I picked up The Novelist on Steam’s Christmas sale at the recommendation of Ryan Burrell. He thought I might have an interesting take on it as someone who tried to be a writer and gave up that life for an altogether different one.
After only half an hour, I can see the direction the game is going to take. There are three characters with competing interests, and you’re the friendly ghost who helps guide them to the decision you think is best. The father wants to write a book, the wife wants to reconnect with her husband, and the son wants to spend time with his father. For one to win, the others have to lose, and you pick the winner. You can forge a compromise by having a primary and a secondary for each chapter of the game, but in the end, I suspect one of the three has to be an outright loser.
Three chapters in half an hour, and it’s clear that my choices will be the same each time. The wife wins, and the son comes in second. Book-writing isn’t important compared to those relationships. If this dude can’t somehow spend time with his family and also write (which appears to be the case, for some reason), then his family has to come first.
What’s more, the catalyst for the situation in the game is that the husband/father has writer’s block. Maybe that’s true, but my bias says that he’s just not cut-out to be a writer. I think you need two things for that profession, and those are words and discipline. If you have the words but not the discipline, you’ll never write them down. If you are disciplined but lack the words, you’ve got nothing to write. The father/husband in the game seems to lack both words and discipline, and the only way he can get a measure of discipline is to totally ignore his wife and child. That’s not a writer, that’s an addict. As so many do, he wants to have written, he doesn’t want to write.
Ryan has encouraged me to finish the game, and he tells me it only takes about three hours, so I’ll do that. Ryan doesn’t seem to think it’ll change dramatically for me, but it will be interesting to review the game both 30 minutes in and also after completion. We’ll see if my bias holds true, but I suspect it will.