But That Was [Yesterday]

But That Was [Yesterday] is a game about memories. You follow a man who is confronted with a inky-black wall that is blocking his path. The wall encourages the man to walk into it by stepping forward, then the game begins. Anything more than this would spoil it.

The gameplay is impressive, but not for its complexity. The entire repertoire of moves consists of the four arrow keys. You don’t even have access to all of them at first, yet the game manages to use your actions to make them meaningful. Similarly to Heavy Rain, the act of making you press the button is as important as actually pressing it. The game gets some great use of this dynamic, making you hit some unexpected buttons at various points in the story.

The art and music are similarly well done. They get some mileage out of monochrome characters without faces. The music is certainly a breath of fresh air, even for indie games, and is amazingly well done for a free Flash game. There are even multiple endings to be found. Almost every aspect of the game is polished, well done, and effective.

It’s a short game that takes maybe 15 minutes to complete, but well worth it.

Why You Should Check This Out: More proof that the details matter—But That Was [Yesterday] is a game where the details make a simple concept shine. As you navigate the world with nothing but the arrow keys, you’re treated to some very well done storytelling, art and music while the gameplay just enhances it that much more. A simple game put to good effect, it just helps show that you don’t always need 30 programmable keys to make a good game.

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Comments

That was pretty damn cool. It has its moments for sure. It is indeed one giant life lesson analogy machine. Or is it metaphors? Whichever.

Multiple endings, really? I don't see how I could have got a different ending. Hmm..

Shawnosaurus wrote:

That was pretty damn cool. It has its moments for sure. And I did learn that if I want to nail pink ladies I need to jump off more cliffs. Figuratively speaking.

Multiple endings, really? I don't see how I could have got a different ending. Hmm..

I really enjoyed it. But I agree about the multiple endings. Guess some googling is in order.

I wrote this guy up a couple weeks ago too, and also liked it a lot. I think there'll be some dissent over whether this sort of thing really qualifies as a "game", but in my view it does (for reasons that would unfortunately be kind of spoilery to discuss, so I won't talk about them until people have had a chance to check it out).

In any event, it's really neat and people ought to check it out. Glad it came across your rader too.

...interesting.

Spoiler:

I didn't like the music, though I did like how it reacted to the scene -- the farther away you push the wall, the more layered and open it gets. It's a good clue on when you can push forward.

Someone at RPS says that which ending you get is based entirely on what time of day you play, but I dunno. I got the girl. It was touching, but would have been better without the text at the end (far too much of a cudgel in an otherwise subtle experience). Anyone with the dog or friend ending feel the same way about the text at the end?

Minarchist wrote:

...interesting.

Spoiler:

I didn't like the music, though I did like how it reacted to the scene -- the farther away you push the wall, the more layered and open it gets. It's a good clue on when you can push forward.

Someone at RPS says that which ending you get is based entirely on what time of day you play, but I dunno. I got the girl. It was touching, but would have been better without the text at the end (far too much of a cudgel in an otherwise subtle experience). Anyone with the dog or friend ending feel the same way about the text at the end?

Spoiler:

I got the dog ending, and didn't feel the same about the text. The whole experience was essentially dialog-less, and the text I felt kind of gave a happy ending to what was - in my opinion - a rather somber experience. I mean, the whole game is essentially about loss, so it was kind of nice to see the protagonist come full circle and reunite with the dog which was the first companion you learn a game mechanic from.

Ravenlock wrote:

I think there'll be some dissent over whether this sort of thing really qualifies as a "game", but in my view it does (for reasons that would unfortunately be kind of spoilery to discuss, so I won't talk about them until people have had a chance to check it out).

Okay, I'm in the "not-a-game" camp. Care to make your case?

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Ravenlock wrote:

I think there'll be some dissent over whether this sort of thing really qualifies as a "game", but in my view it does (for reasons that would unfortunately be kind of spoilery to discuss, so I won't talk about them until people have had a chance to check it out).

