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Hangar34
02-17-2012, 04:09 AM
Based on the signage in the dream-like accident location in the game, the actual location in real life on the M5 where the accident would have taken place is here:

Real-world M5 crash location (http://www.hangar34.co.uk/images/crash_realM5.jpg)

While the in-game location differs from the reality visually, the motorway refrence number signage in the game is:

M5 A 144.4

As you will see, this is the same in the photo above.

Interestingly, there are two silver/grey hatchbacks in the photo. The narrator refers to such a colour and type of car in some of the dialogue.

Irongiant666
02-17-2012, 04:13 AM
Great work - I had meant to look that up myself as, being in the UK, I've travelled that way in the past and recognised the place names in the narration.

Incidentally, it's junction 19

Hangar34
02-17-2012, 04:22 AM
Yes, it's Junction 19... not where I expected it to be as I was originally looking around Junction 21, convinced that was significant. Then I remembered that Portishead is actually Bristol area and that there is a Welcome Break services at this junction.

HOWEVER... Junction 21 is the Sandford turn-off, and the narrator specifically refers to the location as somewhere *between* the Welcome Break services and the Sandford turn-off...

SO... that actually makes both this real-world location, and the in-game location wrong, because at this point the narrator/Esther's car wouldn't have even passed the Welcome Break services.

Think on that! ;)

C'estCookz
02-17-2012, 04:22 AM
I incidentally took this screenshot in-game this morning:

http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/5968/esther0010.jpg

On the subject of locations, I'm actually from Wolverhampton, the city which was mentioned as the narrators own 'Damascus'.

nightseifer
02-17-2012, 04:31 AM
That is so cool, but there is only one flaw. It isn't under water :P

Hangar34
02-17-2012, 12:15 PM
Some more thoughts...

The accident location shown in the game is actually J19 of the M5, so the reference to 21 throughout the dialogue cannot directly relate to the accident. It may relate to the fact that Sandford (which the narrator specifically refers to as holding some significance) is accessed from J21.

Was Sandford where Esther lived? Maybe originally, when she was growing up. If Esther and the narrator were married and had a home together, it can't be because the narrator specifically says that it's 21 miles from the Sandford junction and the turn-off for home.

I don't know if it is significant, but the only junction 21 miles from the Sandford one is J15/J16 M4. There is no junction 21 miles heading south. So, did Esther/narrator live somewhere around Almondsbury?

jorre22225
02-17-2012, 12:17 PM
Wow, this is nice work! I wouldn't have thought that for a second. Great work! :)

urbanwolf
02-17-2012, 12:19 PM
it could be that the precise location is fictional? the narrator does mention that he has a hard time pinning down exactly where it happened

Irongiant666
02-17-2012, 12:59 PM
it could be that the precise location is fictional? the narrator does mention that he has a hard time pinning down exactly where it happened

I think he's referring to the fact that he drove up and down that segment of motorway some time after the accident, yet could see no marks on the road (skid marks, etc). Maybe there were no skid marks in the first place, or they were cleaned up.

You can see exactly where it happened within the game when you're nearly out of the cave system, fall into the water and experience the 'memory' of the accident location (complete with the motorway sign - also the cars OR a gurney with a blood bag).

Hangar34
02-17-2012, 01:16 PM
I think he's referring to the fact that he drove up and down that segment of motorway some time after the accident, yet could see no marks on the road (skid marks, etc). Maybe there were no skid marks in the first place, or they were cleaned up.

If we are to take the crash location shown in-game as accurate, then the narrator could never have found the location of the accident as he says it happened somewhere between the Welcome Break services and Sandford. The location shown in-game is just before the services, not past it.

Either the narrator had forgotten the location and was searching in futility for something he'd never find, or the Dear Esther team have made a whopping location/dialogue blunder*.

*Or there's some other convoluted explanation I cannot yet fathom!

