Dear Games Developers:
Thank you for the chance to play the alpha release of your adaptation to my novel, Our Bread and Butter Letters. I agree that titles with food in them do not work as video game titles, but I’m not sure that your proposed title, House of Fear, is better. It feels too generic to me. I’m not fond of your other options (Family of Fear, Fear and Loathing, Family Secrets) either. They sound like cheap thrillers. I hope we can find something that reflects the wry and poetical nature of my fiction that fans have come to expect.
Please see my notes on the game below:


Henry (son/protagonist)
I guess the archer character makes the most sense. In my book he’s a mutual funds manager who  takes photographs out his office window every day in order to stay in touch with “the artistic rebellion of youth,” as he puts it. What else could he be in the game?

Denise (sister)
I know you want to follow conventions and allow all characters to level up equally, but is there any way to limit Denise’s dexterity?  There’s no way she should be able to work up to a +10. She’s only 12 and becomes a pariah at school after her boyfriend attempts to implode the high school gym, (a key scene in the book, but I can understand the need to drop it from the game.) She is weaker than the rest of the characters.
Jim McCoy (friend)
I see him as the equivalent of the barbarian character from the Hack, Slash, Loot genre but that doesn’t mean he needs to look the part. In the book I refer to Jim as “a besotted string bean twisting on his hereditary vine, waiting to fall and rot.” If we make Jim thinner, it would better reflect my vision.
Hank (father)
I know we can’t make him a playable character in the story as he dies midway through during a confrontation with Grace, but can we maybe add him as an unlockable character for online play?
Grace (mother)
Who is the actress who read her lines? She nailed the voice. The smoker’s laugh is chilling. Excellent.

Threats/ Enemies:

Just some minor tweaks…
Fear Goblins
Numbers should decrease as play progress. And just to confirm, no aggro points.

Trees of Deceit
I think having them sprout up every time Grace attacks is a little heavy handed, maybe have them in the first half as well? I had this one scene early on in the novel where Denise is grounded because Grace found out about her sexting with some guy she met on the Internet. In the game its the scene where the group needs to find the orb of innocence. I think that would be a perfect place for a clump of Trees of Deceit.

Worthless Shadows
These are really great. I didn’t even see them the first time playing. I think we can up the damage cycle for a quicker health drain. Also they should only perish when attacked with a flaming weapon. Right now you can kill them with ice weapons. That makes no sense.
Addiction Witches
Is there any way to have them attack Jim more often than other characters? Also can they deal more damage on any player who has recently consumed drugs or alcohol in the game?
Beasts of Burden
Hate the name. Can’t help but think of the Stones’ song. How about Grieving Fiends? Also they should start appearing in the game in packs of at least five or more after Hank dies since that’s when Henry reviews his parents’ retirement portfolio and sees how badly it was managed. If we have the threats target specific characters (see The Addiction Witches and Jim above), could we do the same here for Henry?

Boss Battles:

Somehow I found beating this boss one of the most satisfying experiences in the game. The few minutes of button mashing felt really good. The aggro point accumulation works well. I was trying to get as many combos as possible to get the “wasted life” spell that stuns Grace as I found it impossible to attack when she is raging throughout the room spitting poison.
Let me just start by saying that the way you re-imagined Henry’s doubt about his ability to provide for his family after his father’s death into a boss battle was amazing. When I wrote the novel I imagined the crushing paralysis that was preventing Henry from making any decisions in his life as cold and heavy. Making the final boss an Ice Knight who can freeze players in place and pummel them with frozen ice blocks was near perfection (and using Hank’s face on the Knight was really a stroke of genius). I am a bit disappointed that you are able to defeat the Ice Knight as this is not how my novel ends, but I guess the game needed some kind of closure.


Is there any way to make the drugs and alcohol more realistic? Other games differentiate bottles for wine and hard alcohol. If we could do that, it would add another level of nuance to the game.
Also, is there any way you can have the drugs affect the players in different ways? I was thinking that by drinking alcohol everyone but Jim would get sluggish and the screen would blur. When Jim drinks alcohol his health should jump up by 10% but any damage he takes should be double; he is an alcoholic, after all. But not the prescription pills. I know you have them giving health and energy bonuses, but I don’t want the game looking like an ad for the drug companies.

Finally, when characters smoke pot, can you have a swarm of Fear Goblins followed by a Mirror of Truth but without the Addiction Witch? I know the Review Board will frown on it, but I feel too disingenuous hinting that marijuana leads to addiction.
I think that’s it for now. Your team has done a really great job translating my family tragedy into something that maintains a level of playability. I was really worried that once Hank died, the game play would suffer, but you guys came through!