Okay, I'm in the "not-a-game" camp. Care to make your case?

same here. I don't consider this a "game", but a great interactive experience. I loved the simplicity and simple mechanic. Just like Coma and Today I Die, it's telling a story. By making it interactive, you relate on a deeper level than watching a movie or a simple animation.

Also,

Spoiler:

I got the dog ending too; "I thought he'd never come back... but that was yesterday".
What's the text you get with the girl ending?

Hobbes2099 wrote:

By making it interactive, you relate on a deeper level than watching a movie or a simple animation.

Personally, I'd rather have watched an edited version of it. The interactive elements were repetitious and mostly got in the way.

Hobbes2099 wrote:

Also,

Spoiler:

I got the dog ending too; "I thought he'd never come back... but that was yesterday".
What's the text you get with the girl ending?

Spoiler:

I thought she'd never return... but that was yesterday

At least, that's what I remember

Similarly to Heavy Rain, the act of making you press the button is as important as actually pressing it.

Very curious now. Looking forward to trying it.

Spoiler:

For me, the only really effective parts of the game were discovering the "turn your back on the darkness/memories" and the moments with the friend telling you to get up off the ground and falling in love while on the swings. Also the realization that you have to keep failing to get to the girl at the end (my ending) was nice. Which, really, now that I think about it, is more moments than many games manage to pull off.

But the metaphor doesn't really work for me. Thinking about it now, it seems to me the protaganist needs to make it through that black wall somehow, instead of it just disappearing at the end. Because isn't part of the point that "yesterday" informed him and taught him how to make his way through the world? In which case, the girl showing up and coming to him seems a kind of cheap deus ex machina.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Ravenlock wrote:

I think there'll be some dissent over whether this sort of thing really qualifies as a "game", but in my view it does (for reasons that would unfortunately be kind of spoilery to discuss, so I won't talk about them until people have had a chance to check it out).

Okay, I'm in the "not-a-game" camp. Care to make your case?

According to Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman:

A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.

I feel the same as Salen and Zimmerman, and would classify ... But That Was [Yesterday] as a game under such a definition. Granted, the gameplay is basic and rather shallow, though used to good effect; shallow nonetheless from a gameplay standpoint, though. But to better discuss, I have to ask why you don't feel it is a game?

I got the friend ending. Which was fine by me, since I found the friends relationship the most fleshed out and meaningful. (Bro's before ho's and all that.)

I'm a bit surprised to see as much dispute over whether this is really a Game or not, as if a Game must meet some strict codification of guidelines before Game status is bestowed upon it. I thought Today I Die was a Game. Even though I wasn't a big fan of it -- at one point, I believe I even called it "broken" in its Fringe Busters thread -- I thought Every Day The Same Dream was a Game too.

And this Game actually has more Game-like elements than either of those, to tell you the truth. Startlingly, there are moments where the player is not only asked to learn a mechanic, but to demonstrate their understanding of it through a sequence of tests. Some archaeologists have taken to identifying these interactive phenomena as "levels."

Are the mechanics that drive those interactions elegantly implemented? Not really, no. The responsiveness (or lack thereof) of one mechanic introduced later in the Game came dangerously close to ruining the narrative impact behind a couple of moments through sheer tedium. And another mechanic, introduced much earlier in the game, seem to jam up the proverbial opera behind the Game's primary metaphor.

(SPOILER: If I'm looking back to look away from my past, then why is my future -- where I want to go to -- in the same direction as my past? Is this like that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Picard is an old guy out in some vineyard in France?)

But we never have these conversations about whether a Game is really a Game with terrible mainstream Games, do we? To offer the context of another Game for consideration, I humbly present the following comments from various YouTube scholars in reference to Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, a NES tie-in release to the 1992 movie:

These quotes make me sad and somewhat hateful for humanity, but they are useful for my argument. Thus, they are important! YouTube wrote:

Miusic makes this [color=red]game[/color] even more horrible

xD i palyed this .. one crazy [color=red]game[/color] hehe

I feel sorry for kids whose parents bought then this [color=red]game[/color] expecting it to be good.