Billy Stinkwate
02-17-2012, 01:38 PM
I would like to know something about the other mentioned locations.
Maybe you can help the non-british users out a little.

How do Wolverhampton and especially Cromer fit in?
I can remember the narrator saying "goodbye Wolverhampton, goodbye Sandford, goodbye Cromer" near the end.

Okay, Sandford refers to the M5/Junction 21, Wolverhampton is the start/end of the M5? At least the narrator meets Paul there.
But what about Cromer?

Hangar34
02-17-2012, 01:52 PM
Wolverhampton is an industrialised area in the Midlands of England. The significance in the story seems to be as the location where Paul, the supposed other car crash driver/victim lived and was visited by the narrator.

Cromer is a coastal town in north Norfolk.

From some dialogue I remember, Cromer was a place where the narrator went on a school trip and sheltered from the rain. It's not clear when he mentions "...we sheltered..." whether he meant him and Esther (as children) or 'we' as in his classmates in general. He also remembers running through the sand. It's possible that he and Esther visited it on holiday at some point, as we know they also went to the 'lakes' (inferring the Lake District probably).

Leushenko
02-17-2012, 02:25 PM
If we are to take the crash location shown in-game as accurate, then the narrator could never have found the location of the accident as he says it happened somewhere between the Welcome Break services and Sandford. The location shown in-game is just before the services, not past it.

Either the narrator had forgotten the location and was searching in futility for something he'd never find, or the Dear Esther team have made a whopping location/dialogue blunder*.

*Or there's some other convoluted explanation I cannot yet fathom!

Perhaps he was asleep at the wheel, and the location he mentions is the last one he remembers seeing, but the car carried on moving for a bit before crashing?

Irongiant666
02-17-2012, 03:23 PM
If we are to take the crash location shown in-game as accurate, then the narrator could never have found the location of the accident as he says it happened somewhere between the Welcome Break services and Sandford. The location shown in-game is just before the services, not past it.



A very good point.

Going by the 'M5 A 144' sign, this is almost the exact location on Google Streetview:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=bristol&hl=en&ll=51.480745,-2.702259&spn=0.001199,0.002519&sll=56.832822,-6.227016&sspn=0.035077,0.080595&hnear=Bristol,+United+Kingdom&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=51.480586,-2.702497&panoid=Y1tJsqomHdwsBD7_Az-6Iw&cbp=12,197.23,,0,17.83

(The exit sign is no longer a separate sign of course).

So the services are a few hundred yards ahead and the Sandford (Weston-super-Mare) junction (which is 21) a few miles ahead.

Hmmmm.

Hangar34
02-18-2012, 03:54 AM
Something else has just occurred to me that makes the whole location depicted in-game as completely wrong...

We know that Paul, the chemical company sales executive was returning from Exeter where he had been attending a conference about a pro-biotic yoghurt product.

That means he was travelling northbound.

The location clearly shows two vehicles on the southbound side of the motorway, and the barriers between the two sides are intact, implying that the accident must have occurred on that side.

For the narrator to have said that the accident had occurred somewhere between the Welcome Break services and the Sandford turn-off, he and Esther (if they were in the same car) must have been travelling southbound.

Now, I appreciate that the location shown in-game is heavily stylised for artistic merit, but if the motorway was as deserted as it is shown, then a cross-lane collision from two sides of the motorway is highly, highly unlikely. However, we know that "They had stopped the traffic back as far as the Sandford junction..", so it was busy with other traffic. So, how come other vehicles were not involved? Maybe they were, and only Esther and the supposed cause (Paul) is of concern to the narrator.

BUT... If "They had stopped the traffic back as far as the Sandford junction..." then that means the accident CANNOT have occurred on the southbound side of the motorway, but must have occurred on the northbound side. In this case, the signage shown in the in-game location is incorrect. However, it would then mean that the accident *could* have happened between the Welcome Break services and the Sandford junction (just).

