The Art of “The Witness” – GDC 2014

Last week was the Game Developers Conference (GDC) here in San Francisco and we were invited to talk about the art  of “The Witness”.
I decided to shift the talk from any technical aspect, since there are already plenty of those, and tried to focus instead on our thought process, what were the decisions we took that led us to the current art style.

If you are interested you can take a look at the slides PDF here:

Unfortunately the PDF merges animated slides so there is some content that you won’t be able to see and you are missing the actual talk but it should be available in a few weeks at the GDC Vault!


*UPDATE – The talk is now available at the GDC Vault, you can  check it here:


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  1. justin
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait.

  2. Walter
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Liked the slides, but was really surprised to see all that (what I presume to be) story stuff in there. Up until this point you guys have kept all the story stuff close to your chest. I don’t want to spoil it too much so I didn’t read it thoroughly but it seemed odd that it was included in this presentation.

    Looking forward to the more complete presentation with corresponding audio.

    • Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      I also skimmed that part. I don’t really want to know all that verbally like that. I’d rather be trying to put the pieces together myself in playing and exploring the world. If I don’t get it, I suppose I can look at these slides later haha. :D

  3. Nadir
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    It’s not just that I can’t wait, because I have waited long already. We all have.
    I once listened to Blow talk in a podcast on game developing in 2011. When he was asked about the release of the game, he said it was gonna take a while. I thought perhaps it was for 2012, but man it’s 2014 and I sense we’re still far from it. I just want this stuff to come out!

  4. eX_ploit
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The main question remains how long is it before release

  5. Posted March 26, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Well, It looks like The Witness release is planned for Autumn …

  6. David
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The Playstation Blog currently has your game listed for a Fall 2014 release date. How accurate is this time frame, and how close are you all from completing the development process for the game? This is my most anticipated PS4 title! Also, are you able to give me an idea of what the cost will be for this title? Thanks.

  7. Nathan
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I was at the talk, and I thought it was fantastic and inspiring. One of many great talks at GDC.

    Not being an artist, I really enjoyed the insight into the artistic side of things, and it made me think more about abstraction in my own work. It was one of two talks that I saw at GDC this year emphasizing the need for appropriate abstraction. (The other, also outside of my area, was on the new animation system that Bungie is using for Destiny.)

  8. Nadir
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I want to watch this talk and I can’t find it. Not yet available on the GDC vault?

  9. Nadir
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink
    • justin
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s just the slides. The actual video of Luis’ talk will pop at the GDC site in some weeks or a few months. Just waited out…

  10. Nadir
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Oops again.. it’s just the slides. no

  11. Line 46
    Posted April 4, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Hello there!
    I been working on my blog for a while and when I finished the job I thought it would be a good idea to use the template I modified to do this:
    The idea is to put together the most interesting information about The Witness scattered around the web. Is something very simple but hopefully it might be helpful. Still working on it BTW.
    If you feel that´s something missing or wrong in the site or it´s contents (in any sense) please let me know.

  12. justin
    Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the info, Line 46! You’re awesome for gathering all that. <3

  13. Stuart
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
  14. jay2s
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed watching the talk.

    One small comment: as someone who is color blind, I did not notice the red bush that was supposed to grab my attention…

  15. Cody
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink


    Within The Witness, are there —

    1. any given parameters within which the player must design his own puzzle — such as certain number of elements and certain length of solution path?

    2. Any puzzle in which the player has to create his own rule?

  16. Oddkins
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    Fantastic stuff! The spartan attitude that everything must have a direct meaning or relationship to the heart of the game is really quite inspiring.

    Also a question if anyone happens to read down here. To the developers: How is the game on replay? That is – having been through the puzzles or the entire arc of the game at least once, do you find that something integral has been lost? Or is one able to reexperience the magic so to speak? Are the puzzles in effect ‘too memorized’ from the first playthrough?

    • Thaetriah
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      I remember when Jon himself said he had forgotten solutions for some of the puzzles. So I think the game’s replayability is pretty high.

  17. Alex C
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    You guys need to update your blog more often! Jon? You still alive? A weekly article, even if its just a few sentences would be greatly appreciated!

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