Tribeca Games Festival Panel: What Remains of Edith Finch

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The very first Tribeca games festival kicked off the night of Friday April 28th, 2017 with a crowd play event for Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy and a concert by British band Muramasa Saturday morning I was invited to watch some of the keynotes that were given during the morning session on April 29th.

The first keynote of the day was at 930 am. It was a conversation between Ian Dallas of What Remains of Edith Finch and filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead of Resolution, Spring, and their newest film Endless. Kevin Nguyen of GQ moderated the discussion.

I found this discussion to be fascinating because the panel discussed the differences and similarities between video games and movies in terms of marketing, story telling, and competition. Ian went on to talk about the challenges Edith Finch faced in overcoming the idea that it is just a “Walking Simulator”.

He went on about how it was important the trailer convey that it is more than just that, without giving the mystery away. It is still on the players to want to explore that world after being given that initial hook. Justin and Aaron talked about the plot to their first movie Resolution, and how even with giving away the premise of the story, it was “just enough” to have the audience wanting more. It is important for any medium that wants to keep the contents of the art a mystery to find this balance.

Ian a lot went on to talk about how the team brought in a 3rd party to handle all trailers for the game after the first. Since that is not their expertise and they did not want to misrepresent the game. Justin furthered that by saying it best to leave trailers to people who know how to peak interest and cut together footage to fit the tonality of the piece.

Then Ian said something that really resonated with me. He started talking about the idea that people will stream the entire game to their community, which is fine if that’s how you want to consume it. However the people who watched that play through and liked it will tell their friends. Who will then in turn buy and play the game, and that is how you sell a game that can be consumed entirely by watching a stream or YouTube video.

Aaron told a quick aside about how he is in fact of fan of What Remains of Edith Finch and had pre ordered the game long before knowing he would end up doing a keynote together with Ian. They got into a discussion about how item placement and meticulous detail can shape and flesh out the world.

He then spoke about how a simple chair assist on the staircase was able to frame an entire characters life. A simple item in the world that tells a story of that character’s last ten years. The struggle of losing the ability to walk. Ian said that they struggled with deciding whether or not to put that item in, and then after it was there it felt like it always belonged.

What Remains of Edith Finch is out now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC and the movie Endless is currently on the festival circuit.

 

Jesse Vitelli
Has been playing games since before he could walk. Is a lover of RPG's and indie games. He once beat Luigi's Mansion in one 9 hour sitting and achieved rank A. If you look you can find over 2,000 Halo 3 custom games on his account. You will probably find him logging in hours on Destiny or World of Warcraft.

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