However... another dialogue entry says "...a kidney stone blocking the traffic bound for Sandford and Exeter." This would indicate that the accident did occur on the southbound side of the motorway. This is now a contradiction.

This passage of dialogue is interesting to fit into where/how the crash occurred as well:

"I have scoured this stretch of motorway twenty-one times attempting to recreate his trajectory, the point when his heart stopped dead and all he saw was the moon over the Sandford junction. He was not drunk Esther, he was not drunk at all, and it was not his fault, it was the converging lines that doomed him. This is not a recorded natural condition, the gulls do not fly so low over the motorway and cause him to swerve."

The narrator speaks of the 'moon over the Sandford junction' in other dialogue entries as if it is an enduring memory for him from some time in the past. It cannot be conclusively said then that the accident occurred at the Sandord junction. But, it does offer other possible causes... a heart attack and a low flying gull. Both possibilities.

"it was the converging lines that doomed him"

This is also very notable. Does it refer to converging lanes on the motorway? Does it refer to the slip roads that converge onto the motorway at the junctions? If so, and Paul was travelling northbound, then there really is only one possible cause I can see that would meet *most of* the criteria we're shown in-game...


- Esther/narrator's car was travelling southbound towards the Sandford junction.
- The accident occurs on the southbound side, at the signage location we know from the real-world images.
- Paul was travelling northbound from his conference in Exeter.
- Converging lines 'doomed him'.
- Paul was tired, had alcohol in his system, but was not over the limit.
- One of the vehicles's anti-lock brakes failed, therefore making swerving to avoid a collision impossible.

So...

Due to tiredness, Paul entered the M5 motorway at J19 down the sliproad of the southbound side of the motorway and into the oncoming vehicle containing Esther/narrator.


This doesn't explain everything though, because it would make Paul responsible for the accident, and clearly the narrator doesn't hold him responsible - "Although he knew I hadn’t come in search of an apology, reason or retribution...". It also doesn't explain why the narrator believes that the accident occurred after J19, and before J21, which the in-game location clearly isn't.

Therefore...

The whole accident scenario is nerfed.

Fenizrael
02-18-2012, 03:57 AM
You're thinking into this too much, Hangar34.
I think the specific location of the crash is something that is largely unimportant to the overall story.

Hangar34
02-18-2012, 04:09 AM
I think the specific location of the crash is something that is largely unimportant to the overall story.

I couldn't agree with you more :)

However, I know the areas from Bristol, right down to Exeter very well as they are my family's roots. The accuracy of what is depicted/spoken of in the game is therefore important to me because it's that reality that forms the bedrock that the whole game sits on.

While I appreciate the game's graphical beauty, fantastic score and poetic dialogue, I would hope that an equal amount of time would have been spent on getting what few literal facts are present in the game as accurate as they should be.

That's just how I feel about it.

Irongiant666
02-18-2012, 04:24 AM
As for this part of the narrative:

"They had stopped the traffic back as far as the Sandford junction..."

As you say, that's northbound, however it's common for the opposite side of the motorway to also have the traffic stopped in case of any debris that has been flung onto that side of the road. You also get people slowing down to see the accident on the other side, hence causing traffic to stop further back.

Also worth remembering that this was a serious accident and the narrator's memories are no doubt very confused.

Dan Pinchbeck (main man behind this) is also apparently aware of various contradictions and I get the impression that they are deliberate.

jdd91
02-18-2012, 12:52 PM
there are more signs around the island, you have to noclip to see them. on the last lvl at night. i saw 3 on the top of the hill. under bushes. difficult to make out what they say. probably just there to reference the crash.

hakry
02-18-2012, 03:05 PM
there are more signs around the island, you have to noclip to see them. on the last lvl at night. i saw 3 on the top of the hill. under bushes. difficult to make out what they say. probably just there to reference the crash.