These people are incapable of spelling [color=purple]MUSIC[/color] and even they recognize that Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a Game, albeit one of the most awful Games that has ever been played by anybody.

And yet, the entry that is presented here, which has mechanics and a narrative that are easily more satisfying than one of the worst NES Games of all time, isn't called a Game quite so naturally. Why?

Is it the length? ("That's what she said," he says.) I guess it's certainly possible that the twenty minutes of playing and finishing But That Was Yesterday resides in a similar part of my brain as the twenty minutes of playing Back to the Future 2 And 3, exorcising the foul cartridge from my NES and then jumping up and down on it with golf shoes until it started making a delicious crunching sound beneath my heels.

Is it that it's presented to you in a web browser? Well, everybody keeps saying that FarmVille is ushering in The End of Gaming As We Know It and, unless FarmVille is part of some transcendent super-medium that exists beyond all passive and interactive forms of expression, that means that one's probably a Game too.

Ultimately, I feel like we have a hard enough time talking about whether Games are Art or not. Do we really need to complicate things by arguing whether Games are Games as well?

I enjoyed the game and the gameplay as metaphor it presented. The only thing I didn't like is that the last section was a bit too long and I got the point of the swinging mechanic the first time and didn't need to repeat it over and over. I wonder if the fact that I'm so used to jumping in games made the jumping sections more bearable, because the initial metaphor of getting up doesn't quite jive with jumping. Although I guess it has the same logic as the other mechanics, you have to go one way before going the other.

I got the friend ending and it sounds like the best one actually.

Spoiler:

I used to think he wasn't with me anymore...but that was yesterday.

Also I agree with lostlobster that...

Spoiler:

The ending would be more powerful if you could finally break through the black wall instead of simply having it slide away a final time. I don't think it changes the metaphor, but it seems kind of obvious for a climactic moment.

By that very broad definition, yes, this is a game. It's a low bar to set, but it won't serve the discussion at all to go down a rabbit hole of trying to define what is and isn't a game. My apologies for getting that started.

I should have rephrased my request to be for some further justification as to this game's quality. It's neither intellectually nor physically engaging and proffers at best a trite and juvenile emotional experience. Whether this is a game or not, it's not very good.

For instance, I'd like Pyroman to justify this statement:

Similarly to Heavy Rain, the act of making you press the button is as important as actually pressing it.

In what way? What great feeling or meaning is conveyed by asking you to press left, right, or up? Do you ever have an option to advance the story without pressing a button? There's no more meaning in being asked to press a button in this game than there is in any other. It's just input.

Prozac wrote:

I got the friend ending. Which was fine by me, since I found the friends relationship the most fleshed out and meaningful. (Bro's before ho's and all that.)

Same here, but I couldn't figure out how to throw the molotov at his feet. Would've much rather had the dog back.

I was leaning toward Not a Game, but an interactive story, until I realized I don't care. I was entertained.

What is game?

OzymandiasAV wrote:

SPOILER: [spoiler]If I'm looking back to look away from my past, then why is my future -- where I want to go to -- in the same direction as my past? Is this like that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Picard is an old guy out in some vineyard in France?[/spoiler]

Spoiler:

<--- is the past
---> is the future
The black wall is an obstacle of going to the future made up of past memories/regrets.
By contemplating and learning from the past, the obstacles cease to exist.

Also I would say it's not fair to criticize a game like this for having controls that don't feel good, or at least it's not as relevant a criticism. The goal of the old NES games you mentioned was to give the player an enjoyable experience, so its fair to criticize those controls as being unenjoyable. But clearly this game, and others like it, don't share the same goals. The controls in this game serve to reinforce the metaphor, it doesn't matter whether or not you feel good while running and jumping as long as the metaphor is being communicated to you. Personally I found the controls pretty good for an indie project like this.

In what way? What great feeling or meaning is conveyed by asking you to press left, right, or up? Do you ever have an option to advance the story without pressing a button? There's no more meaning in being asked to press a button in this game than there is in any other. It's just input.

