The trailer for Dear Esther is out now.

If you’re interested in arty games that push the boundaries of what games are doing, you may be interested in Dear Esther, which will be released on Valentine’s Day of this year (much sooner than The Witness will be!)

The trailer has just been released:

See more about Dear Esther at the official site.

This will be the second Indie Fund game to release. Just a few days ago we announced that Q.U.B.E., the first funded game, is already a financial success. It appears obvious that Dear Esther will be as well.

51 Comments:

  1. >It appears obvious that Dear Esther will be as well.
    No doubt about it.
    By the way did you have any influence on design of these games?
    Q.U.B.E. was very minimalistic in some aspects and when playing it I thought that you might have told the developers to cut some features and focus on main design goals:)

  2. From what I heard about the original version of this game (the mod) it is more of an art piece than a game. Is there game-play in a traditional sense or is it more about just exploring and absorbing the story which is the impression I was getting. Either way I’m sure it will be worth checking out, it looks beautiful.

    • I don’t seem to recall there being any actual gameplay; just the player clumsily walking into invisible barriers and being spoon-fed some internal monologue. Though I played an old version two years ago or maybe more? Hope it’s different now.

      • I never play the mod, but in the videos I have seen there really doesn’t seem to be any gameplay or puzzles. Just the man walking and remembering his wife that died in a car crash when se was drunk (or something of that sort; story is ambiguous.) But Jonathan has said this is his fav orite game (and Infocom’s Trinity) So I am excited about that but also there is the thing that the enviromental artist is the same artist that created the enviroment and levels of DICE’s Mirror’s Edge which I’m a fan of.

        So this has a lot more going for it. As a game is something completely new and original and everyone should give it a try. Help indies out, specialy if IndieCade is involve. Independent developers and downloadable games are the future!

        Also, game is made with Valve’s beautiful Source Engine. The best looking engine to date!

        • Did Jonathan say it was his favorite game in reference to the ‘mod’ or the commercial release?

          It does look graphically impressive, but I’m partial to the Infinity Engine when it comes to visuals. I’m a sucker for complex pre-rendered environments like in Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment.

          • Yeah, I also like those pre-render looks like in Megarace but with modern engines all the Frozbites and Unreals aint got shit on Source!

            Jonathan Was refering to the mod I think. He said it was the “Best game” in many ways calling it “Best acted game ever” and “Best story in a game ever” It was in some podcast I can’t remember which one…

  3. I am so fucking excited!
    I didn’t get any news of the release date for years and now while checking on Thw Witness it turns out it will be released in a few weeks!

    What a pleasent suprise, that the release is so soon. I was thinking it was going to slip to next year again.

    Now the coolest thing in the world would be jonathan making a post saying that The Witness will release soon (something like tomorrow)

  4. I just saw something amazing and it gave me an idea for The Witness!
    You know how you talk about secrets as you metioned the inverted castle in Symphony of the Night and then Bryan Moriarty liking Easter Eggs which are a tradition of the game medium.

    Remember how Inception got you to listen to a song over and over again unconsciously in many different ways and over and over again?

    Well you talk about hidding things in the enviroment in plain sighta and right in your face. I think the Witness could do something like this!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS7be8PqktI&feature=g-all-blg&context=G233522fFAAAAAAAACAA

    or repeat something hidden until you see it. Oh my God I’m so excited for this game. What will you do with it? How will you make it? Why will you had. Will there be secrets like the Stars in Braid? I guess hardware power is the limit… I love finding things that are not hidden just there and you just have to “witness” a moment.

    Anyone has more stuff like this I could see or tell me or share links? What do you huys think have been great secrets in stuff?

  5. Too many good indie-games coming out Dear Esther, The Swapper, Miegakure , Anti Chamber and “The Witness” ! It’s going to be awesome.

  6. For some reason I’m seeing a link to the Q.U.B.E. trailer when I view this article from the home page (http://the-witness.net/news/) not a big deal since the trailer shows correctly when I view the article’s dedicated page, but you might consider fixing it if possible.
    As for Dear Esther, it looks absolutely beautiful. Thanks for posting the trailer, as I might not have heard of the game otherwise. Consider yourself to have gotten at least one more purchase for the team developing it.