What kind of signs exactly? Did you get a screenshot? :D

brataccas
02-18-2012, 03:16 PM
Im confused in the underwater scene I saw no car yet some ppl that have posted pics have a car underwater, I only saw a hospital bed O_O

kelthuzadjk
02-19-2012, 01:36 AM
it's a randomized scene.. sometimes you see a hospital bed, sometimes two cars

Hangar34
02-19-2012, 01:40 AM
no car yet some ppl that have posted pics have a car underwater, I only saw a hospital bed

Like some other people here, I've only ever seen two cars at this location and never a hospital bed.

I'm torn between whether the cars are modelled in a simplistic style that makes them look very generic and therefore don't specifically come from any particular manufacturer, or whether they are supposed to look like 1970's vehicles.

I'm inclined to think the latter, as the advert for yoghurt (http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/470861971384918338/10E085C085F020C0E1365C2471147CE086DFF4DD/) shown in the game also looks very 70's in style. If this is so, then it may be that some years (possibly decades) have/are passing between the accident and the events taking place in-game. It also reminds me that Donnelly's book had not been taken out of the library since 1974.

there are more signs around the island, you have to noclip to see them. on the last lvl at night. i saw 3 on the top of the hill. under bushes. difficult to make out what they say. probably just there to reference the crash.

Supporting screenshots would be useful if possible, although I will look out for these on my next playthrough.

atim
02-19-2012, 02:13 AM
I believe that Hanger34 has the right idea about this. If these clues were not deliberately placed by the developers, and if there are no connections between them, there should have been. This adds to the replayability of the game, makes it all that much more interesting.

If there is no real connection between these aspects, and the clues/dialogue were just thrown in for artistic effect, the Cloverfield aspect of the experience withers away, and for a game like this I think that that is a very important part of the experience. What do you think?

Hangar34
02-19-2012, 02:22 AM
What do you think?

Understandably, I agree :)

I know that some might think I have done this subject to death, but like you, I feel strongly that this part of the story needs to be locked in believabilty because it's the only part of the story that would seem to be 'real'. Everything else that happens afterward is as a direct result of this event and it is therefore pivotal. Working out when, what and why it happened, and ultimately who is to blame would help me to understand the narrator's state of mind and most importantly the journey taken and the destination reached.

On the converse, some might argue that the accident as an event is somewhat minor and that our focus should lie completely on the un-factual elements that follow.

atim
02-19-2012, 03:49 AM
Understandably, I agree :)

I know that some might think I have done this subject to death, but like you, I feel strongly that this part of the story needs to be locked in believabilty because it's the only part of the story that would seem to be 'real'. Everything else that happens afterward is as a direct result of this event and it is therefore pivotal. Working out when, what and why it happened, and ultimately who is to blame would help me to understand the narrator's state of mind and most importantly the journey taken and the destination reached.

On the converse, some might argue that the accident as an event is somewhat minor and that our focus should lie completely on the un-factual elements that follow.

I believe that there should be a current of plausible explanation that can be uncovered through attention to details, exactly like what you're attempting to do by piecing together everything you've found to be true so far. It very much makes up for all of the whining that the game has no gameplay mechanics. However, the clues and subjects need to be subtle enough to allow people to still have their own interpretations to certain events. I think what you're attempting to do is perfect for this new type of entertainment that we're dealing with, whether the game was intended for it or not. It makes it so much more fun, because it encourages collaboration between the people who really enjoyed it, to work together to find out what they really think it should mean, or what it really does mean. That's what cult favorites are made out of, and that is probably where thechineseroom's biggest fanbase is going to lie right now. If it's simply a mess of ambiguous poetry and hints, toward something equally ambiguous, then I feel people have a right to feel disappointed by Dear Esther. But if there is really more to it that we can collectively uncover (and that we couldn't find out just on our own), then this could really find a very fun foothold in the future of this kind of storytelling. Personally I'm very tired of having my hand held through SP campaigns as far as story mechanics are concerned. This has the potential to be very involving refreshing and entertaining in a brand new way, and I think that's very exciting.


