Previews of The Witness are now out there.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been showing a preview version of The Witness to various folks in the press who were interested. Typically I just have them sit down and play for a couple of hours, from the beginning, with no guidance from me; afterward, we talk about what they just played.

Previews of the game are now being published, and readers of this blog have been asking for gameplay details for a while. So it seems like a good idea to list the previews here. I’ll keep updating this post as I find more.

(Sometimes these previews, from the way they are worded, make it seem like I made the entire game with my own bare hands. That is not the case; it’s just how this kind of article tends to sound. There are a number of people working on this game, who have creative input in various ways; see the About page for a partial list!)

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40 Comments

  1. Posted August 8, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Surely this game will be one of my favorites of all time :)

  2. Dustin
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Give it to Rock Paper Shotgun! They are my favourite.

  3. Walt
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Hm, I find it very interesting that the whole game focuses around the blue mazes. Can’t say I expected that, but judging from these articles it looks like these puzzles will be much more deep and thorough then they first appeared. Also, I find the idea of these audio diaries very interesting. Overall, excited to finally get a bit of information on what this game is like, and I can’t believe I have to wait another year at least to play it :( . Looking forward to seeing the graphics evolve more, though.

  4. Jonathan Blow
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Yeah, RPS is on the list, but it is going to have to wait til I get to London!

  5. justin
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Have not even read any of them… But i already put them up in a news hub for more people to see.

    there is a limit to 6 stories per person so Games Radar will have to wait for 23 hours to get published, but i will put it up once the submission limit is gone…..

    now i can read and see the pictures very good.

    If you would like to comment on them or just look at what people say, i will post a link to my submissions so you may comment or answer question or just see people calling Jonathan nasty names : (

  6. Adam
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jonathan and team,

    I’ve been keenly following this blog since it began, and I’m really happy to see such positive previews. As Gamespot said, the game, even though there are only placeholder graphics, still manages to be completely engaging. That’s an incredible compliment, and goes to show the competency with the core design and feel of the game – and that you’re nailing the vision you and the team have.

    Having also followed your lectures, I find myself greatly inspired by your work and design philosophy. I’m working for a medium sized game company as a recent Grad in Computer Science at the moment, but hope to someday eventually contribute to the growing collection of meaningful games.

    Thank you and the team for the great work – sincerely look forward to this game!

  7. justin
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Ok… At first i thought the game was going to be about you being this smart guy. Like a scientist or an astronaut, that was put in this man made island to do some test to see if he qualified to go to space or something. Plus the whole religion against science thing to say how science is good and what it has made humanity do.

    But now i think is about an author talking about his projects (Like Christopher Nolan with Inception or Lynch with Muholland DR). It made he smiled when i read:

    “I could have done anything with my life, but somehow I ended up designing puzzles, including these here on this island. You could be doing anything with your life, but somehow you ended up here, solving these puzzles.”

    reminded me of your talk about why make games or take 3 years out of your life when you could be feeding children in Africa or having sex or what ever.
    The self references are very clever and for some reason made me laugh .
    It also reminded em of this:

    http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/Bristol.pdf

    “we’re conditioned by movies and videogames to regard statements like that as third act betrayal fuel, so if you need to be suspicious for a little while, OK. even if you don’t want to trust me, know that my faith in you is unbreakable.”

  8. Posted August 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I feel like I’m playing some kind of meta-game by piecing together what The Witness might or might not be.

    Every blog post, interview, lecture and press release reveals a new piece of the puzzle.

    Turns out some of my initial guesses were right (some were wrong, or slightly off).

    It sounds like I underestimated how central the blue puzzle mazes were – and how quickly they get complicated.

    I can’t wait to play it This sounds awesome.

    All the best
    –Phil

  9. nine
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    If RPS are getting a look soon, please make sure PC Gamer UK do too!

  10. yh
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    From the writers’ impressions it sounds like The Witness finds a more intuitive way of accomplishing some of the goals of Raspberry – rather than forcing varied gameplay and observation through music, the puzzle gameplay is tied directly to observing the setting and environment of the island.

