Adulthood has got an awful lot going for it. You can buy whatever you want to eat! You can have your own place! No one can tell you what to do! Of course, it doesn’t take much adulting until one realizes that adult life is not exactly all that it was hyped up to be.
In fact, in a cruel twist, the very things that are so great about adult life are often the very things that are so, so bad about adult life.
Adelaide-based indie developer duo William Newman and Ashleigh Hansen of Birdrun have tapped into this disillusionment with their ode to adulthood, Homeowner. It’s a 2D top-down survival game with an old-school adventure aesthetic that immediately caught my eye.
Players are dropped into the role of an anonymous adult human in their home and must balance their need for food, sleep, and sanity as they attend their job and maintain their home.
It may come as no surprise that this is not as simple as it sounds.
I was recently lucky enough to play Homeowner in the Indie Games Room at AVCon, and to have a chat with the Ashleigh and William about its genesis during the Global Game Jam and their plans for the future.
PowerUp!: So how’s your AVCon going?
Birdrun: Really good! We’ve had a lot of interest and a lot of good playthroughs!
PU!: Tell me about Homeowner – how does it work? What’s the endgame?
B: So, this is what we’ve started referring to as an adult survival simulation, or “adulting simulation”. You have to survive seven days of PERFECTLY NORMAL adult life – that usually gets a laugh and gets people interested.
Basically, this is a game that came out of this year’s Global Game Jam, the theme for which was “what home means to you”. Our reaction to that was that home is a lot of work! You’ve got to maintain a job, you’ve got to maintain cooking, and cleaning, and stress, and sleep, and there’s never enough time for everything. So, we took that sentiment, exaggerated it, and gave it a slight horror theme.
PU!: Has the game changed much since the Global Game Jam?
B: Not a huge amount. We’ve ironed some bugs out, given it few graphical touch-ups and a bit of polish, but it hasn’t changed much.
PU!: Where are you hoping to take it after AVCon?
B: We’re basically just showing it off to get some interest. It’s already up on itch.io for free. We’re probably not going to take this particular game much further, we’re just gauging responses and reactions.
We’ll probably make more [games] in the future; we always get ideas from game jams. You know—you spend a very intense weekend making a game that you become very proud of, and then you never want to see it again! You’re done!
The end result is all very rushed. It’s a mess. But we always come away with ideas; it’s like, we’ll take this idea and make something more out of it.
PU!: Speaking of ideas, are you working on anything new?
B: We’ve got a little retro platformer that we’re building up and it’s one that we always want to get back to, but we have a few other ideas too. We want to do something with multiplayer, like on the open-world Minecraft side of things. So yeah, we’ve got a few ideas that we want to build on.
Many thanks to William and Ashleigh for taking the time to speak with us.