Did you actually play it? Specifically I was referring to

Asking you to press the right arrow to move on from your friend's death. It was symbolic and unexpected

Fine to disagree, but I don't know where the hostility is coming from. It's free and took 15 minutes at max. Did it anger you in some way?

Latrine wrote:
Spoiler:

<--- is the past
---> is the future
The black wall is an obstacle of going to the future made up of past memories/regrets.
By contemplating and learning from the past, the obstacles cease to exist.

Spoiler:

I'm not sure I follow how looking away from the past memories can also work as contemplating your past. When you go towards the Past, your character effectively hits a wall and the screen floods with a bunch of memories; that plays as symbolism for not being able to move forward with your life until you reconcile your past. If looking away from your past removes it as an obstacle to future progress, does that mean that the game is actually endorsing repression (refusing to look at the past, think about the past) as the right coping mechanism here? I don't think that's really a desirable message, if that's the case.

_______________________________________________________

Latrine wrote:

The controls in this game serve to reinforce the metaphor, it doesn't matter whether or not you feel good while running and jumping as long as the metaphor is being communicated to you. Personally I found the controls pretty good for an indie project like this.

Spoiler:

I actually didn't have a problem with the running and jumping and, in fact, I thought that the rooftop running sequence where you learned how to jump was one of the more competent sections of the game. The effective presentation of the jumping mechanic made the final "obstacle" -- the impassible jump to the girlfriend -- have some semblance of tension because, after a couple of different levels of making jumps of increasing length, that one jump to the girlfriend actually seemed possible, even though you hadn't tried a jump that far yet. And, when you missed and she shifted around to possibly offer her hand to pull you up, you could have thought that the second jump would work too.

My complaints were with the swinging mechanic, actually. The visual effect of the world swinging around you was cool, but actually getting the guy to swing was a bit of a pain. And not in the immersive "wow, swinging is hard" sense, but in the sense that the game really wasn't giving me a lot of valuable feedback as to why I wasn't swinging any higher or better.

_______________________________________________________

Latrine wrote:

Also I would say it's not fair to criticize a game like this for having controls that don't feel good, or at least it's not as relevant a criticism. The goal of the old NES games you mentioned was to give the player an enjoyable experience, so its fair to criticize those controls as being unenjoyable. But clearly this game, and others like it, don't share the same goals.

Attributing "goals" might as well be the same thing as discerning creative intent and that, in itself, is a pretty tricky business. Rather than trying to decide whether bad controls are bad because the creator secretly wanted them to be bad or not, I'd rather evaluate that facet of the game at face value.

Or let's put it another way: all communication between the game and the player takes place through some form of interactivity, so I don't think it's really out of bounds to criticize the quality of that player/game conversation when the game places unnecessary or undesirable constraints or difficulties on that interactivity.

Spoiler:

In the case of But That Was Yesterday, the message that's being delivered through the swinging experience isn't going to be worsened if the swinging mechanics were more forgiving for the player. On the contrary, I would argue that easing up the difficulty on swinging your guy makes it more likely that the player will buy into the actual moment that's being portrayed, rather than getting distracted by the "noise" of an on-screen character that isn't quite doing what you want them to do.

Fine to disagree, but I don't know where the hostility is coming from. It's free and took 15 minutes at max. Did it anger you in some way?

My post came off as more harsh than I meant for it to. I'm apparently just grumpy today.

I played this one a few weeks ago.

Something that really strikes me with this game is how I felt playing it. Shame. Sadness. Belonging. These are emotions that console-budget titles have failed to pull out of my cold, calculated nature. I find that previous attempts have come off as cliche', uninteresting, or unconvincing. It's funny you mention Heavy Rain it's the perfect example of a game that tried to pull me in emotionally that flopped. Yet, here is this game that was probably made in a month using abstract art combined with a great adaptive soundtrack that wrung my heart like the opening of Up or the end of WALL-E. I really connected with pieces of this story and as far as I know, that's a first.