    Looking forward to more!

  11. JonP382
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Read part of Kotaku’s preview. Had to stop though because I want as much of it to be fresh as possible when I play. I can’t wait for this game!

  12. Posted August 9, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Reading the reviews this sounds already promising. It’s funny how the shadow of the past in the form of Braid will keep haunting you until you trump that very first masterpiece of a game of yours.

    I’m excited to see what kind of music for The Witness you’re coming up with. With Braid’s musical pieces you hit the atmosphere of the game, for each and every level, perfectly.

  13. mantas
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    There is now a write up on Giant Bomb:
    http://www.giantbomb.com/news/a-rough-sketch-the-witness/3569/
    And supposedly there is more to come.

  14. justin
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Now in GamePro

    http://www.gamepro.com/article/previews/221765/the-witness-hands-on-preview/

    “My preceding hair line and uneven facial features… I thank my face, because it has allowed me to see and i no longer care about looks”

    i forgot the quote but it was cool!

  15. Rich
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    From the Kotaku review, by Stephen Totilo…

    “I’d confronted some blue panels in the manner a driver confronts a stop sign. The panels were signs I didn’t know how to read.”

    So I assume Mr. Totilo is from Jersey?

    I’m actually afraid to read much further than that. I figured at an early point that the blue panels were central to the game. I want to know as little of them as possible until I get to experience them myself.

  16. Michael Santorum
    Posted August 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I hope that the copy of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow that you have near the fireplace is to take graphical inspiration…
    Why don’t you came to visit us in Madrid? ;-)

  17. Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Great! U made texture better (not photorealistic, but nice and good looking), but i think that sky texture should be highres and realistic. Now it looks very pixalated.

  18. Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I will change this blue on LCD panels for softer color. Maybe light green like in old mobile phones?
    Keep up the good work. I’m waiting for this game!

  19. Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh and it looks that aliasing on shadows is still the problem :(

  20. justin
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Just a small comment because i am interested in the “Island designer” character from the previews. the gy who leaves the tapes.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36248/Sympathy_For_The_Devil_Irrationals_Ken_Levine_On_Villain_Design.php

    This is Levine talking about how to make characters. Maybe you found this interesting or helpful.

    Also, you should give previews to print magazines too! GameInformer, EGM, EDGE, PC gamer and Game Developer.

    I am still putting every update preview up. i lost count how much i put up… like 10 or something. and other people are putting them on other hubs too!

    and that quote from a tape about having to thank one’s face for helping me practice seeing, really hit me hard… i always had a feeling like that but i never could put it into words. thaks man!

  21. Lestibournes
    Posted August 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I think The Neverhood had what you are talking in regards to having consistent controls that behave in a predictable way, so you don’t have to do pixel hunting. The interactions were almost always obvious, although there were some puzzles where I just stood around scratching my head for a while or clicking around because [spoiler] I couldn’t figure out that the solution requires me to push a projector into the indentation in the ground and then pull the giant lever on the projector in order to turn it on, so that it could illuminate the partially hidden inscriptions on the wall, thus revealing the clues for the next challenge. [/spoiler]

    The Neverhood is an adventure game that is fully made out of clay. They made the game world and characters out of clay, and moved and photographed them one frame at a time to create the animations. The puzzles vary, just like in most adventure games, but the story and presentation focus on slapstick comedy. There are clips online for the various comic cut-scenes. My favorite is when you eat a bunch of apples from the apple tree.

    They also did all kinds of random stuff, some of which is annoying, like forcing you to walk down a hallway dozens of screens long who’s walls are covered in the history and mythology of The Neverhood. You can actually read the whole thing, if you have patience for it.

    I also bought Samorost 2 and Machinarium. Together these 3 games make the only adventure games I own and I like all of them, although Samorost 2 is disappointingly short. I get that impression especially since the entire first half of the game is offered for online play as a free demo, making the part I pay for only half of the original game. Since so much was available for free, I expected that much more out of the “pay to play” portion.