Edit: On a more on topic note, did you happen to notice this bit of dialogue at the opening of the Buoy level? It seems that the exact location of the accident is a mystery to the narrator himself.

Picture (http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/504639052657654180/C7E3FF72D4955880B257B83F63C304111A77D51F/)

An interesting side note that may be related, is that when walking down to the shore to the shipwreck, you see the silhouette figure walking up to the end of the path facing the blinking buoy. I noclipped up to that location, and found it is a cloaked figure, that becomes transparent as you get closer, but I noticed something else that may tie the bit of dialogue to the figure (which appears to be the grim reaper figure). It not only becomes transparent when you get closer, and more opaque when further away, but also becomes more opaque when you're not directly looking at him! So this may be a stretch, as it could just be the technical direction the developers chose to pull off a visual effect. But it would seem to me, that death is in the corner of our eyes. Does this have anything to do with the rearview mirror comment? Hahah, see what I mean? This gets exciting.

Edit #2: Played through the caves again, and experienced the road scene for the first time. But before getting there, the pond with the coins triggered interesting dialogue. Something like "This is the face of a drowned man. A shepherd who will drive you home drunk" That's not verbatim, but fairly close. Are the coins a reference to Paul, or Damascus?

Interestingly, later on in the last level while following the path along the beach near the cliff-side, looking down at pictures of the car wreck surrounded by candles, the narrator speaks of "carrying Donelly's corpse on my back, he whispers to me that he was not drunk". The narrator is tired of hearing about Donelly's guilt, and seeing neatly folded clothes. I remember seeing neatly folded clothes in the beginning of the caves level... I'm wondering if there is a case to be made that Donelly is in fact the narrator in third person? Are some of these people different aspects of the narrator's psyche? Have they divided from each other more and more since the indecent, forming individual fragments of personalities which manifest themselves as these characters the narrator speaks of? The narrator spoke of being convinced that he's not alone. He can't remember finding the candles or placing them. Is he experiencing the extreme guilt and remorse through separate personalities?

Also, at the end, before the narrator speaks about his armada, when he's describing Paul's occupation and the coffee cup, he says something about tracing the lines and whole new compounds come into existence. Is this somehow a map or a key to the missing site of the accident?

Far fetched probably. Very interesting to think about.

Edit #3: The capitol letters NE seem to be painted frequently in different areas in different maps. I wonder if this has any significance.

Sorry for the poor organization of my last addendums. It's time for bed.

Irongiant666
02-19-2012, 06:57 AM
atim - some nice thoughts there. I especially like this idea:

"Are some of these people different aspects of the narrator's psyche? Have they divided from each other more and more since the indecent, forming individual fragments of personalities which manifest themselves as these characters the narrator speaks of?"

That would go some way to explaining the different shadow figures.

Hangar34
02-19-2012, 07:45 AM
The dialogue text you are referring to is:

"This is a drowned man’s face reflected in the moonlit waters. It can only be a dead shepherd who has come to drunk drive you home."

This could reveal something very interesting. Rather than Paul (the other driver) being drunk, it could well be that the narrator himself was drunk. Hence the irredeemable guilt he feels. I believe there are other dialogue entries that might infer the narrator's possible inebriation.

Your additional concept of various 'shades' of the narrator's psyche is a valid one too. It may well be that the narrator has become schizophrenic. That could be why there are several bottles of spilled pills around the bothy area, his medication, untaken. It would also explain the characters of Jacobson/Donnelly and their connections/similarities with the narrator.

The letters you have seen ('NE') I think were discussed in the 'Easter Eggs' thread and the filename of the graphic image is '21.vtf' (Shown Here (http://i.cubeupload.com/6hV9Xo.png). I think someone else mentioned somewhere that they might be/were Hebrew characters representing the number 21.

atim
02-19-2012, 07:52 AM
atim - some nice thoughts there. I especially like this idea:

"Are some of these people different aspects of the narrator's psyche? Have they divided from each other more and more since the indecent, forming individual fragments of personalities which manifest themselves as these characters the narrator speaks of?"

