thanks a lot!

Including the free lunch (aka demo) we have had now 5000 steam users playing it, and not a single "I hate this game" or "bad game" feedback. 17 positive reviews and one "It doesnt start" negative one.

I guess we can live with that
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Posted: 24th Aug 2016 09:31
Update:

Surpassing 10.000 players soon. Partially because you can get Father's island cheaply within the latest

IndieGala Friday Special Bundle

So, if you were too poor or greedy to finance us with 5$, here is your chance
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Bored of the Rings
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Posted: 21st Sep 2016 17:30 Edited at: 21st Sep 2016 17:32
I get an error when attempting to run the demo version.

[update-sorry ignore-must have been a temporary glitch-seems to work now]
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Bored of the Rings
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Posted: 21st Sep 2016 21:17
this is good so far, will probably buy the full game as I'm intrigued ,, well done
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Ertlov
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Posted: 22nd Sep 2016 11:19 Edited at: 22nd Sep 2016 11:19
Thank you very much!

If you buy the whole "Conspiracy pack", you get Father's Island and "Into the Dark" for 9.99!
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Bored of the Rings
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Posted: 22nd Sep 2016 12:09
Will certainly do that, I can tell you've put a lot of effort into it,,well done again
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Ertlov
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Posted: 28th Sep 2016 20:46
Performance Patch for 1.07 is live on Steam.

We optimized the hell out of it as much as possible. This here was taken on a 5 year old Office Laptop (Aspire 7000 series).

Low settings, 20 fps average, but still looking decent:



Patchnotes
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Bored of the Rings
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Posted: 30th Sep 2016 08:10
Played the demo and even fell into one of the endings literally! Great demo, will purchase.
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Ertlov
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Posted: 30th Sep 2016 20:02
Ah, a suicide coward!
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Ertlov
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Posted: 14th Oct 2016 08:44
Halloween ahead!

Read more in the Steam announcement.
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Ertlov
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Posted: 20th Oct 2016 11:55 Edited at: 20th Oct 2016 11:56
Yesterday we had the confirmation in the Post that we are running for "Best Indie Game" and "Best Story" in the German Developer Awards:

Deutscher Entwicklerpreis

Keep the fingers crossed!
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Posted: 21st Oct 2016 12:23
Well done to you and the team,well earned .

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Posted: 26th Oct 2016 22:06
Hi - I am new to this forum and just wanted to say thank you for "Father´s Island"! I really like the way the plot and the island are connected... It was wonderful to discover all the little stories which can be found around the hills and houses. The acting of the Father was a great contribution - with a good sense of humour. I absolutely loved the "suicide" warning at the cliff
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Posted: 27th Oct 2016 08:11
Thank you very much!

And keep your eyes open on steam during the next days, as Halloween is approaching we are very buys right now with the Special Editions
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Ertlov
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Posted: 8th Nov 2016 20:45
Version 1.09 is in internal Testing now.
We secured a commercial license agreement both for Reshade.me and and MasterEffects Reborn. Currently working on the proper implementation, but we got so far:

Virtual Global Illumination
Full Screen Antialiasing
Enhanced adaptive bloom
Real-time lens flares
dynamic scene-based color grading
and all that while running 10 - 30 % faster




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Posted: 9th Nov 2016 18:10
Very nice
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Posted: 10th Nov 2016 11:17
Still not good enough for Release of the next version.

There are some script tweaks I want to include.
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Posted: 13th Nov 2016 11:47
awesome work ertlov, well done to you there.
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Posted: 19th Nov 2016 16:46 Edited at: 19th Nov 2016 16:58
Welcome to version 1.09!

We have granted Father's Island an extensive visual upgrade. With special thanks to Reshade.me and Mastereffects Guru Marty McFly, we are able to bring you:



Advanced Adaptive Bloom
Lensflare
Virtual Global Illumination
FXAA
Scene-adaptive dynamic color grading
Improved Ambience Occlusion



And all that with...

Whopping 10 - 25% more FPS
Cutscenes can now be skipped
Fixed rabbit chase bug
Fixed Alicias corpse sequence




KNOWN ISSUES:

Some doors can still be glitched through, we keep hunting that one.
Saved games run 10 - 30% lower FPS after loading. We still HEAVILY recommend starting a new game for each playthrough (is now easier with cutscenses skipping)
If you look straight into the sky above, you see a line breaking the skybox. No Idea why!


So, fire up Father's Island, start a new game and enjoy the show!

What, you still don't own it?! Jesus, hurry up!

PS: Wolf - did you already review it?
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Posted: 22nd Nov 2016 16:11
And here we go with a short gameplay video showing the visuals in 1.09:

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Tarkus1971
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Posted: 24th Nov 2016 09:21
Cool, ertlov, where can I get this reshade tool???
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Posted: 24th Nov 2016 13:40
Hi Tarkus1971, it looks like Nomad Soul FX re-shader tool. I cool be wrong tho.

https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/214343
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A new competition running for GG
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Ertlov
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Posted: 24th Nov 2016 13:56 Edited at: 24th Nov 2016 13:56
Yes it is, with some adaptions to the files.

