In Summerhouse, every home hides a story

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    This deceptively simple house-building game from Friedemann is surprisingly good at prompting stories. Once you enter a world, you are left alone to create homes or buildings with a fair amount of resources and very little restriction. It’s a lot of fun by itself, but over time the ease of placing things led to me creating deep backstories for everything I was making. Summerhouse simply lets you be. Your imagination is allowed to wander wherever it desires in that moment.

    Soon after starting the demo, I found that I was asking myself, ‘Who lives here? What do they do?’ I would start asking these questions with one building, and often that would prompt the beginning of a story that would span the rest of the street. It helps that, although there isn’t an endless amount of choice, each item you can add to a building ignites its own spark of inspiration. I built a cafe then questioned if it was any good. My answer was, ‘No,’ so I placed several overflowing bins outside it. If the Cafe is bad then perhaps the local restaurant is popular – so much so that it needs renovating to keep up with demand? So then I’d put a construction-like block next to it with a stop sign outside. Naturally, traffic cannot pass through a construction site!

    A park and visitor centre found its way into the street because one of the signs you can put down looks like a wildlife information board. The area needed to look like a park after that, so I packed as much foliage, grass and boulders in as possible (which, dear reader, was not just an excuse for putting lots of trees everywhere because I liked their design). Ah, the park was complete. But WAIT! A large park needs a ranger to take care of things, but they also need to live nearby. What would their house look like? Would they leave their washing outside? I think so; they’d definitely be clued in on the weather report for the day. Perhaps they’d have shutters decorating their windows to give a more natural feel to the hut they reside in.

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