The original concept for Back From Afar was named Afar. The idea formed as a synthesis of previous two game ideas: balloon flying and space colonization. As you can probably guess, flying in space became the setting. Me and Roni became a team and begun developing a concept by writing and drawing on the nearest piece of paper I could find - a study grant notification from Kela (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland). So the concept began to form and after about an hour, the paper was already full of Afar stuff.
The original idea of our game was the player trying to survive and find a place to call home by flying in space and exploring nearby planets. This is because we decided that making the Earth explode and allowing one space module to escape might result in some interesting situations. However weird or intimidating the situations might seem, they weren't supposed to be fatal. Anyway, the lonely space module was going to be manually steered away from the remains of a dead planet.
The module was supposed to run out of fuel to limit the playable area so the player would be forced to land on one of the nearest planets. Finding the edge of the very tiny universe would undoubtedly shatter the illusion of vast nothingness so we decided to use a time limit and fuel as an indicator of flying restrictions. Originally there were going to be two anonymous characters on board, but later the whole team thought it was better to ditch the parent and give the limelight for the kid. The player was supposed to see the silhouettes of the main characters for the first time once they would emerge from their module. The characters would search for a place to stay without any luck because of space bedouins, boars.. you name it! Eventually the player would've come across a very familiar looking planet, run into some loved ones and see a healthy looking Earth.
The interpretation of the story was supposed to be left to the player. Was the first planet Earth after all? Was it all a dream? What would you have thought?
How the game has changed from the first concept is a whole nother story.
// Some of the concept image backgrounds are from Wikimedia Commons. I bet you know which ones!