Taking The Longest Journey Home

If the Dreamfall Chapters crowdfunding campaign is a runaway success, April Ryan will once again take center stage in The Longest Journey Home.

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What does two million dollars mean to you? Multiple dream homes? Lifetime financial security? A small stake in an NBA team? For Ragnar Tørnquist and Red Thread Games, it means the chance to delve deeper into The Longest Journey universe and finally finish April Ryan’s story, the one began in The Longest Journey.

The Longest Journey Home is the name of the game that would finish April’s story, but its existence depends, at this stage, on Red Thread reaching the stretch goal of two million dollars in its Kickstarter funding of Dreamfall Chapters. It is, perhaps, a long shot. But maybe the promise of another game is enough to inspire even more support, especially given how The Longest Journey Home would return to its roots: it is planned as a 2D point-and-click adventure akin to the original game, rather than as a 3D adventure in the manner of Dreamfall and Dreamfall Chapters. It would feature hand-painted backdrops, 3D character models, and, of course, a story penned by series creator Ragnar Tørnquist.

I caught up with Tørnquist, and started our conversation by asking a very simple question: Why? Couldn’t a single game bring April Ryan’s and Zoë Castillo’s stories to their necessary conclusions? Why not make Dreamfall Chapters some kind of superadventure that allows Red Thread Games to explore both narrative threads in a single project?

“The simple answer is that these are two separate and completely [different] stories, with a very different vibe and tone to them, and very different themes,” says Tørnquist. “The Dreamer Cycle--Dreamfall and Dreamfall Chapters--is primarily about Zoë, and it's a full 3D, direct control adventure. The TLJ games are just about April Ryan, and they are classic 2D point-and-click adventures. It was important for us to maintain that distinction and feel to the two cycles.”

“Of course, with Dreamfall Chapters we are adding proper point-and-click functionality, so the borders are blurring a bit, but with The Longest Journey Home, we really wanted to conclude April's story with a return to the detailed, high-resolution painted 2D backgrounds, pure point-and-click interface, and classic adventure gameplay.”

A 2D interface doesn’t just mean classic gameplay for nostalgic fans, though: it allows The Longest Journey Home to have a different, slower pace than it may otherwise have. It also works well on mobile phones and tablets, and Tørnquist is certain that the game will find a home on such devices in addition to the PC.

The Longest Journey Home will pick up right where The Longest Journey left off, filling in the 10-year gap unaccounted for in Dreamfall. But it will also extend beyond Dreamfall Chapters and conclude April’s adventure. And that comes as good news to the players that have been so invested in her fate over the last dozen years. April’s a special character, in part because she’s sometimes so--ordinary. As Tørnquist says, “She didn't feel like your typical game heroine: she felt like an actual person, like someone you might know. Someone you'd want to know. She had flaws, she was insecure, she struggled with her newfound powers and her destiny. She had doubts, she was close to giving up, but didn't. She had […] humanity. She had a soul.”

April is also a female protagonist in a medium not exactly known for complex portrayals of women. The role of women in games is a frequent topic of conversation among game players and developers alike--yet Tørnquist never set out to make a popular heroine. April just happened to be the right person, in the right story, in the right game.

"Players don't not play a game because the star is the 'wrong' gender. I don't believe that for a second."

Says Tørnquist, “There wasn't really a conscious decision to have an awesome female star in The Longest Journey. We wanted a character who felt real, and true to our story. She had to have the life she had. She had to be who she turned out to be. The fact that she was also a girl -- I guess that was mostly chance, and also because I enjoy writing female characters. And, yes, maybe a part of it was that I felt there weren't enough female protagonists in games back then. But it was never really a conscious decision to break new ground, a cynical ploy for attention, or anything like that. I wrote her, she felt real, she had a soul, and players loved her. It was that simple, I guess.”

As for developers that profess how difficult it is to write female characters, well, Tørnquist has a few words. “Writing female characters is the same as writing any character--male, alien, giant asexual amoeba. Characters are characters regardless; they have to be real, they have to be interesting, they have to be someone players can love or hate, empathise with or be intrigued by. Maybe all of those.”

“I have never, ever felt that games are less commercial or less appealing because they had female protagonists,” he continues. “Or male ones. Or giant asexual amoeba (there's a market for that, trust me). And don't let anyone tell you differently. Players respond to interesting characters. Players don't NOT play a game because the star is the 'wrong' gender. I don't believe that for a second. If players dislike a lead character, it's because that character is uninteresting, badly written, badly designed--and not based on whether or not they have breasts or a penis.”

“In short: developers do not give players enough credit. And maybe even players don't give players enough credit.”

It all goes without saying that without reaching that stretch goal, Red Thread may or may not have the chance to make The Longest Journey Home. The Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter has been a clear success, but two million dollars? Are The Longest Journey enthusiasts that dedicated? Tørnquist can barely believe Red Thread has gotten as far as it has. “We are flabbergasted that there's even a sliver of a hope,” he says. "Flabbergasted enough to actually use a word like 'flabbergasted'. I was prepared to fight until the very end to reach $850,000--and we did that in a week. We crossed a MILLION dollars by the halfway point. That's amazing! And yeah, two million is a long shot, but we're doing everything we can to spread the word and to get more pledgers. Every step of the way towards The Longest Journey Home will serve to improve the depth, length and quality of Dreamfall Chapters. And if we reach the two million dollar mark, we can greenlight the pre-production on The Longest Journey Home, and get ready to make that game next. And nothing, nothing would make us happier.”

