Posts tagged jonathan blow
Posts tagged jonathan blow
Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid and the upcoming game The Witness, “talks about the indie scene, if games should be fun, and the state of Japanese game development.”
He also laments the handholding of modern video games that kills a sense of personal discovery, and he hints that ‘being fun’ shouldn’t necessarily be the design goal for all games (even going so far as to claim Braid isn’t a ‘fun’ game).
It seems Jonathan Blow is collaborating with architecture firms in designing and laying out structures in The Witness’s game world. This is a good read regardless if you care about the game. Sounds like he is taking environmentally embedded narrative seriously and to the extreme.
The island reminds me a lot of Lost’s island, and how the successive inhabitants—through time—created, destroyed and modified portions of it to suit their needs and reflect their thinking. Now, if Blow can somehow make this consciously embedded narrative more than a fancy ingredient to spice up the experience—make it consistent and mesh with the other elements and themes of the game—then he will have truly achieved something here.
He previously stated that it would not be possible due to a confluence of factors like the small team-size he had, cost-benefit considerations, RAM limitations on the 360 and PS3, and the annoying certification process required for console releases. Now, after hiring a few more programmers, all those hurdles seem to have dissipated.
The 360 and PS3 are getting quite ancient, at least in computer years. If the human-to-dog years ratio is, as they say, 1:7, then computer technology is probably triple that. I’m definitely noticing the ‘limitations’ first-hand playing through Skyrim on the PS3, and then seeing how it looks and plays on a PC.
Excellent, cerebral video lecture from Blow at GDC Europe on finding universal truths in open-minded exploration of game systems.
These are better than the last couple I posted. Blow speaks thoughtfully about things in these that you don’t normally get from game designers.
If you really have time to burn, listen to the podcast. It’s an hour+ long but is loaded with insight beyond just the stuff surrounding his next game, The Witness.
“In Myst or whatever,” [Blow] said, “every frickin’ lever looks different, behaves different, you don’t know what it does. The gameplay is the 3D version of hunt the pixel. What part of this giant machine on the wall is interactive and what does it do? I tried to filter all that out. Once you filter all that out into an interface that’s very clear, ‘oh, that’s a puzzle, I know that’s a puzzle. I know basically what I have to do. I have to go from the beginning spot to the end spot, but there’s something I have to know to know which way to go.’ Once it’s that clear, then you can do a lot of crazy, out of left field stuff.”
[Blow] cared about video games a lot. He still does. “I can’t explain to you why,” he said. “I wonder if sometimes I’m fooling myself and don’t care about them as much as I think I do and need something to believe in and this is it. But one thing that has always appealed to me is that I’ve always wanted to do something in life that is productive or meaningful that, if I wasn’t doing it, probably wouldn’t get done.”
This is a nice speech (audio slideshow) Blow gave at his alma mater. One of his main points is that perhaps the most important optimization you can make when coding large projects is not speed or space, but optimizing for years of your life spent. Also has an amusing anecdote about a brash, younger Blow calling out seemingly primitive parts of the coding of Doom, only later realizing through experience that any solution he would have come up back then would have added complexity and overhead to achieve so-called elegance.