That would go some way to explaining the different shadow figures.

The only shadow figures I've encountered are the grim reaper figure and the sillouette of the woman at the top of the cliff in the last level. The maggoty faced figure seen as a reflection in the water has been unaccounted for though.

The coins (if any of this has a real story behind it at all) somehow have important significance. They're tied to the crash, and have something to do with drunkenness; probably Paul. That's my take so far. No idea if this is all supposed to be left completely open to interpretation or if there are real answers to some of our questions, or if we're doomed to perpetually trying to piece this together as part of an experience. Anybody else have any ideas?

In the tunnel you see the morse code message from, just before going inside, the narrator quotes from Donelly I believe, saying someone threw their arms wide and created a cave; later on, the narrator speaks of doing the exact same thing himself as you reach the entrance to the same cave you see the morse code from, after the dialogue about meeting Paul as you travel down the hill.

We're going to go as insane as the narrator trying to figure all of this out.

brataccas
02-19-2012, 09:01 AM
n1 atim

Hangar34
02-19-2012, 09:58 AM
The coins (if any of this has a real story behind it at all) somehow have important significance.

I have to say, I never saw any coins at either of the mentioned locations when I played through the game. Like you, I believe they must be significant, but really only in as much as everything else is. All of these tropes are pointers, markers or representations of the whole accident situation, possibly also from other parts of the life the narrator shared with Esther before the fatal crash.

I would question whether all of them, like the island geography in general, can be taken as physically existing, though I would imagine every physical object could have been literally acquired and brought to a real location. I'm not quite sure how he would have got the mug from Paul that has the chemical formula printed on it, but I guess he could have obtained one by some other means.

Why the crash scene is represented in such an ethereal, dream-like way compared to the very real depiction of everything else on the island is as yet beyond me. Does the island visually represent the landscape of the narrator's mind, and the crash scene a memory?

rabuf
02-20-2012, 10:56 AM
The thing i'm most certain of is that the entire car sequence is not "real" in the sense that it's interrupting our consistent journey through the caves so abruptly and outside of the islands frame of experience itself.

It could very well represent a mind relapse, a "flashback" of the narrator which we have to live through again, the moment we hit the water and the screen fades to black also being the moment the two cars crashed into one another.

Wether or not the island itself is real either, that's another legit question here.

But i think one could agree that the car sequence is definitely only some kind of memory of some sort.

Also; Am i the only one who noticed subtle sounds of screaming when walking up to both of these cars?

Irongiant666
02-20-2012, 11:02 AM
Must admit that I didn't notice any subtle screaming when walking up to the cars - must listen out for some next playthrough.

Edit: Not sure it's screaming, more like the distorted sound of screeching tyres.

Seravajan
02-20-2012, 01:46 PM
Im confused in the underwater scene I saw no car yet some ppl that have posted pics have a car underwater, I only saw a hospital bed O_O

Me did saw two cars under the water. Both with their lights on. The side exit signs appear to be older versions. But I'm wondering if there is a real accident behind this story.

The island seems to be a sort of delirium dream. Too many stuff are on it which would not belongs to the island if it would be real. Car parts on several location on the island, while there are no drivable ways around. Burning candles with nobody around lighting them. The jump and the flight from the tower. The strange paintings and writings.

Dru1138
07-25-2012, 09:11 AM
i know i'm a little late to this thread, but there's a lot of discussion going on, but not a lot of pictures. that said I've compiled some pictures detaling most of the stuff discussed here. I hoppe this is helpful for everyone.

http://imgur.com/a/p0zqx

Hangar34
07-25-2012, 09:57 AM
Nice collection of images Dru1138, these certainly illustrate the discussion thread in its entirety.