I really liked this, but I think I got a glitched ending. I was

Spoiler:

running to the right at the end (I think it was the end? I don't know, there was kind of a ghost of the dog and the green friend) and jumped across a few grassy hill things and then just ran off the right side of the screen and couldn't interact in any way anymore. I waited for several minutes and nothing happened. I'd like to see an ending, but I don't really want to play it again...

Spoiler:

I got the dog ending.

I actually read the text at the end as coming from the dog's perspective, which made an odd kind of bookend to the whole thing...you're worried about all the stuff going on, and your dog just wants to see you again. I found it cathartic.

I really enjoyed this, thanks for sharing!

ClockworkHouse wrote:

For instance, I'd like Pyroman to justify this statement:

Similarly to Heavy Rain, the act of making you press the button is as important as actually pressing it.

In what way? What great feeling or meaning is conveyed by asking you to press left, right, or up? Do you ever have an option to advance the story without pressing a button? There's no more meaning in being asked to press a button in this game than there is in any other. It's just input.

Spoilers obviously, but that bridge has been crossed.

Pyroman brought up the funeral scene, and I agree with him, but I would also say that the initial challenge of figuring out how to deal with the wall was a crucial bit of interaction. The player needs to realize, just like the character does, that the only way to move past this wall of emotion is to turn away from it and let it recede.

Literally throwing yourself against it repeatedly until you figure out that the only way to fight it is NOT to fight it - while also being IMO a really lovely metaphor for how that frequently works in real life - was much more effective as an interactive exercise than it would have been just watching a video of the character coming to the same realization. I thought it was a great way to emotionally tie the player to the avatar they control.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

bunch of well written, thought out stuff

I get by your tone that I think that by not necessarily calling this "a game" I'm taking some merit away from it. Quite the opposite.

I'm loving what Flash and similar "light" developer tools are allowing the medium to create. I think it's FANTASTIC that we get to "play" with these 10-15 minute experiences. Sometimes they're innovative, sometimes they're just fun/entertaining.

I found this game extremely refreshing, this is a beautifully crafted flash game with a great theme behind it. It involves something that everyone has and that's human emotion. It revolves around memories both positive and negative and the affects they have on our lives. I will be honest, I kept throwing myself against the wall waiting for it to let me pass, not understanding that my dog was trying to get me to turn my back on it. The experience shows us that all we have done is in the past and there is nothing we can do to change whether it be for the better or worse. The game shows us the relationships we all have had. Man with their dog, our best friend growing up, the loss of someone close, and our first intimate relationship.

Ravenlock wrote:

Pyroman brought up the funeral scene, and I agree with him, but I would also say that the initial challenge of figuring out how to deal with the wall was a crucial bit of interaction. The player needs to realize, just like the character does, that the only way to move past this wall of emotion is to turn away from it and let it recede.

Literally throwing yourself against it repeatedly until you figure out that the only way to fight it is NOT to fight it - while also being IMO a really lovely metaphor for how that frequently works in real life - was much more effective as an interactive exercise than it would have been just watching a video of the character coming to the same realization. I thought it was a great way to emotionally tie the player to the avatar they control.

I really disagree - I was really frustrated with how the character would refuse to/was unable to deal with his emotions and the only way to move forward with the game was to ignore them. I don't think ignoring your problems is a good way of dealing with them, and I feel like that's what this game was telling me to do.
Other than that, I was pretty uninspired by the whole thing, which is unusual as I normally like this kind of stuff. I felt it repeated it's fairly shallow mechanics so often that they lost their meaning - looking back/moving forward makes sense once (even if I disagree with it) or twice, but constantly making me do it just made me feel like the point was belabored. The jumping/swing mechanic was even worse, as I don't think they carried any real value - just little <3 icons on top for successfully completing a sequence of button presses.

Either way, this just didn't click for me.

I admit i've just skimmed the comments here, i'm thoroughly frustrated cuz i just keep banging into the wall and falling down. for 15 minutes..i'm done.