I concluded with the most important question of all: Any chance of a Burns Flipper spinoff? Tørnquist’s response: “Hells yeah.”

And you know, given the runaway success of the Dreamfall Chapters crowdfunding, I’m almost ready to believe it.

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Written By

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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Discussion

186 comments
rsfarmer0928
rsfarmer0928

This game is long, long story, long journey.

pidow
pidow

I'll continue to check this game out to see if, if I am interested in playing.  I need a change from the norm.  Will track.

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

Quite possibly the most unoriginal concept (Fringe, Sliders, multiverse elements in Elder Scrolls games etc etc), but perhaps they can do something new with it?... Won't hold my breath.

erkin6666
erkin6666

i only want original one to end seriously make that one then got to that dreamcrap ...

cjsit
cjsit

it is also on Steam Greenlight, you can support there too

cjsit
cjsit

omg YES please! best news this year so far

got an account on kickstarter for this and pledged much more then i can afford. damn, i would give so much to return to the TLJ world and see April and Crow again.. cant wait for this to happen

Redman1984
Redman1984

I'm going to fund this game immediately on kickstarter! Everyone who wants to play this game, do the same!

Beh Zad
Beh Zad

I want the first one remasterd.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

More different games, everyone sick of neverending brainless fps!

makoreactors
makoreactors

I really hope games like this make a come back. I also hope alot of the people who say they will support it actually do. 

Haylee Nadicksbernd
Haylee Nadicksbernd

Judging by the Kickstarter video I saw a while ago, it's going to be another Zoe/April thing. Which, Dreamfall being my first introduction to the series, I think is nice. But I think April needs to be the main focus. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm just happy they're FINALLY MAKING ANOTHER ONE AND IT'S NOT IN "A NEW DIRECTION." YAY YAY YAY. Ehem. Excuse me.

sgsummers
sgsummers

 "Players don't not play a game because the star is the 'wrong' gender. I don't believe that for a second."

My gf has refused to play many games that she couldn't play as a female character. Don't assume anything about your audience.

Sheik2
Sheik2

"Players don't not"... great grammar gamespot

Alcarmo
Alcarmo

I know - Longest Journey Home is still so far away.....but I feel some change....people are listening ;-)

They are listening to magic story they want to be part of it....and want to feel its magic again....

"Listen! This is very....very important....it might be the most important thing ever" :-) Zoë Castillo (the girl who saved April Ryan...)

gamergath
gamergath

I remember playing this game... just that I didn't finish. Long Story, Long Journey.

Illbegotten
Illbegotten

@Jennaralize Um ... except it's nothing at all like any of those. And the TLJ series predates Fringe by nearly a decade.

gamelord2000
gamelord2000

@sgsummers I think our friend Tørnquist assumes that his audience are not idiots. Not playing a game because the protagonist is the wrong gender is retarded. You miss so many great games that way.

thorn3000
thorn3000

@sgsummers I can see what you mean, my cousin for. ex refuses to play females, he might make one exception for the new Tomb Raider since it looks sweet, but otherwise he is pretty dumb missing on a LOT of good games which had female protagonists...an open mind, that's all you need...

ihateds2
ihateds2

@sgsummers Then she's stupid and sexist and possibly missing on a lot of great games. You can tell her I said that.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@Sheik2 Firstly, that is a quote from Ragnar Tornquist, not from the author. (That is, me.) So "gamespot" is not your target.

Secondly, it is correct grammar. "Player's don't NOT play a game because the star is the 'wrong' gender" is correct. It means the same as "players don't avoid a game because the star is the wrong gender."

Before criticizing grammar, it's best to not be incorrect yourself. 

cjsit
cjsit

@Alcarmo your comment is beautiful, thank you. i've always had faith that someday this wonderful universe will be discovered, and fallen in love with, again

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

@Illbegotten I was referring to the multiverse concept that the trailer was so heavily focused on - multiverses/parallel universes have existed in literature, film and games for many decades (think of Flash of Two Worlds in 1961 for example) and the concept does not therefore grab my attention in itself, which is why I am less than enthusiastic about the game if the focus is largely on that plot device. If however it can somehow do something fresh with the old idea, perhaps it will be able to draw me in a little :-) 

Sheik2
Sheik2

@Kevin-V LOL I actually found this very funny. Still, I never thought someone like you would lose his time in responding a comment like that. Anyway, thanks for the english lesson sir ;)

Sekhemket
Sekhemket

@Kevin-V I thought it read strange, but seeing as I haven't taken an English course since high school I avoid making an ass of myself criticizing grammar. Not really sure why people do it in the first place, Even better when they are wrong. 