  7. I would really like to find more books with the kind of writing style this game uses, I must have read the script like 5 times since I first played it and each time I get something new out of it. Gonna mark this one on my calendar.

  8. So this is a complete remake of the mod right?

    I played the mod about a year ago, thought it was fun, but nothing too impressive.
    It did have it’s own sort of atmosphere though, which was really cool

    I wished they would have put some puzzles in though, subtle actions could have made the mod much more interesting.

    I’m still excited for it nonetheless :)

    • [Warning: extremely ill-advised rant incoming]

      Sorry to unload this on you today, as you have done nothing too much to deserve it, but I have had this particular thought brewing for a long time:

      I am coming to dislike very strongly this culture of internet criticism. Responding to Dear Esther by saying it’s “nothing too impressive” strikes me as insulting, not just because of the thing being directly said, but because of the subtext. The implicit understanding seems to be that random people posting on the internet, between bouts of eating Cheetos and drinking Brawndo, stand above the people who work very very hard to make things like this. Of course any individual may be very smart, but in a general statistical analysis, people who post things like this do not tend to understand games particularly deeply and do not even pay close attention to the specific games they play. That’s fine, but then, why do these people think their uncarefully-formed opinion is important enough to post and for other people to read?

      I am not saying that people need to like any particular game. Certainly anyone is free to dislike anything. But I would wish for an increased consciousness about what is being said, and what motives underlie what’s being said.

      As to those motives: what’s really going on in cases like this — and I find it very ugly — is that the human desire to aquire and show status is kicking in. Looking down on something, and showing this publicly, exhibits that the one looking down is above the thing looked down upon. This is some kind of claim to status. It is a petty and empty kind of claim, but that’s how humans are. Being human, I am not immune to this myself, but these days I watch for it and when I notice it happening I do my best to squelch it and move on.

      Part of the giveaway is the language used. Saying “I didn’t like the game” is a relatively nonviolent expression of preference. Saying “the game was unimpressive” has a lot of other connotations, most of which are ugly.

      Dear Esther is striking out in a direction that few games even attempt. It has, in my judgement, the best writing and acting of any video game in the history of video games. There are lots of little details in the game; the more you pay attention, the more benefit you derive from the work. For these reasons I claim that the game is certainly impressive to most people who have been paying real attention to games; this is true even if one doesn’t like the form of the gameplay, because the game exhibits skill far beyond what most game developers have been able to do. If you are not able to see this, then that is sort of your problem; it is not the game’s problem.

      I don’t know how one would add puzzles to this game without spoiling the gameplay or turning it into a different game. I think the decision to avoid them is actually quite smart. How few “professional” game developers would do that!

      • I never played the mod but this seems like an interesting way to make a game. From what I understand (correct me if I’m wrong), the game doesn’t have traditional game-play but is more about discovery, exploring, story, environmental story-telling, etc. This almost seems like a unique form of art distinctly different from traditional games. Something like an interactive visual novel or something, maybe I’m extrapolating this too far. However if that is true it seems like a neat area that a lot of good art could be done in.

        • The mod version didn’t really permit exploring — if you tried to explore, iirc it would either glitch out (you could easily fall under the island) or arbitrarily kill you off. It was more about walking at a specific pace (too fast and the audio would overlap incomprehensibly) along a specific path while listening to some audio.

      • Do you mind explaining, or telling us where we can learn, why Dear Esther is ‘pushing the boundaries’?

      • I don’t know how one would add puzzles to this game without spoiling the gameplay or turning it into a different game. I think the decision to avoid them is actually quite smart.
        Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP might be another example of this (if to a lesser extent). In their post-mortem presentation at IndieCade they talked about how the game was, at one point, a more traditional point-and-click adventure game, where you take items from point A and use them at point B, but over time they found the game worked better with those mechanics reduced, to the point of being removed.

        There are still puzzles, of a sort, in S&S, but the thing that struck me was how inappropriate those traditional puzzles sounded for S&S. They sounded silly, even though the game looks and feels a lot like a traditional adventure. I think because they felt like they would have degraded the experience.