However, we had to get the permission for commercial usage to include it in Father's Island.

In the meantime, I have a sheepish request to share:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/460940/announcements/detail/282994403970865562
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Tarkus1971
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Posted: 24th Nov 2016 14:02
up rated and comment left ertlov
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Ertlov
GameGuru BOTB Developer
12
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Joined: 18th Jan 2007
Location: Australia
Posted: 24th Nov 2016 18:18
Very appreciated!
AMD FX 8Core @ 4GHZ - 16 GB DDR4 - 2xRadeon7950 - Windows 7 Ultimate
Ertlov
GameGuru BOTB Developer
12
Years of Service
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Joined: 18th Jan 2007
Location: Australia
Posted: 1st Dec 2016 14:14
We have re-recorded the sheep scene with the latest 1.09(A) Version:



And, on another note, VOTE FOR FATHER'S ISLAND!
AMD FX 8Core @ 4GHZ - 16 GB DDR4 - 2xRadeon7950 - Windows 7 Ultimate
Wolf
Forum Support
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Joined: 8th Nov 2007
Location: Luxemburg
Posted: 3rd Dec 2016 19:19
I have always reviewed the big titles back in FPSC days so I've recently picked up doing so too for Game Guru titles.

Fathers Island will be a tough one to review because I both like and dislike this game. I do however believe that a really great and unique game is buried under what appears to be a mixed bag of odd design choices, genuine talent and compromises. So lets get this part started:

First off, let me say that I find it hilarious that a game released in this day and age that openly mocks american ultra conservatives and nostalgic patriotism is entirely held in shades of orange. Get it? Orange??

When booting up Fathers Island you are immediately greeted with the distinct and stylized artwork of our resident Disturbing 13. I find this to be a very well made first impression. The current ReShade overlay is active in the menues as well...which is surprisingly more appealing than distracting.
I'm not sure if this is intentional but fathers island is starting off with the perfect introduction. You see, Homegrown won't play a cutscene and throw you right on to the island. You'll first have to get there.
The player will have to fill up the empty tank of a motorboat. Doing so will introduce you to the core gameplay of F.I. which is exploration, narrative, keyhunt and occasionally you'll have to find an item (which is also a glorified abstraction of finding a key.) The entire concept is presented to us before we venture to the island and are greeted with a genuinely well made, though delightfully sappy, narrated intro.

Fathers island never tries to hide its GG origins. You'll be introduced to an incoherent mix of styles in the assets used, effects blinking in and out of existence, objects clipping through other objects or floating pretty much right away. I can safely say that if the tutorial island, let me call it that, of fathers island does not spike your interest, you can shut the game of right there. While it will have its high moments n' climaxes of oddness later on, most of the game will be what you just witnessed before you fill up the boat.

On the island we will be introduced to life action flashbacks with your father (In this case no other than the great Johann Ivanovitsch Ertlovski himself, alive and raving) who is obviously borderline or all out insane. These cutscenes are really entertaining and Ertlov is upping the anty with his acting the further you proceed throughout the game.
Exploring the island is calming and surreal. You'll often trigger a narration which is usually well voice acted, however over the top it can get. Our protagonist used to be a teacher who was released from prison. I just hope he didn't get his voice and attitude from chain smoking in a cell but rather sounded the same when he was still teaching class. His voice is delightfully rugged and would fit well in an early 2000's action flick.

Visually, Fathers Island is, despite the now improved post processing, nothing to write home about. Its never bad and certainly notches above plenty of GG releases that currently plague Steam Greenlight like an infectious disease but its also not quite good.
Everything seems out of place and I was hoping for a bit better models from someone as experienced as Ertlov. Everything looks improvised and unpolished. You'll find that many different models don't complement each other at all and especially shacks or buildings end up looking like a thrown together mess. There is a lot of "chaos" on the screen. You also have to add that the game is constantly tinned in this extreme, surreal orange. Somewhere in between sunset and the surface of mars. Ertlov and team did try to add a certain logic to the game world though and from a gameplay perspective most of it made kinda sense. You can follow powerlines to find buildings so you are never truely lost and despite feeling quite open world, the game managed to lead me from place to place and I always had the necessary key! (despite one time towards the end)
I find this to be very important because right now, the game was not compelling enough to me for me to put up with excessive back tracking.
What I found appealing was that both in tone and in style the game reminded me a ton of HomeGrowns previous (visually superior) installment: Into the Dark.
I think the general layout of the game would have worked well if it went for different assets and maybe less dark red and orange light. Nothing ever looks quite right and from a visual perspective it always feels completely unpolished. Strangely enough, this kinda adds to its charm.
If you find yourself disagreeing with me while playing the game, visit the school. It perfectly well encapsules what I am talking about.
Fathers Island has competent map design. It really does! However, I do feel like the assets they do use in said decent map design never quite fit. I feel allowed to say this because a large fraction of what they used has been designed by myself. If you walk through the school building specifically you will find that the layout is eerieely reminiscent of old "dark-engine" titles like "The Hunted". You'll also find a weird visual hotchpotch of models and media that clearly stems from different designers. (There is also a room with an odd door that just stands around in the middle of it. With frame and everything. I think finding something like this in an abandoned building IRL would be downright creepy
Now, the reason why I won't shut up about this is because I feel like shutter island would be a whole different ball game if it simply had different models. If the school would look like a derelict hermit school (Wicker man comes to mind), if the island'd be overgrown and showing signs of decay (not mixed in with brand new furniture). I bet that his would be a hauntingly hilarious game if the visuals where not such an incoherent mess...unified by its extreme orange tint.

