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The Stanley Parable is an experimental first-person exploration game built on the Source game engine by Davey Wreden. In the game, the player assumes the role of the protagonist character, Stanley, and explores various surreal environments within an office building in the company of an ever-present voiceover narrator.
In 2011, Wreden began working on The Stanley Parable without any formal training in video game engineering, setting out to create a gaming experience that challenged the player’s expectations. In an interview with Wired, Wrenden shared his design document for the game.
“The design document for [The Stanley Parable] was, ‘Mess with the player’s head in every way possible, throwing them off-guard, or pretending there’s an answer and then kinda whisking it away from in front of them.”
On July 27th, 2011, Wreden released The Stanley Parable modification (mod) for the game Half-Life 2 on the mod database site ModDB. In the mod, players can navigate different paths through an office building while guided by a narrator voiced by British actor Kevan Brighting.
Steam Greenlight Remake
After the mod was released, the Saxxy Award-winning Source Filmmaker creator William Pugh contacted Wreden about making a high-definition remake of the mod. In the remake, additional content was added to the game, including sections parodying the games Portal and Minecraft. In October 2012, Valve approved the remake for the Steam Greenlight service, allowing it to be distributed on Steam once completed. On October 17th, 2013, the game was released as a standalone title for PC and Mac along with a playable demo.
The same day, Redditor figypud submitted a screenshot of the game’s achievement list to the /r/gaming subreddit (shown below, left). On October 20th, Redditor thispun submitted an animated GIF featuring the game’s non-euclidean level design to /r/gaming (shown below, right). In the first three months, the posts garnered upwards of 6,900 and 3,800 up votes respectively.
On August 8th, 2011, a Facebook page titled “The Stanley Parable” was created, garnering upwards of 12,900 likes in the first three years. On October 11th, 2013, The Stanley Parable Wiki was launched, featuring entries containing relevant information to the games.
Several YouTubers have uploaded notable Let’s Play videos featuring The Stanley Parable.
Within two weeks of release, the original modification was downloaded more than 90,000 times off the ModDB website. At the 15th Annual Independent Games Festival, the mod was given an honorable mention for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and “Excellence in Narrative” award. According to Wreden, the remake version sold over 100,000 copies within the first three days of release on Steam. As of January 2014, the remake has received a Metacritic score of 88.