    I used to play, or watch my friends play, some of the big titles of the day, some of the big titles of the time, like Simon the Sorcerer or Monkey Island. We also played Piposh (פיפוש) a very funny (at least at the time) Israeli adventure game. There were also sequels. The company went bankrupt, but not before putting some of the games online for free download here:
    http://www.piposh.co.il/

  22. justin
    Posted August 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    XBLA games after certification….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCXI6hLneyE

    omfg… i loled

  23. Posted August 15, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Hey! I’ve not seen this lecture that was linked in one of the articles… http://bcove.me/4tx5rm7g

    You should have posted it, it’s interesting. On the subject of “feeling smart”, you almost directly quoted a sentiment that Tim Rogers talks about in relation to Zelda’s puzzles and in his review of Braid. Is this the documented emergence of an artistic idea?

  24. Jonathan Blow
    Posted August 15, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Oh yeah, footage of that had not been available until now.

  25. Posted August 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jonathan. Thanks for the extended interview, for dinner and for the link!

    RPS is always there if you just want to spiel – the readers seem to love the interview.

  26. Sumaleth
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    If it’s not already included, please consider a mouse-only control option for the desktop versions.

  27. M.M
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Cool. I read the previews, and i finally understand what game will be like.
    I admit i was asking myself a question – how solving the blue mazes can be fun? They are just such simple puzzles. Where is this creative spark of genious, everyone expect.

    Now i see.

  28. justin
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan, do you think The Witness could go to PSV?

    http://onq-world.blogspot.com/2011/08/playstation-vita-coding-building.html (Plus 2 more pdf links)

    And Sony just said that the developing kit is just 2,000$
    If Yhe Witness is on iPad can it be on PSV or 3DS? What do you think its possible?

  29. Jonathan Blow
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    All kinds of platforms are possibilities eventually. Right now though we would mostly be thinking about what we want to launch on, and Vita doesn’t seem like a launch platform for this game (it is much more of a sit-down-at-home kind of game!)

  30. Lestibournes
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Which platforms will the game be launched on?

    • Jonathan Blow
      Posted August 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know… Can’t say I care tremendously about platforms at this time.

  31. Lestibournes
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Will you open the game up for pre-orders? If so, when?

    • justin
      Posted August 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      +1 for pre-orders!

      I want to help you out! like Hecker has something similar for Spy Party Beta.
      If we can get some help to you and help out the game so that you don’t need to get a publisher and go to more platforms!

      capcha: Quality esatili ???? coincidence? I think not!

  32. Posted August 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Ah, a fantastic pile of reads there :D! It’s wonderful to hear how well the game is coming along.

    Big love to Jonathan and the crew!

    Gary.

    xx

  33. justin
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    First print preview! From Playstation the official magazine: Issue 50 October 2011
    Batman: Arkaham City cover, The Witness was also in the cover but only in letters.
    “Bioshock Infinite, Starhawk (PS logo) Dishonored, THE WITNESS!!!”

    http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/7690/stwi.jpg

    I only have this magazine and gameinformer. If anyone else has some other mag and sees the Witness or Jon mentioned, please post it here! If i see a preview in Gameinformer when it comes next month ill post it here!

    Show the game to print magazines more! Alot of people with console read those! ; )

  34. justin
    Posted August 25, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I consider this blog not just about Jon or The Witness but about games, their culture and industry overall… Therefore

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wezS2_LMIBc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqG5CEmjvRc

    I don’t know where else to say this. Maybe /v/ but those guys don’t like games just fightan

  35. justin
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    i got this from bf3 dev, for the technical peoplez…

    http://highperformancegraphics.org/program.php

    i’ve been posting too many links, i just hope they are helpfull and that im not annoying

  36. Spence
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I’m hoping this will end up on the Wii U. The way you interact with the blue signposts sound perfect for a tablet interface. Can’t wait.

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