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Thread: The Witness

  1. #1
    Registered: May 2004

    The Witness

    Jonathan Blow's next game, a pretty colourful and intriguing Myst inspired first person puzzle/exploration game is coming on January 26th to PC and PS4:

  2. #2
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Despite the fact that Jonathan Blow is a little...douchy? Yeah. We'll go with that. He makes an interesting game. I've been modestly stoked over this one for awhile now, and I'll happily give it a go when it comes out.

  3. #3
    If we didn't play games because the developers were assholes/jerkoffs...well you know the rest. Yes, being a big Myst fan, I've been looking forward to this. Glad to see it finally has a release date.

  4. #4
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    Despite the fact that Jonathan Blow is a little...douchy?
    Huh? Why? What did he do? I don't really pay a lot of attention to developer drama.

    Is it because he proposed that a new programming language should be created specifically for game development? I remember that got people riled up for a while.

    Edit: here's the programming language stuff, btw:

    I remember that got some people really mad for some reason. People were calling him the c-word and lots of other colourful names, but I never really understood why.
    Last edited by Starker; 25th Sep 2015 at 08:46.

  5. #5
    I think it's more based on the fact that when Braid came out and won a bunch of awards, he got kind of a God complex. He basically strutted around saying that most games (besides his) were shit and not worth anyone's time. The most common phrase I've seen when describing him is "pretentious douchebag." A lot of the criticism is based on things he said during Indie Game: The Movie.

    Being somewhat aligned or connected to Phil Fish doesn't help much either.

  6. #6
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    What Brethren said. He and Phil Fish both came across as huge prima donnas back during the heyday of the indie game discovery rush, letting their newfound hipster cred and accolades go a little too much to their heads. But you know, Braid was good, and I loved Fez, As long as they keep making fun games, I don't care what they say.

  7. #7
    I think the proof will surely be in the pudding for The Witness, as to whether the puzzle gameplay is going to be fun. I really enjoyed the puzzles in Braid, so I'll be interested to see what the reviews think of this. I will say that he sure has made it look pretty in the interim. But then it's been... what... five years? (edit: Wikipedia says it was started in 2008, and originally planned for release in 2011. I hope for his sake that it turns out well.)

  8. #8
    Registered: May 2004
    Wasn't Braid also supposed to be "basically finished" in 2005 and then it took 3 more years?

    But yeah, the puzzles will break or make the game. It's not all that easy to make a puzzle game that most people can play without dumbing it down. I'm pretty terrible at puzzle games, so I rarely find one that's absolutely right for me -- not too easy, not too hard. I used to often get stuck in old adventure games and puzzle games like Smart Games Challenge, unless it was something like Castle of Dr Brain, and I have a bunch of puzzle sites that I've abandoned mid-attempt: Project Euler, Dracula's Riddle, The Master Theorem, Planetarium...

    The solution that games often come up with is to give hints until even the stupidest of people can get it, but that always feels to me like an invitation to take the easy route. I don't like games that patronise me that way and I especially loathe when games start automatically giving hints when you don't solve the problem after a certain amount of time has passed. That's why I like SpaceChem -- even stupid people like me can finish the game, but then the smart people can go and optimise the solution. And it makes you feel like the solution is uniquely yours.

  9. #9
    Well, this came out today. Anyone planning on picking it up? At $40, I think I'll wait for some reviews first.

  10. #10
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Looks pretty, sounds maddening. Escapist has a review up:

  11. #11
    Registered: May 2004
    The open world, the minimal handholding and the hints in the environment sound really good. It'll have to wait, though. I've already spent more on games this year than I'm comfortable with.

  12. #12
    Registered: Apr 2008
    Okay, I'll go in mostly blind for this. I haven't been hyped - just curious - and I never was a Braid fan, but first-person puzzle games are my jam, so here goes.

  13. #13
    Registered: May 2004
    Spoiler light Giant Bomb Quick Look:

    Boy does that look up my alley.

  14. #14
    Wow, reviews for this game are very glowing, multiple sites gave it a perfect score. The rest of the scores are all in the upper 80s and 90s (although 78% on Steam). Sounds a little bit like The Talos Principle, which is of course a game I love, so I guess I'm picking this up.

  15. #15
    Registered: Apr 2008
    It is nowhere even close to being as good as The Talos Principle. I'm only a couple of hours in, but I'm not impressed so far.

  16. #16
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Based on your experience of the game so far, do you think it may be a case of the game not clicking with you, or would you say it's a clearer case of the game not being as good (for reasons x, y and z)?

  17. #17
    Registered: Apr 2008
    It's a bit of both I think. I was trying to work out whether many of the puzzles are badly designed, or if it was just me. Plenty of them have so few possible combinations that I was brute forcing them, and got through half of an area without knowing the method. It then clicked, but at the next puzzle it was too much hassle to try and remember parts of the maze to solve the board that I just went back to brute force as it was quicker. At the end of that specific section you had to then do one huge puzzle which was a combination of the solution of all of the others. The tedium was painful, and now it's clear why reviewers are talking about needing to take notes, but how backtracking just to remember everything is in any way fun, I have no idea.

    More on the subject of brute forcing: Some of the puzzles seem to be optional, but they don't like being experimented on unless you already know the solution, and permanently shut down if you get them wrong too many times. You then need to start a new game to complete them. One thing I absolutely love in a puzzle game is thinking "hey, maybe this will work?", and then fiddling around to look for a solution. There is little of that here so far. The solutions vary too much between almost self-evident and horribly cryptic, and completing them feels more like "thank god that's over with" than actual accomplishment.