      • While nothing in my mind is more grating than the word ‘meh,’ Dear Esther appears to be a good case against trailers for games. I enjoy trailers for movies, shows, roller coasters, and even some games. There is no reason why a trailer for Baldurs Gate 2 for example can’t get me excited about new story ideas and graphics for a game where I mostly expect more of the same. At this point, a recommendation here is good enough for me, but clearly games still need to get the word out.

        But for games that genuinely offer something new to learn, why stick them back on rails? Can trailers for games, especially puzzle games be games in and of themselves? If a core of a trailer is a streamlined narrative hook, what is the core of a game advertisement? I believe work at this caliber deserves better than the remnants of a linear medium. What does a trailer for the witness looks like? Can a sampling of the witness be distilled down to 30 seconds? What about a poster?

        Either way, trailers for indie games are starting to feel like these odd trailers for books. But only because they are growing up and getting too big for their breeches.

        Anyway, I don’t know creative people even put themselves out there half the time, especially people like Jonathan and other smaller devs who not only a creative burden, but technical, financial, and management on top of it. I heard an interview with Bob Dylan where he claims that he knew he was bound to be a legend, but said that he knew better than to put himself out there too much, lest someone squash it. And this was WAY before youtube comments, a veritable confidence minefield.

        • This got me thinking, Al… The trailer for the Witness could be center around its mechanics. like I could imagine the trailer for Thw Witness having subtle visual details and some of the narration from the audio tape and the trailer is based on something like noticing details so yopu cwould have tpo watch the trailer over and over again to find hidden stuff in plain sight!

          Just like in the game, analasing and pondering on the preview could reveal hidden stuff and maybe hints at some puzzle tries!

          Genious! Someone tell Jonathan Blow!

      • Jonathan: this “ill-advised rant” of yours echoes much of the concerns of artists in other media. Contemporary composers hear far angrier sentiments regarding “music or non-music” from hordes of undergraduates filling out their extra-credit concert reports for some (functionally failing) music appreciation class. It certainly doesn’t help that many of us academic types propel the image of elitism through similar ignorant dismissals of popular music. Attempts at interesting design in non-VG media seem to be instantly grouped into some “avant-garde pseudo-genre” that is rarely given an honest chance – and I would love to believe that with your medium the story would be a bit brighter. But I can not fathom why it would.

        Much of the criticisms of the contemporary arts are clearly applicable – if only in their continuing observation that an appeal for cerebral functions oft fails at being good entertainment. Yet though I can relate to your disdain for a premature dismissal of a work designed with both a reason and a purpose, I doubt that your approach is effective – particularly through an appeal for judging words carefully. It is admirable that you have spoke out in favor of your medium rather than against the “ignorant elitists” that seem to equate your desire for producing meaningful work with snobbery or elitism (or sometimes just a curse word). Since I know nothing about living in the public eye, I have no room to give you advice, tempted as I may be to urge you to ignore this nonsense with an extreme prejudice.

        P.S. The very best to you and your work.

        • re: “I would love to believe that with your medium the story would be a bit brighter. But I can not fathom why it would.”

          I think it’s actually super bright! Look, Dear Esther is funded, there’s a great, supportive media environment that is happy to talk about it, it’s going to be on a major distribution channel, and I believe it’s extremely likely to sell a lot of copies and be profitable. This is a really awesome state of affairs for “avant-garde” stuff!

        • You are almost certainly right that ignoring it is the best course of action.

    • re “So this is a complete remake of the mod right?” — Yes, seem so! Here’s the text from the dear esther site on how it relates to the mod:

      “In 2009, it was picked up by a professional game artist, Robert Briscoe, for a complete overhaul of the visuals and level design, in the hopes that it would be able to overcome it’s early shortcomings as a mod and be able to fulfil its true potential.”

      “In late 2010 it became clear the overhaul had become something much more, and with Valve and the community’s support the project was granted a license to make Dear Esther a completely independent release, and allowing everyone the opportunity to get a chance to experience the game for themselves!”