Alcarmo
Alcarmo

@cjsit Hello cjsit :-) You´re welcome ;-)

After all these years trying to find some message on net that my favourite story will continue....I´m so happy now....this is really the moment when dream comes true :-)

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

 @JediMB I'm a game devoloper  @Jennaralize, and i think you're wrong. This genre has never been as successful and many others, and yes in many opportunities they've tried to expand their audience, very few times successfully (recently The Walking Dead achieve it).
Nevertheless, it has its niche and it's content working for it. The adventure genre is in fact a niche genre, and games like The Longest Journey has made it in the past with it's small public. 
Not everything has to be super sensational.

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

@JediMB Bit of a red herring there, I wasn't suggesting the game is bad, I haven't played it, I was stating that I found the concept unoriginal. Simply because I haven't subscribed to the previous games in this series, doesn't make my opinion invalid, an opinion isn't fact after all, simply an observation. 

For a successful business model in a series, a game needs to appeal to a broad audience of both new and established players. You can make a game purely for a cult audience, but that isn't going to make you cash unless you happen to have a massive mainstream cult, a wealthy crowd, or a low cost platform. I'm not anti crowd funding either and I hope that your game is made and that you enjoy it :-)

Just not for me, and I suspect also not for a lot of other gamers who are looking for something new.

JediMB
JediMB

@Jennaralize "games need to appeal to a new audience to be successful"

Or they can appeal to the sorts of people who enjoy the type of game the developers want to make. The people who bought and enjoyed the previous two games. Which is exactly what they're doing (quite successfully) with the Kickstarter.

If you haven't played the previous games, you're not part of the intended audience. Frankly, and I don't mean to come off as condescending or anything, that renders your opinion on the matter moot. That's just how it is with these crowdfunded sequels to cult classics.

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

@Illbegotten I'm sad to say that very few games capture my imagination these days, which is why I am searching so hard! I've not found many games that I can play through more than once every few years and I've not had the time or interest enough to invest in an MMO since EVE, which I played from Beta through to about 2007. 

For me, the most important thing is a bold concept that introduces, if not new ideas, a strong re-imagining/re-design of a rare concept, which is in itself and a tough task, considering that no idea is truly original these days. I enjoy intelligent and immersive sc-fi (such as the original Deus Ex and Portal for example), a long open campaign (linearity is a real put-off) and strong, absorbing, original visual design. I also enjoy the occasional fantasy game and shooter, though they are all rather samey these days and don't hold my attention too long.

In the absence of a good game, I turn to dressmaking, so not all is lost with my overly high expectations :-)

Illbegotten
Illbegotten

@Jennaralize Just out of interest, what does capture your imagination (games that is)? I won't criticise.

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

@IllbegottenThe trailer is there to get funding and should, with the accompanying brief, represent the ideas to be funded. If it does not do that, then that is a failing of the developer. The ideas put forward are quite clear, to my eyes, and they have done a good job of promoting their concept, it just doesn't capture my imagination, for the reasons stated previously.

We all have our requirements/wants when looking for a new game to invest time and money in and I appreciate that you are a fan of the series and are therefore very passionate about seeing this one take shape in the coming years. They have clearly put a lot of work in already to get the visual design rendered to the point it is currently and I'd hate to see that money wasted. I hope it's everything you are looking for when it is released :-)

Illbegotten
Illbegotten

@Jennaralize Keep in mind that the trailer is based on a prototype of the game that they basically haven't even started making yet. That's why there's a Kickstarter campaign in the first place - to get the funding to make the game. You're not going to get a true sense of what it looks like until much further along in the project. Unless you play the first two games, that is. If you expect more from a Kickstarter trailer, well, I doubt you're going to support *any* Kickstarter campaign, because frankly, this trailer is the best there is.

Jennaralize
Jennaralize

@Illbegotten @Jennaralize That's the thing, I am looking at the game as a game in itself, not having played the previous games - games need to appeal to a new audience to be successful, as well as catering for the old faithful. 

I personally enjoy a good story and I therefore look for originality in plot and design (world/s design, creatures and visuals for example), neither of which was apparent in the advertisement/trailer. Character development is rather important too, but it's only part of the package and it's rare to find a character that one can truly immerse oneself in or relate to in a game and they are oft stereotyped to specific social groups.

Like I said, it might surprise me, but I don't believe a game will be good simply because people fond of the series choose to spend their money on it, that is a fallacious argument. Comparison to prior concepts is valid to me and to anyone looking for a truly fresh gaming experience.

Illbegotten
Illbegotten

@Jennaralize Trust me, if you played the first two games, you wouldn't be accusing them of lack of originality. Especially if you'd played TLJ back when it was released in 1999. It had the most original and mature game universe (or multiverse) that I'd encountered at the time.

If I had to draw a comparison to existing material, it would be to the Narnia books, if they were written for adults, and if they were set in the 23rd century instead of the 1940s. But any sort of comparison is rather pointless, because the TLJ series are character-driven games like no others. The characters are why people want to see the sequels made, and why some are willing to pledge hundreds or thousands of dollars to this Kickstarter to make it happen.