    Perhaps I'm just not very good at it, since it's about deducing the rules for each new maze variation. At one point I found myself looking for bread-crumbs, or even the sky for odd looking cloud formations (yes, really). I've stumbled upon a few plain 5x5 grids - no clues on floor, no clues in sky, hey look there's a pretty church over there, but I don't know what you want me to do. I've now read about people saying "in a sea of dumb games it's great that it doesn't hold your hand", and "the frustration is intentional, because it's art" - and I just don't know. The praise seems to be coming from a parallel universe.

    I can't fault the visual and environmental design, though. It's damn gorgeous.

  18. #18
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    I don't know how you managed to get through areas without understanding the core principle, maybe I didn't stumble upon those yet. The game itself doesn't seem to have *any* story or narrative at all (unlike The Talos Principle, which had something), but I do like the visuals. well, part of me at least. Part of me finds them very artificial and almost forced hipstery, as that seems to be the author's trademark. The other part of me likes them for what they are - vivid, stylish and calming. I looked up close at some of the canyon textures and appreciated the details.

    The lack of any goal gives both a sense of freedom and a sense of pointlessness. That said, to me it's a game to play when I want to calm down and shut off from reality and stress (might be super awesome with VR).

    P.S/Edit: The puzzles seem kind of shoehorned in so the game could claim to have gameplay (besides walking). By this I mean that there seems to be a story bridge missing between the world you are in and the puzzles you're trying to solve (and another bridge between known reality and why you're in such a weird place, but that one doesn't bother me). Then again, using the imagination a bit more can be a good thing. Mine just happens to be somewhat limited. What's also slightly annoying (but understandable and practical) is inability to jump - not even off ledges. For me this means stumbling into a ton of invisible walls, even with knowing that there's going to be one (but not knowing for sure).
    Last edited by Thor; 27th Jan 2016 at 15:00.

  19. #19
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Neb View Post
    More on the subject of brute forcing: Some of the puzzles seem to be optional, but they don't like being experimented on unless you already know the solution, and permanently shut down if you get them wrong too many times.
    Really? I heard there are some puzzles that have to be done in an order and getting one of the later ones wrong will reset the puzzle sequence, so you have to go solve the previous puzzle to restart it. If it does block your progress permanently, then that's really crappy, though.

  20. #20
    Registered: Apr 2008
    Ahhhh, ok. I just went back to check and it does reset your progress, so you can try again, but it just doesn't look like that's the case. The actual puzzle screens and lit up cables from previous boards don't visibly reset.

  21. #21
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor View Post
    The game itself doesn't seem to have *any* story or narrative at all (unlike The Talos Principle, which had something)
    I stand corrected - I just saw something which looked maybe slightly peculiar and potentially relevant relevant, clicked on it (done this several times by now) and this time it actually did something. It has storytelling in a similar fashion to The Talos Principle indeed. At this point it seems more like random utterings that are there to be artsy, but who knows, maybe they actually mean something. Also there doesn't seem to be any indicator of how many there might be, and since the one I found was somewhat sneakishly placed and I barely stumbled upon it, I'm guessing I'm not gonna get them all. I guess this is gonna be one of those games with forums hunting down all this stuff...
    I couldn't solve one problem for like half an hour or more, called bullshit on it and gave up, but then I went into another area and solved a set of problems that required some nice out of the box thinking. Felt really satisfying to crack some of them.

    At some point I'm gonna have to read what the author was smoking/thinking when he designed this game.

    Edit: And yeah, Neb, I've stumbled upon *those* puzzles too now. Where you can't understand the pattern. Like, at one point I think I do understand it, then it turns out that I guess I don't. Feels like an IQ test sometimes.
    Last edited by Thor; 27th Jan 2016 at 20:17.

  22. #22
    Registered: May 2004
    Okay, so I got to play a bunch of it at a friend's place. We breezed through the early puzzles and found quite a few audio logs, which all seem to be real quotes from real people. No idea so far whether they are part of the hints or the story. And there was a bunch of stuff we couldn't figure out that will probably come into play later. Like for example there's this mysterious black obelisk standing in the middle of nowhere, there's a vase puzzle in a boathouse that seems quite different from the others, we activated some sort of a beam that points to the middle of the island, and we found a diagram/solution for a puzzle we haven't even seen yet.

    The island itself is pretty freely explorable, but sections of it are gated away metroidvania style and there seem to be primarily two types of puzzles -- those that teach you the rules on how to solve these types of puzzles and those that activate something. A lot of them only start making sense after you know their rules, so there's really not much point in brute forcing them. You'll only be stumped by more complicated versions later on.

    I'm pretty impressed about how many variations of these puzzles there are. It seems that we only scratched the surface in about 7 hours and we constantly found new stuff every step of the way. New rules get introduced constantly and each puzzle seems to be some sort of a twist on the previous one in the series. Some of the twists are quite devious and it definitely helps to take notes/screenshots and to pay attention to the surroundings. An extra pair of eyes helps a lot too. If something seems out of the ordinary, there's probably some significance to it. And sometimes you need to literally take a step back and observe the puzzle from a different angle.

  23. #23
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I watched Indie Game the Movie yesterday, and you really get a sense for these guys' personality and what drives them.

    Jonathan Blow is someone that's much better communicating his ideas through games and letting them speak for themselves. But talking to people, well talking at all, isn't what he needs to be doing. I thought his points were all solid, he just always phrases them in the worst way.

  24. #24
    Registered: Sep 2011
    And the autism simulator of the year goes to.

  25. #25
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    Your dad?

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