  9. Anyone else thought the ending cliff looks like the beginning of “The Secret of Monkey Island” with the lookout and the cliff and the dark purple sky? :D

    Anyway, I cannot wait for this [I didn’t play the original mod so I could play this version]…

    I like to see how it’s going to play with our sence of perception and understanding of some strangers’ story … It’ll certainly become a huge inspiration for Game devs for at least 2~3 decades…

  10. Looks fantastic, wish my computer could run it. I don’t expect it’s coming to the consoles, is it?

    • Source engine supports consoles. If they have the money and inclination, it could happen. So far though, don’t think it’s been announced for anything but Steam.

  11. I didn’t know where else to post this, so I post it in the most recent topic:

    ‘The Witness’ was mentioned in the ‘Ultimate Gaming Preview 2012 – The Best Under the Radar Games of 2012′ on Gametrailers.com! Woohoo!

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/the-best-ultimate-gaming/726019

  12. John, “action” means is not only speedy time things with explosions and zombies that eating your leg. Action is in your head. You can make action from a paper folding, for example. If you not like to fold paper, why would you post your opinion on origami forum?

  13. Wait, what happened?!

    Link please…

    (I like folding stuff)

    • This should be the reply for post above, I don’t know why it’s separate from a comment row, it’s just wordpress I guess (: Link: http://the-witness.net/news/2012/01/the-trailer-for-dear-esther-is-out-now/#comment-9880

      • A blast from the past:

        http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/05/the_most_powerful_person_in_th.php

        (HINT: check the comments)

        [Warning: extremely ill-advised rant incoming]

        Shortly after Braid was released Jonathan Blow went into a little depressed state but shortly after he came back with a vengance! He was cocky and ugly! He always talked about games and developers and things he didn’t like but way before he had a game of his out, but after Braid he *really* started talking ugly about everything and everyone! He picked on the smallest of things and was very mean and angry knowing fully he had just created and put out there the best game of all time in many ways.

        He said bad words and told developers that if they prefered to eat instead of developing they were weak and that working must be more important than eating and if you didn’t starved while developing you didn’t care and the game would be bad. But when he was developing Braid he made comments about his luxurious life style…

        Jonathan, I will criticise all the games I see are bad, just like you did because I feel most people that make games even do they are scientist are complete idiots, but this is not the point. People just don’t get games like I do and this is why I judge them and my opinion is worth posting but maybe not considering. This is the internet, rite? But specialy I will critisize you and your games because I consider you and what you do too important to not remind you of certain things that you once held to be true “but you don’t know anything about whatI’m doing ” It sounds arogant but no one in this world likes games like I do and no one in this world likes you like I do. I believe in you!

        “That is so arrogant! Who are you to say that! take sandwiches for example! people like sandwices all the same! who are you to say that you like sandwiches more that anyone?! you can’t say that!” I can because is true! None in this world likes sandwiches like I do. No one would even consider what I want and sometimes get from sandwiches. I have the right to say that people who like sadwiches are a buch of fucking casuals cock sucking pussy-aeting prankstas!

        Jonathan, I will not let you mess up! “What? But this is my game” No. It is *our* saviour. It is too important to not care and talk to you aloud about what is going on because you might not notice. “Hey man, I don’t know who you think I am. I”m just some guy that released a game.” No you are not. You are the hero video games need! I can not let you just go with these things. “but is my game i do wat i want” I must second guess you and criticise you to make you think twice about what are you doing and why.

        I promise you. Nothing is kicking in. I want no praise or status. I consider the position of kings and president as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I am not a president and therefor not after your vote. SO YOU CAN TRUST ME AND KNOW THAT I AM TELLING THE TRUTH.

        EVEN IF YOU DON’T TRUST ME KNOW THAT NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, MY FAITH IN YOU IS UNBREAKABLE. What ever you do is right. Just go over it again and again and remember if something doesn;t feel right the unconscious is fast and will catch this, so just consult your inner self and you will find the answer, brother… But I mustn’t permit you to fail!

        Also QUBE was a bad game.
        ——————————————————————————————————

        I am curious so never mind what happpend in the past; Jonathan could you answer a question?

        What is The Witness’ FOV?
        I want to know… most First Person games including shooters have a 90 degrees FOV Half Life has a 75 degree and Portals have 80, But most explorations like the awefull Skyrim and Deus Ex 3 have 90 degrees.

        But The Witness is weird is weird because you have that Fish-eye lens thing… hum?