I won't spoil the story of the game (altough I highly doubt many of you'll be reading this far) as it is something you should experience by yourself. Especially the 4 different endings. Let me repeat that: Fathers Island has 4 different ending sequences all of which are very well done. (I feel like the hilariously extreme ones kinda come out of nowhere, but hey! Its a homegrown game.)
I do however have to mention that after completing a weird fantasy quest (sadly nerved due to engine limitations I heard from Ertlov) involving robbing a grave you will find yourself in an underground laboratory. Complete with 1980's science fiction machinery that even has flat touchscreens. ...I'm pretty sure that I am the only one who is bothered by this after all that has transpired on the island so far. Bestiality jokes included. Looking at most of the machinery in the lab, I'm pretty sure that whoever designed it was a complete dingbat. And yes, there are also nazis in this game. Don't worry! Well..not as characters but as references.

Another thing with this game is that, apart from some wildlive...and sheep, it has no characters. Hence:

Quote: "the new game from Austrian indie veterans Homegrown Games simply doesn’t fit into an exact genre definition."


Is incorrect. This game is a pure-bred walking simulator.

You'll be wandering the surreal landscape waiting for the either tragically comical or comically tragic narration to set in or for another ludachris acting performance by Ivan.
Into the dark was far more condensed and had shooting elements to keep the player busy...here I find myself walking long stretches of somewhat empty nothingness waiting for the game to humour me with narration. I doubt that many people outside the indie scene would put up with these huge stretches of "dead air". I must however thank you...and I suppose its as good a time as any to start with the personal note:

Personal Note!

Playing the game triggered a childhood memory of mine. I now remember a vacation in the woods, a hut, feeding birds in the morning...serenity...stealing an old ski-stick they used to mark some terrain to build another vacation hut and playing knight. That was a magical vacation I had as a kid somewhere. Maybe I should book some lodge for an extended weekend with my lass next year. It would be affordable and romantic! Thanks for the idea.

Besides that: I have noticed you using plenty of my models and I'm sorry that they fit your setting so little. Especially the mystic library fantasy pack mostly shows up in games that are not medieval fantasy at all and they never fit. I think a "1930's mystery adventure pack" would be a good idea for a project sometime next year
Despite me taking the piss out of it, I'm thankful for using so much of my stuff... now plenty of folks see it.


End Personal Note!

While the game managed to always lead me to the right places, even when I was exploiting the terrain for short cuts, I didn't have the necessary key for (what I assume to be) the last door of the game. Blin!
No matter... while wandering through the area I did come across the suicide ending...and accidentally triggered it. By the way, was it intentional or a lucky coincidence that after the ending video you can see the player character drowning??

Fathers Island would be a dozen times better if it where not such a drown out to walk this huge island. If Homegrown decided to go with smaller, better designed levels rather than this huge walk-a-ton I bet the game would be something odd for the ages and way more entertaining. As it is, it is only held up by the novelty of its weirdness, the charismatic narration and the weird humour.
Some gameplay, bet it simple shooter mechanics, be it deeper exploration and gathering mechanics would have added a lot to what is otherwise rather uneventful.
I might sound harsh but I do have a softspot in my heart for this game. I would not have finished (kinda finished) it otherwise if I felt like it was a waste of time.
F.I has the typical homegrown underdog charm and I really value what it has done for GG early on where almost all other games where complete and utter dung.

What would I have done / attempted to have done differently:

F.I. is a game that has very little gameplay at all and lives off its visuals and narrative. Sadly the visuals aren't all that great. It also suffers from long, uneventful walks through nothingness.

If I had designed this game I'd have put stark focus on grapics and aesthetics as well as having it divided in several levels. Events and key places would be closer together and while I'd not completely remove wandering the woods, I'd keep that to a minimum. The music was good and gave everything this sense of calmness and serenity, I'd keept that. Foliage and environmental props would be way more coherent and I'd try to add more exploration to it (being able to browse through lockers and having the character comment on items and so forth.)

While I don't think that F.I. would be all too interesting to the general publich I do believe that indie developers, game guru users and fans of previous homegrown games should get a copy.
To Ivan I can only say: Keep it up!

Sheepish regards

-Wolf

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