  14. Justin, are you a real person or a character? You seem to post on this blog constantly and your name links to The Witness’s page which is weird. Is this rant a joke, it’s very confusing, I’m just curious.

    • One part of me tells me that there is some probability that Justing is just Jonathan Blow’s alter ego. Or rather, it would be funny if that were the case.

    • No, Justin is my real name. I am not a character (but back when did blog started I posted as “a” for a long time) I post constantly because I think this is a good place to share some stuff that I think Jonathan might like to see. (like I will share in a bit again)

      The rant I made is real and comes from my heart. I like Jonathan, What he has done and what he is doing. I just want to remind him of thins (like I will do in a bit again)

      I come here daily and check every single comment because I care about what goes on here a lot. I go to the main page to read the phylosophical quotes over and over again. My name links to the page again because is the site that I like the most in all the internet and I share it with peolple verywhere I comment (could be a bad idea, because the internet may think I am a viral marketer working for Jon or Teckla)

      Don’t be confuse, the rant is not a joke. it is real and how I feel. Although Jonathan Blow will not answer I hope he read it (though the FOV question was a real one and needed an answer but could be spoilery so I understand why Jona didn’t answer)

      I love Jon and have been pressent on everything he has been on or commented on or talk on. Like the e-mail exchanges with his designer friends on his old web page, Comments one the Granade family and Emily Short blog about adventure games (remember that Jon?) The times when he got cocky at people in the comment section of the Braid blog… etc. I have been observing Jonathan Blow’s every move for some years now… (I even remember when he made a comment about having a girl experience; that might now be his girlfriend. what a nerd lol)

      To the point where I talk like him, dress like him, enrolled in Tai-Chi, enrolled in Contac Dancing classes, will be voting for Ron Paul, buy HARTWIHCH , listen to Nick Cave, SGM and Zoe Keating, saw Muholland Drive and Buckaroo Banzai, will read Ted Chiang, will play in the future Dear Esther, Bryan Moriarti’s Trinity, Planescape: Torment and Miegakure. also currently working on buying a Tesla and of course already working my way towards a CS masters.

      And I am only 18! but Jonathan has been shuch an inspiration to me… I want to be like him when I grow up, Even the social worker thing and the buddisth temple stuff and the talks and the economics and travel retreat deals!

      I kow it looks bad! LIKE A STALKER! but I want to be a better person and It may sound like a joke or trolling but I can be a good, succesfull and generous kind person if I am like jon and that is why I like to learn about himn and what he has done. I am not kidding I want to be like this man that is why I know so much about him…

      bonus: I even know a secret about The Witness! The secret contribution by a former implementator and recordings that you can find in the island HAHAHA I TAUNT THE WORLD!11! (HINT: He needs to get copyright rights for some!)
      —————————————————————————————————
      but yes… I came now to annoy some more and share something that could be usefull

      http://oxcgn.com/2012/01/30/gamings-greatest-works-of-architecture-part-2/

      Sharing is caring c:

      Jonathan, long ago you were talking about how to make iconic things that you could remember for a long time (for Braid) and you said something like: creating the spaces and making iconic places. and then you mention iconic architecture to get ideas for iconic things in the game that everyone would recognize forever in the game and that it would be a high point in the experience and you mention the Fort in 2Fort on Team Fortress, a place in PainKiller where the architecture was weird. (I gues in Braid the most Iconic architecture has multiple purposes and multiple reasons to be iconic and imporatnt) In the Braid Tim’s house, The Bridge, and the Donkey Kong/Jumpman platforms.

      So this link is to give some thought to that. NOW THAT THE WITNESS IS 3D! It willl be more important to make this multiple purpose and multy meaning iconic structures on 3D! and you can hide stuff and make people pay attention and maybe they change over time.?!
      ———————————————————————————————————
      But, yeah “Anonymous” from “deleted website” is just what was in my heart. And to Jonathan: I’m sorry. I was… IDK? you know. QUBE is not a bad game. I really like it! I was one of the first (if not the first) that bought it in Steam and didn’t work and help them fix the installs problem with the game and demo. They were super nice guys! and no don’t worry I am not Phsycho! or a stalker I just REALLY LIKE U.

      You know Jonathan, I don’t have anybody to talk about the games that I like, so I argue about design, the programming and the philosophy of games. With myself.

      and sometimes I imaging that I am making a game. And that I have friends to show my designs to.

      Damn Jonathan… I don’t even know you but you have determined so much in my life and have been introduce to amazing games, movies, books, music and meditation thanks to you. To the way I talk and think and care about people I just think “What would someone like this do?” With all these virtues and experiences. I have so much to thank you. The doing everything you do like I metion before is an exageration but I try and itas just a start. best way is to find your own, with just a bit of guidance trough this path to be someone who you like to be for the rest of your life.

      Its crazy man! But its true! Damn Jonathan is like I am Megaman in Megaman X and you are Zero and this whole game is about how I become you and be as strong as you and smart as you and have all your virtues and character and what do I do to achieve this!

      I could have done anything with my life, but somehow I ended up here. Wanting to make games that are really deep and meaninful and that actually help people IN THE REAL WORLD! I could be doing anything with my life, but somehow I ended up here… What Is said in my butty-hurt rant is true! My faith in you is unbreakable!

      and well , yes I don’t even know what I am trying to say. I just wish you good luck and I can not wait for the teachings and experiences that The Witness will give me. this is why I am excited about this game and not the next call of dutty or battlefeld. The Witness has things in it that will teach me and get me closer to becoming what I need to become. This are things that you can not read or watch or listing. This are things I have to do and this is why I need this game, to become a better person and be closer whatever I went to the island for. The island has something for me, something I need to know, What it is I do not know But I will be going to the island soon and then I will know. Soon I will go in this adventure and I shall be the witness!
      ———————————————————————————————————-

      Thanks for your time Jonathan, I know that like Gaben, You don’t answer to every comment but you *do* read all of them. And yes, I know that I post a lot and most is shit that people might not care about and is not even related but I would like to share…

      I will end this here because I think I am about to cry. (sorry for my bad English)

      FROM: Your #1 fan in the world: Justin Santos from Nicaragua! : )

      (also, what is The Witness FOV?)

      • I’m going on the assumption you’re honest and not a troll. If I’m wrong, congrats to you, you fooled me.
        As an outside observer that has been following this blog (albeit backwards, as my out of date reply shows), it sounds like you do suffer from some degree of obsession. It’s great to find a role model to inspire you – but you have to acknowledge that’s what you have, a role model. Your perception of Jonathan Blow is not Jonathan Blow. It’s a person that doesn’t exist. The public image of JB is something that both JB himself and the people interviewing him manipulate – not completely distort, but exaggerate some parts over others, that results in a caricature — one based on a true person, but a caricature nonetheless.
        You can’t be that caricature. Nobody could. Without knowing him personally or following him as in-depth as you, I assure you JB has bad days. Sometimes he tries stuff that utterly doesn’t work. Sometimes he gets stuck on a stupid bug, the kind that just makes you feel frustrated and doesn’t teach you anything when you fix it other than “even momentary lapses can cost a lot of your time”. In short, he is a real person. His life isn’t comprised of a long series of “Braid”s.
        It’s healthy to take from him all the good that you see – learn from his accomplishments as a game designer, listen to his thoughts about philosophy, even try out his recommended games or hobbies. But when you start dressing like him and trying to get his approval for every decision, that’s when you’ve gone too far. You can be your own person and still gain from following him, and that’s what you should aspire to.

        • @ Mr.Dude: Hi :3

          Why are you telling me this?

          I didn’t expect me speaking my mind in this blog would have such a strong impact, but it has shaken many people!

          I must be a terrible person! Obsessed, out spoken, childish,unsound, unrealistic, delusional, hopeful, etc…

          Capcha: i’ve was

  15. http://img807.imageshack.us/img807/5931/granade.png

    For those who followed the Granade family, Emily Short and Jonathan Blow adventure game saga I have some new info on the present thoughts of Stphen Granade, when I recently asked him about The Witness and Jonathan (he seems to be anticipating the game)… Now, if I only had Emily short’s twitter.

  16. I asked Jon Carmack how he and his friends were when young and he gave me this link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nswoxKj2rI&feature=socblog_th

    This is related…

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